By Lia Russell The Virginian-Pilot.
Surrounded by the fragrances, textures and vivid hues of fresh flowers, Jodi Cobb's work is both creative and sensual.
As owner of All A Bloom Florist & Gifts, which recently celebrated its grand opening, Cobb relishes playing with posies and creating arrangements that speak to the heart and make people smile.
But lifting spirits is nothing new for Cobb.
Before opening her new shop this spring, she worked for a service that removes dead bodies from homes, medical facilities, and accident and crime scenes.
With a chuckle, she admitted her previous vocation was a bit unusual, but said flowers also play an important role in death.
Cobb said she started a ritual of leaving a white silk rose in the place where she collected deceased loved ones.
"And when we'd take bodies to the funeral homes, I would go around looking at all the flower arrangements," she said.
With the opening of her new business, Cobb, 45, who has "tinkered" with flower arranging for more than 20 years, expects to have a livlier and more appreciative clientele.
At 400 W. Washington St., All A Bloom is only a block from the city's Municipal Center currently under construction.
"I decided Suffolk needed another flower shop," she said. "When this property became available, my husband and I thought it was a good location. We think this is a real up-and-coming area."
All A Bloom has a large corner spot with convenient storefront parking.
Throughout the shop, which Cobb said is still a work in progress, there are shades of her favorite color -- purple.
Cobb's husband, Brian, whom she met through an online dating site and married six years ago, built her a lavendar-painted counter for the store with a glass top under which she has photographs of her family and friends.
"It's everyone I love and that's important to me," she said. That includes three children and two grandchildren.
"They keep me going through the day, and they inspire me," she said.
The business truly is a family affair, with Cobb's husband and mother-in-law helping with deliveries. Her friends also pitch in.
"I'm a bit overwhelmed," she said while organizing her Mother's Day deliveries. "I didn't know I'd do this well so soon. I'm really happy with how the business is doing."
Cobb said she's been putting in 12-hour days, but doesn't mind.
"I am very particular," she said. "An arrangement has to be just right. I don't rush through them."
Cobb creates custom arrangements for all occasions, including weddings and, naturally, funerals. She also carries a selection of gift items, hand-crocheted baby blankets, balloons and baskets.
Her favorite thing to do, however, is surprise people with flower deliveries. Cobb said she really gets a kick out of women who ask, "What has he done now?"
"Those are the ones with the really funny cards," she said with a grin.