Despite the pandemic, people are still celebrating and giving each other flowers. An Imperial Beach resident has taken the opportunity, despite the time of COVID-19, to become a business owner doing something she loves. Anylu Parra Bailey, who has worked with flowers for many years and knows the business well, recently opened a flower shop offering colorful and fragrant flowers and amazing bouquets.
Lilylu Flowers opened two weeks ago in the former location of Criss Cross, a hair salon that had closed due to the pandemic.
Parra Bailey had started her flower shop in a space behind Seaside Candy last October and her local customers had relied on her for flowers and arrangements. When the COVID-19 lockdown happened in March, she was forced to close. By mid-September she took a look around and saw that businesses were reopening and thought it was time to do start over. Parra Bailey started looking for shop locations and settled on one. She filled out an application and went on vacation. By the time she came back, Parra Bailey was told she was approved. “I was incredibly excited. I said ‘Let’s do this.’ I was ready to get back…some things are just meant to be,” she said.
Parra Bailey, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, started making flower arrangements as little girl. “My grandfather asked me to make arrangements for my grandmother with flowers from her garden,” she recalled.
Her grandfather, who was a gardener and worked in the Rose Garden at the Getty Center, paid her $2.50 every Saturday for the arrangements. Parra Bailey thought of that job as a chore at the time and didn’t know she had a real knack for it.
She found out about her natural talent when one night while she worked as a bagger at Vons. A customer inquired about getting a flower arrangement. No one was at the flower booth in the store and Parra Bailey made the arrangement for the customer. When management saw how well she did it, she was hired in the flower department. Vons then sent Parra Bailey to floral design school where she learned a lot about the business end of selling flowers. In time, she became the Flower Department manager. She later worked at Michael’s where she was named the top flower designer in Los Angeles.
While she worked in the floral department, Parra Bailey also attended school and studied to be a registered dental assistant. When she graduated, she thought her work with flowers was over. She got a job in a dentist office in Beverly Hills and later met and married her husband Mark Allan Bailey Jr. Five years ago, the family moved to Imperial Beach. The couple has a 4-year old son. After having a child, Parra Bailey decided to be self-employed to have more control over her schedule.
She also spent weeks at a time with her grandmother in Los Angeles when she was sick. Although her grandmother, Carmen, passed away, Parra Bailey has daily reminder of her in the shop. Parra Bailey keeps an image in the shop of Mother Mary that belonged to her grandmother and makes a bouquet to be placed next to it every week. She will also use her grandmother’s scissors for the opening ribbon cutting ceremony.
Parra Bailey has not made a lot of changes in the store before opening. She has kept the mirrors and tables that were used by the hairstylists and used them to her advantage. The mirrors reflect the many colors of the flowers in the shop and the tables are used for storage. The big addition to the space is the state of the art cooler, she calls the Mercedes Benz of coolers, which allows her to keep her flowers fresh.
Parra Bailey’s storefront is all decked out for fall right now with scarecrows, flowers, signs and other reminders of the season which make the area noticeable and attractive.
“I’m hopeful to keep the trade alive. It’s hard for a real florist and floral designer to compete with grocery stores. We have as skill set and I’m doing my part to keep the trade alive. I hope to inspire people with their passion and take a leap of faith whatever it is they want to do,” she said.
Lilylu offers a variety of floral choices with plants, orchids, bouquets, arrangements that can also be delivered locally and through Teleflora. “I like to have something in everybody’s budget,” she said.
Parra Bailey also offers a weekly grave site flower service for people who have loved ones who passed away and live out of state. Her staff delivers fresh flowers to the gravesites and much more. “We take a lot of pride in it. We make sure the plot is cleaned and wiped down,” she explained.
Parra Bailey said the most popular flowers right now are mums, sunflowers and marigolds, which are fall flowers. Her favorite flower is the calla lily, which is available in the spring through August and Parra Bailey loves creating arrangements with them. Another flower she favors is the snapdragon whose petals replicate the head of dragon.
Parra Bailey prides herself in being up to date in the latest trends and what customers like. She particularly likes to use seeded eucalyptus and spiral eucalyptus in her arrangements because it gives them a striking effect. “We really love to make tasteful pieces,” she said.
Lilylu Flowers will hold a grand opening and blessing this Sunday, Oct. 18 at noon. Parra Bailey invites the public to drive by and honk or stop by. Her grandmother will not be far from her thoughts on that day. Apart from using her scissors to cut the ribbon, Parra Bailey will remember what her grandmother used to tell her, “You are so talented, work for yourself.”
Lilylu Flowers, 1115 Palm Avenue. Call (619) 500-5492 or (619) 274-9480. For more information log on www.lilyluflowers.com Hours: Mon. -Fri. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Sunday. Lilylu Flowers offers a military discount.