2016 Annual Review for YOU!

Hello flower friends!
Well, it is that time of year, that inevitable time when we reflect on the previous year and set goals for the upcoming year. So here we go – print this out or save a copy of it to your computer, do some pondering and jot down some thoughts about 2016 and set your goals for 2017:

Accomplishments I am most proud of from 2016:











The 3 Best Lessons that I learned in 2016:




The 3 Smartest Decisions that I made in 2016 are:




The 3 Biggest Risks that I took in 2016 were:




The 3 Biggest challenges I faced in 2016 were:




Upon Reflection, if I could re-do 3 things from 2016, what would they be?
(What would you do differently?)




Jot down 3 things I’d like to do more of in 2017:




What 3 things do I need to do less of in 2017?




When I think of 2017 the 3 words that come to mind are…?:




What are my 3 biggest goals for 2017:




Goodbye California, Hello Washington!

Well, flower friends, I have some big news – we are moving to Washington State.
My husband has accepted a job position in Washington State that he is extremely excited about, so after just 8 months in California it is time to move again!
This is a huge change and not one that I was expecting, however, I’m sure we’ve all experienced changes that we were not expecting – right?! I am sad to be leaving my family and friends in California and all the new friends that I’ve been making here. Luckily, I am quite familiar with Washington State, having spent a lot of time there over the years. My Uncle lives just outside Seattle and is offering us a place to land until we find our *home*. My favorite Aunt, his wife of 40 years, passed away in June ~ perhaps her Angel-self decided to re-route us to Washington?!

There are a lot of positives to Washington State — it is gorgeous, I mean really, really gorgeous. The weather is very temperate. I hear it rarely snows (I’m just not a fan of snow and all my friends in Colorado know it!). Flowers grow like crazy and I am already looking forward to the garden I will be able to grow. I’ll be within easy driving of Vancouver and Portland – lots and lots of flower things to explore up in the Pacific Northwest, right?!
That being said – if you do live in that area and know of anything I must see, please let me know! I’m always up for a flower adventure!!

roozengaarde tulip festival

Last April when I visited the Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley, Washington I had no idea that 4 months later I’d be moving there! Thank goodness I’m moving to a flower filled place!!

There are a few flower friends here in California that I would like to say a *huge* thank-you to, new friends or friends that I’ve gotten to know better over the past 8 months.
Laurie from Fleurie – we’ve been on excellent flower adventures in the Bay Area, Santa Rosa and Santa Barbara. Great friend and I hope she visits me soon in Washington (hint, hint – Laurie!)
Polly and Brooke of Valley Flora. I met Polly through Twitter and met her in person back in January at a Wedding Showcase. I got to freelance with them a few times in Napa and *oh my gosh* their work is Stunning. I will be featuring them sometime soon on Flirty Fleurs!
Dena of Dandelion in Ukiah. I introduced myself when I first arrived, she invited me to coffee and then to the Pilates class she teaches ~ so fun! Plus, I got to freelance for her a bit.
Nancy Liu Chin, I need more time with this special lady!! We had *such* a great time visiting Louie Figone’s Farm and chatting when we’d run into each other at SF Flower Mart.
Nancy of Oak & The Owl, love this lady ~ such a sweetheart and thrilled I got to hang out with her at Photoshoots and for introducing me to Max Gill.
Yasmin from Floral Theory, I had barely arrived in CA and she invited me to join her at The Lab Event, where I got to meet Polly and to see an old friend, Marian of Savage Rose.
Alena, who I think I saw each time I went to SF Flower Mart, such a lovely person! I profiled her beautiful shop in Flirty Fleurs awhile back.

I feel like I only touched the tip of the iceberg that is the floral industry in California, still so many farms and flower shops to visit in California! Luckily, I’ll be back often and will continue to visit flower businesses here.
Plus, I still have a few weddings to design flowers for this fall in the Sonoma Wine Country.

I’m so thankful for the 8 months I got to be in California; time with my family, for the cool brides I’ve been working with and for the cool flower people I got to spend time with!

