During a recent break from her corporate job to care for an ailing family member, Colorado Springs native Cathy Berdon had a change of heart about going back to the office. She decided, after a lot of soul searching, to instead pursue her lifelong dream of owning her own business.
On June 30, she opened Carriage House Designs, 723 N. Nevada Ave., a full-service florist and gift shop.
The charming 1899 house she bought probably was never a carriage house, but the name hearkens back to Berdon's childhood, when she and her siblings played in a friend's carriage house in the Old North End - not far from her new shop.
"I just love this part of town. It's a great location," she said. "From here we can attract students from Colorado College and residents from the North End. We also have a ton of clients from Mountain Shadows, Peregrine and The Broadmoor neighborhoods."
Berdon said she knew a downtown or shopping center site wouldn't be right for her vision. She sought out the quaint multi-room home with a large rear parking lot and filled several cozy rooms with items to browse.
"I wanted to rig my inventory the way I like to shop, and that is organized," Berdon said.
Individual displays sport baby items, faith gifts, guy gifts, Mr./Mrs. objects, candles, home accents, jewelry, pet supplies and food. One room rotates inventory for holidays.
"This is really my way of putting all of my loves together under one roof," she said. "So far it's been working out great."
As for the "faith wall," she said, "My faith is very important to me, and I strongly believe that God has led me to where I am today. So I didn't want to leave that out of my store. God has a way of picking you up and putting you down where you're meant to be."
That display has such items as a cross charm to dangle from a car's rear-view mirror, jewelry, home decorations with inspirational quotes and a selection of prayer cards, such as "Prayer for a Police Officer," firefighter or teen.
"As my clientele builds, they will know they can come for gifts as well as flowers," Berdon said. "We are a full-service florist for weddings, engagements, bridal, sympathy, funerals, holidays and any occasion."
A large flower cooler typically has cash-and-carry bouquets as well as buckets of loose flowers so customers can choose blooms. Online orders are accepted, and an extensive gallery of floral designs and plants is available to peruse at her web site. The shop delivers flowers to Colorado Springs, Falcon, Monument, Woodland Park and Pueblo. It's also in a network that delivers flowers nationwide.
Berdon studied floral design, and she relies on part-time designers to pitch in during busy times or on big orders.
"We offer traditional arrangements as well as creative and unique designs," she said.
Berdon also has recycled and upcycled items and reuses materials whenever possible. And she has a "very broad" price range so clients on any budget can find a treasure in her store.
"I deliver happiness with all of my floral arrangements and want people to have that same sense when they come into the store and when they leave," she said.
Customers will find a curated selection of baby headbands, fragrance warmers, toffee, keychains, bath products, notecards, glass-beaded bracelets, knit gloves and boot socks, frames, candlesticks, decorative items and bags.
"I'm trying to build my reputation on being unique," Berdon said.