HARLINGEN — What started as an opportunity to learn became a lifetime craft for Abel Gonzalez Mencio, who was once a delivery driver for the well-known Terry’s Flower shop, and is now on his way to become an accredited master florist.
The Harlingen native will be competing on July 4 in Las Vegas for his master florist credentials from the internationally recognized American Institute of Floral Designers.
“My goal is to achieve my AIFD credentials knowing that I stand among the very best, affording me the recognition among my peers in the floral industry,” Gonzalez said, beaming with excitement.
He has won Louisiana State Florists 2019 LSFA Designer of the Year and will advance to compete at the Mid America Cup held in Little Rock, Arkansas, the only floral competition in the United States that invites one winning representative of each state.
Back in the 1980s, Gonzalez started to create mums for the local high school students in order to stay busy.
It began as a simple task but it quickly became his favorite pastime.
“I always enjoyed making mums, being a delivery driver allowed me to learn about the designs,” Gonzalez said. “Later on Terry decided to close down her shop, and those that needed mums would look for me. I began to make them at my own home with the help of my mom until business started to grow.”
Once Terry’s closed, the clientele went to Gonzalez. He opened his own flower shop, and after 10 years, he decided to close it down and open a studio, called Casa Granada Floral in La Feria.
“Through the years I have continued to strive to make unique and creative homecoming, prom and event designs and my customers allow me to experiment and trust me to create unique pieces for them. I always strive to give my customer more ‘bang for their buck’ and as in all things Texas, we always go big or go home,” Gonzalez said about his over the top creations.
Since Gonzalez has been a part of the flower industry for awhile his clients are now mothers of his newest ones.
“Customers have not only become friends but family, and knowing those generations of people have enjoyed my work and trust me to create for their most cherished moments in life is truly what makes me the happiest.”
For Gonzalez, flowers are a symbol of expression and being able to showcase his clients’ feelings into his work is what makes it worthy.
“Designing flowers allows you to partake in all of life’s celebrations from birth to death and everything in between. Flowers express your most sincere emotions and contain the deepest expression of love known to man. Flowers are earth’s way of showing off,” Gonzalez said. “Being able to do that for others excites me and makes me happy; I would like to continue to do that.”