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Kelly Kregel has been in the flower business since before she was born.

Literally.

Her mother, Jane, started arranging flowers when she was pregnant with Kelly.

“She was two weeks overdue with me,” Kregel explained.

At the time, they lived near Richfield, about 45 minutes from their Beaver Dam doctor, who was busy doing an emergency delivery when Jane went in for a check-up.

“They told her to come back in two hours,” Kregel said.

Idea is born

So, Jane took a walk in downtown, where she found a craft store offering a silk flower corsage class.

“And it was starting in, like, five minutes,” Kregel laughed. “She said, ‘That sounds interesting — and I can sit down.’”

After class, Jane bought enough supplies to make a few corsages. Her doctor even asked to order one. Later, Jane sold corsages at craft fairs. One day, a woman handed her $100 to design her wedding flowers.

“My mother had no idea how to design wedding flowers, so she checked out every book in the library to learn,” Kregel said.

Today, nearly 95 percent of the studio’s business comes from weddings, although Kregel and her team — Kregel works with her mom; her new husband, Matt; two seasonal employees; and a handful of installers, usually teachers looking for a summer job — also do bridal showers, baby showers and corporate events.

Despite its nearly 40 years in business, Jane Kelly Floral is new to Wauwatosa. The store moved to Tosa in late 2013, when Jane moved from Richfield to be closer to her daughters. She set up shop in two connected storefronts on North Avenue near 64th Street; Kregel took ownership in May 2014 and changed the name from Designed Especially For You Floral.

Coming on board

Kregel had relatively little to do with the business until 2012, working instead as an interior designer. But after 11 years of arranging spaces, Kregel said she was burned out and looking for a change.

“I said, ‘I really don’t know if I have a passion for floral design, but something about it feels right,’” she said. “So, I took the leap.”

Last year, Kregel and her mother did 170 weddings.

This year, one of those weddings was her own; Kregel (formerly Stueber) and Matthew Kregel got married Jan. 28 — the third anniversary of the death of Kelly's father, Doug, a former volunteer fire chief in Clyman, a village of about 300 people west of Richfield; he died from melanoma in 2014.

Unfortunately, Kregel’s new husband never knew her father; the two met just weeks before her father died. But the couple agreed it was only fitting to mark the beginning of their new life together on the day his life was done.

“A lot of good came from a bad time,” Kregel said.

The experience also helped Kregel appreciate even more the many emotional layers that so often make up a wedding day. It’s part of the reason she takes such a wide range of clients.

“We have done something as simple as one bridal bouquet for $200 to art museum weddings for $10,000. It’s the whole gamut.”

So, when a groom’s mother came to her last summer and asked for a surprise bouquet for the bride — she originally wasn’t going to carry one — Kregel immediately said yes.

“I feel like I was raised to be someone who has good values and try to pay it forward as much as I can. I don’t know if it’s because when I grew up we didn’t have much at all. But that stuff means a lot to me.”

JUST THE FACTS

BUSINESS: Jane Kelly Floral, 6413 W. North Ave.
WEB:www.janekellyfloral.com
PHONE: 414-640-0204
OWNER: Kelly Kregel
INCORPORATED: 1979
TYPE OF BUSINESS: floral studio
PEARLS OF WISDOM: “We’re a small operation, but we did 170 weddings last year. It’s a fun place to be,” Kregel said.

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