Flowers From Maggie Kate, With A Smile
By Diego De Jesus
Photos courtesy of Maggie Kate Williams
Driving back from a Tampa farmer’s market when she was 17 years old, Lakeland native Maggie Kate Williams had the idea of opening a flower cart after seeing all of the bouquets of flora. She earned her business license two weeks later, and in 2021, the idea began to blossom into a business.
Maggie Kate’s Flower Cart has a ring to it like you’re going to be greeted with a smile by a Southern belle. Her mother, Melissa Williams, was the main inspiration behind the name since she gave it to her, and saying it has always made her smile. It now makes Maggie Kate smile when passersby say it at the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market in front of Palace Pizza.
She never saw herself working a 9-to-5 job and following a repetitive procedure in an office cubicle, so when the opportunity arose to open her flower cart, she seized it, and her mom has been by her side at every step for the two years she’s been operating the cart.
After taking two months to solidify the business concept, she applied to be a vendor at the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market. She became a full-time vendor after only three months.
“Growing up, I had always loved flowers, and as a kid, I would go out in the back yard and get little clippings of flowers to create arrangements,” Maggie Kate says. “So I think the second my mom liked it, I saw this was something I could do.”
Crowds amble through Kentucky Avenue and stumble upon her cart, where Maggie Kate aspires to be a token of positivity in someone’s day.
People often mention how happy it makes them to be surrounded by bins of vibrant flowers to be curated into custom bouquets.
The price of each bouquet varies, but the median is around $25. During the week, customers can work with Maggie Kate to provide floral for events, such as weddings, but individual bouquets are reserved for markets or events where her cart is on hand. Stems range from $2 to $6 for events, depending on the flowers selected.
She wanted an ornamental aesthetic to her booth that accompanied the vibrancy of her flowers. At her booth, she has two black industrial metal carts that stand at waist-height.
Each bundle of flora is encased in improvised pots of metal buckets, saucers, mugs, black bins, various porcelain vases and, when they’re in season, gutted pumpkins with a mandala tapestry.
Her fresh-cut flowers come from a range of different florists, from Tampa to Orlando and anywhere where her flowers grow best and develop their gleaming color that catches the eye. Her snapdragons and sunflowers come from Swan City, from an extraordinary source, a local friend named Bobby.
At the beginning of March 2022, she met Bobby while selling her flora at a Southgate market in front of Yoga Pointe. He noticed her stand, and after 10 minutes of talking, he told her he’d be right back. He returned with a display of colorful snapdragons from a swath of land spanning “two football fields” that he tills with his family on south Lakeland soil.
Every Saturday, Maggie Kate is accompanied by her mom, who always encourages her to step out of her comfort zone and interact with people. As a young entrepreneur, she’s made ample friends and connections that have bolstered her confidence as a business person.
She admits that she needs to work on her marketing, but word-of-mouth has given her a community of regulars that she views not as customers but friends stopping by for a visit. Many comment on the quality of the flowers and their long duration compared to others.
“A lot of the times I’ll get people they’ll see me the next week like the next Saturday after they bought flowers and they’ll say to me I would buy flowers, but my flowers from last week are still good,” Maggie Kate says.