The Floral Designer Marketing Workbook!


The Floral Designers Marketing Workbook is an e-book written by a florist for florists, available for immediate download.

marketing ideas for florists

I’m excited to share some of my insights on marketing with you! After fourteen years in the business, I’ve learned a quite a few do’s & don’ts regarding marketing. Here I will share some of my successes and lessons learned, I hope you will learn from them while working on the marketing for your own floral design business.

The workbook includes ten marketing ideas and each marketing  idea is broken into an exercise. These are marketing ideas that are focused on the floral industry, with a focus on floral designers looking to increase their wedding and event business. I give an overview of how the marketing idea has worked for me, followed by the workbook sections where you will be prompted to answer questions, sketch out ideas and brainstorm {marked by Action Item}.

This is your workbook to help further your floral design business! Have fun with it! 

When you purchase the workbook, you will receive a link to download an electronic zip file and will be able to start using the workbook TODAY!

ONLY $39!

Yesterday I purchased your new marketing handbook and wanted to thank you for your concise presentation and useful information which can be implemented easily and immediately! Fantastic work! Thank you! ~Michael

A Leap Of Faith…

Yesterday was perhaps one of the biggest days of my life as I’ve made a huge change. Yesterday I turned off the lights and walked out the door of Bella Fiori Studio for the last time.

bella fiori flower studio

It’s been an amazing, exhilarating and exhausting 10 year journey. To say that I’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into this business is an understatement. Truly, for 10 plus years all I’ve wanted was my Bella Fiori Studio. Ok, maybe not all I wanted, but a very big part of what I wanted in my life. Honestly, a year ago I did not see this coming. A year ago on Flirty Fleurs I shared my {Making Changes} story.
I was happy and thrilled with an amazing wedding season, I had accomplished so much of what I had wished for.

Sometime around, oh let’s say – Christmas Day 2011, I felt a huge and slightly painful need to change. I shared my feelings with my husband, making sure we would be on the same page. The past few months have been intense; I resolved myself to not force anything to happen, just letting it fall into place.

I continued on with a full schedule of weddings and events on the books for the 2012 season, all the meanwhile selling off my large inventory. I kept it quiet, not wanting to ruffle any feathers and most importantly, NOT worry any of my clients. By mid-September Chad and I had finished off all our Bella Rents events, I was down to my last six weeks of weddings for Bella Fiori. Here’s the crazy thing, I have not been sad watching all my belongings go out the door. I have thoroughly enjoyed shredding a ridiculous amount of paperwork and purging through old files. If anything, it feels quite liberating.

To tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s next. In the words of my friend, Robyn: Leap and the net will appear – I sure hope she is right!!

This is what I know right now, (and quite a few people are starting to ask..):
1) I will be taking events for the holidays (month of December). I already have a good amount booked and am looking forward to those. I love CHRISTMAS and making big, poofy, green, red and white arrangements.
2) I will not be taking 2013 weddings in Colorado.
3) I do have one wedding on the books for 2013, it’s in Palo Alto, California. It’s my first “family wedding” – my cousin’s son is getting married! Fourteen years in the business and finally have a family wedding to design!! I’m excited to design a modern style look, it’ll be a change from aspen containers and mason jars. (gah, mason jars – enough already).
4) Flirty Fleurs will absolutely carry on! If anything, it’s about to become even bigger and stronger as I devote more time to it!!! I love this blog and I love getting to know all of you out there!

By the time you read this I will be in Holland. It’s funny, when I told my friend, Kaye, that October 31 would be my last day at the shop she replied with – where will you be on November 1st? She knows me so well!

I am absolutely beyond excited to be visiting Holland with Florabundance Wholesale – can you just imagine all the behind-the-scenes access I will get to experience?? SO EXCITED!! Of course, I will be blogging about all these experiences and what I see on Flirty Fleurs! After a week in Holland I will be catching a flight to London, England. OMG, I LOVE LONDON! Can’t wait to see my darling friend, Emma, and her lovely family. Plus, I have quite a few visits & adventures lined up with florists and flower shops – which, I will happily share here on Flirty Fleurs!!

