By Brigid Morrissey

Amy Jo Goforth (left) and Carrie Ann Foster merged their talents to create Merci Bouquet. Photos by Patti Hartog 

Carrie Ann Foster and her business partner, Amy Jo Goforth, give a new meaning to one-stop-shop. But Wal-Mart employees need not worry, the partners’ specialty is in weddings. Their friendship blossomed after meeting through various social circles. Amy has 15 years of experience as a floral designer, plus a connection to the wedding industry. Carrie Ann has as much artistic experience as a graphic designer. With encouragement from Carrie Ann’s mother, the duo decided to open a cottage-style shop in downtown New Albany called Merci Bouquet.

Their business offers several wedding services so brides don’t have to journey all over the area to check things off their to-do list. Amy provides all the planning services as well as all the floral arrangements, from the bouquet to the table centerpieces. Carrie Ann creates any graphic design items needed for invitations, table numbers and seating charts, menus, etc. She also makes use of her background in fabrics by touching up the venue with drapery. Their venture has even inspired Carrie Ann’s mother to get involved with making linens and performing alterations for bridal gowns.

Clockwise: Merci Bouquet’s consultation room. A vintage wedding gown used as their window decor;
An array of Carrie Ann’s invitations. 

Rapid growth and success early on for Merci Bouquet has inspired several of Carrie Ann’s and Amy’s friends to start their own businesses. Carrie Ann’s mother has undertaken a more bold business strategy with her independent alteration business, Give and Take. I could rattle off proud moments for Carrie Ann and the expectations that Merci Bouquet has exceeded in her eyes, but her work hasn’t always been so pleasant. “I’m proud of Amy and myself for kicking butt and taking names, because there has been much more adversity to overcome than we ever expected. Start ups throw lots of financial hardballs at you in the beginning. It’s tough. You have to really stay determined and work hard. You have to really want it to succeed.”

(L-R) One of Amy’s floral arrangements and a fanciful invitation designed by Carrie Ann. 

Carrie Ann’s career path had almost always been decided whether she knew it or not. The Louisville native loved drawing people by the age of three. “I’d take the black crayon and draw the outlines and then fill in with color, as if I was creating my own coloring book. Everyone had giant heads and arms and legs grew from them… I suppose I found the torso of little interest. I would stay up all night in my room drawing as a teen. I just knew I had to do something artistic and creative for a career. It really wasn’t a choice I made as much as a path that was laid in front of me by forces unknown. And, honestly, I’m not really good at anything else!”

Carrie Ann says one thing, but her impressive resume says another. Notable jobs on the list include a cover designer for LEO WeeklyWHAS11 broadcast designer, art director/marketer for Wyatt Tarrant & Combs, and a Handbag Ops/accessory stylist for Amazon. But success in your career doesn’t always equate to happiness. If there’s one thing Carrie Ann would like readers to take away from her experience, it would be “to not stay stuck in something you are miserable in. And this especially holds true for creative folk. It nearly killed me trying to fit myself into that perfect corporate box for all those years. I was a flower in the middle of the desert. And I was shriveling and wilting. Don’t let yourself wilt. Find what makes you happy and at least try to make it work. You won’t believe how much your life will change.”

Not that Carrie Ann regrets the career path she has taken. “Apart from the obvious truth that experience is cumulative, and that you gain knowledge and confidence with every new venture, you really start thinking about your future after a while. I was posed with the questions, ‘Is THIS really what I want to do every day for the rest of my working life?’ and ‘Do I want to keep working for other people?’. The answers were no and no.” Carrie Ann and Amy have hopes to acquire their own venue space one day. You also might see some of Carrie Ann’s paintings for sale. I only needed a quick glimpse at her work to know that the bride and groom won’t be the only ones saying “I do” to Carrie Ann and Merci Bouquet.