Q&A :: “Where is your shop located?”

The Question:

How to kindly and effectively answer the question of “Where is your shop located?” I am a studio-based florist and frequently, when asked that question, (I answer proudly, and without apology) “I have a studio at my home” I have had the experience that people seem to think it is inferior to a brick and mortar retail shop. They frequently respond with “oh, how nice” in a rather condescending tone. I go on to talk about my wonderful studio I have set up, with all the amenities of a retail store, but still I can see a bit of hesitation. How can we help solve this mindset?
I don’t want to hear about how a studio is so much cheaper to run, so my prices should be lower; after all, it takes up a considerable amount of real estate to store the inventory associated with floral design, extra water and electricity to conduct business. I attend seminars and workshops for self-improvement just like retail establishments.
Designer in California

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The Answers:

I think you’re on the right track with your unapologetic response. You can’t manage people’s reactions, and the clients who are right for you will understand and appreciate your value. And no, you definitely shouldn’t lower your prices.
anastasia ehlers, Oregon

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NEVER be sorry if you work from home, I did it for YEARS until I was able to move into a store front. I too had a time where I was kinda embarrassed to tell people I had a home studio. BUT got over it. MANY great people have started from their garage. Bill Gates, Dave Ramsey, Amazon, Apple, Google, Yankee Candles, just to name a few. If your work is good they will see that your a pro and not just a “Basement Betty”.
Tracy, Park Place Design, Michigan

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I started out in my mom’s home years ago (27 years ago) and it is considerably different than running a rented space. This is coming from having been in several types of spaces over the years and now running my business out of two locations. There is much more required money-wise to run out of a retail or warehouse space that an in-house studio. People often do expect there to be a price difference for that reason. This by no means indicates how hard you may work or how talented you may be. Let your work shine and continue the path of professionalism in design and demeanor and it won’t matter what people think of where you’re located. You only want the clients that love you and your work anyway! Don’t let it hinder you…continue saying with pride where you are located! You’re on the right path!!
Christi of Bergeron’s Florist, Virginia

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I too work out of my home and so far, this has not been an issue.
Dee of Wildwood Watters, West Virginia

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Being a home based studio affords me the luxury of flexibility in various aspects of both work and family.

As a private studio I am able to dedicate myself to specific events without distractions of running a retail shop.
Julie of Simply Regal Events & Florals, California

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I think you need to not worry about it. You may be reading more into there reactions. I also work out of a studio and honestly I am so busy I don’t care what they think. I have based my business to ensure this is comfortable as I am called Budget Blooms and it totally goes along with working out of my home. I have meetings in my converted two car garage. If you are selling high high end then maybe that’s why and setting up your studio to be gorgeous might have to be the next step. If you already have a gorgeous studio then truly don’t sweat it. People who want high end don’t want a home, they want a stylish studio.
Jane of Budget Blooms, British Columbia

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I struggled with this for the 10 years that I worked from a large studio that was based in my home. I was nearly apologetic in how I responded to the reaction that I got from people. Ultimately, I developed a very loyal and “freely recommending” group of customers that I treasure who appreciated my talent and didn’t care where I worked from. I have since moved to a rented studio for four reasons: My growing family needed my space, I didn’t want so many strangers having consultations in my personal space, I didn’t fit with my ever-growing amount of vases, buckets, chuppah, props, and – most happily – I couldn’t execute some of our larger scale events from my space.

My advice: Don’t apologize and let your work speak for you. More importantly, don’t undervalue your worth. During the process of meeting with many clients, I had many comments about how they knew my prices would be less because of where my studio was located. Ultimately, it became something that I stopped “outright” responding to. “We offer an excellent value” is all you need to say. We’ve always worked within our brides’ budgets and they’ve never once felt that they didn’t get a value. It becomes a non-issue when you’re able to fulfill their dreams within their budget.
Julia of The Petal Lady, Michigan

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I loved this question because it just happened to me again yesterday! The email inquiry asking if I had a “storefront” in downtown McKinney. And as always, the dreaded thought that races in my head, “Oh how do I answer this”? Over and over again! I have had my studio business for 13 years and I’m not sure we can educate them. For me, once they are here on the property, all anxiety about “my studio” is alleviated. It’s a wonderful, fully equipped area and I am surrounded by things I love….that very feeling is easily communicated to people once they are here. I have learned to say that my studio is built on our property. It is always that simple! I love this blog and cannot express how it has helped me and sometimes just makes me laugh! It helps knowing there are lots of you out there facing the same realities of this crazy business and our love affair with flowers! I’m anxious to hear other responses to these great questions!
Jan of Thistle Floral Design, Texas

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I have an office I meet my clients for consultations in Mid-town Sacramento.  I think having the office, even though I actually do all the designing from home, gives me a more professional appearance.  I have never had a client think twice about my set-up.  If you are meeting your potential clients at their house or in a coffee shop, you might want to consider getting a more permanent and professional meeting space.  In Sacramento there are several “collectives” where creative professionals pay to use the space, offices and meeting rooms  That might be just the solution you need!

Shannon of Flourish, California

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I used to get this a lot, but now I think the savvy bride realizes that the independent floral designer has great pricing, flexibility and isn’t worrying about the random birthday or anniversary arrangement that needs to be delivered. She realizes that she will get personalized attention from the owner/designer and that is important. I am sure I lose weddings from time to time because I am a home based workshop, but I often feel like they may have been a difficult bride if they want more in appearances than content. Once clients arrive, I usually get responses like, “Wow! what a great place!” “How luck you are to work from home.” “This place smells great!” I also have pets and my cats and my old dog usually greet everyone in the driveway and I know immediately if I want to work with them or not – if they are animal people, they must be good! We don’t always get every piece of business, and sometimes that is a good thing.

Melody of Fleurish Floral Designs, California

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Comments

  1. Great answers!

  2. naturegirl says:

    Consider also – the other side of this issue. There are some clients out there that just aren’t comfortable (or to shy) to go to a home studio (no matter what kind it is). It may have absolutely nothing to do with you or your abilities or set up, it may just be them. If you get that pause when you bring up where you are located, try suggesting an alternative (more public meeting) place and see what their response to that is.

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