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Mom Left Corporate Life for Flowers

Being a mom means having to make some tough choices when you’re high up the corporate ladder and have young children at home. “I was director of marketing at Doubleday,” said Jan Peterson, a Wilton resident who found there were few accommodations for the working mother in corporate America.

Today, Jan is the owner of Stewart Flowers and Gifts in Wilton Center. “I came home from work one day 10 years ago and told my husband I wanted to quit my job,” she said. An avid gardener, she thought about starting a landscaping business. Then one day she walked into Stewart’s and discovered the owner was thinking of selling. A light bulb went off in Jan’s head. “I’m a marketing person so I spent six months researching the business, then I went back to the owner and made her an offer. I was really excited when she accepted.”

Jan is in the middle of the busiest period of the year. The craziness starts before Thanksgiving. “We do lots of centerpieces using flowers, fruits, birds and nests,” she said. “The day after Thanksgiving, we start decorating for all our corporate clients.” The staff works through the weekend so that on Monday morning, the office staff comes in to find the office buildings ready for the holidays. “We do trees, planters and pots, and we’ll also set up the Toys for Tots displays.”

Once the offices are sparkling, Jan and her crew start decorating homes in the area. “We put wreaths up on windows, add lighting, put up evergreen roping, decorate trees, whatever the clients wants,” she said. By Dec. 15 everyone is decorated. Then the designers start work on the holiday centerpieces and poinsettia deliveries.

“It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be,” says Jan. “Like many small business owners there are times when I want to throw up my hands and give up.” But there are plusses, not the least of which is getting to spend more time with her children. All the kids have helped in the store and Jan’s daughter icurrently does a lot of the flower deliveries. "Even though it's hard work, I enjoy it," Jan said, adding that she's going to expand the landscaping side of her business next year.

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