A trip to Europe will do my soul good; time re-focus and re-energize… and absorb the changes that are taking place.

Thank you to my parents, who have been amazing pillars of strength and remain my biggest cheerleaders. I’ll be home soon. 🙂

Thank you to the few friends who saw this coming, who have watched me over the past few months come to accept the changes already taking shape in my life, who were there for me when the freak-outs would flare up – I love you beyond words.

Thank you to Chad, who keeps telling me it’ll all be ok.

When one door closes, another one opens…. Right?!

quote about life changing

Why I deleted the Preferred Vendors list from my blog..

If any of you checked our Flirty Fleurs Facebook page yesterday you will have noticed I posted a question:
“Random thought/question – How many of you have a list of recommended vendors on your website/blog? If no, why not? If yes, how often do you check the links and confirm the other vendor has you on their list? What are your parameters for listing them on your site? When do you remove vendors?”

I posted the thought/question because I was trying to decide if I should delete the vendor list on my blog. I started my blog in 2007 and for 5 years it made sense to have this list up. For a long time I heard from brides that they loved this and how it helped with their planning process. However, over the course of the past two years more and more Denver or Colorado based planning websites popped up and it seemed less people needed this planning piece on my site.
I asked myself – should I keep this?

a little snippet of what it used to look like..

When I built the list I had three criteria to list other companies:
1) They had to have great reputations.
2) They had to refer business to me within the past year.
3) They listed me on their preferred vendor list, if they have one.

Yesterday morning I decided it was time to clean up my list. I visited each site and found a few people who had gone out of business. One caterer had deleted their preferred florist list because they are now doing flowers in house (why am I sending traffic to them??!!). Plus, I came across a few businesses that didn’t have me listed as a preferred vendor.
I’ll admit, my feelings were hurt when I found the preferred listing wasn’t reciprocated. I realize it is probably an oversight because, honestly, I know I had a few oversights on my list. I hadn’t added a lot of photographers and wedding planners I’m working with now.
I asked myself – is this a good list to have up? I went over some pros & cons. I talked to a few of my friends/colleagues and they all said – “take it down”.
Wednesday afternoon I took it down.

I took it down for a few reasons.
As I said above, it hurt my feelings if I wasn’t listed on someone else’s list. That translates to – I’m sure I hurt someone else’s feelings by not having them listed on my list. Again, an easy oversight when updates on websites/blogs are done only occasionally.
I realized keeping this list updated was a time suck – and this year is all about making my life simpler! Yesterday morning I spent over an hour just checking links and I didn’t even finish checking all of them. You know what? I should have been typing up the proposal I had sitting in front of me. I should have been driving to the wholesaler to pick up the flowers for this Saturday’s wedding. I should have been at the gym.

As I am typing this my friend Amy from The Flower House just called.. she is off to delete her preferred vendor list.

(Plus, I just have to say I have never understood why wedding planners list their preferred vendors on their site. Isn’t this the information they offer to paying clients during meetings? Just a thought.)

Now, on that note, I’m not saying everyone should run and take their lists down. Decide what is right for you & your own business and where you are in the course of your business. Maybe it is still working for you, it did work for me for 5 years.
Just make sure it is up to date with working links!

What do you all think of preferred vendor lists – pros & cons?

{Making Changes} Lessons Learned, Part 2 by Andrea Haydon

Lessons Learned – The Importance of taking care of yourself

Try to maintain a work routine – I found that “time blocking” for floral work was much more efficient than multitasking between home and work. If I promised a proposal by Tuesday A.M. and spent all day trying to toggle personal and floral tasks, I found it was infinitely more more difficult and frustrating to multitask all day instead of devoting 2 hours Monday night to finish the task. Keep business business.

