Growing up, Holley Simmons would help her mother, gluing rhinestones on custom gowns the seamstress created for ballroom dancers. “It was like a playground,” Simmons recalled. “She had multiple sewing machines, multiple mannequins. She was always working on something glamorous.”
It was a crafty, hands-on background that instilled in Simmons an appreciation for the arts. Now, the founder of florist She Loves Me (721 Eighth St. SE) uses flowers, fresh and dried to create her own kind of glamor for special events, celebrations and important moments.
“Nature is anything but perfect,” Simmons said. “Something that’s asymmetrical, that’s slightly flawed, something that is kind of curious and draws your eye in—that’s what we aim for with our flowers. That’s also the type of experience we’re trying to create in both our spaces.”
A former reporter, Simmons is still interested in objects that tell stories, from the unique Aphrodite vessel that is a best-seller in the shop to the ornate marble-topped table on which it is displayed.
She Loves Me first opened in Petworth in 2019. When COVID hit, the shop closed, killing retail sales and also rescheduling weddings. “Literally, the pillars of our business crumbled overnight.”
Although the shop had offered some delivery, it wasn’t a huge part of business until they launched a charitable bouquet benefiting We Are Family, a local non-profit that provides meals and companionship to isolated seniors, a demographic hit particularly hard during the pandemic. They went from two delivery orders per week to 250; Simmons went on to hire an operations manager and drivers.
Deliveries kept the florist afloat, but the Petworth location was too small to handle the volume. So She Loves Me spread its tendrils throughout the District. A new shop is set to open any day now in Eckington Yards (1550 Harry Thomas Way NE).
It will be the flagship store and production facility, a space for customers to stay and assemble their own bouquets, check out the dried flowers (“they’re have a moment,” Simmons says) or puruse a wide selection of gifts.
The Capitol Hill shop is a place to get the most popular of the closely-curated She Loves Me selection, offering a small space to access best-selling bouquets and gifts.
But Simmons did not plan to open two shops –Capitol Hill has restauranteur Aaron Silverman (Rose’s Luxury) to thank for a smaller offshoot on Barracks Row. Silverman showed Simmons the little space in front of his catering kitchen, and she decided it was a space well-suited to putting down roots for an intimate little flower shop.
The newly opened She Loves Me (721 Eighth St. SE) offers wreaths, centerpieces, pre-made bouquets and a small selection of dried flowers sold by the stem. Seasonal flowers are sourced from local, women-owned farms throughout the spring, summer and fall.
When winter comes, She Loves Me switches its focus, doing its best to work with American-grown blooms. gifts from jewelry and bath soaks and candles to confetti cannons and flower growing kits. In addition to flowers and gifts, She Loves Me offers in-person and virtual workshops and arrangements for micro-weddings.
She Loves Me Capitol Hill is open Wednesdays to Fridays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. | Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shop online at Shelovesme.com