Shamille Peters lived in Baton Rouge before moving to New Orleans with her husband in 2000. Shamille worked for Albertson’s stores for almost three years, starting as a cashier and then moving into the floral department after hurting her hand 1996. Although she had no experience arranging flowers, she quickly learned the necessary skills and discovered that she had a flair for the work. Shamille thrived in her new job, and soon she was running the store’s floral shop by herself whenever there was no licensed florist on duty.
To hone her skills and—she hoped—to increase her chance of passing the state licensing exam, Shamille took two 18-hour floral design courses at Delgado Community College. She has also handled the floral arrangements at the weddings of friends and a cousin in Houston, and for her own wedding as well. Unfortunately, neither Shamille’s natural talent, nor her years of experience, nor the floral design courses she took have been of much help in passing Louisiana’s licensing exam: Shamille has flunked the test five times since she first took it in 1997.
Ask anyone whose opinion really matters whether Shamille has the skills and ability to be a florist—her former supervisors and coworkers at Albertson’s, her happy customers, the people whose weddings she has handled—and they will tell you she is a wonderfully talented woman who loves designing floral arrangements. But ask the bureaucrats at the Louisiana Horticulture Commission whether she should be allowed into the select clique of state-licensed florists, and they will say, “Absolutely not.” As a result, Shamille has had to give up her dream of running her own floral business, and she has actually passed up opportunities to provide floral arrangements for banquets and other functions in New Orleans.
Shamille works in the admitting department of the Tulane University Hospital & Clinic. It’s a job, but it’s not her passion.