On a sunlit Saturday morning in early fall, Teresa Wilson and a guest sit on the back porch of her home and discuss everything from Michael Pollan to parenting.
Wilson shares her cozy 1952 ranch home with her sons Keane, 5, and Enoch, 2. Located in the Camelback East neighborhood, the home is just over 1,700 square feet and features three bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Wilson says she was drawn to the house because of the proximity to her work and the fenced yard for her little boys. When she moved into the rental three years ago, she quickly painted the interior walls and exterior trim white.
“It was quite a few shades of taupe,” she remembers.
The stark white walls provide a perfect backdrop for the original artwork Wilson has acquired. In the back yard, there’s a detached cottage she affectionately refers to as the war room. “It’s a great place to sit and make plans,” she says, smiling. It’s also the studio where Wilson, who’s been painting since childhood, creates her art.
Prior to living here, Wilson owned a home in the Willo neighborhood. She says she loved the feeling of community there.
“People don’t generally have garages [in Willo], so when you get out of your car, you wave to your neighbor. I like that,” she says.
In addition to mothering and making art, Wilson owns Camelback Flowershop, located at 41st Street and Indian School Road. She bought the shop, known then as Camelback Florist, in 2004. She was one of several people vying to purchase the business, and credits her success to “youth and tenacity.”
On January 4 of that year, which happened to be Wilson’s birthday, the previous owner called with the good news.
“He said I was the only one who didn’t speak unfavorably about the other potential buyers, and the only woman doing this alone,” she recalls, “and then he looked at my birth date and said it was in the stars.”
“I also offered him $200 more a month for rent,” she says laughing, “but I like the part about the stars.”
For the first nine years, Wilson worked 60 to 70 hours a week.
“It was me and one other employee, a driver, and I didn’t even pull a salary until I was five years in,” she says.
In 2010, Wilson was expecting her first child and made a decision to step back from the shop to spend more time nesting at home. She hired a really good manager and took a leap of faith.
“And I let go,” she reflects, “and I thought, ‘Oh, my God! It’s working!’”
At that time, she was going in a couple of times a month for just a few hours. These days, she spends more time at the shop because she simply loves the work. Wilson says she has a fabulous crew managing the business day to day, and she has more time to hunt down unique gifts and specialty goods.
Her favorite tradition at the shop is Fresh Flower Happy Hour; every Friday from 1 to 6 p.m., all fresh cut flowers are half off.
“I’ve been doing it since year two, and I’ve never made any money on it,” she says, “but I love it and my customers love it.”
Wilson recognizes the significance of creating a warm and welcoming environment in her shop, so she invests in her employees and trains them to maintain that sensibility.
“Talk to everyone who comes through the door as though they’re walking into your living room,” she says.
“That’s how I want my friends, potential clients, everyone to feel when they’re around Teresa. It’s not about spending money; it’s about being kind and being a good member of this community.”