STURGIS | Heather Sylvestre knows all too well how suddenly life can change.
A year ago, Heather and her husband, Lindsey, were preparing to start their own small farm, with plans to raise animals not for the meat but for their renewable wool.
But those plans came to a sad, sudden halt on March 8, 2017, when Lindsey died from a massive heart attack. He was just 37.
Heather was left to ponder both what might have been, and more importantly, what now?
She decided that operating the farm they had planned by herself was not an option, nor was returning to southern Minnesota where she had been raised.
Instead, at the urging of a mentor who had helped the couple assemble their business plan through a class offered through Life, Inc. and Love, Inc., of the Black Hills, Sylvestre didn’t waste any time wondering which fork in the road to take.
She decided to open her own flower shop.
“I’ve always loved dirt, and I have always loved flowers,” she said. “The flower shop just came about.”
“It’s kind of crazy that your husband dies and you start a business, but I’m a big believer that certain doors are open at certain times for certain reasons," she said.
Just weeks after her husband’s death she opened Affordable Flowers & Plants at 748 Lazelle St., in Sturgis, and jumped into the floral business on one of its most hectic weekend holidays: Mother’s Day.
Friends from Wyoming and Arizona came to help, and she made it through her opening weekend.
“They just showed up. I had no idea they were going to be here. It was fun. It was crazy. It was good,” she said.
To start the new year, Sylvestre, a good friend and their mothers decided it was time to seize another moment, and attend the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., where they put Heather’s floral experience to good use,
They worked the final hours in applying all natural materials, flower petals and seeds, to all visible surfaces of several parade floats.
“We got the last shift (from 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Day), so we got the finishing touches,” she said.
“It was awesome,” she said. “Just the magnitude of it is insane.”
Back in Sturgis, her business continues to blossom. Valentine’s Day saw her sell out her entire stock of roses.
“It’s been a crazy year,” she said. “The community has been great, awesome.”
Awesome to the point that she is expanding her small shop with a 1,000-square-foot addition, where she will continue her floral business and conduct plant and craft classes. Her existing shop will be turned into a commercial kitchen.
She didn’t reveal any plans to commemorate the 1-year anniversary of her husband’s death on March 8, but she is certain he would approve of her decision and determination to move on with her life.
“You can either crawl in a hole and live like a hermit, or you can do what you need to do,” she said.