Croswell loves colorful world

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Features Editor

Color is very important in Bobbie Jean Croswell’s world – except in people.

As a florist, everything she does involves color.

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As a businesswoman, color makes no difference.

Croswell is the only African American florist in Pike County, but she thinks of herself as "a florist" and her business is open to the entire community.

"I love flowers; I love to design and I love people," she said. "Floral arts is the perfect place for me."

When Croswell was growing up on a farm is Goshen, she thought she was just planting peas, corn, squash and cucumbers. She didn’t realize that she was sowing the seeds of her future.

She was the second oldest of 14 children and the oldest girl, therefore, she had a lot of responsibility placed on her young shoulders.

"We worked in the fields, picking cotton, stacking peanuts and plowing a mule," she said. "I also had the responsibility of caring for the younger children and cooking. We did our own sewing and made our own clothes. I learned responsibility at a very young age."

She was also cultivating her future at a very young age.

"I was planting things, designing things and learning things that are with me today in my business," she said. "If I not had those experiences and

opportunities, I would not be where I am today," she said.

Croswell has taken a long road to bring her back to where she is today.

After she graduated from high school in Goshen, she ventured far north to Buffalo, New York to attend Eerie County Technical College.

"My godmother lived there and that’s what I thought I wanted to do," she said. "But, it didn’t take me long to realize that I didn’t like it up there. I was so cold and I missed home and my family and friends."

So, after one semester in the freezer box, Croswell came home. She married a young military man from Troy, James Croswell, and soon found herself in another cold and distant place, Caribou, Maine.

"We were there for four years and, when we got back home, I said I didn’t want to ever go any farther from Goshen than 13 miles again," Croswell said, laughing.

Croswell had two children of her own to care for, but she also found work caring for the children of two Goshen families. But, after a while, she longed for other opportunities, so she went to school in Tuskegee to become a certified mid-wife and then to nursing school and became a licensed practical nurse.

"I just like working with people and helping people and I enjoyed both opportunities," Croswell said. "But, bringing babies into the world was a special joy."

Croswell’s first venture into business ownership was a grocery store, which had been owned by her grandmother.

"I liked running the grocery store and visiting with my customers, but, being a small store, the grocery business began to dwindle and I soon closed the store," Croswell said.

However, she had gotten a taste of being her own boss and she like it.

She later owned and managed a restaurant and lounge, but the responsibility that comes with a lounge was more than she wanted.

"My husband was doing some landscaping and I got interested in helping him," Croswell said.

From there, the idea of owning and operating a floral arts business emerged from the seeds that had been planted during Croswell’s youth.

Today, she is the successful owner of Floral Boutique in downtown Troy and she uses her love of plants and her love of people along with her flare for design to create things of beauty for the home and special occasions. And, she’s only

13 miles from Goshen.