I dreamed. I struggled too. Just like you, I truly wanted an opportunity to run an efficient and profitable floral business.
I started in my mom's basement over 30 years ago just doing craft fairs with artificial flowers because that's all I knew. I dreamed of owning a big retail flower shop but wondered how I would get there. My mom and I took design classes once a week for a year. You can read a little more about that in my blog from Mother's Day.
Off I went to college in Pennsylvania and would drive home on Friday afternoons to design weddings, deliver on Saturday and return to school on Sunday. Next thing I knew, I was purchasing a small two-door cooler that I could only put personal flowers into. You know, the bridal party flowers, boutonnieres, corsages, etc. And, my biggest fears were, “Are these flowers going to open in time? And, how can I make sure they don't wilt before the wedding?" (Back then, the wondrous thing called a "CoolBot" wasn't invented yet! This is one of the best things developed for studio florists!)
In 1997, my first dream came true; I purchased Bergerons. A small but known shop with a 20-year history. That was a decisive moment, as I delved in full-time as a florist. I had worked part-time for another florist in a nearby town so I could get an idea of how a shop ran (or didn't run!). ;) I joined all the wire services available as back then; the internet was just starting. I only had a cash register in the front of the shop. The computer was in the back to help out with accounting software and printing out letters and invoices to MAIL! Emailing wasn't even a thing I knew about.
Fast forward to another location; I got there—that large retail space. For five years, I had a beautiful 2,000+ sq ft retail shop with gifts and a 12x12 florist cooler. That was around 9/11 and the summer of the sniper attacks. What a year that was! Business went down by 40%, and I ended up moving/restructuring a bit to fit the changing needs and trends in the industry.
During this time, my interest in education led me to floral industry groups. I was active in the Middle Atlantic Floral Association (Board Member and Past President) and joined the Board of the local Teleflora Unit. I enjoyed participating in design competitions; it kept me doing what I loved and learning new techniques to expand my creativity.
And then, ten years later, I proudly became the owner of TWO locations. I was approached by the historic Mayflower Autograph Hotel in Washington, DC to be their in-house florist and also run a shop in the lower level. It was a prestigious opportunity just a few blocks from the White House and one I will never forget, but it came with its share of struggles and new challenges during that six-year stint.
In 2015, I took my love of European design to the next level and signed on to take the EMC (European Master Certification) Program graduating in the fall of 2016. Throughout 2017, I worked with EMC to bring some workflows and business strategies into play. By last autumn with much joy, I became the Business Manager and a Shareholder/Partner of EMC.
With all of this change, a year ago, I opted not to renew the lease at the hotel, give up designing their florals weekly and focus myself and my team on our large warehouse space dedicated to creating events, receiving flowers for other florists and teaching others. At this ten year mark, the education has come into full swing as I was inducted into AIFD and am delving into teaching floral design classes as well as business courses and coaching to help other florists.
I can gratefully say that through the struggles (and there were more than a few!), I loved the challenges, what joy it brought and the growth that happened, both business-wise and personally.