I have another awesome lady (and fellow Texan!) for you today, Maxine of Peonia Fleur!
Maxine started her business in Dallas, TX but she has also worked for some amazing companies like Anthropologie and Crate and Barrel! Now she uses her experience to create some gorgeous floral arrangements!
1. What made you decide to start your own business?
There are a million reasons to tell yourself why something wouldn't work. One day you just realize that the only thing that keeps you from making it happen is listening to those reasons and not the one idea that really matters. "I can!" Working with flowers actually just started as a fun hobby. I didn't try thinking I would start a business. I just started doing something that made me happy, interested, and eager to learn more. Once I started developing my skill, I started getting lots of positive feedback from friends and family. Posting my work on Facebook led to many more compliments and a few freelancing gigs, so, I said, "What the heck! I can do this! AND, it's fun!" At the time I started, I also had another full-time job, so I felt more secure in taking a risk.
2. What was your biggest risk or fear about starting a business?
My biggest fear was not being able to figure out how to grow my business. Initial business came easy. Friends, friends of friends and family were my first clients. Figuring out how to market and reach new customers and, at the same time, differentiating myself from other floral designers has been a little daunting.
3. How did you know what you wanted to do?
I have always been inspired by gardening and nature's beauty. Planning my own wedding in 2009 peaked my interest in floral design and how flowers just exude happiness and celebration of life! These interests, combined with my experience in merchandising and design, steered me toward learning more about the craft. With some initial success and more study, I knew I wanted to take it further and share my love of design with couples on their happy day!
4. What support system do you have for your business to help you stay motivated?
INCREDIBLY AWESOME family and friends! Peonia is truly a family affair! Let's see...my MIL helps with all things floral and overall coordination of events. My husband is my IT department, as well as accountant and part-time photographer. My FIL and husband are also our wonderful "minions," i.e. production staff. Mom is the business manager, helping in all things financial, tax, and small business owner related. Not to mention my SIL and wonderful friends and family that help promote Peonia by word of mouth, Facebook, and shameless plugging wherever they go. Their involvement and encouragement keeps me going! So what do I do, you ask?? Well, have the creative fun, of course! Oh, and just a few other million things!
5. What is your biggest challenge about running your own business?
Learning to turn a profit! I definitely lean towards the creative side, not the business/accounting side. Learning to balance a bride's budget and still maximize the results to make the best possible event is challenging! Sometimes I have sacrificed profit margin for creative achievement. It's easy to get so deep in the creative process that you can lose sight of what your margins need to be to stay in business. The desire to over-deliver has to align with the budget you're given.
6. What is the best advice you have for someone wanting to start a business?
Just start! Just get the momentum going and see where it takes you! You don't have to have everything figured out from the moment you begint. You have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk. Lots of things will change from the point you start. Research is key. Learn your market, your customer, your competitors, and figure out where you want to fit in. Find your own voice. Networking is also very important. In the wedding industry, referrals go a long way. Stay in contact with other vendors. You might be able to pass along business to one another. Also, customer service earns everything! Treat every client as the most important, because they are! Lastly, don't be afraid to fail or hit a snag. Every obstacle is an opportunity to learn and get better. As they say, smooth seas do not create worthy sailors!
Whoo! These ladies have been leaving some fabulous advice lately. It's definitely based on who you know thanks to networking! Thanks so much Maxine, I loved having you on my blog today!