Florentino’s Fine Flowers, located in Seattle’s Madison Valley neighborhood, is a charming shop offering a wide selection of fresh flowers and unique gifts. Owner Tino Umali takes pride in creating personalized bouquets that reflect the individuality of both the giver and receiver. The shop features an array of flowers sourced from local greenhouses and international suppliers, as well as a curated selection of gifts, including candles, skincare products, children’s books, and more. 

Whether you’re seeking the perfect bouquet, a special gift, or simply a moment of luxury, Florentino’s invites you to experience the joy of flowers and the warmth of a true community gem.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

How long has the shop been open and how did it come to be?

I’ve been open for just over two years. Originally, I started sharing the space with Shannon Koyano of Hella Happy. She had a gift store here, and then we joined forces and I started doing my flower gig on the side. When Shannon decided to move on, I was able to take over the space.

What are some of the beautiful flowers you have on the counter today? 

We have snapdragons, delphinium, different roses, a few pincushion proteas, some calla lilies, hypericum berry (which is related to Saint John’s wort), some hydrangeas, and green fuji mums. 

I like to keep a fresh rotating stock, so I usually get shipments of fresh flowers delivered 2-3 times a week, just to offer you more selection and more choices. 

Where do you get your flowers? 

There are several local florist greenhouses in the area. Most of them are down in SODO or a little bit further south. I like to mix up my suppliers just because they specialize in different things. There’s a bunch of product that comes from Latin America – mostly Colombia and Ecuador. There are quite a few things that are grown in California as well as British Columbia, so it comes from all over.

What other gifts do you sell in the store? 

We have probably four or five different candle lines, some that are locally produced and some that are made across the country. I carry a number of local artists in the store – the photography, acrylic prints, and pottery are all local artists. 

We have body products, locally sourced skincare products, a wide assortment of children’s books, puzzles, lots of board games, accessories for people, wallets, porcelain teaware, Middle Eastern coffee cups, scarves from Spain, stationery from Italy, soaps from south of France! An assortment of things from across the globe.

What is something that you are proud of? 

I’m proud that I’ve survived for so long, even though it’s only been a few years. I started all this through a Kickstarter with friends and family. The community came out to support me and I’m ever so grateful. I come in every morning and I look around, and I’m just so happy. I had no idea I could be so happy at work!

When you’re arranging a bouquet for someone, what do you think to know about the client? 

I like to know who’s it for and the occasion that’s happening – are we celebrating something? I like to get a feel for the recipient’s personality. 

Give me a few adjectives.You can say they’re regal, or adventurous, or they’re down to earth. Then pick one or two colors, and I can just build off of that. I really enjoy customizing every arrangement to fit the people both the person gifting and the person receiving it.

I’d rather under-promise and over-deliver – I really try hard to make sure I don’t disappoint anyone. I take a lot of pride in the product that I deliver and I want to make sure everybody enjoys it, and that they feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.

Why do you think it’s important for people to shop at small businesses and to support their local businesses? 

So many reasons. I feel like having a strong variety of small businesses in an area really helps give a community a sense of identity. The stores in Madison Valley reflect what the neighborhood itself values, their aesthetic and their style.

Shopping at big box stores is not enjoyable. It’s hard to find someone to help you. It’s hard to actually find what you’re looking for. The workers there are just overwhelmed and they don’t have enough resources to adequately take care of you. And you’re still paying very high prices for the quality of what you’re getting. 

At a small business, you get very personalized service, you’re getting higher quality, and you’re making sure that your neighborhood is thriving and vibrant.

There’s been a ton of construction happening on Madison Street. What has that been like for you as a business owner? 

The Rapid Ride construction along Madison finally reached our intersection of MLK and Madison in October and my sales completely plummeted. I’ve talked to other business owners in the area and they were severely affected as well.

I was down in sales during the holiday season, and I think the construction contributed to it. It was a little bit frustrating because I’m still new and I had a really strong growth trajectory for the beginning of last year. I’ve had to be patient 

I’m a big supporter of mass transit and I’m happy that it’s going to be here – I know there are growing pains, but this part of the process has been rough.

What is a piece of advice that you would give to somebody that is opening up a small business in a retail shop? 

Research! Do a lot of market research. You need to know the neighborhood you’re in and what the people like.

The Seattle Public Library has a ton of resources available. They’re invaluable and they can point you in the right direction if they don’t have the answers and they can connect you with other folks in the community, like mentors. 

It’s really important to know your target demographic and find a neighborhood that really enjoys the same things that you do so you can thrive and be successful.

So my advice is: do lots of market research, figure out your target demographic and make sure you’re situated in the right space.

What are some small businesses in the Madison Valley neighborhood that you would like to give a shout out to? 

The ladies over at Fury are awesome – it’s a consignment store, just a few doors up. They’re so warm and friendly and there’s a lot of great finds in there – it’s like a little treasure hunt. 

I’d also like to give a shout out to Bad Bishop, it’s one of my favorite bars down in Pioneer Square. My friends Jesse and Keaton opened it a few years ago, and they’ve been able to survive COVID. Every time I go, like there’s a sense of community. They put a lot of heart into what they do and it’s one of my favorite places to just hang out and enjoy life.

Leave a Reply