Make lists – Making a task list is a natural thing to do when there are many details to stay on top of, but the act of writing congeals and commits things to memory beyond just thinking things out. Beside each task I tried to note a few next steps, or anticipated follow-up tasks.

Ask for help – If I had a nickel for every minute spent second guessing myself over an arrangement I’d have covered my annual Starbucks tab. We have phones with cameras so snap a shot and ask for guidance from your network on hang-ups like color matching and texture, etc. It always helps to get “a second set of eyes” or “reality check” when you need it. Use your network of designers and ask for help. This industry can get lonely at times. Get perspective by pulling together.

Keep up your family and networks – Family for support, work for posterity; nothing can exist long-term in a vacuum, you included.

Stay positive – good begets good, bad begets bad. Walks, Yoga, family time and strong positive relationships. These are the things that help keep your chin up. Also , support other vendors. People remember naysayers, back stabbers, bullies, the lazy ones and those who steal the credit. Keep your integrity. Support those closest to you, disconnect from the negative people in your life.

Focus on you – Take care of yourself. Make sure to clear out some time for yourself every day. Your friends and family are the ones that will always be there for you. Make sure to always make yourself available to those who love you most.

Stay creative – Take the time to learn new things, keep a notebook for ideas, be inspired by things outside the industry, try to learn new ways of doing things. Imagine new possibilities. Keep your passion fueled!

What has helped you to maintain life and work balance?

{Making Changes} Lessons Learned, Part 1 by Andrea Haydon

Over a week ago I wrote about why I quit the floral business (here). I am very touched by the response and thought that I would share some of the brilliant mistakes I made along the way and some of the lessons I learned. I am by no means claiming to be a business expert 🙂 I just wanted to share, with a bit more detail, where I struggled and what insight I gained from my blunders.

Last Fall, I received a phone call from a wedding planner who got a call from the groom stating that he was very upset as he had just picked up a huge and very full arrangement of flowers from a local floral shop that was half the price that I was charging for centerpieces for their wedding. He wanted to know why I was charging so much and he wanted a discount – This was two weeks before the wedding. I was flabbergasted. I had met them to help pick out linens, I met with the Bride when she was doubtful about the color of the bridesmaid dresses, I created design boards, I met with them multiple times, created multiple concepts for their reception and Church. Clearly, I was providing so much more than flowers, but I never really defined that design service to the client. There was a disconnect as they were seeing the cost of the centerpiece and saw the value in and only in the centerpiece. Should I have charged a clearer mark-up for the flowers and added design and consultation fees (hourly)? How could I have made my pricing and what I offered more transparent? If I decided to completely overhaul my contract and bid to reflect design service and would I turn off prospective clients and lose the respect of wedding planners? This proved to be my biggest challenge and one that I never quite figured out.

Lessons Learned – Do not undersell yourself (ever) – the value of service.

The last 10 years floral and wedding industries have gone through major changes. The Internet has opened up so much for Brides, they are now more inspired and informed than ever. Wedding blogs are thriving leaving Brides swooning over “real weddings” and “stylized” shoots. The demands and responsibilities of floral designers in the wedding and event industry have increased. We are providing so much more than throwing flowers in random vases from our studio shelves. We spend hours upon hours consulting, meeting with brides, researching, procuring the unique vases, perfect details, votives, candles and accessories that compliment the venue and a particular ‘styled’ look for the bride. We spend even more hours at the floral market obsessing, stressing, and searching for the perfect blooms. We also consult on linens, lighting and draping. We provide a valuable service and we need be compensated fairly for that service. We really have to ask , “how are we going to change our pricing to reflect the changes in the marketplace as well as (additional) services we provide”? What is the value of your services? I know I undersold my value. Never, ever, no matter what, under any circumstances undersell yourself. Be clear and define the design services you are providing and charge appropriately for those services. Sean Low wrote extensively on the subject of design, I recommend the following posts, Fees v. Mark-up, Disconnects and More on Transparency .

Lessons Learned – The value of genuine enthusiasm and a thoughtful website!

