I just spent last month remembering the amazing and all too short life of Martin Luther King, Jr. As we head into Black History Month, I wanted to know a little more about African American florists in history.
In my research, I found sisters Stacie Lee-Banks and Kristie Lee, owners of the oldest black owned flower shop in Washington, D.C. called Lee’s Flower and Card Shop.
Since 1945, Lee’s Flower Shop has been the premier florist in Washington, DC, serving the metropolitan area with fresh flower arrangements and additional gifts of all kinds! Lee’s is a Black-owned family business, currently operated by the original founders’ granddaughters. We know we’re the oldest Black-owned flower shop in Washington, DC as well as the oldest DC florist, but we may also be the longest-standing Black-owned flower shop in all of the United States! — Lee’s Flower Shop
Local News Covers the 75-Year-Old Business
The company owns its building, took in $1.4 million in revenue in 2019 and has 14 employees. As an FTD florist, they provide flowers for weddings, events, home decoration and local deliveries. Their Instagram account, @leesflowersdc, shows lots of installations, colorful weddings and lovely floral gifts.
Richard Lee, the sisters’ father and second owner of the shop, was interviewed in The Washingtonian Magazine in 2017. He said, “We used to have parades up and down here almost every Saturday during football season, and they all had queens and floats and bands. Every queen had to have a big bouquet. They would stay up all night sometimes, my mother and father, putting the bouquets together.”
Pivoting in the Summer
Everything changed in March of 2020 after the Covid shutdown occurred and like many florists across the country, they were running out of fresh florals. So, one of the sisters drove to all the way to New Jersey to a flower wholesaler who was still operating in order to get flowers!
They reopened their doors in August 2020. In an article about the shop in BizJournals.com, Kristie is quoted about the rising demand for live plants and that has boosted her desire to have more flowers and plants at home, too.
“People are like, ‘I know you have amazing flowers at home all the time. I’m like, ‘Nope.’ But I’m trying to do better because I really appreciate what others see in it now. It’s very rewarding to have living things in your space. They bring joy.” - Kristie Lee, as quoted in BizJournals.com
The Washington City Paper wrote an article about the gentrification of U Street in D.C. and Lee’s Flower Shop was featured. In 2015, Richard Lee, discusses the shop’s history on Howard University Radio.
Murals of Founders
Stacie and Kristie’s grandparents, William P. and Winifred Lee are featured on the DCMurals tour. You can take a bus or walking tour to see the colorful flower and portrait mural by artist Kaliq Customs completed in 2017.
Flower Duet’s Kit and Casey grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and spent a lot of time in the District.
And so when we visit our parents back east, we are sure to visit Lee’s Flower Shop and take the DC murals walking tour.