Kelly Dupuis calls herself the flower whisperer.
She says it with a laugh. It's corny, she knows, but she truly thinks that the blooms speak to her.
“Flowers are unpredictable,” she says. Once you cut them, they'll twist and the florist has to adjust. “It's wild and free, and I love it.”
Dupuis is the owner and lead designer at Ruth Elliot Designs
, a new flower, plant and gift shop located at 103 W. Lake Ave. in New Carlisle.
Dupuis has been surrounded by plants and flowers from a young age since her parents once owned a landscaping business – Sherick's Landscaping – in New Carlisle. Her mother, Alice Sherick, was a landscape architect and Dupuis's “biggest cheerleader,” and opening a flower shop was a dream Dupuis and her mother shared. Sherick died in 2017, but Ruth Elliot Designs held its grand opening this year on March 5 – Sherick's birthday.
“Flowers and plants were always in my blood,” Dupuis says.
She began selling flower arrangements from home 10 years ago and further honed her skills by working in a Kroger floral department.
What sets Ruth Elliot Designs apart, she says, is that every arrangement is custom-made and one of a kind. Even the vases, planters and baskets she uses are often upcycled from the antique and thrift stores she frequents.
Dupuis, 32, creates “works of heart,” she says, and the name of the store itself is full of meaning. Ruth is the name of her paternal grandmother, and Elliot is the name of the daughter she lost in a miscarriage in 2014.
Although Ruth Elliot Designs is a one-woman shop, Dupuis's family is by her side. Her husband, Brian, and father, Darrell Sherick, make deliveries. Kelly and Brian's two sons, 10-year-old Austin and 7-year-old Dylan, will stop by after school, and their daughter, Abigail, 5, can often be found at the shop with Dupuis.
The Tecumseh High School
graduate has lived in New Carlisle since she was 3 years old. The city had four flower shops when she was growing up. Today, she says hers is the only one.
Dupuis has always been drawn to her hometown and to the idea of having a business there. It was a pleasant surprise to be able to sustain herself so quickly with flowers, using mostly word-of-mouth marketing.
“It was really nice to have my community behind me,” she says.
Dupuis says she owes part of her success to her friend, Crissy Grout, who gave her the chance to help gift flowers through her group, called Flower Fairy Sisterhood of Clark, Greene County. The opportunity provided her with the momentum she needed to bring her flower shop to life. Grout died of lupus earlier this year, before the store opened.
Dupuis and her flowers are there for some of the happiest and saddest moments in her customers' lives – from births to funerals and everything in between. She also prepares arrangements for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and often, just because.
She specializes in Living Grace baskets, which are half fresh flowers and half plants. These are popular for funerals, she says, because even when the flowers wilt there is still something living to take home.
The shop also offers grab-and-go bouquets and has begun to take pre-orders for Mother's Day. Dupuis can create a unique arrangement based on customers' flower or color preference, or their budget. In addition, she prepares arrangements with set prices, and even those are custom-made.
Ruth Elliot Designs also sells silk flower arrangements and carries other gifts, including trinket trays, makeup bags, plant hangers and more.
Flowers, Dupuis says, bring her joy and give her a chance to be creative. Just being around flowers lightens things up.
“It makes your whole attitude change,” she says. “It makes you feel like you're alive.”
Florists have to find their own style, Dupuis says. She will start with the water or foam and let the flowers take her wherever they want to go. More often than not, it turns out beautifully.
“I don't go with a certain look,” she says. “I let the flowers give me a look.”