BELLA FIORE FLORALS
A FAMILY OF FLOWERS:
HOW A 5th GENERATION FLORIST FINDS MEANING IN HIS WORK
We are sitting in Bella Fiore’s storefront in Morgantown, WV with its owner, Jason Savage. It’s a light-filled space with 20-foot ceilings located in Suncrest Towne Centre of Morgantown. This is where the “Gucci” Kroger is, the grocery store where we almost considered having lunch standing up because their sushi is that good. Jason sits across from us at a large wooden farm table. We are surrounded by copper urns, candelabras, and greenery. Fresh flowers sit in a display case nearby.
Jason Savage is upbeat with a quick wit and just a touch of sarcasm. Most of all, he is genuine. This is a guy you would trust to understand the mood you’re in and respond accordingly. He credits this to having “seen it all”. When clients are bereaved, he knows when to speak softly and when to help them have a brief chuckle at an irony in life. When someone is embarrassed to dictate the message they want on a card, he reminds them that “what goes on in the flower shop, stays in the flower shop.”
As a child, Jason sat in the back of his family’s flower, plant and produce market making bows out of bouquet ribbon. He remembers long nights before holidays spent working side-by-side with his family to meet the flower orders of the following day. “I remember putting chicken wire into baskets as a base for a flower arrangement. That was in the days before foam.”
Jason’s great-great-grandparents were growers in Southern Italy before emigrating to America. They worked on a farm, the whole family together. When his grandfather relocated to Fairmont, WV and started growing flowers and vegetables, he brought all seven of his siblings along to help. Their store in Cheat Lake was where Jason grew up. Jason says, “I was very fortunate to grow up in this business. It made me a very hard working and gives deeper meaning to how I spend my days.”
He continues, “I am trying to realize a vision for couples getting married. That’s something that any florist belonging to a national flower chain struggles to do. They are given strict formulas for how each arrangement should be made. I think this has done a lot of damage to our industry. It has desensitized people to how special a floral arrangement is. People now think ‘flowers are flowers’, ‘a yellow lily is a yellow lily’. But it’s what you do with those flowers – the vase, the little details – that makes an arrangement special. I try to add that extra detail to take it one step above. When I’ve done that, I’ll see happy tears from the bride, and sometimes from the mom and dad too.”
Jason mentions one father of a bride who came into the shop to book Bella Fiore for his second daughter’s wedding. As he was chatting with Jason, he recalled seeing his first daughter for the first time in her wedding dress. He remembers rounding the corner and catching a glimpse of the bouquet in his daughter’s hands. It made the whole experience real, and by the time he had his daughter fully in view, he had already broken down in tears. He will never forget that bouquet as a symbol of that special day. For Jason, it’s proof that he’s in the right business. Jason says, “It doesn’t get any deeper than that for a florist.”
Flowers have taken Jason a lot of places. “Celine Dion, Tony Bennett, even Donald Trump. I have worked with so many types of people in so many places. Flowers run through my veins,” he says.
Photography by: Shannon Gray