News & Politics

Holley Simmons of the DC Flower Shop She Loves Me on Her Toughest Mother’s Day

Having a stack of deliveries to make when you’re not a delivery business and are running out of flowers.

When Simmons ran low on flowers for Mother’s Day 2020, the She Loves Me owner threw in scarves and other gifts. “I can laugh about it now, but I was like, I’m going to go out of business!” Photograph by Evy Mages .

Holley Simmons opened her flower shop, She Loves Me, in the winter of 2019, but if there was a season she wasn’t sure the business would make it, it was Mother’s Day 2020, during the height of Covid. The shop, then with only one Petworth location (since replaced by two, in Eckington and Capitol Hill), was battling a lot of things: There were flower shortages; her primary sources of business—weddings, walk-ins, workshops—had come to a halt; and practically overnight, she had to start offering delivery, despite having no such system in place, least of all boxes or drivers. To forge ahead, Simmons decided to figure it out on the fly. The situation, as she recalls here, devolved quickly. “Essentially, I just kept accepting orders. And accepting orders. I wasn’t really understanding how much supply I’d need. I just knew, This is great—we’re getting a lot of orders! Until I started making bouquets. Towards the end, I was like, Oh, my God—we’re going to run out of flowers. Meanwhile, I have a stack of deliveries to make.

“Instead of simply explaining to people, I kicked into problem-solving gear [laughs], for better or worse. I went to the grocery store, but it was completely picked over. Then I went to plan B.

“I thought it would make people happy if I sent them cool shit from my home. That’s the only way I can explain it. I was like, Someone would love this silk scarf I bought in Italy. . . . This trinket box is really pretty! [It was] the only way I could think to not disappoint people. It got so dire that I had these half-dead tomato plants and was like, I’m sure someone would love to rehabilitate these. Maybe they’re a gardener.

“The vast majority of people were so happy. Then, of course, there were [a few] who were like, ‘What the actual eff did you send me?’ I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was like, I’m going to go out of business! What was I thinking? But if I can just put you in the first months of the pandemic: Anything went. I was like, They’ll understand—the world is on fire!

“Something like that would never happen again, but I chalk it up to doing the literal best we could. Behind every young, small business is someone with a lot of hunger just trying to figure things out.

“And for anybody who did receive one of my Italian silk scarves, if you’re no longer using it, I’d love that back.”

This article appears in the May 2023 issue of Washingtonian.

Amy Moeller
Fashion & Weddings Editor

Amy leads Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.