When Melissa Pelletier chose a nursing career, she wanted to help people who were sick.

She graduated from Cambrian College and began her career as a personal support worker because nursing jobs were scarce.  Nurses were moving to the US in droves.  She took whatever job she could get, graduating from psw to nurse to charge nurse to assistant director of nursing at an extended care home in Sudbury.  She moved to Barrie in 1998 and worked at a series of long term care facilities.  At one point Melissa was juggling 3 jobs and finishing her certificate in gerontology.  She later added studies for a Bachelor of Science at Laurentian University, graduating in 2007, working full time while she did it.

Her most recent care has been in the Dialysis Unit of Royal Victoria Hospital. Seeing patients three times a week means there's time to develop a relationship and she loves that personal connection with them.  But, somewhere deep inside of her was something else.

"Owning my own business has been a dream of mine for many years.  I've tossed around so many ideas.  Opening a nursing agency was one idea.  My focus for every business idea was health care related... foot care services, first aid training, consulting services as a nurse educator"... those entrepreneurial ideas lived in Melissa's mind.  And yet, artistic and creative ideas took precedence.

As I look at Melissa's dream and her day job and the constant threat and reality of nursing cutbacks, starting your own business is a whole lot safer than being on the receiving end of layoff notices and forced retirement packages.

And now, 2011, and Melissa Pelletier has made the leap.  Her husband, Luc, encouraged her to stop burying her dream and pursue it instead.  "You have nothing to lose," he said.  "Your happiness should come before anything."

She signed up for floral design and found her soul.  She took a small business course and thrived.  Melissa found her dream, nurtured it and last week she ripped the paper off the windows, shined them up, vacuumed the newly laid flooring and set out beautiful products for sale.

Blossoms Flower & Gift Studio opened its doors last Thursday, tucked into a little plaza at the corner of Mapleton and Marsellus.

Melissa is totally happy!  "A retail store incorporates my passion for working with flowers, the creativity of designing beautiful gift baskets, and displaying items that are pleasing to my customers," she said. Melissa shops carefully so she can provide products that people will be able to enjoy and afford.  She carries a line of jewellery and interesting bags.

Diaper Cakes are a real favourite for her and they incorporate everything a baby needs.  It's a lot of work, rolling 150 diapers into little rolls, and adding receiving blankets, sockettes, onesies, creams, soaps, soothers, stuffed animals into each layer.  They're very popular and Melissa loves the challenge of getting all these products into one cake.

"I've spent 22 years in a career of giving.  I've loved it.  Now, I'm giving joy to others as they come in to choose flowers and gifts."

She has school children coming in to buy a single rose for their moms.  She adds baby's breath and ribbon and special packaging and these kids are leaving her store, taking very special roses home to mom.  "That makes my day."

"My hope is to become successful, of course.  But mostly I want to earn return customers who become a loyal clientele in a part of Barrie that's underserved by retail.  I'm not looking to become rich out of this.  But I want to be fulfilled."  She will be.

Thanks, Melissa.

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