Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in floristry but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alison Newstead, founder of Stôk Floral & Design, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

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

We are a full-service flower shop providing custom floral designs as well as plants, decorative containers, greeting cards, and other small gifts for all occasions. We work with each client's individual needs and budget to not only provide them with a custom design but also cater our services based on each unique situation. We pride ourselves on customer service and enjoy bringing our client's visions to life.

Tell us about yourself

I've been in the floral industry since 2008. I literally started watering plants once a week at a well-known shop within the city. I was fortunate enough that they knew I was eager to learn, and they provided an opportunity to start from the basics and work my way up. Floral was the way I got back in touch with my creative side. Once I began touching flowers and learning how to design, I knew that this was my path and that owning my own flower shop was my desired goal. From then on, I worked not only as much as I could within the floral industry, but I always had another 2-3 serving jobs at restaurants. The hustle was real, but the motivation was more real. I moved around between a few different shops. I was very fortunate to learn so many different styles and techniques and many different elements of running the business. Eight years later, I finally opened Stôk.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I always say that this business has taught me so much more than just how to run a business and how to turn it into a success. It has taught me an incredible amount on a personal level. Stepping into a role as a "boss" and "business owner" was definitely a journey, and becoming good at it took a lot of self-work and realization. Learning how to lead a team successfully has been one of my biggest achievements. Learning how not to let the stress overpower you even in the toughest of times is absolutely key to helping keep everything on track. Especially your team. And they matter more than anything when running a business because it's simply impossible to do everything yourself.

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

Here I would have to bring up staffing again. People warned me how hard this part would be, but they couldn't have warned me enough. Finding dedicated, hard-working, talented people is never easy, but keeping them can be just as hard. I used to think that people left most jobs because they were mistreated or not happy, but truthfully a lot of my experience has been the opposite. A lot of the staff I have lost was due to them finding their own callings and reaching for their own goals. Some of them went on to open their own flower businesses, some of them realized they wanted to move into other careers. Then, of course, some of them were just not meant to be a part of the Stôk team. Either way, it is all challenging when you know you need a solid team to run your business.

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

No matter how stressed you get, always conqueror a negative thought with a positive one. Trust your gut because it never lies. Work hard, but make sure that you still find time to take care of yourself. If you are not in good health or have a sound mind, the stressful elements will always cause you to crash in one way or another.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Customer service is KEY. Be transparent with your clients. It takes a lot to run a business, and having them know where their money is going builds trust in your knowledge as well as your products and services. Your willingness to be honest, will always be appreciated.

Where can people find you and your business?

Phone: +1 416-214-4664

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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