Their paths crossed many times as Christine and Ian Kaufmann were growing up in Banff. Now married with two children, the couple has owned Banff Mountaintop Flowers since January of 2018.
An artist since she was a child, Christine was drawn to the creative aspect of flower arranging. She worked at the flower shop for the previous two owners for 10 years before buying the business with Ian.
“I started out not knowing a thing in 2010 back when Debbie Fodor owned it,” Christine said. “I was thrown into different scenarios and got to learn under her.”
Ian managed a lab for Black Photography in Calgary four years.
“Suzanne, the previous owner, offered the flower shop to Christine and I and we decided to take it on,” Ian said.
They met in 2003 and married in 2011 on Tunnel Mountain Reservoir in Banff.
“We have known each other for years in a sense,” Christine said. “Ian’s mom was my Brownie leader. But he’s four years my senior and we didn’t really know each other in school. When I graduated I started working at Banff Film Lab and Ian was working there too so we got to know each other.”
They live a true mountain lifestyle, skiing, snowboarding, hiking and swimming at Johnson Lake. But owning a business in Banff is tough, she said.
“You’re at the mercy of seasonal work, especially weddings. Summer months are go, go, go,” Christine said. “Then you fill the voids when you can. Thankfully we do a lot of corporate work in and around town. We handle flowers for Caribou Properties, Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Elope in Banff.”
Vendors in Banff and the local community help each other, she said.
“I think it’s easier being a florist here in Banff than so many other places,” Christine said. “So many people come here to get married or to celebrate special occasions. There are always people looking for a dozen roses for an anniversary. ”
Christine and Ian buy flowers from suppliers out of Calgary and Vancouver who attend large-scale auctions where they choose flowers of every variety and distribute them to shops.
“Flowers come from all over the world including Peru, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Africa and Holland,” she said. “Our supplier out of Calgary works primarily with growers in Holland and South Africa. We have three flower deliveries over the course of the week with fresh flowers from everywhere. It’s pretty amazing.”
The shop also sells live plants
“Our plants, including the seasonal poinsettias, come from a massive greenhouse in Burnaby,” Ian said.
They have two full time and two part time employees who say the most requested flower is the sunflower.
“My favourite flower is the Dahlia,” Christine said. “It’s is the most finicky flower out there but it’s beautiful,” Christine said.
To make plants last longer, give them a little snip once in a while, change the water and keep them out of heat and cold. Flowers that hold up well in the cold include wintergreens, pinecones, caspia, carnations, daisies and sea hollies. But no matter the weather, there are brides who want roses, she said.
“That’s the beauty of weddings,” Christine said. “You kind of just want that moment. For some brides we recommend two bouquets, one for outside and one for inside.”
Their shop in the Wolf and Bear Mall is full of the beautiful aroma of fresh flowers, surrounded by a variety of tantalizing food smells.
“It smells delicious no matter the time of day,” Christine said. “In the morning you get the fresh baking from JK Bakery. So we’re all there getting apple fritters and tea. Then Masala will start cooking at 10 am and the mall fills with garlic. And in the afternoon you get the popcorn from the Lux movie theatre.”
“We’ve got a really great community in this mall,” Christine said. “We’re all constantly talking with each other and quite good friends. When we worked late around Valentine’s Day, Masala came over with some food. When I first had baby Felix, JK Bakery made sure I was well stocked with apple fritters. With a small local community we all look out for each other.”
Please visit www.banffmountaintopflowers.com more information.