Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in floristry, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ashton Chase, the founder of The Spotted Poppy, a florist in the US.
Tell us all about your business...
Floral Designs that Keep Austin Weird.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a business owner?
I started working at a flower shop part time while studying Theatre Design at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. I fell in love immediately. Nothing compares to the smell of walking into a flower shop, or to the creative freedom of playing with endless color combinations and textures.
I took other jobs following college, but kept being drawn back to flower shops. During the beginning of the pandemic, I took a job in the floral department at the downtown flagship Whole Foods in Austin. I quickly worked my way up to managing the department, but grew to be overworked, underpaid, and limited in my creativity. I was ready to work for myself and by my own rules.
Quarantine gave me the time to throw myself into starting my own business. I found it surprisingly exhilarating to research and execute each beginning step, from starting my LLC, to contracting a friend to design my logo, setting up business banking, to crowdfunding to buy a flower cooler for my dining room. I’ve been in business exactly a year and it’s taking off faster than I anticipated!
I do new floral arrangements weekly for famed restaurant Uchi, and sell flowers out of local business Succulent Native. I also work from home designing custom order arrangements and weddings, and freelance to help other florists. I work in a restaurant a few nights a week to make ends meet, but am closer and closer every day to total self employment. I know the grind will pay off, and I’m making myself proud. If you’re thinking of starting your own project, this is your sign to start now!
As an entrepreneur, what does success ultimately mean to you?
Seeing my business sign on South Lamar, one of Austin’s busiest streets! I rent a small space out of a local plant shop, Succulent Native, where I display and sell my arrangements. I was able to have my sign installed under theirs outside and I could have cried when I saw it for the first time. I feel so official seeing my logo next to other local businesses I love and look up to!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being an entrepreneur?
I have two: patience and social media. I’ve avoided taking out loans, so I have worked a second job to make ends meet until I reach total self-employment. It’s near, but it’s hard to be patient sometimes.
As far as social media; it’s challenging to get engagement. These days you have to stay relevant online. I’ve had a really hard time cracking Instagram’s algorithm. It’s a let down when I spend an hour on a big arrangement, can’t wait to photograph it well and post it, and get 12 likes while everyone else seems to get hundreds of likes for posting literally anything.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
1. Start today. Sit down with a notebook and start jotting down name ideas. If you’re opening a storefront, get that Pinterest board growing.
2. Think of who you know who manages or owns a business and pick their brain.
3. Buy books on starting businesses, read them, and journal.
And a 4th tip; don’t be afraid to crowdfund for your seed money! You’d be surprised who is following your journey online and would be happy to contribute to your new project.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Put yourself out there and talk to other local businesses about collaborating. If you’re a maker, find markets and participate in them. If you have a dream to start your own business, follow it. It will be hard at first but you will feel oh so self accomplished and pleased with yourself as you watch it start to work!
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as an entrepreneur or business coach that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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