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Living, breathing Astoria decor

Astoria resident Liza Fiorentinos has turned her entrepreneurial spirit into an art form with her flowering frames. Photo by Anastassios Mentis
TimesLedger Newspapers

Everyone needs more green in their lives.

A growing Astoria-based business — Luludi Living Frames — is all about “bringing nature indoors as art and framing it,” said owner and designer Liza Fiorentinos, 51, a Greek American who decided to bid farewell to her corporate life and a profitable career so she could jump-start her new creative venture.

With her studio in the same building where she and husband, Evangelos, live, the artist says it makes it easy to work long hours.

“‘Luludi’ means flower in Greek, and the fun spelling was a friend’s suggestion,” said Fiorentinos, whose once-stifled entrepreneurial spirit blossomed and flourished like her amazing living frames.

The Feng Shui connection

According to the Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, plants symbolize growth and vibrant life, purifying the air while emitting positive energy that contributes to the good flow of chi (energy) in your home — crucial for maintaining health, general well-being and sound relationships.

The correct placement of furniture and use of indoor plants — or green living frames — can turn your personal space into an inviting and serene haven, sprucing up even the dullest, chi-deprived digs.

As integral elements of Luludi Living Frames, indoor plants and greenery are combined with decorative objects and may be enjoyed as lush wall accents or unique displays. Adding a warm glow to the mix with LED lighting, each colorful creation promises to enhance the ambience in any room.

“Plants are also incredible as good mood boosters — all the while inspiring creativity and awe,” says Fiorentinos.

And each frame is named after a special person: “The Maria frame after my mother; the Aphrodite after my niece and godchild. They come in eight chic colors and at least 20 different shapes.”

Just as Feng Shui directs energy to achieve harmony, the career gal finally found balance in her life doing what she loved best. Working 24/7 to make her dream a reality was energizing. “I had never worked so hard in my life and yet I was never tired,” she says. She launched www.luludi.net on Oct. 18, 2011.

The back story

“I was raised in Africa, thanks to a Greek father who had wanderlust and a Greek mother who obliged. We handcrafted jewelry and hair combs, renting spaces at festivals,” Fiorentinos says.

At 20, she returned to New York to attend college, but got a great job in advertising, working her way up the ranks at different companies, becoming a vice president at 27 and burning out in her early 30s.

At that time, Turner Broadcasting offered her an opportunity to join its CNN office in Paris and she spent 13 wonderful years there. But the frustrated artisan felt her heart was still an entrepreneurial one, so she quit her job and in 2010 moved back to New York to be with her beau and start anew.

“All my life I dreamed of owning my own business,” she says.

She created cardboard frames, filled them with plastic flowers and tea-lights, took photos and sent them to friends — they loved them. She commissioned several prototypes and met people in the flower, interior decorating and design worlds. Luludi Living Frames was born.

“Manufactured in Astoria out of medium-density fiberboard, then painted in a spray booth for a smooth and sleek finish, the colors are very bright and fun, but I do carry the classic black and whites,” says the artist. The packaging is luxurious, with the frame arriving in a soft flannel bag and tons of lavender tissue paper. “We include a seed-card as our thank you. When planted, the card grows wild flowers. Customers love it and it’s the most memorable gift they have ever received, as it keeps on growing.”

Fiorentinos recently launched a cart at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, L.I. to jump-start the retail market.

Her fabulous emerald moss purses, with live colorful plants in them are a hit. Joining the lineup are themed glass terrariums, which are mini living worlds whose small size makes them perfect for desks, bedsides and kitchens. The most popular — horoscope terrariums — have the zodiac stone featured for each month. “It’s really good Feng Shui to have your zodiac stone in your space,” says Fiorentinos.

Clients also love the crystal terrariums made of citrine, amethyst, moonstone and agate, each with different healing properties.

Children’s frames can be constructed using two lovely hand-painted young people’s books as the living frames, or a kiddie terrarium line with colorful fairies, warriors and sea creatures in the glass — with air plants and pebbles.

“Our new line, soon available at the mall and online, includes glass hearts and tear drop terrariums that come with beautifully hued sands and pebbles, and a variety of air plants and cacti.”

Gift ideas

For Halloween there are orange and black sand terrariums, featuring fun, scary creatures accompanying the plants in glass terrariums.

“For the holidays, we’re premiering our moss balls with holiday decorations, and Christmas balls with plants inside for the tree; even rattan reindeer shapes that hold plants.

“Inspiration is everywhere,” says Fiorentinos. “Ideas pop into my mind like millions of air bubbles, and I get frustrated at not being able to chase every one up.”

Call 1-888-9-luludi or email info@luludi.net.

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