Debra Prinzing

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Episode 644: Roadside Blooms’ Toni Reale – on taking risk to buy land and build a new flower shop in North Charleston, South Carolina

January 10th, 2024

Today’s guest is longtime Slow Flowers member Toni Reale, owner and creator of Roadside Blooms in North Charleston, South Carolina. Let’s learn about how she takes risks to grow her diversified floral and plant enterprise – I’m certain that you’ll gain some tips for your business!The shop specializes in weddings, events and everyday deliveries using near 100 percent American- and locally-grown blooms.

Toni Reale, Roadside Blooms
Toni Reale, Roadside Blooms

Toni founded Roadside Blooms with a story to tell and a mission to share, believing that beauty and sustainability don’t just co-exist, they work in concert. With over 10 years of experience in the event-planning and floral-design industries, Toni’s many adventures led her to successful entrepreneurship of a values-based enterprise. She has a Master’s degree in geology and taught geology at the College of Charleston; she converted a 1971 British ice cream truck into a mobile flower shop (the original Roadside Blooms) and is a leader of Charleston’s “green and local” movement, Toni has served on various nonprofit boards, including the Charleston Green Fair, and she was recognized as one of Charlie magazine’s “50 Most Progressive” in Charleston in 2014.

Toni Reale (right) and Laura Mewborn (left)
Production day at the Seashore Farmers’ Lodge No. 767; Toni Reale (right) attaches a vibrant palette of Lowcountry S.C.-grown blooms, including those from Laura Mewborn of Feast & Flora Farm (left).

Toni partnered with Laura Mewborn of Feast & Flora to create a beautiful botanical couture design for American Flowers Week 2019, collaborating with her friend Giovanni Richardson, a Sea Island Gullah Chieftess, who modeled the historically significant floral garment. I’ll share a link to their story in today’s show notes.  

The Roadside Blooms team (Toni Reale is second from right)
The Roadside Blooms team (Toni Reale is second from right)

Let me tell you why I asked Toni to be my guest today. We have been tracking the innovation in the floral retail space over the past years, and when I learned that Toni expanded Roadside Blooms to a larger store this past summer, I wanted to learn more. As you may have heard in our 2024 Slow Flowers Floral Insights & Industry Forecast, which I shared in last week’s episode, one of our key insights is called “Floral Literacy.” I shared about the exciting retail news that Slow Flowers members represent a countertrend in brick-and-mortar retail, including Roadside Blooms’ new retail floral spaces, and others’ new ventures, which are closely associated with values, community, and an unique approach to locally-sourced flowers.

So let’s jump in and meet Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms. Toni filmed a few short video clips to share the interior and exterior of her new shop and I’ve edited those into my recent interview with her. Thanks so much for joining us today – I am so inspired by the story that Toni Shared and she gave me a jolt of encouragement that I hope you felt, too. Her approach to a collaborative entrepreneurship is her “secret sauce” for success. We wish her continued success in the coming year!

Find and follow Roadside Blooms design studio on Instagram
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News of the Week!

Slow Flowers Summit 2024
Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

The Slow Flowers Summit Early Bird Registration campaign has come to a close and we congratulate the folks who took advantage of the money-savings opportunity to grab early registration! Ticket sales continue through June – and if you’re already a Slow Flowers member, you’ll receive $100 off your registration, which is the equivalent of the Standard annual membership, so it basically pays for itself! In the coming weeks, we’ll be highlighting more of our speakers and more about some of the special experiences associated with joining our community in Banff, Alberta, Canada – June 23-25th!

Thank you to our Sponsors!

This show is brought to you by, the free, online directory to more than 750 florists, shops, and studios who design with local, seasonal and sustainable flowers and to the farms that grow those blooms. It’s the conscious choice for buying and sending flowers.

Thank you to Longfield Gardens, which provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Check out the full catalog at Longfield Gardens at

Thank you to Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Find the full catalog of flower seeds and bulbs at

Thank you to Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at It was nice to hear that Toni works with her local Charleston branch of Mayesh to source American grown flowers – that’s good news!

Slow Flowers Podcast Logo with flowers, recorder and mic

Thank you for joining me today! The Slow Flowers Podcast is a member-supported endeavor, downloaded more than one million times by listeners like you. Thank you for listening, commenting and sharing – it means so much. As our movement gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of our domestic cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious. I know you feel it, too. If you’re new to our weekly Show and our long-running Podcast, check out all of our resources at

Debra in the Slow Flowers Cutting Garden
Thank you for listening! Sending love, from my cutting garden to you! (c) Missy Palacol Photography

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Show & Podcast. The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more Slow Flowers on the table, one stem, one vase at a time. Thanks so much for joining us today and I’ll see you next week!

Music Credits:

Drone Pine; Waterbourne; Turning on the Lights; Gaena
by Blue Dot Sessions

by Tryad

In The Field

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