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Diary of a flower shop lady.

Confessions of a reluctant florist.

Sun, 07/07/2019 - 11:43

Hey out there, it's been a while since I did any blogging, but it's a rainy Sunday and I have carved out a few minutes - no easy feat most weeks.     We continue to be surprised and sometimes overwhelmed with the growth of our small business, particularly in the area of our floral offerings.     I think a lot of people assume I'm one of those ladies who just LOVES arranging flowers, and I will admit it is pleasant work for the most part, however, there is more to the story.     Years ago I had a somewhat similar business in Fort Langley, but we didn't deal in cut flowers, just nursery stock, bedding plants, and artisan made goods.   When I decided to start Artisan, I had the vague notion that it would be nice to add a few fresh bunches and small charming arrangements to our offerings.    I sent out a panicky message and enlisted the help of longtime friend Shelli who owns a thriving longtime flower shop  (Maple Ridge Florists) and has been a florist most of her adult life - SHE is one of those ladies who is passionate about all things floral, and out of the goodness in her heart, and in support of a fellow entrepreneur, she gave me the coles notes version of floristry, hooked me up with all the suppliers, floral auction etc.   She also gave me one piece of very valuable advice that I keep with me every day.   I said to her - Shelli - this seems like a crap-ton to learn, how am I going to be able to do all this? and she replied - you have the basics, now just choose a design style that seems comfortable and natural to you, and STICK WITH IT.   It may not appeal to everyone, but you will draw a following that it DOES appeal to, and it will make the whole process easier.   She was right, oh boy, was she right.     For the first while, the floral side of the business was steady, but I wouldn't really say booming.    In the beginning of the second year it started to take off.   By the end of that year, another local florist retired and closed his business (not because of us, but more because he was ready to retire) at the same time another florist moved their business to a new location in North Vancouver - that kind of left us holding a rather large ball.   Since then that side of the business has grown exponentially.   As the sole florist, that initially was a daunting and overwhelming task requiring many many many 14-16 hour days.  A lot of people have this kind of hazy relaxing Martha Stewart type vision of floristry.   The reality is heavy, dirty (green dirt so it's clean dirty) work, wet and cold with a ton of repetetive motion and standing standing standing- there are more thorns than you can imagine, and flowers come in BIG HEAVY BUCKETS - I now have the shoulders of a linebacker and the hand strength of a mature male gorilla (not traditionally  desireable traits in the human female).    None of that existed in my own hazy intial vision of how the shop would be and what my days would entail.  

I had a few bitter months, kind of hating & resenting it - and then a local and well known gift shop in our area announced they were closing after several years of looking like they were doing very well, not being able to find affordable rent when development forced them to move.   That was a bit of a knock on my wooden head, and a wake up call to realize that our business is thriving to the degree that it is BECAUSE of the flowers, not in spite of it.    It took a few months of consciously trying to change my thought process about the somewhat undesireable floristry task at hand, but with hard work and a lot of effort I've done it - my attitude has swung 180 degrees.   In addition to the attitude of gratitude, I've delegated much of the prep work to my employees, and we have changed the structure to make it easier to keep up with demand.    We always have a large selection of take and go items, and now respectfully ask notice for custom work (because we have to).    I no longer resent standing in one spot all day, constantly cutting flowers, while regretting my lost time in the front of the shop & the interactions with all the visitors.   I have hired capable people who handle that aspect as well as I could (which is kind of an amazing thing to say for a control freak like myself - delegation is the hardest thing for me, but I'm learning).    A lot of people who come in and don't see me assume I'm not there, but most often I am in my little den in the back, cutting away in an area really too tiny to handle the volume, keeping my head down and keeping ahead of it.   And being grateful that I have as much work to do every day as I do.    That is, after all, the reason one starts a business, to be BUSY, otherwise it'd be called a slowness.    So that's my big confession, I'm a somewhat reluctant florist who is trying to learn and keep gratitude in my heart about it, so if y'all keep coming, I'll keep cutting.