Nell Huntspon Flower Box is a full-service florist located on North Royal Street and has been serving the Jackson area for over forty-six years. When I walked in to meet and interview Nell, she was talking with a customer on the phone, so I browsed the array of house plants and gifts on display in the shop. She smiled at me, and when she finished her call, she invited me to have a seat. Nell is very humble and modest about her business and her accomplishments, but her story is an inspiration to both women and people of color. She serves as a shining example of what is possible with an entrepreneurial spirit and ceaseless determination.
The idea of running her own business was ingrained in Nell at an early age when she sold hosiery and dresses door-to-door in her neighborhood. She also spent some time baking and selling pastries before pursuing other work, including some time in the radio industry after she left college early. After losing a job opportunity because she lacked a college degree, she vowed to go back to Lane College and finish what she started.
In one of her business classes, Nell was instructed to research a service industry that was not present in her community. She chose to write about a floral shop because she could see that there were plenty of florists serving the community out west but no one serving East Jackson, specifically the African American community. This project lit a fire in Nell, and she knew then that she would open her own flower shop in East Jackson. Upon graduating 1968, she set out to pursue her dream.
After overcoming several hurdles, Nell and her husband Gene opened Nell Huntspon Flower Box in 1968. In the beginning Nell kept her day job while Josephine Tate oversaw the business. This allowed her family to have more security in the beginning while the business grew. Soon Nell was able to transition to working at the flower shop full time, and with the support of her family and the East Jackson community, Nell Huntspon Flower Box has thrived ever since. In 1971, the Huntspons built on Royal Street and moved the shop over there for increased visibility.
Nell has never forgotten the support and love she received from her East Jackson community, which included many of her friends and family, and her desire to continue serving their needs has kept her going all these years. Nell does as much as she can to give back to the community to which she feels so strongly connected. She directs music at two churches in town, works with the Community Redevelopment Association, and contributes to the Follow Me Into Business program with the African American Chamber of Commerce. “Community is the anchor of the business,” she says.
Nell’s drive and determination comes partially from her desire to serve, but she also found strength in being told she couldn’t run her own business. “Don’t tell me I can’t do something. I’ll prove you wrong.”
Nell Huntspon Flower Box is located at 351 North Royal Street in Jackson, Tennessee. They provide floral services for Jackson and West Tennessee, and now is the perfect time to place your order for Valentine’s Day arrangements. Call 731.422.3341 or visit their website to order.
Kristi Woody is a photographer and storyteller for our Hello Jackson features about locally owned retail stores and restaurants. She also works as the university photographer for Union University and owns her own wedding photography business, Woody & Pearl Photography. In her free time, Kristi enjoys spending time with her husband and rambunctious beagle, Rhett and Chipper respectively. If you can't find Kristi in Jackson, you'll find her in her second favorite place: Disney World!
tags Jackson TN, Tennessee, West Tennessee, florist, flowers, Nell Huntspon, Nell Huntspon Flower Box, Hello Jackson, Kristi Woody, downtown Jackson, entrepreneur, local, local business, local shop, business, African American, Black History Month, women, community, Lane College, East Jackson, black, Gene Huntspon, Josephine Tate, church, Community Redevelopment Association, Follow Me Into Business program, African American Chamber of Commerce, Valentine's Day