Q&A with Asia and Olivia White, Urban Contessa owners

Asia White, 47, and her daughter Olivia White, 26, are the owners of Urban Contessa Floral & Gift Boutique in Salesforce Tower on Monument Circle.

They started the business as a pop-up in August 2017, selling flowers from a vendor’s cart downtown and at area farmers markets. They transitioned to a space inside the now-closed Society of Salvage retail space on the near-east side that autumn and moved to their current space in November 2018.

Much of their business comes from weddings, and they also supply corporate clients, including Salesforce and the Columbia Club, with fresh flowers and plants.

Their store is shut down right now because of coronavirus concerns, but both have plans to keep busy until they can reopen.

Asia is a registered nurse, and she’s working on a master’s degree in nursing education. Olivia has a bachelor’s in health information management, and she’s working on a master’s in health informatics.

When did you decide to close because of the coronavirus? What led you to that decision?

Asia: We decided [March 12] to close. We saw the traffic through the tower dwindling day by day, hour by hour. Also, businesses are closing in the tower. Then when we got the word that schools would be closing, that’s when we made the final decision. We have little ones at home, as well.

Do you have any idea when you might be able to reopen, or is it too hard to say right now?

Olivia: We’re taking it week by week at this point.

Asia: We also work through two [floral] wire services. They feed us orders. It’s just been completely quiet. No one’s sending flowers, at least in our area. … And that’s also a large part of our weekly business. We also have several corporate accounts that we provide fresh flowers for their offices each week. So those are kind of on pause as well.

Of the accounts that you have, what percentage of them have postponed or canceled their orders?

Olivia: 100%.

You both have medical backgrounds. How do you anticipate filling your time now that you’ve put the store on hold?

Asia: We’re both working on our master’s [degrees] online. So the thought is that we’re going to get ahead in our coursework. But I’m hoping that our state mobilizes drive-thru testing, in which case I’m going to work some shifts doing that.

Olivia: I’m also working on school, finishing up this quarter. Obviously, we’re home-schooling children now, too. So we’ve got the e-learning to take care of. I don’t know; I’m just kind of debating on what I want to take on. But I would definitely be willing [to do] part-time shifts.

What message do you have to customers—or to people in general—right now?

Olivia: I think just to support small businesses, because I think we’re all hurting in different ways at this time.•

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