The first job Ben Lee ever had, at age 16, was selling flowers and arrangements out of a log cabin at his parents' home in Owensboro.
“I knew from day one that this was what I wanted to do,” he said.
After building a name for himself with a reputation for artistic, eye-popping arrangements at a former downtown business, Lee has opened his own shop, Benjamin's Flowers and Gifts on Devil's Hollow Access Road.
“I have been working for other people for years, and I knew it was time to open my own shop again.”
A wide variety of custom floral arrangements, houseplants, orchids and a rotating selection of seasonally-themed gifts can be found in his shop, which he described as centrally located to all parts of Frankfort.
“I can be anywhere in this city in 5-10 minutes,” he said.
Creativity, convenience and an inviting atmosphere are bringing people back time and time again, he added.
“It has truly been a blessing to have the continued support of my customers.”
Lee wants to take the stuffy, staid stereotype of floral design and turn it on its head.
“My goal is to bring back the 'mom and pop flower shop,'” he said. “We are so fortunate here in that we can be with our customers for any occasion. I've literally watched some of my customers grow up!”
He has done flowers for a baby shower, and gone on to create prom and wedding flowers for the same family.
“It is really all about customer interaction, that personal touch and flair ('customers will say 'that's Ben's!' when they see an arrangement, and I love that'), and working to build and maintain those same relationships down the road."
Going into his 30th Valentine's Day season, he said his customers are requesting more brightly colored “spring-themed” arrangements.
“Classic roses are still popular, but coming out of the winter blahs, our customers are excited to bring color to the lives of their loved ones,” he added.
Lee's seasonal wreaths are also popular, he said.
He is also appreciative of the relationship he's built with other florists in the area.
“I'm not too proud to send a customer to one of my colleagues if I know they will have an item I don't. I've worked to build a good relationship with them, and appreciate all they do for me, as well.”
Lee's skills have not gone unnoticed. He has won multiple regional and national floral design awards (including being named Kentucky Floral Designer of the Year) and is the president elect of the Kentucky Florists Association.
Will all of these accolades take him away from Frankfort? Not a chance.
“I've worked in Frankfort for 12 years, and lived here for 14 years," he said. "It is home. The people are what have kept me here. I knew in my heart that this was where I needed to stay.”