For Scott Robertson, every flower he uses in his creations is a work of art reflecting his own personal spin on design.
“I think what we do here is really floral art, because we don’t just throw things in a vase,” he says of his new Stems Fleur floral and gift boutique in Cleveland Heights. “We mix traditional and really clean, modern looks, and people are starting to recognize our work.”
2495 Lee Blvd.
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
Robertson believes the arrangements he creates are unique and stand out from anything else you see in the region. In fact, he is often called to create arrangements for reality TV personality Khloe Kardashian’s and Cavs center Tristan Thomas’ master bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen when they are in Cleveland.
“That’s my little bragging moment,” Robertson says. “It’s fun to go to their amazing house right on the lake.”
But Robertson mainly sells his creations to his growing customer base that wants tidy, modern arrangements. “I like to be creative and do smaller things,” he says. “When you order from us, we don’t do big, showy arrangements with tons of greenery. We do things a little more compact and full of flowers, and they’re all done by hand.”
In the approximately 2,000-square-foot shop and studio set in a former knife-making shop in the Rockefeller Building, Stems Fleur sells ready-made arrangements, plants, and locally made gifts, while also creating custom arrangements and servicing smaller weddings.
Robertson, who is originally from Northeast Ohio, spent eight years in New York City working for some of the best floral designers in the industry. He and his partner, Chet Rojice, moved to New York on a whim and fell in love. While Rojice got a job at a synagogue, Robertson worked with floral powerhouses like Olivier Giugni of L’Olivier Floral Atelier.
“I got to do some amazing things with him for five years,” Robertson says of working with Giugni. “And coming from Ohio, he kicked the old design [styles] out of me. He was tough on me, but I learned a lot.”
Robertson also secured the title of weekly florist for a store selling fashion icon Carolina Herrera’s designs while in New York. “It taught me a lot,” he says. “I got to be around really beautiful fashion and that kind of world every week.”
Then, six years ago, Robertson and Rojice decided it was time to come home. The two moved to Shaker Heights and started their own business in the basement three years ago—Robertson working the creative end and Rojice doing bookkeeping (alongside his day job at Dealer Tire’s IT department).
“We literally started from scratch in the basement, banging my head on everything, making arrangements, wrapping them, and delivering them,” Robertson says. “That grew up into the dining room and kitchen and out into the garage. Finally, Chet was like, ‘Okay, I think we need to find another space.’ We were getting too big, and I couldn’t do weddings out of the house.”
Robertson and Rojice decided to rent an old warehouse in Ohio City, which offered more workspace but wasn’t geared toward attracting customers. Then, last summer, the couple's friend Shawn Paul told them about a storefront that had opened up next door to his salon. “I came in here and was like, ‘It’s perfect,’” recalls Robertson of his new store.
Robertson and Rojice spent two months renovating the shop to their liking and opened Stems Fleur in September. He describe the new store as a “European flower shop with a modern twist to it.”
“Chet and I built [and] painted everything, because we were on such a budget,” Robertson says. “It was a knife store before, so everything was dirty and old and beat up.
The large studio allows Robertson to easily create his custom interior designs. "The back studio is great for me because everything is right at my fingertips," says Robertson. "When we have more work, we have more people who come in and we can all work around the table.”
In addition to custom arrangements and interior floral and plant designs—such as a moss Zen garden in a mid-century modern house—Robertson has a selection of “designers choice” arrangements starting at $59.95 and themed arrangements, available both in the store and online. He employs a retired couple to deliver flowers all over Cuyahoga County.
Robertson’s local projects include Fashion Week Columbus, Columbus Museum of Art, and Eton Chagrin Boulevard. He has also designed Orchid Mania at the Cleveland Botanical Garden for the past two years, as well as their annual holiday Glow show.
Moving forward, Robertson has his eyes on the courtyard outside his back door, where Shawn Paul Salon patrons often gather. When the spring arrives, he plans to adorn the courtyard with planters full of his designs. He has been working with a Cleveland Heights event planner and says he hopes to host local vendors in the courtyard this summer.
“I want to start doing more local things,” he says. “The neighborhood has really embraced us, and we get a lot more walk-in customers. It’s been great for us.”
Stems Fleur is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (but Saturday hours can be “hit or miss” until Robertson can bring someone in to tend shop when he is working on a show.)