When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, marking the end of communism in eastern Europe, Stancho and Irena Bogdanov, like so many of their fellow citizens, took advantage of their new-found freedom and struck out for a new life in the West, eventually settling in Ottawa.
Stancho, a master masonry worker, made the transition easily, but Irena discovered that her qualifications as an auditor were not as transferable. Undeterred, she found employment with a flower wholesaler and, finding she greatly enjoyed the industry, decided to enroll in Algonquin College's Floral Design program. Soon after graduating, she opened the Crystal Calla flower shop in 1996 in a small storefront on Montreal Road.
Renamed Ottawa Flowers in 1998 to make it as easy as possible for customers to find the store online, the business quickly grew in both size and reputation. With rapid growth came the need for more space, so Irena moved the store to its current Thurston Road location in 2006.