CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn [CHI] — Chanie Frankel and Fradel Levin opened Mimulo on Mother’s Day two years ago. Fradel had been working in a dead-end, basement job, and Chanie was home with her son, when the space on Albany Avenue became available. After discussing and deciding against opening a restaurant (too expensive), Fradel suggested opening a flower shop. Three months later, with contracts signed, flowers stocked, and skills learned, Mimulo was the newest thing on the block.
Mimulo is a long, high ceilinged room, with blue curtains punctuating the glass storefront like parentheses. Every piece of furniture in the store has a personality – and a price tag. A battered metal alarm clock and a stove top iron rest on an icebox. The mint-colored pram in the back is Mimulo’s version of a lending library. Books overflow its ruffled edges. Ladder bookcases display elegant and colorful vases. Flowers and plants are nestled into corners and settled atop tables. The store exudes the scent of hyacinth and pine. But Mimulo is far more than just a flower shop. It’s a gathering spot. People are always walking by and stopping in, just to chat with Chanie and Fradel and whichever customers happen to be there. Mothers bring their children, who often ask, “Whose house are we in?”. They recognize immediately that this is a comfortable, welcoming place. The kind of place where there are guitars propped up against the brocade couches, so that anyone who comes in can sit down and strum a tune.
I asked Fradel and Chanie what they love most about their store. “The people,” Chanie replied instantly. “The personalities, the perspectives.” Fradel agreed. “I love the social aspect of this place,” she said, and then added, “When the customers let us express ourselves and create crazy amazing stuff for them.”
It’s those two ingredients – the sociability of Mimulo, and the creative environment it fosters – that draw people like me in. Where else in Crown Heights can you admire antique furniture, purchase one-of-a-kind bouquets, order a hot chocolate, and borrow books? You no longer have to go to Park Slope for a place to study – there’s Mimulo. You want to meet a friend for a comfortable chat? There’s Mimulo. Just got engaged/had a baby/celebrating a bas mitzvah, and need a beautiful, original place to throw a party? There’s Mimulo.
Chanie and Fradel do everything in their power to encourage a creative atmosphere. They love meeting young artists and creators, and working with them in order to benefit both parties. Together with Chef Jack Silberstein, they created a series of cooking classes. Sarede Switzer has begun holding yoga classes for women every Tuesday morning. When I needed a place to hold a creative writing group, I knew the only place to go was Mimulo. In the future, look for art classes, poetry slams, and any number of other events – all made possible by the existence of Mimulo. They’ve hired Shmuly Toron to be the liaison for cultural events and assistant store manager, while they focus on expanding the party-planning services. Some day soon, your wedding will be a Mimulo wedding. “When you plan the entire event – food, music, decor – then every aspect of it will be memorable,” says Chanie. They have the contacts – photographers, musicians, caterers – and the vision that can make a day extraordinary.
It’s hard to believe that Mimulo has only been open for two years. Chanie and Fradel still remember their very first client – Kivi Greenbaum, and his purchase of three cherry-brandy roses. “It was packed that first day,” Chanie remembers. “It was Mother’s Day, and everyone was buying these huge orders. It was incredible.” That comes as no suprise to anyone who has seen any Mimulo creations. They know that Chanie and Fradel are true artists. Each of their bouquet designs is novel and individualized. They’ve designed holiday lines, including an innovative fresh-fruit shalach manos.Their signature arrangement? They have none. “Our signature is our uniqueness. Every arrangement is different,” Fradel tells me.
In the time since they’ve opened, Chanie and Fradel have seen a blossoming of appreciation for what Mimulo has to offer to the community. There is a creative spirit infusing Crown Heights, and more and more young people are pursuing their talents. There is no more supportive environment for such growth than in Mimulo. I’ve experienced it myself, living here. It’s my oasis amongst all the brick and concrete of Crown Heights. It’s my own indoor garden. I drink coffee and browse through books on rainy days, and step in for a cool drink of water and a cheerfully bright flower on hot ones. There’s no other place quite like it anywhere in the world, and this Sunday, Mimulo invites you to see that for yourself.
So come on down to Mimulo, and celebrate two years of awesome and inspiring creativity with Chanie, Fradel, and assorted members of their family and friends. (And don’t leave without a beautiful bouquet for the mother in your life!).