Expresalo con Detalles, a flower and gift shop born from the pandemic

Federal Way florist keeps growing her business.

The kids still had to eat, and the bills didn’t stop coming, so Malena Garces said God guided her to bring happiness to others during the pandemic — and in return, she prospered.

Malena Garces and her husband Alberto Garces own the Federal Way storefront Expresalo con Detalles, which in Spanish means “Express it with details.” She said she opened the store on South 336th Street specializing in selling flowers, gift baskets, other celebration gifts and event-planning services on March 28, 2021. This was after she started selling all of her other products because the pandemic had stopped all of her event planning.

During the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Malena said she was worried because her husband lost his job, and because she only did event planning, her family’s income was gone.

Malena said she was worried for days and nights on end because she didn’t know what to do. But an idea dawned upon her one night while she was unable to sleep due to the stress of impending bills and life without income.

“That idea came to me, and I’m telling you, I was mortified, I couldn’t sleep, and then all of a sudden, I sat on my bed and thought, ‘What’s permitted? Wait, you know, deliveries, I’m going to do deliveries,’ I thought I’m going to put together flowers and decorations, and I started,” Malena said. “Thanks to God, I tell you, after that, people were receptive to my services. All of the stores were closed to buy decorations for a birthday or whatever, and kids were bored and couldn’t interact with each other. But it was great that kids could feel their parents’ love with a little gift to play with bubbles, just anything.”

Malena said she advertised on Facebook that she was delivering these gift baskets or flower bouquets with a personalized message. She would even bring a speaker and play “Las Mañanitas,” the Latin American Spanish version of “Happy Birthday.” She said she would place the bouquet or gift basket in front of the home and sing to whoever was having the birthday.

Malena said her newfound business brought joy to her because it brought joy to others. She said that because everyone had to stay home, many baby showers and other events were canceled, so she was able to bring some happiness to people who were locked in their homes.

“One lady was having a baby shower, and she was anxiously waiting for her baby’s birth because she hadn’t been able to conceive for a long time. She was excitedly planning her baby shower, but with the pandemic, it was canceled. She was sad that she couldn’t celebrate her baby shower,” Malena said. “So, her friends ordered a little gift for her, and other friends joined in, and they sent other things, and then her aunt sent something. So, we arrived with the car full of gifts for her. She was so happy because she couldn’t see her family for safety reasons, but they still celebrated her. That was really exciting for me, too.”

Malena said people would be so happy they would cry, and she would cry, too. She said she thinks this joy was God’s hand working through her pandemic-sparked business.

Malena said she believes God put that thought in her head to start her gift delivery business because she had no idea how she would support her family with no income, and then the idea just popped into her head. But, even more so, she said the florist course she had casually taken a few months before ended up being her saving grace. She said God still gives people free will, but through her hard work and perseverance, she made the most of what God gave her.

Malena said her event planning is still the most popular service she offers, but she said the delivery business sparked her business growth. She said without the delivery business, she wouldn’t have been able to open up her storefront. She said that because she now sells flowers and gift baskets, she can provide more to her clients, but the storefront has mainly allowed customers to have more confidence in her. Malena said she used to do her consults in her home or at a coffee shop, but the official storefront allows people to trust her more because they see she’s official and know where she’s available during working hours. She said it eliminates the doubt that she could run off on clients and scam them.

American dream

Malena said she’s lived in Washington for almost 20 years, and she’s been in the U.S. for 27 years. Before that, at 18, she moved from Michoacan, Mexico, to Los Angeles. She said she lived in Los Angeles for seven years and then in Sumner, Washington, for a few years, but then she moved to Federal Way and doesn’t want to move anywhere else again. Malena said she loves living in the U.S., but specifically, she loves living in Federal Way because it’s much safer than other cities for kids growing up, and she thinks her kids get a good education from Federal Way schools.

Malena said although she believes there are a lot more opportunities to live a good life in the U.S., she said she had to work hard to live a good life. Malena said when she came to the U.S., she had nothing, and although she isn’t rich now, she lives a stable life and has almost fully realized the American dream.

“I think for me as an immigrant, the American dream is to get a U.S. residency, work for yourself because as an immigrant, I think that’s really important, and to have your own home,” Malena said. “We’re looking for a home, we almost have our residency, and our business, thanks to God, is growing. I think we’re a short stop away from saying, ‘I’ve completed my American dream. I’ve reached my objective.’ I didn’t come to do crimes like others. I came to look for new opportunities.”