Melany Prima-Boewer’s paper daisies, dahlias, peonies and roses are well traveled: they’ve been used as home decor, photo backdrops and at weddings coast to coast.

Prima-Boewer is the owner and creator of Mi Prima Belle Design, a line of handmade paper flowers that she creates in her Manchester home. She was inspired to start making flowers in 2015 while researching decoration ideas for a girl’s birthday party. Realizing that paper flowers could be a way to help pay the family bills, she opened a shop on Etsy.

“As a mum, you always hope to tinker before you spend money,” she says. “I think I’ve found my calling in paper flowers, and everyone has responded so positively.”

After devoting herself full-time to Mi Prima Belle Design in 2018, Prima-Boewer experimented with selling on Amazon Handmade, as well as local stores RF Home Co. and Bonboni Mercantile Co. But when the pandemic hit and the her daughters were home remotely. Upon learning, she regrouped and focused on Etsy as her main source of sales.

These days, she works on three to five projects a week, which gives her plenty of time to focus on her family. “I love the custom order part of my business because at least I can manage my time,” she says.

Prima-Boewer originates from the Bicol region in the Philippines. She credits her mother, Linda, an elementary school arts and music teacher, with instilling in her a love of arts and crafts. “She is still my biggest inspiration,” says Prima-Boewer. “We were cutting flowers for decoration and making banners for her music and art room. She also grew native flowers. Orchids are her favorite.

Most orders are for wall flower arrangements for nurseries, girls’ rooms and event decor. These displays typically include flowers of various sizes, ranging from 6 to 16 inches in diameter. Prima-Boewer also makes bouquets for weddings, which she says take longer to make than large-scale wall flowers.

Prima-Boewer loves to visit Shaw Nature Preserve and the Missouri Botanical Garden with her family for inspiration. “Peonies are my favorite flower,” she says. “They are so full. There are so many petals, so many varieties. I earn a lot. It’s my favorite flower in a bouquet because you can’t go wrong. There are about 130 kinds.

For customers looking for something extra special, she can stain, hand paint, or add other custom embellishments to flowers. Although she creates most of her flowers from cardstock and crepe paper, she has also had special requests for fabric flowers.

The many five-star reviews on Etsy attest to the care Prima-Boewer takes with every order: “The paper flowers are high quality and so beautiful. It’s a dream to work with Melany… She sent me photos and samples of her work. I had purchased many paper flowers from other companies and Melany’s flowers are by far the best,” one customer wrote in a June 2021 review.

In the future, says Prima-Boewer, she would like to improve her business skills and expand the business. “There’s so much to learn,” she says. “I am people [on social media] who started, like me, with a small artisanal corner inside their house and who now have a warehouse.