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
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.