Time for a little confession: despite notes in my day planner and an Outlook reminder, I completely missed the deadline for this article. When Madelyn Orfitelli reached out to me to check in on my missing post, she caught me in the middle of directing a team of 10 movers dismantling our Old Town studio. Despite being a day or two late, she encouraged me to still write this month’s post about the biggest thing happening in our world right now: relocating our business to Del Ray.
When my husband Chuck and I first bought Helen Olivia in 2013, I remember feeling like we had found our forever home on Pitt Street. I was taken by the charm of our little flower shop, fell in love with the windows and light, and loved being a small part of the Old Town community.
Over the past six years, we’ve tripled in size and have grown in every direction imaginable. Our once quaint shop was bursting at the seams and no matter how hard we tried to reorganize or re-imagine, we had to accept our fate: we needed to move to a bigger space.
Setting out to find a new location felt like such a daunting task that at times we would go weeks without talking about it. It was out of sight and out of mind (anyone else a fan of denial sometimes?). When we were finally ready to get serious, we enlisted the help of local commercial real estate guru, Josh Simon of Lee & Associates, who patiently carted us all over Alexandria looking at properties. First, a warehouse…too sterile. Next, a former taxi cab depot…too weird. After that, a retail space on the main drag in Del Ray…too big of a build out. We searched all of Old Town and all of Del Ray. For months, nothing checked the boxes.
When we first stumbled upon our new studio space on Leslie Avenue in Del Ray, we had the feeling. The space was sprawling, with high ceilings, huge windows, and a modern-industrial vibe. The path forward was all of a sudden very clear.
The lead up to the move felt both short and long at the same time. We spent countless hours with our team agonizing over the layout and design. We built a custom cooler and installed a massive floral sink. We worked with the incredible team at Bonitt Builders to make cosmetic changes to the space. We packed up 15 years’ worth of vases from our Old Town Studio.
As I write this, after a full day of movers, boxes, hauling, and organizing, we are officially moved into our new space in Del Ray. It feels surreal. I don’t think we’ll ever stop missing our little corner shop in Old Town, but we are so excited for our next chapter and new adventure.
Helen Olivia is a boutique floral design studio located in the Del Ray neighborhood. Known for a lush and timeless style, the shop is a favorite among locals. Outside of beautiful flowers, Helen Olivia is a destination for house plants, decorative pottery, and an endless selection of stylish front door wreaths. The shop is also well known for its weekly floral design workshops — come visit us and try your hand at flower arranging! Helen Olivia is owned by Chuck and Rachel Gang who are veterans of the bustling Washington, D.C., events industry. Both are D.C. natives, and reside in the Ft Hunt neighborhood of Alexandria with their son Jack.
1519 Leslie Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301