In her late teens working in a small flower shop in Montgomery, Alabama, Jennifer Riley never imagined she would one day make the splash she has and grace some of the most popular celebrity websites as "The Lady in the Rose Hat."
Jennifer Riley began working as a front of the house worker at Al's Flowers in Montgomery at the age of 20. Her potential was quickly noticed as she moved up the ranks to front of the house manager, then buyer and finally to designer. Recognizing how special Jennifer was, Al sent her to Holland to study floral design with instructors from all over Europe. Jennifer learned more than she could have ever imagined and came home to "passionately live and create" – her mantra to this day.
At 33, Jennifer's heart led her to work on her own, establishing floral creations for those she had been working with for years. While freelancing, Jennifer established a loyal client base and a consistent workload. One of those clients presented her with a business opportunity. Feeling like this was the right move for her, Jennifer was ecstatic for the partnership. The business was a hit that produced unheard-of numbers and work in which Jennifer couldn't be more proud. However, despite the success, the partnership dissolved and their business closed after three years.
The next couple of years Jennifer continued to work with loyal clients, while looking to re-energize her business and find renewed happiness in her creativity and talent.
Her 40th birthday led to a call that immediately changed everything. Jennifer was asked to send in a prototype of floral arrangement looks for the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Excited and determined to impress, Jennifer submitted her looks and won the job.
Jennifer worked tirelessly to create 700 arrangements consisting of table centerpieces for both small and large buffets for the Kentucky Derby. She and her team were in store for the hardest five days of their professional career. Although, they didn't even get to see the famous oaks or the Derby, Jennifer was back in the saddle.
In 2013, Jennifer was asked to return again to the Kentucky Derby where she was ready with a year of experience under her belt, a detailed plan and a great team. Even more pleased with her floral creations than the year before, Jennifer and her team had time to enjoy the dream job and take part as spectators at the Derby. But she could have never dreamed of what was in store for her.
Walking through the tunnel donning an oversized rose hat she created the night before, Jennifer was stopped by several people who wanted to take a photo with her. Thinking nothing of it, Jennifer and her team continued through the tunnel but were stopped several more times for pictures. By the end of the day, Jennifer stopped to pose for more than 350 pictures with Kentucky Derby fans that were in awe of her hat, and awoke to overnight fame – all because of the rose hat.