Smart, forward-thinking businesswoman. Dedicated (and hilarious) friend and colleague. Devoted daughter. Loving mother. All around bright light.
These are just some of the descriptions being used this week to memorialize Shelby Shy, AAF, a past president of the Arkansas Florists Association and former Society of American Florists volunteer leader, who worked for many years in her family’s business, Shirley’s Flower Studio in Rogers, Arkansas. Shy died May 8 at the age of 38 and is survived by her parents, Jo Buttram, AAF, and Randy Buttram, and her two young sons, Brooks and Coleman, along with members of her extended family.
A celebration of her life will take place May 17 at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville.
“I think something we are all remembering today is her smile,” said Chris Norwood, AIFD, PFCI, of Tipton Hurst in Little Rock, and the current president of AFA. “She was always so positive and so forthcoming and generous with ideas — and she had a lot of ideas about the floral industry and its future.”
Shy began her career in the floral industry when she was 14, working in her family’s business. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in business communications, she worked for five years in merchandising for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. She then returned to Shirley’s, becoming a third-generation florist. Starting in 2007, she took on roles as the shop’s manager, marketing director and senior wedding consultant. In recent years, she founded her own business, Coleman Brooks Consulting.
As a volunteer leader and educator within the industry, Shy was well-known — and beloved. In addition to serving as AFA’s president and on the group’s board, she led regional educational sessions, served on SAF’s Consumer Marketing Committee, presented a number of times at the association’s annual convention and wrote more than 40 posts for AboutFlowersBlog.com, part of SAF’s consumer website.
Stacie Lee Banks, AAF, of Lee’s Flower and Card Shop in Washington, D.C., served as an SAF volunteer alongside Shy, and remembers observing the bond between Shy and her mother at events such as SAF’s conventions and Congressional Action Days.
“Shelby was so engaging and friendly, and I remember her closeness to Jo,” Banks said. “I loved seeing her posts [on social media] as her family grew. She was so young and vibrant.”
Mandy Majerik, AIFD, PFCI, of Hothouse Design Studio in Birmingham, Alabama, also came to know Shy through SAF. She called Shy’s death “a great loss for our industry.”
“The minute I heard her voice an opinion while sitting in the same SAF committee, I knew that she had great drive and that she was motivated by the best of intentions,” Majerik said, adding that Shy had a natural ability to draw out the best in people — and an instinct toward kindness. “I remember once, on the last day of an SAF convention, Shelby slipped a sweet note of encouragement under my hotel room door. I left that convention feeling inspired not only by the content shared, but also by the beginning of a new floral friendship.”
Majerik added, “when I picture Shelby, her smile and spirit are the things that shine the brightest. We have all experienced that shine and it will forever light our hearts.”
Shy was featured often in SAF publications, including Floral Management and SAF’s member newsletters, E-Brief and Sales Wake Up. Many of those stories focused on her ability to attract younger buyers — including high schoolers heading to school dances and on-the-go young professionals “too busy” to stop by a traditional florist. (Shy’s answer to the latter: an unforgettable and adorable pop-up shop in a mobile camper.)
Amanda Long, a former managing editor of Floral Management became a friend of Shy’s after covering her in the magazine — a friendship, Long said was likely inevitable.
“When Shelby Shy smiled, you couldn’t help but join her,” said Long, who wrote about Shy in a 2009 Floral Management profile. “It was one of the smiles that made truth out of cliches like ‘light up a room.’ And once it landed on you, and she always made sure to share it, you quickly understood that the packaging was only a precursor to the true beauty and warmth underneath.”
The family has asked that “in lieu of donations, send flowers to someone you love, or send memorials to The Benton County Sunshine School, 3400 Woods Lane, Rogers, Arkansas, 72756.”
Read Shy’s obituary in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management.