Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amber Halliman, Owner of Synthesis, located in Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Synthesis is a plant shop in Pittsburgh, PA. We mostly specialize in cacti, Hoya, and harder-to-find aroids. Our customers include a wide range of people, from university students to retired neighborhood residents; we don’t just serve one type of customer.

Tell us about yourself

I’d wanted to open up a shop for a long time. When I left LA and the filming world, I had to start over as far as work goes, and it finally was the right time to go after that dream. Striving to make my shop the most it can be, motivates me each day. It’s a very small space, and I have a lot of regular customers, so I’m always trying to figure out ways to keep it fresh.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I’d say my biggest accomplishment is mainly getting my shop to be known. It’s a little hard to find, being down a small alley off a main street. I’m constantly shocked and grateful that people tell their friends about it. I have people tell me they’ve come to visit it when they live on the other side of the state or multiple states away. It’s pretty humbling.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Ha, so much. Making sure the shop stays afloat. It’s still young, and I don’t have the security of having been open for many years, so the cash flow goes up and down. There’s a lot of stress that’s involved, and a lottttt of your time gets poured into it. I don’t only work during my shop’s hours. As a small business owner, you have to learn how to do everything yourself: from marketing to bookkeeping, to planning inventory, to building a website- it’s all you. Every day, at all hours, something comes up.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. I’d say, most importantly, don’t overthink it or psyche yourself out. Definitely learn as much as you can about the field that you want to pursue, but don’t wait to open a business because you think you don’t know enough. You’ll always be learning and improving on what you’ve got, so don’t let this hinder you.
  2. Set your shop apart from others that are similar to yours. Be intentional about how you want it to look. A bright space is more welcoming than a dimmer one. Plus, it helps for marketing when you need to take photos for social media. Carry inventory that sets you apart from those that are similar to yours in your area.
  3. Be as friendly and real as you can to your customers. It’s hard sometimes; people can suck, but they’re the only way that you’re going to make it.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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