As most of you know I am a real heart and soul operation. Yes we are a business, but our foundation is built on my heart and soul. With Evan on board I am being coached to be a little tougher or more business oriented and to not feel guilty about it. Evan is constantly reminding me that this is a business!! Thankfully I do have some very awesome business skills so I have always been fortunate and I have rarely been burned. As proof of that, one of my clients was Tareq Salahi and I got paid, so that ought to give you a little clue about how serious I am about payment. However I got suckered the other day and it’s burning me up. Because I share my successes here so openly I think its only fair to also share my mistakes as well. I know I have a lot of new businesses that are following me and clients also that need to understand the process of a deposit, and then a design.
About 2 months ago I was contacted by a lady who wanted me to do the flowers for a birthday party. The client was local and the event was at a local restaurant. Due to the fact that we were in the height of wedding season I asked if I could hold her a spot on our calender and have her contact me closer to the event. The lady agreed that this would be fine and it would give her more time to get the ideas for the party together. She was secretly planning this surprise party for her girlfriend on the behalf of the friends husband. Sure enough she called and we started discussing the event. As the size of the event increased and the amount of times I was chatting with this lady heightened I realized I was doing a lot of work without a deposit. For my weddings I require a deposit before I do anything more than some basic design ideas. Once deposit has been paid I elaborate on the designs and share my knowledge willingly with the client. We also charge for complete design ideas or styling. Since this was a birthday party I did not follow my standard operating procedures.
On several occasions I mentioned to her that I should not be working on this without a deposit but she kept saying “oh this client is so good for it, or trust me, this is not something you have to worry about.” The lady was very friendly and we even discussed her desires to start a design business, supposedly she has been helping with events in her community for years. She even mentioned a property that was for sale that she would like a partner for. We also had a common friend so I begin to build a serious comfort level with this lady. Because there were a lot of design changes it was very hard to write up a proposal but I was told a deposit would be coming as soon as I wrote up the quote. Well one thing lead to the next and it became clear that they did not have linens, chairs, napkins, and even lighting. The party was to be a themed event and all of the decor elements were needed to make the event seem authentic. Before I knew it, I was suggesting linens, chairs, and on the phone securing her rentals. I even suggested a fabulous idea for audio visual. Lets just say I planned and nailed the look of the event. I know dumbo right, as I write this I can’t believe how stupid I was, but here is the deal… I was happy to have the flower portion of this event ( because it’s winter) and I wanted to have a hand in the overall look and feel of this event. Lets just say my creative juices were flowing and quite honestly I was happy to do it without charging a design fee. I was anxious to bring the theme to life.
Unfortunately I kept holding off on a proposal because I wanted it to be a complete total cost so because of that I did not get her the paperwork in just a deposit form. The date of the event was fast approaching and Thanksgiving was in the mix. I sent everything over to the client with her agreement that we were a go, the day before Thanksgiving. I had told her I could not start ordering flowers and linens without her consent but she agreed we were a go and she said a $500.00 deposit would be in the mail upon receipt. Over the weekend I heard back from her saying she still needed some additional information like the lighting because I had not added that into the quote and one of the rental prices was still not clear. This furthering my belief that all was okay. On Friday night I got a email from this fabulous and wonderful lady, my very new friend, saying that my services would not be needed. At that moment all of you probably heard me screaming, I couldn’t believe it. I had handed her a completely designed event, I had simply given it to her. STUPID!! All of the flowers had been ordered, all of the rentals secured, and she was canceling. It can take hours to write a flower design recipe and calculate the stems needed. I had fresh flowers coming from California, my local wholesaler, and I had even secured her silk flowers because one of the flowers needed was out of season. All rentals were under control and now everything had to be canceled.
I can’t believe I am sharing this with you, I know I am going to get some “oh Holly you are so stupid comments today!! I honestly don’t know what happened but a lot of things are running around in my head. Firstly I made a really big mistake because I was working for free, dumb. I also got so caught up in the design that I was okay with that, dumb. In addition to that I devalued myself because I considered this an easy little job and quite frankly we are less busy now so I thought this would be fun to be a part of, dumb! I trusted someone and assumed that all people would act with the same integrity in which I operate with, dumb. I will kick myself for this one for quite sometime, I keep reliving it and asking myself how did you let this happen and most importantly what is that lady doing with my ideas this weekend. One thing is really clear, no matter how big or how small a project is I need to be paid before I start giving my ideas away. My head, my resources, my vision, are as much a part of my business as my pretty petals. Lesson learned!!! Let the lashing begin, I can already hear the comments on this one…