Meagan Cooley didn’t have any intention of entering the floral business when growing up in Madisonville.
“I don’t think I knew that floristry was a career path,” Cooley said. “I didn’t know anyone that was a florist. It wasn’t at the top of my mind. I didn’t even know (one) could be a florist. It just wasn’t on my radar.”
Now, Cooley is the founder, owner and operator of The Mobile Meadow flower truck — a bright-blue 1965 Ford F100 pickup that’s been making frequent stops at some of Owensboro’s most highly-attended events since April.
While Cooley had appreciation for flowers, they didn’t spark her interest until she was attending the University of Kentucky in Lexington, which is when she became enamored with decorative boutiques at weddings she attended.
“I .... (studied) marketing and management, so even though I didn’t know about floristry, I have always been interested in small business and entrepreneurship,” Cooley said. “I always kind of knew I wanted to run my own business. I just never knew clearly what it would be until later in life.”
After graduating and getting married in 2014, Cooley stayed in Lexington to start Meadow House Floral Design, playing around with different ideas while learning about floral design and getting acquainted with her own operation.
Cooley and her husband, Ben, who both wanted to explore beyond their small-town roots, moved to New York City in 2017, where Cooley got the spark for her mobile business when she worked on a full-service “florist shop on wheels.”
“It’s just a fun way to get people to engage with flowers,” Cooley said. “Traditionally, florists work, or the work that I was doing, largely with weddings. It’s amazing that it’s kind of high stress, and then you don’t get to share flowers with a lot of people. I love the idea for a flower truck. You kind of come where the people are, and it’s … a bright spot in their day.”
After learning she was expecting twin girls, Cooley made her way back to the Midwest in 2020 and settled in Owensboro to be closer to family and start anew.
But the timing didn’t seem ideal.
“Everything shut down the month before,” Cooley said. “COVID was new, having twin babies was new — we were kind of isolated from the world for a pretty long time. We moved to this new city that we heard was great and awesome (with) a good community and lots of fun events. But that first year, we were just at home not experiencing it at all.”
It was during this time that Cooley was able to brainstorm her fascination with having her own traveling business.
“I felt like I had all of this creativity, excitement and urge building up over the course of (2020) with the lockdown and young babies,” Cooley said. “By 2021, everyone was kind of hopeful that things with the pandemic would be dying down, and it looked like it was going to be the case.”
The combination of the thrill of her new business idea and wanting to meet people in the community got Cooley behind the wheel of the truck that keeps her company alive.
Choosing the truck was an intentional choice, and Cooley found the right fit after an intense search on Facebook Marketplace.
“It felt like the perfect mix of me and also the environment of Owensboro, with it being a community that’s pretty focused on farming and agricultural way of life.” Cooley said. “It’s kind of like a theme here …. If you are a farmer or if you know a farmer, I just felt like the hard-working, down to earth farm truck would resonate with some of our audience.”
The Mobile Meadow features a variety of large roses, sunflowers and daisies, while having other “fun” options like thistles and amaranths.
Oftentimes, Cooley likes to sell dried ingredients such as bunny tail grass, among other surprises.
“I always try to have a little bit of something that you might not have expected,” Cooley said.
One of the main services that Cooley offers is a “Build-Your-Own-Bouquet Bar,” which she replicated from another flower truck business in Nashville.
“You have all these different types of flowers (that) are priced by the stem, and the customer is encouraged to build their own bouquet,” Cooley said. “I was inspired by seeing that, and it was my experience about how happy flowers make me. I wanted to share that with others.”
The bar has been a hit with the public, despite initial apprehensions.
“People are usually kind of quick to discount their own creativity and go, ‘I don’t know what to do. I can’t do this. Can you help me with this?’ ” Cooley said. “I’m always like, ‘Oh, I’m happy to help you,’ but I see people always have a much better time than they expected.”
Cooley wants to encourage customers to be creative and make something that is personal to them.
“It’s so special because that person’s bouquet is unique to them,” Cooley said. “There’s likely some special meaning behind it, like if their mom grew (a certain flower) or if a flower was in their wedding, or if it’s their favorite color …. They’re always really proud of it.
“People … don’t normally get to arrange their flowers in their day-to-day life. You might pick up a bouquet at Kroger, but I think you don’t get to express your own creativity. I want to encourage people to come to the truck, pick out your favorite flowers, pick out your favorite colors, think about texture, and the environment that the flowers are going to be sitting — we can put together something really fun.”
Cooley is proud to be a part of a growing business community.
“I always respected the way that a small business affects the fabric of the town,” Cooley said. “Small businesses build culture.”
Cooley is keen on keeping the business and her passion alive.
“It’s important that I keep a little piece of myself and not totally put it away,” Cooley said. “I want to be true to myself and keep this little spark, creativity and this small business I love alive.”
Freddie Bourne, firstname.lastname@example.org