1. What is your business?
I’m in the floral business, and my company flour (www.flourla.com) provides classic and innovative arrangements for weddings and events. We also do daily deliveries throughout the greater Los Angeles area from the Valley to the South Bay. This year I’m concentrating on bringing flour into a new arena, focusing on customized large-scale arrangements made out of flowers for editorial and corporate, expanding floral design classes, and making floral design more accessible to the general public through a variety of products.
Through SMARTY I’ve met the wonderful photographer Bryony Shearmur and our collaborations will bring flowers and fine art together. Our launch is scheduled just in time for Valentine’s Day. I appreciate meaningful aesthetics and feel that in addition to running the business side, I’m allowed the freedom to be an art director too- there really is no limit to what can be created! I’ve found great joy in helping people learn how to do flowers in simple ways, whether it’s an intern assisting on an event, or hosting how-to demonstrations. This past year has been such a learning experience, and this year I’m looking forward to making some more mistakes along the way, hitting milestones, and exploring the great opportunities.
2. Why did you launch this business?
I wanted to be my own boss, and take control of my destiny. My original goal was to work in non-profit until I had enough investors to open a retail shop, however the itch came way sooner than anticipated, so I decided to start small and go from there. I knew it would be hard networking, getting clients, and building an online presence, but that didn’t deter me. Then again I didn’t really know what I was in for! It takes baby steps. Sometimes it’s hard to see the progress, but it’s there.
3. What gives you your greatest pleasure in your business?
Seeing the reactions of people is so rewarding. When I see someone smile so wide, or receive a call raving about flour, it makes me so happy and proud that I was able to bring a ray of sunshine into their life for that moment. The purest form of pleasure is when I don’t have any tight deadlines, and can experiment and arrange without any pressure. I put the music on (anything from reggae to country to classic rock), sip a cold Corona or glass of wine on a balmy day, and the fact that I get to play with flowers is just heavenly.
4. Where have you run into challenges in your business?
Cash flow. Although my over-head is pretty low comparatively to other businesses (i.e. I buy what I need per order or event), the money still has to be put up front, which can be a challenge. I’m in a Hallmark kind of business, so each holiday I have to make sure that there is enough quantity to fill each order, but not too much as they are perishable, which means I lose money if I have too much leftover. Since my business is primarily online, keeping up with SEO (search engine optimization) has probably been my second biggest challenge.
5. What is a key resource that has helped you?
I read Inc. and Entrepreneur every month, and learn a lot from those magazines. In 2010, through the Manhattan Beach Women in Business program I met my mentor Michele, a brilliant strategist, who then introduced me to fellow SMARTY Sandy Abrams, entrepreneur genius and mom extraordinaire. I think that no matter what stage of business you are in, it’s important to surround yourself with people that you aspire to be, and go to for solid advice. When I was forming the idea of starting a studio, I went to SCORE a few times to ask every question imaginable. Through them I was able to eliminate any unnecessary expense and have a concrete action plan of the nexts steps I needed to do. That is a free program through the SBA, and they are in every city.