Around Town

Local floral design shop opens in Columbia Pike, just in time for Valentine’s Day

A florist from Eastern Europe is bringing her passion for flowers to Arlington.

What started as an online business for floral delivery has blossomed into a brick-and-mortar storefront, Kat Flowers Design and Decor, which had its grand opening at 2342 Columbia Pike this past Friday, Feb. 9.

Yekaterina Allotey, the owner and lead designer, told ARLnow that she stumbled on the future home of her flower shop by accident, while pushing her baby in a stroller along the Pike. Once she laid eyes on the location, she knew it was the place for her.

Allotey says the Columbia Pike community welcomed her with open arms.

“You don’t feel alone when you’re starting something big like a floral business or flower shop,” said Allotey. “It’s so important to have supporters or someone who actually appreciates you here.”

Supporters from all over came to help Allotey settle in. She said her family flew from her home country of Belarus, as well as from Spain, for opening day. Other floral businesses showed their support at the ribbon-cutting, too.

“We are friends with every other shop I used to work with,” said Allotey. “We support each other.”

While the florist says she loves her new home, she still clings to memories of home.

Allotey told ARLnow that her fascination with flowers was sparked in her childhood home in Belarus, where her mother always displayed outdoor plants and flowers in the front and backyard of the house and had some arrangements inside, too.

“I remember in the summertime, when I would have guests coming over, she would ask me, ‘Hey, can you go pick up some flowers so that we can put them on the table as a centerpiece?” she said.

Allotey also recalled obsessing over flowers while at school, spending all of her lunch money on floral and landscaping garden magazines. Little did she know that her childhood obsession would become her career.

“I didn’t know that, at that moment, I was going to be a florist, ” said Allotey. “I think that’s where everything started.”

From then on, Allotey did everything she could to be around flowers. Before coming to the U.S., Allotey worked at a small wedding business, where she sometimes worked with flowers but mostly, due to the high price of flowers, decorated with drapes.

Allotey immigrated to the U.S. and settled on the East Coast, working for other floral shops before starting an online flower business in 2021. Now that her online business has transitioned to a physical storefront, she is eager to connect with customers face-to-face.

“Right now I’m waiting for more walk-in customers to buy flowers,” Allotey said.

As of Tuesday, Allotey served 40 customers and she says she hopes for an even bigger turnout today for Valentine’s Day. She says she is fully stocked up for the day of love and touted her arrangements and specialty roses.

“We have six special bouquets. We don’t use regular roses: Our roses are garden-style and it’s not like something you buy from any other grocery stores,” she said.

Allotey is also willing to break outside the mold of a traditional floral designer. She and her team have done unique requests ranging from money bouquets to sparkling powder on roses.

“None of the florists I worked for would ever accept this type of request because they have their style,” Allotey said.

She says she even works with artificial flowers, if that is what the customer wants.

“I want to try to keep quality and delivery,” said Allotey.  “You know they say happy customer, happy shop.”