Melissa Briscoe at Olive It, her flower and gift boutique...

Melissa Briscoe at Olive It, her flower and gift boutique in Merrick.  Credit: The Damian Group

Melissa Briscoe — a young Black business owner who owns a flower and gift boutique in Merrick — is changing perceptions one bouquet at a time.

Since opening Olive It at its current location last fall, she says customers have sometimes been  “a little bit shocked when I tell them I am the owner,” says Briscoe, 35. She suspects her age, gender and race factor into the confusion.

“My shop is in a town that doesn’t have a large African American population,” she says. Just 1.45% per the latest Census figures.

If her entrepreneurial venture expands others’ viewpoints, she’s all for it. “I like the fact that I’m going to be part of the change,” she says.

Briscoe, whose father is in real estate and mother is a nurse, loves working with dahlias, double tulips and ranunculus. Those are some go-to blooms she turns into posies ($25 and up) and arrangements ($35 and up) for weddings, funerals, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, every occasion under the sun.

Between year-round flower wholesalers and Long Island farms in summer, the shop is a garden of fresh supplies. She also sells cards, sage sticks ($5-$10) and candles ($10-$40), including a line by her brother, Adrian. Her brother, Marlon, handles deliveries.

A former hotel catering sales manager who worked part-time for another florist, she’s relied on classes to boost her design finesse — and resilience to weather ups and downs. She launched Olive It in January 2022 at another address in town, but had to relocate after a fire.

Word-of-mouth has been invaluable. “Moms in Merrick are gems,” she says. “In May and June I’m swamped with PTA and school orders. They just really support me one thousand percent.”

If the shop’s name seems unusual, say it aloud. “It sounds like ‘I love it,’” Briscoe says. She wants that reaction from every customer.

65 Merrick Ave., Merrick, 917-345-4680, oliveitboutique.com.

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