I wish could show you my website, but I took it down last Spring. I would love to show that although my website showed lots of pretty flowers and beautiful weddings it showed nothing about me and I was very vague about what I offered. Yes, it was apparent I specialized in wedding flowers, but other than that it fell flat. My dear friend and brilliant floral designer, Holly Chapple, really shows her clients through her website that she is providing much, much more than ‘just’ wedding flowers. Check out her service page here. I adore this image of Holly as it exemplifies that her brand is about trust, pride, joy, and genuine enthusiasm as much as it is about creating beautiful flowers. One can easily tell that Holly puts her heart and soul into her work and that she really cares for her each and every one of her clients. Her clients clearly value her enthusiasm and her thoughtfulness. She puts it all out there, she does not ‘hide’ behind her website or brand (like I did) and it works.

Compare Holly’s website to this company who also offers wedding flowers – Wedding flowers. Which would you choose? Do you think the bride receiving her bouquet will react the same way as she would if she was receiving a bouquet from you (or Holly)? How are you going to show your clients your passion and enthusiasm?

Lessons Learned – Customer Service to a fault.

Last July, my dear husband, while breaking down a wedding found himself chauffeuring. The bride, groom and their entire bridal party to their hotel after a ‘friend’ failed to show up to drive the Cadillac the Mother of the Bride rented specifically to get the “parting” photo ops with lit sparklers. FOB gave my husband a handshake, a cheap cigar and “well, we did throw your wife a bone paying her to do the flowers for the wedding”. I should mention this was a neighbor who also received a generous discount on the flowers. I wish I was kidding and I know this is an extreme case, but it exemplifies how easily I (and even my dear husband) ended up giving way too much in the name of customer service. I should have sent them an invoice for chauffeur services. Regretfully, I kept my mouth shut.

Lessons Learned – Say “NO” more often.

Learn to say “NO” . Say no to clients that are not right for you and your business. It is a slippery slope when you start to cut your prices and add “free” services. Clients and planners will continue to expect and even demand more of you to give them more. Look for the clients (and planners) who value you and who understand and appreciate the service you are providing. Also, learn to stop doing the things that don’t work for you. Danielle La Porte addresses this in her digital workbook The Spark Kit . Danielle recommends creating a ‘stop doing’ list. Make a list of the things you want to stop doing like — stop saying yes to so many photo shoots, stop working with certain wedding planners, stop working at venues that cause me too stress too much, stop doing everything myself, stop saying ‘yes’ to everyone, stop stressing and obsessing so much. Stop doing the things that are making you unhappy. Focus on your dreams and what you want to accomplish.

Lessons Learned – Improving the process

Always seek to improve process. Take a look after each event to what worked, what didn’t work. In retrospect, I realized I was creating successful wedding after successful wedding, but my business was not successful as I never really took the time to analyze each event. Was I happy with the profit earned? Was it really worth it? Keep a notebook and write down your mistakes and accomplishments. Make adjustments to your process, then move forward.

Tomorrow I will write about the importance of taking care of yourself and the importance of making time for you and those you love.

{Making Changes} How I made the changes by Alicia

Wow, what a week last week! Chuck and I cannot believe the feedback, emails, facebook comments, comments on the blog and tweets we received!

I had quite a few people contact me to ask how I made my changes for Bella Fiori, thought I’d write a post and hopefully it’ll help some of you planning for 2012.
{For anyone who didn’t see the original post click here}

A few things I picked up at Weddings 360, Sean Low and conversations w/ Holly Chapple:
1) Be very selective of what you post on your website and blog. Showcase the arrangements you really want to design! Also, post professional photos and stay away from the phone photos or anything grainy. It’s hard at first to give up posting everything you do but it’s worth it in the long run.
I do still have a habit of tweeting & facebooking some of my iPhone photos, but for the blog it’s professional shots.
Plus, it’s always good to plug our awesome photographer friends!

