For some El Campo businesses, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
This especially applies to Flowers Etc. & Gifts, Inc. on Mechanic Street. Not only have they maintained a steady business in El Campo for more than 20 years, but owner Lisa Bubela plans to eventually hand the keys over to her daughter Kirby Lange once she is ready to retire.
Bubela is a third-generation El Campoan who has owned Flowers Etc. since 1999. She may have found success in her business, but she isn’t the first entrepreneur in her family.
“My parents have always been big on owning their own business,” Bubela said. “My dad had an eighth grade education and still managed to own five successful businesses in El Campo. He helped me realize that nothing can get in the way of my dreams.”
Flowers Etc. has not just been a passion project for Bubela, the business is a mainstay among residents. The small business is a big part of El Campo’s “Shop LOCAL!” slogan.
The City of El Campo has seen an economic uplift from shopping citizens via sales tax rebates by the state comptroller’s office. In September alone, the state returned $437,136 to municipal coffers.
Sales tax is the largest single revenue funding the city of El Campo, and it is thanks to businesses like Flowers Etc. that continue the trend.
Despite the business’s early success, Lange was unsure of her future with her mother’s company.
“When my mom started this business, we literally lived in the same building she was working out of,” Lange said. “Flowers were all I knew, so of course, I wanted nothing to do with it.”
Lange and her younger sister were not asked to be involved in the business, but even when they moved out of the building, she still saw flowers every day.
“When we first started, we were downtown where Paint Perfection is now, so my dad would always come after work to take my mom home,” Lange said. “If they were here, so were we. We didn’t go on family vacations, we didn’t have our own holidays. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a small glimpse into my future.”
Bubela started downtown but eventually moved her business to 1513 N. Mechanic in 2016. While her mother was establishing her business, Lange decided during high school that she didn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps and instead tried to forge her own path.
“I saw that we were always there, and it was just exhausting,” Lange said. “It’s late nights, early days and just completely time-consuming. I thought at the time that it wasn’t something I wanted for my life.”
Lange went to Sam Houston State intending to study horticulture and crop science.
“I wanted to be there when I had kids, so I wanted a job that I knew I could work from 8-5, and I got into horticulture and crop science,” Lange said. “During this time, I got pregnant, so it changed my plans a little, but I was still able to graduate.”
Lange minored in education and started a long-term sub position at the El Campo high school shortly after graduation.
Eventually, Bubela needed to fill a position that Lange was willing to take on temporarily. They have now been working together for more than 10 years.
“Of course, there are ups and downs with everything, but I am so happy that God’s plan brought me here,” Lange said. “My mom has continued to show me what it is to be resilient, what it is to be a successful woman despite all the odds. She is truly an inspiration, and I am happy to be following in her footsteps.”
Although Bubela has been working in the flower industry for more than 30 years, she does not forsee stopping but knows she will leave it in good hands if she does decide to walk away.
“I love this job because every day is something different,” Bubela said. “I get to share in people’s joy during their celebrations and give people comfort on some of their worst days. This job can be so rewarding, so I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon, but it makes me happy knowing that when I do leave, my daughter will continue something we got to build together.”