Community welcomes new florist

With graduation around the corner, friends and family of this year’s graduating class have a new local option for flowers and gifts with the opening of Vonda’s Flowers & Gifts.

The new business will feature hand-crafted flower arrangements, bouquets and even flower chandeliers that are all designed by the owner, Vonda Earnhart.

“I try to make my stuff original so nobody has two things alike,” Earnhart said. “I do weddings, funerals, birthdays—any occasion and event.”

Examples of Earnhart’s unique floral arrangements are displayed in a Harley Davidson-themed corner of her new store. It includes flowers with petals made out of old leather jackets and bridal bouquets of orange hued flowers bound with black leather.

Vonda’s Flowers & Gifts offers  a wide variety of products for their customers including flowers, art and jewelry. Photo by Rae Kuhlman.

Vonda’s Flowers & Gifts offers a wide variety of products for their customers including flowers, art and jewelry. Photo by Rae Kuhlman.

True to the store’s name, Vonda’s Flowers & Gifts provides many offerings besides flower arrangements. Vonda’s also offers jewelry, stuffed animals, bird baths and angel statues.

“If you order something it doesn’t have to be flowers,” Earnhart said. “It can be plants, it can be candy bouquets.”

Flowers and gifts are also not the end of the possibilities at Vonda’s Flowers & Gifts. The new business also takes orders for drawings and paintings, which are all done by Earnhart. She can even revamp neglected and run-down pieces of furniture, such as dressers.

“I just make everything out of my head,” she said.

Examples of Earnhart’s work are placed throughout the store, such as pen and ink drawings of her family’s Harley Davidson and several repainted and redecorated dressers.

Earnhart’s artistic prowess was developed during her time in design school in Omaha. One of her drawings even hung in the U.S. Capitol for a year and a half.

Art and design are not Earnhart’s only skills—she is an experienced business owner as well.

Earnhart opened her first store in 1996 in Hampton, Iowa after working at a local florist. She named it Petals and Paws and the business expanded twice under her leadership. After eight years running the business, however, due to a disastrous fire incident in the building next door, Petals and Paws had to shut down.

The florist then moved to Grinnell and worked as a floral designer at the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel in Tama, Iowa for five years.

“I did graphic arts and also their flowers for their big parties,” she said.

Twelve years ago, Earnhart became the head designer at Bates Flowers, but when Flowers by DZyne bought Bates in early March, Earnhart decided to open her own store.

“It just seemed like the right time,” she said.

In early January, Earnhart and her husband Dean bought the space for the store, which had previously been a photography studio, and have been working on it since. Dean remodeled the entire store, removing or replacing many of the walls.

“We’re here day and night,” Earnhart said.

“Pretty much seven days a week, fifteen hours a day,” Dean added.

The couple’s hard work will finally have a change to bloom from Saturday, April 11. The grand opening will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will include raffles, giveaways and cookies. The first 50 people to come will also receive a free rose.