Frustrated brides team up to demand missing wedding bouquets from Minnesota flower preservationist (2024)

Shortly after her wedding in 2022, Abby McClenathen, who lives in Houston, was excited to discover a Corcoran-based business that promised to preserve her wedding bouquets in resin. She would be able to keep a treasured memento of that day, she thought, forever.

A year later, after paying more than $900 and shipping her flowers to Minnesota, McClenathen, 35, said the business — Black Sheep Boutique Floral Preservation — ghosted her. She has yet to get her flowers back and has since connected on Facebook with six other recent brides in the same situation, all hoping to get an answer.

Business owner Justine Olsen acknowledged she's kept the women waiting and has not responded to repeated inquiries. She said it was never her intention to scam them, but the women — one recently reached out to the Star Tribune on behalf of the group — feel they have been.

"How can you feel good about essentially scamming all of these people who are wanting to preserve these memories and something with so much sentimental value?" McClenathen said.

The process of preserving bouquets involves drying the flowers, placing them in a display case and pouring resin over them. The preservations can take different shapes, such as a large rectangle for framing or a smaller display such as a coaster. Several of the women said they've been waiting a year and a half for their bouquets. Several floral preservation businesses said the normal turnaround should be about six months.

Reached by phone, Olsen said she was dealing with mental health issues and had to take time off, which included hospital stays, while also raising her children. She said she has still been working on orders.

"I'm only able to do so many at once, and it's just been very hard for me to catch up," Olson said.

She said she has closed her business and after her initial contact with the Star Tribune, has been in touch with the women about returning their flowers — some preserved and some not.

Maria Giorgini of Fridley, who reached out on behalf of the brides, confirmed they finally heard back from Olsen in recent days. She said the women believe they will get the bouquets back soon.

Several of them said they were initially drawn by Olsen's website, which included galleries full of images of beautiful resin preservations. A few admitted to signing contracts that lacked hard deadlines for when they'd get the bouquets back, but that the extended wait left them increasingly fed up.

One of the women, Annie Johnson, 27, said she filed in small claims court against Olsen and is awaiting judgment.

"I'm angry, and I'm completely heartbroken," she said. "I'm a really sentimental person."

Johnson said her grandmother couldn't make it to the wedding because of poor health. The idea of preserving her bouquet appealed to her, Johnson said, as she thought about her own future grandchildren and their weddings. Maybe her preserved bouquet could be there if she herself couldn't, she thought.

In the beginning, the customers agreed, Olsen quickly responded to questions and sent photos of their flowers. Then the business' website shut down, and the Instagram page went private.

Katelyn Boucher of Maple Grove said she paid $2,200 for the service and sent nearly all of her wedding flowers, which themselves cost nearly $4,000. Boucher, 27, hoped to turn some of the flowers into a display honoring a relative who died shortly before she wed.

Giorgini, 33, said she understands if someone is enduring difficulties in their life. But, she said, Olsen had a responsibility to keep her customers better informed.

"Woman to woman, how could you take someone's very obviously sentimental piece, and then just completely ditch them?" Giorgini said.

Olsen said she was dealing with personal and business challenges when she stopped responding to customers. She said she had opened her own studio, but developments didn't go as planned, and she found herself moving items for the preservation process between the studio and her house multiple times. The preservation process is lengthy and can't be rushed, Olsen said.

"I just wanted to rebound myself, and I guess maybe that wasn't the most appropriate way to handle it, but it was the only way that I knew how to with what I was going through," Olsen said.

Boucher said the women went public with their experience hoping to prevent others from ending up in the same situation.

"I'm like probably any other woman would be for their wedding day," Boucher said. "It had a lot of sentimental value. And I don't have a single flower from that day."

Frustrated brides team up to demand missing wedding bouquets from Minnesota flower preservationist (2024)
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