Boutique storefront for Lily Floral Designs blossoms in Columbus Park
There is a secret language found among flowers. Each bloom speaks to a different sentiment and expresses what words cannot. Betsy Ford and Lily Williams, co-owners of Lily Floral Designs, serve as interpreters for every occasion’s floral needs.
Lily Floral Designs recently opened its first storefront in Columbus Park, but the business partners have a long history with design, rooted in their part-time college jobs. Ford and Williams first met while working at another well-established florist in Kansas City.
“Betsy hired me off the streets. I walked into a flower shop in town, and that’s where we became friends,” says Williams.
Their bond was noticeable as we spoke, working in sync as they prepared bouquets and organized orders. The seasonal arrangements are garnished with hues of gold and orange—each bouquet its own unique art form.
Williams says that she would occasionally work events with Ford, outside of her usual shop maintenance duties. Work that is less glamorous compared to what most people imagine while thinking about floral design.
The business began in Williams kitchen as a creative outlet while Ford had transitioned to working in the Charleston wedding industry. “I got a job in the corporate world and quickly realized I really missed flowers,” says Williams. She posted on Facebook asking if anybody needed a floral designer for their wedding, and her passion project quickly blossomed into a business endeavor. In the following months, she designed floral arrangements for 50 weddings in her apartment kitchen.
Ford decided to leave behind the chaos of the Charleston floral design scene and return to Kansas City. Her love for the city, like a perennial flower, returned as she established her business partnership with Williams.
Williams says, “she [Ford] texted me and said, ‘Do you want to do this for real?’ and I said ‘Please help me I’m drowning.”
The partnership flourished in 2020 amidst event cancellations and the uncertainty of the pandemic year. Despite it all, the business continued to thrive as they operated out of an 800 square foot Brookside studio. Their booked schedule comes with long hours and periods of stress during event preparation.
“I never want to take for granted that we did make it happen,” says Ford. “I never want to complain about it—the sleepless nights are all worth it.”
After two years, the pair decided it was time to upsize. Their location in Columbus Park is nearly quadruple the size of their former location, operating as a shared space with other freelance artists and photographers. Natural light flows into the retail area, reflecting off of the teal-green painted walls— a welcoming environment that fits right into the loving neighborhood.
“It’s such a vibrant community of different backgrounds and stories,” Williams says. “People pop in all the time and tell us their long history of Columbus Park.”
The Pitch recently explored the history of the well-loved neighborhood, and the plans for future developments. Lily Floral Designs is moving into an area of well-established businesses alongside other new additions to the community.
“Some people have been down here forever and they care about this neighborhood, which is exciting because we want to be a part of that,” says Williams.
Located between Cafe Cà Phê and Swoon Bakery, the shop fits right into the expanding block of women-owned businesses. The block is evolving into one of Kansas City’s most aromatic strips. Coffee, flowers, pastries—it may as well be its own candle scent.
This transition has allowed them to expand their delivery services while also building their retail space and event design. The shop has a collection of merchandise ranging from posters and greeting cards to elegant vases. With a wide portfolio for every occasion, they hope to make flowers more accessible to everyone and share the sentiment of each bouquet among a younger demographic.
Lily Floral Designs is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.