If Ralph Waldo Emerson was right — and the earth really does laugh in flowers — then it’s been having quite a good time at Found & Flora in Wahoo.
Kathryn Nygren opened the floral shop at 543 N. Linden St., about six months ago. This will be the store's first Valentine's Day. The shop offers a variety of flowers and plants, along with candles, vintage items and handmade crafts.
For Nygren, the store provides opportunities to be creative, work with people and be part of a small community. She likes “to be able to come up with ideas and think of new ways to do things.”
Nygren, who grew up in Ord, has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she also took journalism and photography classes and studied floral design.
“After college I worked briefly in cut flower research,” she said. “UNL’s got a program where they’re studying locally grown cut flowers and so we had some hoop houses (plastic-covered metal hoops) that we grew flowers in.”
Nygren then worked for more than seven years at a floral wholesale company in Lincoln. She also free lanced, designing floral arrangements for customers. She was part of a team that made 53, $500 centerpieces for an Omaha wedding.
She and her husband, Aaron, an extension educator in Colfax County, married in 2005. They began growing heirloom pumpkins — old-fashioned varieties in different colors — including a bluish-black.
“And that grew,” she said. “We’re up to two acres, where we grow 80 different varieties of (heirloom) pumpkins.”
The Nygrens would sell the pumpkins at Omaha-area boutiques and flea markets, staging them with found items such as old benches found at auctions.
“We’ve always liked antique stuff,” she said. “Right away when we got married, we’d go to auctions. A lot of times, we’d go to two auctions a weekend.”
She continued working for the wholesale business and freelancing, designing floral arrangements for weddings.
“I decided — and Aaron supported me — that maybe we should take all of our side businesses and roll them into one, and find a location in town for them,” she said.
It also was important to the Nygrens — whose daughter, Evie, was born in 2011 — to be part of a small community as they raised their family.
So they launched their business in August 2012.
Besides fresh flowers and plants, the store offers various vintage items. Aaron makes decorative Mason jar soap dispensers and gelatin mold-photograph holders.
“We have a lot of handmade items,” she said.
They sell Hobnail candles.
She offers services such a fresh flower arranging and delivery. She gives programs on flower designing and home décor to groups.
Nygren likes working with people. It’s not uncommon for her eyes to fill with tears when helping families select flowers for funeral.
“To be able help them plan the final tribute flowers for their loved one is probably the most moving part of my job,” she said.
She enjoys delivering flowers.
“When you knock on someone’s door and say, ‘You have flowers,’ is another moving part of the job, especially when it’s an older person,” she said. “The look on their face when they realize that someone has thought of them is touching.”