By Lucy M. Pritchett

Sometimes a Turning Point is a turning toward something rather than a turning away. For Jill Doyle that was a turning toward the beauty of flowers.

Jill is co-owner of J. Elizabeth Designs, a special event florist in Lyndon. While she was at the University of Louisville working toward a degree in liberal studies focusing on pre-law, she was also working for Nanz and Kraft Florist and later Colonial Designs, learning both the mechanics and the design principles of the floral business.

“Once I graduated,” Jill says, “I really couldn’t face the three more years of school that it would take to get my law degree. And, by then, I had met my future husband. We got married and moved to Simpsonville. I worked for another Louisville florist for about a year, then for six months I worked in an office, thinking I would figure out what I wanted to do. I learned that working in an office was not it. I loved art in school, I enjoy working with my hands and being creative, and I knew that that is where my passion lay. Plus, I missed the flowers!”

“Orchids are a favorite among my wedding flower choices.” Photos by Patti Hartog

Jill applied for a job at a florist shop in Simpsonville. The owner not only hired Jill but offered her the possibility of buying the business.

“I went to work for her but decided I didn’t want to buy the business. I loved working with the florists, but I wanted more design freedom. I wanted to be my own boss. My dad is the one who encouraged me to do things the old-fashioned way and start my own business.”

So, in 2003, Jill and her mom Debbie Crutcher started J. Elizabeth Designs in Debbie’s kitchen. “We focused on weddings and special events. We didn’t have a retail shop. We built the business by participating in bridal shows and by word of mouth. After two years we moved the business to my house where I had an office and could meet with brides and other clients,” Jill says.

In 2011 they expanded when they bought another florist, Simply Flowers, and moved into its space at Mellwood Arts Center. “We started getting invited to bigger bridal shows, and our client list grew, and we added corporate clients. In November 2013 we moved to the space we are in now on Lyndon Lane. We have 3,000-square-feet of workspace and our wholesaler (Dreisbach Wholesale Florist) is right behind us, which is very convenient.”

“Flowers are not the only inspiration for an event — an amazing vessel will complete the aesthetic.”

Jill’s days might see her meeting with brides-to-be, making color-coded reception floor plans, fashioning all the bows for her clients’ bouquets, or working to figure out how to float stems of orchids in a tall glass vase for a centerpiece. Once, on her way to a bridal event, she stopped to rescue an abandoned litter of kittens left on the sidewalk. All in a day’s work.

“I love flowers. I like the whole idea of the romance of weddings and coming up with ideas,” Jill says. “I love getting to be a part of someone’s most important day, to be able to turn the bride’s vision into reality.”