2) Talk to the vendors you work with and be forthcoming about what it is you really like to design. I was very honest w/ the planners I work with, it’s the best thing I could do for my business and the brides. A bride deserves to work with someone that really shares her vision and can best bring it to life. You’ll notice another comment on the original post by Debbie Orwat, she’s a planner I’ve known for years and she could tell you exactly what I like to design. She knows what’s best for her clients and her vendors and matches them up accordingly.
I have a good relationship with the majority of floral designers here in Denver. When I’m talking with some of my BFFs (best floral friends) they will tell me about planners who are bullies, who make them do certain designs or forces them into agreeing to a budget/price that doesn’t even make sense.
Remember, it’s ok to break off a bad relationship! Work with people you respect and who respect you & your business.

3) I did update the contact page on my website last year and added options for brides to discuss what they are looking for. If I felt something didn’t really fit my desired look I would pass the wedding onto another floral designer. I know the majority of designers in Denver well and know what they like to design. I’d send the bride to the right florist. It’s scary at first, who wants to turn down business? Just have to believe that it’ll work out for the best in the long run and you’ll keep a date open for a wedding that you really want to work on.
I actually just updated my contact page this past weekend and it has more details on it now. A lot of the designers I admire do this, too, including Holly Chapple in Virginia and Jenn at Modern Day Floral in Michigan.
Here’s my updated contact page: http://bellafiori.com/contact2.html
From this I can pretty easily tell if this is going to be the right client for me.

4) Vision board! Make a vision board & be honest what you want for yourself, for your family and for your business. Place the vision board in a visible location and look at it! I have my vision board in front of my computer monitor at work and look at it daily.
Read Nil’s article on Vision Boards here.

Those were my changes, nothing too difficult or unheard of, right? Pretty easy steps to implement into any business.

Do you have an interesting story about how you made changes that you would like to share on Flirty Fleurs? We’d LOVE to hear from you, we love how sharing our readers are! Please email info@flirtyfleurs.com with your story and contact information.

{Making Changes} Why I unplugged the floral cooler for good by Andrea Haydon

This week on Flirty Fleurs we bring to you the stories from 5 different floral designers who changed the way they are doing business to better fit their lifestyles.
Today Andrea shares her story with us:

There were so many factors that contributed to my decision to unplug my floral cooler it has proven difficult to translate my thoughts cohesively into one post. One thing that I do want to make clear is that I greatly admire the talented people that transform flowers into art. Floral Designers are a tough breed. They sacrifice their bodies, weekends, sanity, and time with family, and assuredly profits and savings to sublimate weddings and events into lifelong memories. This is not an easy course.

First, the simplest way to explain why I retired is that the sacrifices far outweighed gains. Last Fall I looked in the mirror and I did not recognize the exhausted figure looking back. Truth to be told, I really did not like the person I had become. I was working 14-16 hour days and realized I had stopped being present for myself or my family. Most my weekends were spent in the mountains, setting up weddings, and hours away from my family. These were the thoughts terrified me: Had I let my passion destroy me? What had I really accomplished in the last 6 years? Was all the fatigue and stress worth it? After 6 years I still was not making enough to support my family. I was working more hours and was earning significantly less than I was when I worked corporate job. Sure I was able to pick up my kids from school – most of the time – and could create my own schedule, but I always found myself working. I spent all my time writing proposals, answering e-mails, accounting, research, marketing, and managing inventory. Ultimately, business was not working for me, it was working against me and I was paying the price. I was at a crossroad and either I had to completely overhaul business to be more profitable or needed to walk away. My struggle was finding the road to sustainable, consistent margins. I failed.

Second, I was burned-out and fatigued and I did not want that stress to carry over to my work or to my clients. My focus with AK Haydon Designs was the bridal market. I absolutely adored working with brides, grooms, and their family and took the responsibility of a vendor very seriously. Every client spends a significant amount of money, energy, time and emotion on their wedding and if I couldn’t completely give each client everything I had to give as far as creativity, dedicated service and integrity than I didn’t deserve their business. If I could not fully commit myself to each client than I needed to take a step back and reconsider what I was doing. My mind wrestled with the thought of letting go the one thing I knew I was really good at.

