A Florist Coming to Bloom

Kenneth Malagiere, BA’05 (Metro)

By Tom Nugent

A black and white portrait of Ken Malagiere smiling.

(Photo: Courtesy of Kenneth Malagiere)

Since graduating from FDU 15 years ago, Kenneth Malagiere, BA’05 (Metro), has run a thriving business in Monmouth and Ocean counties — Narcissus Florals, headquartered in Toms River, N.J. He’s a skilled craftsman with a proven knack for floral design, ready to bring out “the colors and textures” required to make a wedding, birthday or anniversary come alive in a blaze of fragrant beauty.

“I was raised as a floral artist,” Malagiere says. “My father owned a small flower shop our entire childhood, and I basically grew up ‘under the counter.’ We took over the business post-graduation, in anticipation of taking some time off and getting a little small-business experience before law school. Law school never happened, but I did marry a lawyer instead!”

Malagiere is also a skilled painter who spends much of his spare time putting oil on canvas, or dabbling in watercolors, to create his own works of art in the Impressionist style made famous by masters Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet.

In addition, Malagiere (pronounced Mal-ah-JEER) serves several community-building organizations working to accomplish everything from helping college students pay their tuition at Ocean County College, as the executive director of the College Foundation, to guiding numerous nonprofit organizations, including the 64-year-old Garden State Philharmonic. (He’s a board member and past president.)

After growing up at the New Jersey Shore, Malagiere spent “four terrific years” at FDU. His inspiring University education included a semester-long stint at FDU’s Wroxton College in Oxfordshire, England, and a couple of years on the Knights men’s golf team. “I didn’t win a whole lot of matches, but I sure had fun!”

Malagiere has remained an active alumnus, engaged in FDU events. He attends FDU’s New Jersey Speakers Series presentations, supports the annual Charter Day celebration and, he says, “Nearest to my heart is serving as the chair of the Wroxton Advisory Committee, with a tremendously talented group of people dedicated to supporting the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Fairleigh Dickinson University.”

While studying political science and international relations, he was “very fortunate to have learned from some terrific professors — including Helen Brudner, professor emerita of history and political science, and Faramarz “Jim” Fatemi, professor emeritus of history and political science — who taught us the crucial importance of taking a global perspective and advocating for global peace, through negotiation and diplomacy in any way we are able.”

Interestingly enough, Malagiere says his FDU classes in international relations have also proved beneficial in building his business. “Learning about international cooperation and teamwork helped me understand how to best relate to and treat our clients and our terrific talented team of artists.”

When it comes to wedding planning, “We have an extremely dedicated team — from consultants, who meet with our brides and grooms to assist in selecting the perfect blooms to bring their vision to life, to our professional design team, who makes the magic happen! Behind the scenes, it is a sea of Google calendars and Excel spreadsheets to keep us organized and able to execute seamlessly on the big day, a few-hundred times a year.”

A Toms River resident (along with his attorney-husband Jonathan Petro), Malagiere says he’s “having a blast” as a business executive who also spends many of his off-hours putting bright colors on canvas and traveling for continued inspiration.

“What I really enjoy about my life now is the creativity involved every day,” he says. “When we founded our business our driving philosophy was to be where the art of business meets the business of art. We think we are getting there!”

Generous Heart

Kenneth Malagiere is a self-described giver. “‘Give’ is the word I’d pick to describe my life.”

Beautiful Music

“Friends in our community were board members on the Philharmonic, and knew of my affinity for the arts and classical music,” says Malagiere. “They asked if I would like to be involved, and I agreed!”

Wroxton Legacy

“We create opportunities so Wroxton College alumni are inspired to give of their time, talent and treasure. The advisory committee does this through special events, reunions and direct campaigns. It is our hope that these efforts aid the University in ensuring the Wroxton experience is available to all students for many years to come.”