Gloria Citti, founder of Citti’s Florist, is a true Santa Claran. She was born in Santa Clara and lived here most of her life. Citti experienced first hand the change in Santa Clara from an agrarian culture to the current Silicon Valley.
I lived on a ranch on Kifer Road through high school until I was married, remembers Citti. She attended Santa Clara High.
It is clear that the successful businesswoman has fond memories of her childhood. I have love birds, parakeets, and canaries in my home now. I wake up in the morning to the sounds of my youth, she says with a smile on her face.
I love nature and the sounds of birds in their natural habitat too. I think one of the reasons I became a florist is I lived on the earth and love the feel of it. I used to plant flower beds on that ranch, reminisces Citti. This is the perfect climate for English gardens, full of multi-varietal plants, she adds.
It is clear from seeing the inside of the Santa Clara site of Citti’s Florist that Gloria Citti has an eye for color. She doesn’t hesitate to point out first that this site was an orchard during earlier times, before explaining more of her background.
I had an art background and took business management at San Jose State, resumes Citti. In 1962, I studied retail floristry at San Francisco City College. At that time there were only two floral schools in California. Flowers have always been my passion. I always had a knack for them and at one point was arranging them in local churches and for community events, gratis.
When Citti was commuting to study, she had already opened her first florist shop and was raising two boys. She had married Fedele Citti previously. I met my husband through family friends. He passed away 10 years ago. We were partners not only in life but also in business. He joined me in the business three years after I began it. The members of my family were all self-employed, showing further how the floristry business was a natural outcome of Citti’s upbringing.
I am really fortunate and grateful to be able to turn a passion into my profession. I feel like this has been a gift. I enjoy it so thoroughly, she comments.
When asked what were the highlights of her career, Citti remembers, The great customers in my past are very important. I was responsible for the flowers at President Bush’s banquet at the Santa Clara Marriot and served other dignitaries like Secretary of State George Shultz and Hollywood stars.
What she has to say about the locals she has had as customers is I never moved too far from home. The nice thing about being in Santa Clara is we are all connected. It is just like family. She adds, When we had the fire here in 2009, the community supported us, with offers of food and help to clean up.
It is only right that the community come to the aid of the Citti family. Gloria Citti alone has given so much. She was ‘Santa Claran of the Year’ in 1982 for her role as Chairperson for the first Agnews Awareness Day and for her contributions as president of the Santa Clara Soroptimists. Over the years, Citti has served in leadership roles and done fund-raising that could have been a fulltime job, given the time and effort she put in.
Chairing for organizations is relaxing. I also love to cook, read, garden, sit by the ocean, visit museums and travel, says Citti. The only place I haven’t been is Antarctica. Italy is my favorite place to go, especially Tuscany which is where my parents are from. I love the food, the architecture, the arts, the people, the pace of life, and the beautiful music.
The most important thing to Gloria Citti is her family. Her three children are all partners in the award-winning business and she is a proud grandmother. Citti’s Florist celebrates its 50th anniversary this February and has three locations now.
It was an exciting time when Santa Clara was growing. I was in the right place at the right time, concludes Citti. This vibrant woman makes it all look so easy, but she reflects, I have had a sense of purpose and commitment and the desire, with my family, to learn and change with the times.