MILFORD, Del. (AP) — When Milford native Anastasia Jackson made her first paper flower almost five years ago, she had no idea it would later bloom into a business.
“I was just trying to find things to do while sedentary,” said Jackson, who was recovering from a hip injury at the time in late 2017. “It was encouraging because I had a lot of downtime.”
A search on YouTube for crafts to do at home with household items led her to a paper flower tutorial. Once she made her first one, she posted a picture of it on Facebook.
A short time later, her first order for a custom paper flower came from Texas, she said.
Jackson’s paper flower requests picked up and eventually transformed into Cookie’s Paper Petals.
Right before the pandemic began, Jackson decided to take her floral foray a step further and opened a brick-and-mortar store in Milford on Front Street.
“I was going through so much at one time, my world came crashing down. That’s what pushed me to pursue the storefront in 2020,” she said. “No matter what happened, I was gonna flourish.”
Cookie’s Paper Petals serves as an ode to Jackson’s grandmother, who nicknamed her “cookie.” Her grandmother passed away in 2017 as her business was getting started. She thought the use of her nickname was more attention-grabbing and allowed for an inspirational backstory she could share with people, she said.
Now, her paper flowers have reached every state in the country — and even beyond, including places like Trinidad and Tobago and Côte d’Ivoire.
Jackson’s Facebook page is filled with behind-the-scenes looks at her paper flower orders, updates on upcoming events, weekly livestreams and craft-related discussions.
Jackson recently hosted a livestream where she prepped an order for California that was to be used as background decoration for a customer’s home office.
“Paintings are amazing, but paper flowers are like, ‘oh wow, what is that,’” she said.
Much like a regular floral arrangement, paper flowers have a multitude of uses including centerpieces or corsages, wall décor or bouquets. Made with paper, tape, wire, and glue instead of live flowers, these decorations are easier to maintain, long-lasting and more cost-effective.
Jackson has also created backdrops for baby showers which were later used for the children’s bedrooms, floral bouquets for a bridal party that ended up as table centerpieces and various special designs requested by customers.
At her storefront, people can purchase paper flowers, sign up for paper flower making classes or attend various events.
The business featured a Valentine’s Day event where four different vendors were present, allowing people to stop by and pick up various craft kits throughout the day, like a valentine’s day t-shirt, and easily complete them to take home and enjoy.
“We live in such a fast-paced world where everyone wants to grab and go,” she said. “That’s the cool thing about make and take.”
The grab-and-go events are open during store hours and allow customers to come in at their convenience and partake in craft exercises.
Not only does Jackson offer her space for unique events if customers want to host gatherings there such as bachelorette parties or bridal showers, but she also travels to clients who request a live paper flower making class for their celebrations.
Above Cookie’s Paper Petals is a studio that Jackson has converted into a “maker space.” For a $45 yearly membership, individuals without their own crafting space can use the studio to get creative and make new friends.
Jackson also created a Facebook group, called East Coast Crafters, where people can share their latest creative endeavors, get feedback from others and foster friendships with other craft-lovers.
Beginning this year, the shop will have a flower of the month that can be spotted in fun ways around the storefront and is released in tandem with a cookie launch. January was the month of the rose and February was the month of the Dahlia.
Jackson also plans to make paper flowers that raise awareness about current events including the fight against breast cancer and World Autism Awareness Day.
“There’s a lot of new things that are gonna be coming up in the next couple months,” she said. “I just thought it was gonna be something I was doing at home, and now I have this storefront which is amazing.”
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