Recently I spent a long weekend in Rosemary Beach, Florida, which is a gorgeous beach town in the panhandle. Among the new restaurants and shops is a flower studio called Iona’s Flower Market, managed by the lovely and talented Brittni Walker.

It’s fitting that Brittni would operate a flower shop in Rosemary Beach, because she grew up coming here during the summers with her family. Wondering where the name Iona came from? “Iona was my grandmother’s name,” explains Brittni. “She led a very fascinating life but passed away when I was around 2 years old, so I never got to do anything special with her that I could remember. So in a way, this flower shop is a tribute to her.”

Like the restaurant business, floral design is so much about creation and presentation. But behind the scenes there is so much leg work to do. Brittni has paid close attention to the locals and visitors in Rosemary to best decide what kinds of flowrs should be sold at Iona’s. “Just like designer clothes, there are designer flowers. I try to carry the best of the best. Since we are more of a boutique flower shop, we carry higher end flowers such as hydrangeas, roses, calla lilies and peonies when they’re in season.”

Sounds like a shop after my own heart.

People who own homes or vacation in Rosemary Beach tend to have a sophisticated understanding of design, and Brittni looks to the top designers for inspiration. “Preston Bailey is the person I most look up to. His ideas are out of this world, I strive to be as good as he is and I base a lot of my arrangements off of his style,” Brittni raves. Take a peek at the shop’s Facebook page and you’ll see the lush, voluptuous floral designs Brittni’s talking about.

Some flower shops build their business plan around weddings and events, and others focus on daily orders for birthdays, funerals, anniversaries and get well soon arrangements. Brittni sees Iona’s leaning in both directions. “We are here for the people no matter what occasion they have. We will take on anything that comes our way!”

Rosemary Beach is a favorite destination for weddings, and there are indoor and outdoor venues around town that are perfect for both ceremonies and receptions. Because of this, florists in the area clamor to get the attention of engaged couples. We ask Brittni what Iona’s can offer that is different than the competition. “Iona’s offers an elegance and sophistication and a trustworthy, professional relationship. Being a florist is kind of like being a therapist. Everybody who walks through that door is going through something in their life. Whether it be a birthday, funeral, anniversary or wedding, I listen and let people tell me their story of joy, sadness, or whatever. When I am designing the arrangements I carry out that emotion and turn it into something to make people happy. Because of this, my wedding designs are unique to each couple. I don’t just design out of a catalog, and people appreciate that their flowers are custom.”

Soon, Iona’s will launch its own website and will begin hosting floral design workshops. Floral workshops are a hot ticket these days. Says Brittni: “We have been planning on doing some workshops during the busy summer season when there are a lot of residents.”

Check out the gallery of photos I brought home from my visit. And if you have any questions for Brittni about the new shop, please leave a comment in the section below.