Best friends Colleen Dunleavy and Crystal Mills have created something beautiful together.
Their retail shop Love Child is just that, an embodiment of both founders’ passions fused together as an experiential event space and highlights its popular Blooms and Booze concept, which pairs a unique cocktail with a floral arrangement.
“You’re greeted with a welcome cocktail and then you learn the art of flower arranging and learn how to make the cocktail, too,” Mills explained in a recent video interview.
With Dunleavy’s knowledge of floral design and Mills’ of mixology, the two started their business in March 2020, but couldn’t open their shop fully because of the pandemic. In its early stages, Dunleavy and Mills sold Blooms and Booze kits from the doorstep of their first E Street location for customers to use at home. The kit included a signature floral-infused cocktail mixer — with flavors from hibiscus margarita to lavender blueberry lemonade — plus fresh garnishes and cocktail napkins. Customers had the option of purchasing a cocktail mixer or flowers separately, but were encouraged to bundle their purchases as part of the Blooms and Booze experience, Mills said. The kits with both flowers and mixers went for $50 and were popular with their customers on Instagram and in their neighborhood.
The two met in 2015, and their business blossomed from there. Before Love Child, Dunleavy’s Boston-based Dunlovely Floral Design created arrangements for weddings and other clients. Mills founded WanderLush, a Boston-based cocktail catering company with beverage service for private events and has taken a step back, but still creates content for the business’s Instagram. Dunleavy was planning a photoshoot for her business and came across WanderLush on Instagram, sliding into the page’s DMs to propose a collaboration. The rest is history.
While Blooms and Booze is the main event at Love Child, they also host a number of other workshops, including candle making with East Bridgewater-based Feather & Finn. They plan to host charcuterie board-making, pottery, and painting workshops in the future.
In other areas of expansion, Love Child is working to become a bottle shop, which will allow them to sell curated beer, wine, and spirits. As part of that effort, Dunleavy and Mills started a crowd-funding campaign on Aug. 25 and applied for an off-premise package store license, which, if approved, allows them to sell alcoholic beverages and could make them one of the few women-owned package stores in Boston.
“That will really solidify our Blooms and Booze concept to be Boston’s first flowers and bottle shop,” Mills said.
Currently, their space is available to host private dining events or parties up to 25 people in accordance with state COVID-19 guidelines, creating a cozy atmosphere for guests. (They will readjust to meet mandated guidelines as time goes on.) Dunleavy and Mills treat each event as if it was their own dinner party, laying out a nice tablecloth for the evening with candles and florals on top, playing music from curated mixes by local DJs, and reeling guests in with the aroma of a delicious meal. For these private events, they also have bar carts full of cocktail mixers and different glassware.
“We’ve always wanted Love Child to feel like an extension of your own home, especially thinking about city living. A lot of people living in apartments might not have the space to host, or given the pandemic, sometimes people didn’t want people gathering in their own home, so it was a nice happy medium between being in a restaurant and not being in your home,” Dunleavy said.
Now situated on West Broadway in South Boston, Love Child’s interior stands out with the stylings of what Dunleavy deems: “Palm Springs in the late ‘60s.” Everything from the logo’s font to the store’s straw lampshades give off a groovy vibe, as the pair wanted to stay true to a retro theme.
In addition to their aesthetic, the two take their shop’s name to heart, carefully curating an intimate experience for their customers.
“We’re trying to bring these moments of joy. When you come in, even if it’s just looking around, our store brightens your day, or you buy a product and enjoy one of our cocktail mixers and have fresh flowers and be present,” Dunleavy said. “You’re just really celebrating the moment.”
Riana Buchman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.