Back in 1985, Vicki Beuth didn’t have time to stop and smell the roses.

The divorced mother of three worked full-time selling newspaper ads and hated every second of it. Then a client — an Armstrong County florist — offered her a job managing his store.

Beuth biked to the flower shop, where she made only $3 an hour but reaped the kind of happiness money can’t buy.

“I fell in the love with the whole industry,” she says. “I was able to use my artistic flair and express my emotions through flowers.”

Now Beuth, an FTD Master Designer who has been in the business for nearly 40 years, is using her knowledge to help other people bloom.

In 2017, she launched the Pennsylvania Floral Academy to teach professional techniques and the history behind the eye-popping plants. She’s based in Sarver, but, starting Sept. 11, Beuth will offer a series of courses in the Strip District.

Photo courtesy of PA Floral Academy.

Classes will be held at 2647 Smallman St., a warehouse used by a key supplier in the city’s flower scene for 75 years, BW Wholesale Florist.

The beginner course, which is spread out over six, four-hour installments, will cover everything from the terminology and tools of the trade to arranging centerpieces, creating corsages and customer service. The course is $700, including materials.

Participants can continue their education in October with a five-part advanced course that gets into the geometry of flower arranging, dried flowers and adding vegetative and botanical elements to a bouquet. The course is $650, including materials.

Beuth plans to hold a showcase at the end of the year so budding florists can display their fragrant handiwork.
With a little encouragement, she says, everyone from shrinking violets to colorful characters can channel their creativity into something beautiful.

Beuth admits she was a late bloomer, but that first floral gig gave her the confidence to open her own shop, Leechburg Floral Co., in 1986. She sold the business eight years ago, but retirement didn’t suit her soul; she missed the customers as much as the flowers.

PA Floral Academy, which also works with local garden clubs, senior centers and schools, keeps Beuth rooted in the industry.

“It’s such a unique career,” Beuth says. “This is the only business where you can see people in the happy times and the sad times. You celebrate weddings and new babies and then you sit there crying with them when their mother dies. You become part of the fabric of the community.”

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.