LOS ANGELES – California Flower Mall’s family business teams were hit hard by the tragic death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant and their friends on January 26, 2020. Three thousand miles away, Floreco Inc. rose farmers in Latacunga, Ecuador; also devout fans of Kobe Bryant were devastated to learn their hero – on and off the court – was gone.
Mark Chatoff, owner and president of CFM said, “The power of flowers and social media brought us together to process our grief. Our flower market is open Sunday morning until noon. By 10:30 am on the day of the crash, CFM flower vendors were swamped with mourners wanting yellow and purple flowers to take to the LA Staples Center. Some businesses here gave away flowers that day.
CFM Flower designers regularly create the memorial, sympathy, and funeral flowers known as crowns in the Mexican tradition for bereaved families, but this tragedy was different, it ripped their hearts out. Their grief lingered a week before Valentine’s Day, our biggest flower holiday of the year. Fortunately, CFM and Floreco Inc., a Miami based flower importer and owner of a 70 acre Ecuador rose farm specializing in sports team-colored tinted and dyed roses were in communication on Instagram. CFM shared a Floreco Laker’s colored rose image and it went viral. As a courtesy, Floreco Inc. co-owner Ferni Pallares sent us a gift box of Laker’s color roses direct from their farm in Ecuador and we named them “Kobe Bryant Tribute Rose.” Grower’s Direct Flowers floral designer, Sylvia Lozano, and Mireya’s Flowers owner Mireya Perez created two unique tribute flower designs incorporating the custom colored rose.”
Mireya Perez and her partner Joel Cervantes took the design challenge a step further by inviting two event planners to create a celebration of life event in Lakers team colors at her showroom. Their ofrenda, a traditional Mexican altar honoring the departed, included flower designs, styled event balloons by Princess Project Décor and a trendy Hot Cheetos and Frutas buffet by Erika’s Party Creations. Everyone at the market was invited to it. Vinny’s Wholesale Flowers showroom and other businesses contributed to the ofrenda and continued the momentum by decorating their showrooms in Laker’s colored decor. Creativity, community, and connection are time-honored ways to process grief. The Kobe Tribute Roses gave many of us here a creative and communal way to process our grief before we moved into the demanding Valentine’s holiday. Ferni Pallares told me it was helpful for Floreco’s Miami and Ecuador staff too, Chatoff said.
About California Flower Mall
The California Flower Mall, located at 825 San Pedro Street with parking at the 824 San Julian Street entrance, is one of the largest DIY wholesale flower markets in the ten-block Downtown LA Flower District trade community — the largest concentration of wholesale flower markets and flower businesses in the U.S. CFM customer amenities include an ATM, cafe, customer restrooms, and on-site parking. CFM is open seven days a week to the trade and public. It does not charge admission. Growers Direct Flowers is located in showroom 102 at CFM’s 825 San Pedro Street entrance. Mireya’s Flowers is located in showroom 121 near CFM’s 824 San Julian Street entrance. For questions about flower availability and prices contact CFM vendors directly at http://californiaflowermall.com/floor-map-vendor-directory/