Second Career as Florist Paid Off for Venezuelan Immigrant

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By Jill Brooke

The theme of Fleurs de Villes’ Hudson Yards Show in New York City was “Voyage” and what a voyage it has been for “Best in Show” winning florist, Serbio Uzcategui.

The owner of a thriving eyeglass store in Venezuela, he fled the South American country and got political asylum in the United States five years ago in 2017. Like many legal immigrants in New York, he got a job as a waiter at restaurants. He also supplemented that income by working as a waiter for catering companies where he noticed so many leftover flowers from weddings and corporate events.

“I would take the ones that were going to be thrown out and make my own arrangements,” he recalls. “I had never worked with flowers before but found myself so drawn to them.” He then also started learning about floral arrangements.

His bosses at Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards noticed his talent too –  and gave him a flower concession store.

As Florists Review and the New York Post’s Page Six also reported, I was at the restaurant and noticed his talent too.

I didn’t need a big powerful place to call him a talent. After all, so many talented florists work invisibly just trying to get their daily responsibilities done and have little time to promote themselves.

Talking to him at the restaurant, I offered to connect him to Fleurs de Villes’ owner Tina Barkley who was auditioning NYC florists for the 2023 Hudson Yards October show.

And this is really another big point to this lovely story. It takes two minutes to help someone. It was an email. And then poof I went on with my life.

Imagine my surprise when months later, as a judge for “Fleurs de Villes'” Hudson Yards show, along with Corrine Heck of Details Floral Solutions, I learned that the top winner we chose was Serbio who now owns Piropo Flowers.

“I love this country,” says Serbio, noting that this win was a combination of the kindness of strangers and hard work as well as the willingness to try something different.

 As Serbio gratefully says, his life is now “blooming” with clients that also include Rolex, Baccarat, Piaget and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Plus the Best in Show Fleurs de Villes award will attract even more opportunities.

To help others, he also started a non-profit that distributes flowers monthly to those who need “a little hope.”

Meanwhile, now “Fleurs de Villes” is on to its next show November 5th in Boston, bringing joy to the public as it has now for 89 shows.

I love this story because it shows the ripple effect of going out of your way for someone. No acts of kindness are wasted.

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD and a contributor to Florists Review magazine.