The idea of quitting the business hit early summer 2010 as my in-box started to fill with 2011 inquires. I looked at my calendar and started to embrace the fact that spring and summer 2011 was potentially free. In my mind I was trying to plan summer with my family and started to imagine weekends of camping, hiking, neighborhood BBQ’s, soccer games, and swimming. As prospective clients started to ask about my availability I began referring them to other florists while dreaming of summer. I was also so immersed with 2010 weddings that I really could not bring myself to meet with 2011 brides. I honestly knew that I could not present and give what I really needed to give and I was not sure that I wanted to give up another summer for weddings. At that time I had no idea how much I would need that time with family.

Early March, my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I immediately flew to Idaho (where I grew up) to be with him and started to plan for my children and I to spend the summer there to help him. I was so grateful that I did not have clients during this time as I pretty much went into a sort of hiding. My Dad passed away early in May. We did not get that last summer to spend with him. My life collapsed, I could not breath. I did however embrace my husband and kids more than I ever knew possible. Love grew exponentially. I decided that I would still take my kids to Idaho and was determined to make it a wonderful summer filled with beautiful memories. We cleaned up and cleared out my Father’s house and dreams and thoughtfully maintained his beautiful acre of land to prepare it to sell. It almost always felt impossible but I was able to really show my kids the place I grew up. It was a summer of great loss and a summer of greatest love. I had found myself again and I had learned to be the best person I could for myself and for my family. Perhaps it was intuition, or fate, but I found myself very grateful that I quit my business when I did as it opened up my life in a completely different way I ever knew possible.

I do want to recognize that there are many vendors in the bridal and floral industry that have families with similar dynamics to mine and are able to grow their businesses while beautifully balancing a happy and healthy home life. There are also many who have dealt with great loss and seamlessly kept their businesses running. For me, I felt that I really needed to unplug to be with my family. This fall was the first time I attended all my kid’s soccer practices and all their games, I volunteer in their classrooms and at a local woman’s shelter and ran two 5K races with my daughter. I feel like I am exactly where I need to be, for now. I do want to add that in no way want to discourage or disparage anyone out there who wants to make it in floral design or within the wedding industry. It is as rewarding as it is challenging. I made a ridiculous amount of mistakes with which I learned invaluable lessons. And for that I am very grateful.

{Making Changes} Down-Sizing? I say Right-Sizing by Dore Huss

This week on Flirty Fleurs we bring to you the stories from 5 different floral designers who changed the way they are doing business to better fit their lifestyles.
Today Dore shares her story with us:

I started my flower shop with almost a flirt of a passing idea, in 2002.
I used to own a full-on flower shop in the 80’s with a partner, and we were big,, beautiful and very wire-service happy. Those were the days when
we actually received large checks from the wire service each month, instead of
paying them.

As partnerships go…it was time to go. I sold my ownership to my partner and I went on my way to get married and have babies. I kept my horticulture and creativity alive through my gardening and special “craft” nights with friends.
I really didn’t realize I was missing being a florist ….for 12 years.
I did not miss working thru the night and holidays. I was busy raising my family.

A small (300 square feet) retail space became available within walking distance to
our home. It seemed a perfect place to open a small flower shop; nothing like
my FTD shop from the 80’s. I wanted to sell flowers and design. Maybe
a few plants. Not be told what to sell by the wire service.
So, within 6 weeks, my credit card and I opened a teeny
flower shop, the week before Mother’s Day in 2002,
I named it Stems.

Without a blink, I was busy! In 3 months, I decided to rent the bigger space next door. Of course, this meant that I had to sell more “things” to keep the revenue
flowing. I became a sought out gift shop along with being the florist to call for
a different type of design that was being offered in our city.
People would come in and tell me that I should sell this…or that…or sell their
hand-made craft…carry this candle line…so, I did. I bought these “things” and
I sold these “things” as fast as they came in the door.

