Bloom has sprouted again.
When artist and Businesswoman Mimi Sullivan settled on Bloom as the name of the Newark shop she opened i 2004, she wanted to convey a nature-inspired vibe, create the positive feeling that flowers will bring and hint at the strict store policy that no animals be harmed in producing the multitude of products for sale.
Now she’s doing the same thing in Greenville’s Powder Mill Square, in another Bloom she opened in June.
The plan had been to open there in late March, but Covid-19 delayed it. The doors finally swung open June 2, after Gov. John Carney eased restrictions on retail establishments.
“A few vendors saw me as brave, that it took courage to open up during a pandemic,” said the well-traveled Sullivan. “But I had the lease, I had the plan. I said, ‘I gotta go for it!’ And business is great! I couldn’t be happier to be here, making a living.”
She said there’s been a lot of foot traffic between her store and others in the area. It’s only a few doors down from the Greenville Starbucks and around the corner from the Greenville Brew Haha!, both busy locations.
The Newark shop just off Main Street is still thriving. Sullivan briefly had opened a shop in Trolley Square, but the space proved too small for the plethora of clothing, jewelry and gift items for sale, so Sullivan shut down that operation when she acquired the Greenville location.
Bob Chadwick, president of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, agreed the timing of the Greenville opening is unique.
“I don’t see a lot of brand-new businesses opening,” he said. “Clearly a lot of small businesses are having difficulties during this time. I think it’s a brave step. It takes a lot of confidence and optimism and I’m rooting for them.”
The mix of clothing, jewelry and gifts offered by Bloom are carefully selected with confidence by Sullivan on buying trips to NYC, Atlanta and Philly.
“I only buy what I love,” said the Thomas McKean High School graduate. “When you go to the trade shows, you have to edit, edit right on the spot. I know in a split second what is not right for the store.’’
Daisy Duke shorts and half-crop tops don’t make the cut, she said, even in the Newark store that is geared for a younger crowd than the Greenville space, located at 3828D Kennett Pike.
But flora and fauna prints grace many of the items, along with animal prints, draped vegan leather jackets, scalloped mini-skirts and dainty slip dresses.
“We are willing to take risks with color and texture,” she said. ‘’We look for the unusual, not your standard sweatpants and sweatshirts…..We do have sweatpants and shirts, but they won’t be standard.’’
Many of the non-standard looks available take on an artistic blend: feminine with a touch of edge; sweet with a splash of naughty; professional with a slight tinge of vamp.
That Sullivan can mix designs as an artist mixes colors comes as no surprise. She earned a degree in fashion design at Moore College of Art & Design and studied painting at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
At 18, while in school, Sullivan worked with jewelry designer Sunny Chapman. During her junior and senior years in college she commuted to New York City twice weekly to work for acclaimed fashion designer Kay Unger.
For 13 years after graduation, she worked as a fashion and jewelry designer in the several places she lived, including LA, Philly and New York City.
She returned home to fulfill her lifelong dream of opening a store expressing her own design and fashion sensibilities. She picked up some business acumen along the way as well, pricing the Greenville apparel below what one may expect in the tony shopping center, with 95 percent of the clothing priced below $100 and 70 percent of the items at less than $70.
The cornucopia of gift items – “tiny treasures” as Sullivan called them – are quirky and unusual. They include a full line of body care products, five lines of perfumes, date books, candles, hats, greeting cards, teapots and cups, frames, assorted tiny bags, handmade soaps, headbands and stuffed unicorns.
In addition to clothing and gifts, the shop is also known for its wide variety of handmade jewelry one cannot find elsewhere in the region, making the shop a destination trip for people coming to Delaware, said Sullivan.
She proudly displays jewelry from 80 different artists, many of whom she met in her travels and 50 of whom who are women. From delicate necklace strands with one small charm, to multi-stranded bright beads and slices of agate stone, pieces are varied and one-of-a-kind.
“We are dedicated to representing talented artists and designers and supporting ethical production,” said Sullivan.
To keep things fresh, Sullivan and her friendly crew switch out displays frequently and give a whole new look to the front window five times a year. Inside, wares are changed out on an almost daily basis.
“We have 80 artists that make things for the shop,” she said. “So, it’s like Christmas in here every day.”
“Customer service is key here,” she said. “We do a lot of things that other stores just don’t do.”