The intersection at Old Cantrell Road and Rebsamen Park Road is home to some favorite local eateries and design and décor showrooms. Perched on a peninsula jutting right into the middle of it all is the floral shop About Vase.
Sharp-eyed observers will have noticed some changes afoot on that corner. Windows have been papered over, paint has been scraped, and contractor trucks dot the once-packed parking lot. That’s because this Little Rock institution is undergoing some big changes under the purview of new owner Richard Estelita.
Growing up in San Francisco, Estelita dreamed of being an opera singer and moved to New York City to pursue this career. While looking for work as a singer, Estelita took a job as a concierge at the renowned Carlyle Hotel.
It was here that Estelita had his first experience with the floral industry. The Carlyle housed an outpost of the venerable New York florist Renny. “I was trusted with a key to the shop, and I was making floral arrangements for guests after hours,” he explained. His many talents, along with his impeccable taste and customer service skills, led him to be named one of “GQ” magazine’s “Guys You Need to Know” in the late ‘90s.
Estelita’s mutli-faceted skill set caught the eye of a Little Rock family who often visited the Carlyle. They hired him as a property manager and persuaded him to move to Arkansas. In the 12 years he has been here, Estelita has embraced the community. “Little Rock has a nice way of life, a different pace,” he reflects. “Southerners love an occasion, and they love it to be special.”
Estelita has a clear vision for the new direction of About Vase. The shop will continue to provide full-service floral design and will offer an array of blooms, plants and orchids. The About Vase team will also create and coordinate floral services for a limited number of select events.
Perhaps the biggest change will be in the store’s appearance. The new About Vase will contain plenty of retail space to showcase Estelita’s unique finds. He wants the store to be known as a place where anyone can pop in and find an interesting or meaningful gift — perhaps a fresh orchid as a token of appreciation or a fun garden ornament. Above all, he will offer these goods and services at a reasonable price point.
Another thing Estelita loves about Southerners is their ability to mix very traditional family heirlooms, such as silver and china, with more modern pieces. This pairing of the old and the new will be on prominent display in the store. For example, he plans to present tablescapes that feature new, trendier pieces mixed in with antique linens or vintage barware.
What will set the new About Vase apart from other floral design shops in town? Estelita says, quite simply, “I want to do something the others aren’t.” And one can only assume his unusual background, along with his experience working with a vast array of clients and vendors, means his design vision and aesthetics will be different from what we are used to, as well.