This began the treadmill of retail life. The business just grew and grew. Before I knew it, I now was spending my days managing staff, who were managing staff, who were managing things.

Keeping the shop filled with inventory was a never-ending task.
As much as I sold, I always had to re-invest that money into more inventory. I was working more and more and my employees were receiving more income than I was. A day away from the shop was sometimes more work than not taking a day off. I realized that I would spend the previous day making it easy for the relief help – having the shop look beautiful, cleaned and do as much of the work as possible, so they would not have to. (Kind of like when you clean the house before the cleaning lady comes.)
The day after the day off was spent returning the endless phone messages,
since my customers who shopped my store, wanted to talk to only me. My
passion for my flowers was beginning to fizzle.

I had had enough. I was done. I made the decision to sell my business.
This is where I realized that while I had a viable business, I was the major asset.
Selling a business is like being naked in front of a lot of nosey strangers.
They look at your books and critique everything! Of course, I would do the
same thing if looking to buy a business.
I didn’t realize this at the time, but, this was a good thing, all leading to my decision of not selling my business. I didn’t need to sell – just get it back to the right size. The interested buyers were of the “I always thought it would be fun to own a flower shop “ school-of- thought, and not ever had worked in one, to know the actual effort and creativity involved.
It is not the kind of business you can just walk into and be successful.
You have to have the talent, skill and stamina .
I saw that if I removed the gift portion of my business, I could remove the high rent, the staff – with its payroll and benefit expenses, and I could do just want I really wanted to do – Design Flowers! What a concept. It was then that it became
very clear. I had been designing as a “chore”, getting the designs done as
fast as possible, or paying a designer to do them, and always adding a final
touch; or many times, re-doing this design before I would allow it to leave my
shop. I was squeezing in creativity and passion so I could be a manager.
This was not my thing.
I Simplified. I got out of my lease 3 months early, found a space to place my
flower studio in a “design center” which is home to several businesses.
I reduced my rent by FIVE times! I removed all payroll, and only have contract
designers or drivers help me when needed, holidays or bigger events.
I used to have two coolers – one very large consumer walk-in, which I would
have to keep full, even during the slow times; and one reach-in, where we
kept a selection of designs ready to sell on the spot.

Now, everything is custom. I am a fast and good designer. If my clients drop
in for something to take right then, I can have it ready in a flash.
I am not married to Retail Hours. I work when I have the work, and I leave when it is finished. Many days, I take my own deliveries, which I actually love to do.
I love seeing the expression of my recipient, or hearing the buzz at a business
saying, “that must be from Stems”, as I am walking out the door.
I have a white board at my door, where I leave notes on how I can be reached,
if I will be back shortly, etc.
I leave a marker for them to leave me a note back, and they do.
I state that I am a floral studio, “while I am here a lot, you may have been by and
I missed you!” I suggest calling ahead.
I have turned my space into a darling work studio that inspires me to
be creative. I do sell plants, candles, chocolates, vessels and pots…as long as
it supports the flower product. I just keep my inventory to a minimum.
No back stock. I can easily get more.
Some people like to be spontaneous and stop by on a whim. They have to
be ok with the fact that I may or may not be here for them.
If you are not ok with this, then, I may not be the florist for you.
I am sure I have lost some customers who are not ok with my hours, but,
most have adjusted to my schedule and call first. I make every effort to
be there for them, but, sometimes, I feel I deserve to do things on a whim as well.
I do not pay a warm body to sit at my shop and be a message taker.
I forward my calls to my cell or home. My flower business is the best
it has been in ten years. The revenue that I am missing from the gift portion
has consistently equaled the amount of expense that I was paying out each
month to my landlord and my payroll.
What a lot of extra work it was, just to bring the dollars in and hand them right back out!
Needless to say, there is much more profit in this right-sized, simplified way of doing business. I have just about completed a full year of this new concept.
I have to say, I love it.
It works for me.

Dore Huss
27945 Meadow Drive • Evergreen, Colorado • 80439 • 303.674.4995 • 866.771.4995