Colleen Dunleavy and Crystal Mills of Love Child Dish on Their Faves
Crystal Mills and Colleen Dunleavy of Southie’s Love Child talk about blooms, booze, and the art of the pivot.
When friends-turned-cofounders Colleen Dunleavy and Crystal Mills signed the lease on their first South Boston storefront, they weren’t even entirely sure what their company would be.
With two businesses between them already—Dunleavy is the brains behind floral design company Dunlovely, and Mills owns WanderLush, a restaurant-quality cocktail catering service—the duo had been collaborating since 2015 at different events, including their flower-arranging-and-cocktail-making workshop, Blooms and Booze.
They knew they were onto something, so the pair began plans for scaling their workshop offerings. But set to open in March 2020, the very week Boston shut down due to the pandemic, they had to hit pause.
When retail spaces were first on the list for reopening guidelines, the partners decided they needed to pivot—a word that Mills says she’d be happy never to use again “in my entire life.” They began selling cocktail kits and flowers out of their front door by way of curbside pickup, and slowly started incorporating barware and other curated entertaining essentials into their space. By winter of 2020, their new endeavor, dubbed Love Child, was a full-scale retail operation. “Sometimes we laugh that we accidentally ended up opening the store,” Dunleavy says.
But what’s entrepreneurship without a few more pivots? Last spring, the shop moved around the corner to a bigger, light-filled space that has room for events, including their signature workshop. And as of February, the pair’s liquor license was approved, making Love Child the first flower and bottle shop in Boston (and one of the city’s few women-owned package stores to boot). “We like to say that we’re very likely the prettiest liquor store in Boston,” Mills says.
With this approval, Love Child is now the place you can pop in on your way to a party, pick up a killer bottle of wine, a host gift, and a bouquet of flowers—all in one stop. “We want everything in our store to feel like one big recommendation from your best friend,” Dunleavy says.
Ahead, the queens of curation share some of their favorite of-the-moment picks.
CM: This is an independent print magazine all about natural wines. There are interviews, essays, and features, and it’s absolutely beautiful.
CM: What I thought was a trend has now become a staple at home. We make pastas, salads, or just make a board with fresh bread, butter, and salt.
CD: My teenage self would be mortified to know I’d much rather browse the aisles of Goodwill than hit up the mall, but the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is so true! I could spend hours thrifting for treasures. There’s nothing more gratifying than scoring an amazing find.
CD: It’s hard not to feel inspired when you’re surrounded by the most stunning beaches you could imagine. Everywhere you turn you see something that is more beautiful than the next—from the roses in ’Sconset to the sunsets in Madaket, it’s truly a magical place.
The Today Show
CD: I grew up watching the Today show and continue that morning tradition to this day, so it’s certainly equal parts nostalgia and inspiration. Crystal and I manifest on the regular being featured. It would really feel like a “you’ve made it” moment.
What I’m Reading
CD: I love hearing about other entrepreneurial journeys, especially from other women. How to Build a Goddamn Empire [is] by Ali Kriegsman, one of the cofounders of Bulletin, an online wholesale marketplace we use at Love Child. Entrepreneurship is such a unique journey, so being able to relate to other people on a similar path is really helpful and inspiring!
What I’m Listening To
CM: VinePair’s Wine 101 podcast. I like how they break down frequently used wine terms. I’m currently learning how to describe wine as sweet, smooth, or jammy. And obviously much more complex descriptions, too. Seems simple, but they do a great job explaining.
What I’m Eating
CD: I live and work in Southie, so I am a frequent flyer at all the neighborhood restaurants. A few of my favorites include: the avo toast from Lulu Green, chicken Parm from Capo, taco salad from Loco, the PB&J smoothie from Juice Box, and bar pizza from Bardo’s, which is located inside Castle Island Brewing Co.—another favorite!
What I’m Buying
CM: Vintage glassware. It’s an obsession at this point.