Maura Dudas, of Milton, Mass. is up by 5 a.m. every Wednesday morning to make the trek to the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea.
While there, she buys fresh balsam, pine and various greens to turn into wreaths, garland, wrapped bundles and other creations sold from a refurbished trailer she hitches to the back of her holiday-red Jeep Wrangler. She’s lovingly dubbed the trailer “The Mistletow.”
“I wanted to be the ice cream truck of Christmas cheer,” she said. “We have holiday music playing, lights and this cute little trailer selling wreaths and garland. … It’s exciting to see the joy in people’s eyes as an adult. They hear the music, they turn around and their faces light up.”
A self-proclaimed lover of the TV show “Shark Tank,” Dudas said she’s always been fascinated with the idea of starting her own business. Her loves include flowers, antiques and big, Italian Christmases with her family, so she decided to combine all three in The Mistletow. She drives her trailer down South Shore residential streets, parks it outside her Ridgewood Road home and brings it to local events, such as the recent Milton Holiday Stroll.
Dudas custom makes wreaths – all of which have their own names – mantel mantle garland and other traditional holiday decor with antique and reusable touches.
“I try really hard to learn about repurposing. I use a lot of velvet ribbon for bows but I don’t glue them, I just drape them, so that ribbon could go on a gift, in your hair, on your tree. My greens bundles are wrapped in beautiful vintage napkins or doilies my grandmother made,” she said. “The goal is that you will repurpose some of these items and use them again. That’s the whole idea of the Mistletow, to give things new life.”
Dudas calls her unfinished basement her “workshop” and spends every night –after working her full-time job as an executive assistant – putting together her wares. She usually makes eight to 10 wreaths per week and three or so garland strands to sell on the truck. She also takes requests through Facebook and Instagram, @the_mistletow.
The Mistletow also sells small gifts such as earrings, kits from City Bonfires kits and porch decor, as well as leaving space for other small entrepreneurs – such as Quincy’s Danity Scrips and Milton’s Cheers to Flowers – to sell their goods.
Goods sold on The Mistletow aren’t bright red or adorned with Santas and colorful lights. Instead, they’re a rustic, more classic style she says is inspired by the Magnolia empire of Chip and Joanna Gaines.
“It’s traditional holiday classics. There isn’t anything that screams Christmas. I wanted everybody to feel like they’re included,” she said. “No matter what you celebrate, you cold come up to the truck and find something. It’s timeless classics – dried citrus, velvet in neutral colors.”
This is the first year of The Mistletow. It officially launched the day after Thanksgiving. Dudas said it was born from the holiday spirit, but that she and her husband, Russell, hope to turn it into a flower truck or similar venture in the summer months as well. And, of course, they’ll be back next Christmas.
“I’m striving to bring something different and new to the area. I’m really excited to continue to grow and learn,” Maura Marua Dudas said. “There are a lot of sad things that have gone on in my world and in everyone’s world, but this has really just been a beacon of light and joy. It’s just shown me how many good people are out there. The holidays really do bring out the best in people.”
Photos in this post were taken by the wonderfully talented Greg Derr. They were originally published in The Patriot Ledger.