Even from the street it’s clear that there is something different about Chris Geoghegan’s florist shop on Madison. Huge panes of glass offer no interference to views of equally simplistic floral arrangements and furniture in the storefront windows. A sleek steel door carries only a small sign that tells customers which business they’ve entered.
Squatting on top of Geoghegan’s “hyper modern” tastes is a decidedly Victorian second floor. The juxtaposition is in every way intentional, she said, and is meant to announce that more of the same lies within.
“People get it, yes,” Geoghegan said. “There are some people, too, that I seem a little confusing to, but not in a bad way.”
Geoghegan is one of several business owners in Forest Park who, in recent years, has brought a more sophisticated product to the market. She first opened her shop, Moss, a little more than three years ago and in mid October relocated to a larger space at 7405 Madison. Even the plant for which she named her store represents a more subtle, less bombastic style.
“It’s such a humble plant and people take it for granted and don’t see all the nuances,” Geoghegan said of lichen’s modest growth.
Oddly enough, Geoghegan purchased her property from another longtime florist whose specialty in traditional arrangements emphasized a more familiar, more mainstream style. Geoghegan, on the other hand, said she is more interested in texture and shape than “pure flower,” and would encourage people to experiment with different contexts.
The new storefront also allows Geoghegan the freedom to demonstrate her designs to potential customers. At her previous location, she had only 750-square feet to work with, making it difficult to showcase her minimalist styles and convince clients that less is more. Now, with almost 2,000-square feet, Geoghegan is better able to show how different elements might look in someone’s home.
Front and center in Moss’ window is a nine-foot plank of white oak perched on top of nickel-finished sawhorses. Furniture design is the next frontier for Geoghegan’s shop and the piece represents both the organic and industrial tastes of her and her husband. Most of the furniture and accessories at Moss are either antique or a refurbished element found in the natural world. Antlers, shells and driftwood are scattered throughout, demonstrating what Geoghegan said is her commitment to reusing what the world already has.
Prior to opening in Forest Park, Geoghegan and her husband lived in Chicago where she lent her floral designs mostly to upscale restaurants, hotels and others in the hospitality industry. She worked out of a studio space and never had an actual store for clients to browse. When Geoghegan moved to Oak Park seven or eight years ago she immediately decided that Forest Park was where she should open a business. Her interest in antiques matched well with the community’s reputation as a destination for antique hounds. Local government was very accommodating and she found the number of female entrepreneurs on Madison encouraging, as well.
Lindsey Kraft, a Forest Park librarian, is in the midst of planning her wedding and had shopped her autumn-themed vision to several florists before deciding to use Moss. Bouquets of dried leaves and subtle, earthy tones were a difficult concept for other shops, but Geoghegan understood exactly what Kraft was looking for, she said, and seemed genuinely excited by the project. But Kraft had only walked by Geoghegan’s shop and wasn’t sure what to make of the store.
“I thought it was absolutely beautiful,” Kraft said of her first visit. “I also thought it was going to be really expensive.”
Geoghegan, said Kraft, committed to working within the bride-to-be’s budget and is handling all of the floral arrangements. Since discovering the store, Kraft also purchased a handful of items as holiday gifts.
Geoghegan’s customers in Forest Park run the gamut in terms of demographics and spending, she said. While some will spend $200 on various pieces, Geoghegan said she also has loyal buyers who drop only $10 at a time. By the end of February she hopes to offer regular classes in floral design.
“It’s very exciting for me because they get what I get,” Geoghegan said of her customers. “It’s like we speak the same vocabulary.”