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Estée Lauder Alum Marianne Diorio on Running a Roadside Flower Stand

Finding the intersection of gardening and beauty has led Estée Lauder alum Marianne Diorio to a reincarnation of her own.

Marianne Diorio’s favorite flowers are peonies. 

She also likes celosias (the feathery kind, to be clear) and snapdragons, as do her neighbors, whom she will often message when she re-ups on the latter at her roadside flower stand, called Superflowers, on Shelter Island, N.Y.

Formerly the senior vice president of global communications at the Estée Lauder Cos. for 30 years, Diorio is now an independent beauty industry consultant and entrepreneur (or as she calls it, “fleurtrepreneur”).

“Being in nature is a very humbling and inspiring experience,” said Diorio, who first became interested in gardening during her 30s. It was around that same time that her husband, photographer James Wojcik, bought a house on Shelter Island, where the pair now spend the better part of the year when they’re not in New York City. 

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Wojcik, who Diorio calls her “soil mate,” handcrafted the Superflowers stand, and operating the business remains a collaborative effort between the two of them to this day. Said Diorio, “He’s much more of the scientist behind it, and I tend to be the one who goes ‘Well, those flowers look pretty in a bouquet.’” 

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The Superflowers Stand
The Supoerflowers stand. courtesy of marianne diorio

With a garden that is roughly 3,000 square feet, or as the enduring city dweller in Diorio puts it, “the size of a very, very large New York City apartment,” Diorio and her husband grow vegetables like rainbow kale, leaf broccoli and arugula, in addition to ornamental plants such as lavender and zinnia. 

In the weeding and upkeep of her literal, physical garden, Diorio has gleaned a deeper understanding of which aspects of her metaphorical “garden” to prioritize and cultivate.

“Gardening is such an analogy for life,” Diorio said. “Sometimes the things you nurture more than anything don’t necessarily succeed, and sometimes the things you leave alone just grow like wildflowers.” 

On average, a generous bunch of Superflowers goes for $25. Diorio accepts payment via cash and, at the behest of her daughter, Venmo (because “cash is passé” obviously). 

“On Shelter Island, there’s very much of a culture of honor stands,” said Diorio, noting the prevalent roadside stands in her community offer goods spanning a wide range of categories.

While there may be more seasoned players in her local honor stand arena, Diorio brings her own distinctive flair to her growing business, noting of her approach, “I needed a point of difference; I can’t grow fields and fields of sunflowers or any of that, so I try to choose things that might be a little bit more niche or uncommon.” 

In addition to running the stand, another aspect of Superflowers that sparks joy for Diorio is curating floral arrangements for private events. 

“Most people say ‘Do whatever you think is great,’ and that’s wonderful — that’s a freedom you don’t get in a job when you’re working for somebody else,” said Diorio, whose business Instagram is @superflowers47.  

The multihyphenate is also consulting for Glow Beauty Fuel, a new company founded by Stila cofounder Maren Jensen, which offers vitamin, collagen and hyaluronic acid-infused protein bars that seek to promote outer beauty through inner well-being.

“As well as all the wonderful topical things that we put on our faces, there’s also this other part to beauty that is about what you’re ingesting, and beauty from the inside out,” Diorio said of Glow Beauty Fuel, which also offers hibiscus flower-infused bars for brightening and skin elasticity.  

It’s Superflowers, however, which takes up most of her time in the summer — and for which the support of Diorio’s local Shelter Island community is half the fun, whether people are stopping by to make a purchase, strike up a conversation or simply an Instagram-worthy photo op.