Kristin Brewster, owner of Merkels Floral Studio, joins us to share her unique experience acquiring, renovating, and growing two very different brick & mortar businesses in the past several years.
Kristin is an entrepreneur and lover of all things small business. In the past year, she also became a mom to her little girl, Ruby!
In this episode, we talk about how buying an existing business works, how Kristin managed to grow and scale both her businesses, and her relationship with pricing her creative services.
Kristin shares how she got started in floral design, and how her clientele has changed since rebranding her floral studio.
Thank you so much to Kristin for coming on the show and sharing your story with us.
Head over to the Merkels Floral Studio website to view Kristin’s work and floral design services.
If you liked the show, please subscribe and leave a review! The more subscribers and 5-star reviews we have, the more people we’ll reach, and the more content we can create! Your reviews will also help us know what kind of stories you’d like to hear.
Hello and welcome to Seriously Creative. I’m Jess.
And I’m Gwen.
And this is the fifth time that we started recording this intro because we’re rusty.
You guys. It has been a minute since we recorded and we forget how to talk.
I don’t know how to talk into a microphone anymore, that’s for sure.
We went off on many tangents and messed up many times and we just want to make a cohesive, linear podcast for you.
And I think we just need to not have that be our goal cause we’re not.
I already have low expectations. I think the last one I had words. Zero expectations for me to have words today.
All right, so we, in our last time we were with, you mentioned that our new space is under construction and we were hoping to be in by the end of October, but it is now mid-December and we are not in yet.
So we’re still working out of a co-working space, which is totally fine. And we are rolling with the punches.
But 2023 man, it’s gonna be our year.
20 23, new year, new space. Yep. That’s what we’re getting to. And the space like isn’t under construction? I mean, part of it is, but our part is done. They’re just waiting on some paperwork to say that we can like, I don’t know, legally be in there working.
So there’s this standup routine that I remember from when I was younger and this guy, Brian Regan is his name and he’s. You know when you wanna get your, well, this actually is not a problem anymore at all, but it was like when I watched this in the nineties or early two thousands, when you wanna get your phone turned on and you call the phone company and they’re like, okay, like we’ll come out next Thursday.
And you’re like, okay, but I need it now. Like, could you just turn it on now? And they’re like, no, we’re gonna do it Thursday. And then they’re like, . It’s just like a button you push, right? And they’re like, yeah, we’re gonna push it next Thursday. . It’s like, can I come down and push it? ? That’s my imagination of the paperwork, which is like, does somebody just need to sign it?
Do you need help signing it? Yeah. Do you need me to print it for you? I’ll help sign it. You need a stamp made of your signature? I’ll do that too. I think I could probably make a stamp, have it ordered and have it shipped to them before it’s gonna get done. So just imagine this guy like down in the basement and he has so many papers to sign and his like hand starts cramping off , like that’s the guy we’re waiting for.
When you said a guy in the basement, all I could picture was, I forget the guy’s name, but from the O, um, is it office space? Is that the movie? I wanted to say the office where he’s down in the basement with his red stapler. Yes. Yeah, I think that is office. Office space. Yeah. Yeah. There’s also another one though, where Tom Hanks is in the basement working.
and it’s about a volcano. Somebody’s yelling this in their car. something in the volcano. I don’t know what that one is. Joe, in the volcano? Is that what it’s called? Anyway, all right, tangent. Anyway, this is going great so far linear. So it’s December right now. We are enjoying, I think looking back at the year and looking forward to what we’re gonna try and do in 2023.
Um, one of the things that we’re super excited about that we’re working on right now is website templates. Yes. I think we, we we’re gonna do a whole episode on like this past year, but we tried several different things, but we took on several, um, whole shebang clients where we got to do their brand, their website, and their social media, which is really amazing to have this like cohesive package to get something like up, and I shouldn’t even say up and running to get them out into the world super cohesively.
And these are people who have some money to invest, but our thing has always been, That we wanna make things for people. aren’t quite there yet. Like maybe they’re just starting or maybe they’re not profitable yet and they’re just like not ready to do a cus like a whole custom thing and that’s totally fine.
So the templates have been something we’ve been, we’ve been talking about this for years. It was actually the very first thing when we like started this business, we’re like, okay, let’s make website templates. But we hadn’t actually, and, and we had worked on, like in our corporate lives, we had designed websites, but someone else always built them.
Mm-hmm. . And then we were like, well, let’s just design Squarespace. And then we realized we’d never made a Squarespace tablet. We weren’t totally qualified yet, so we’re like, okay, wait a minute, let’s start making websites for clients, which we did and we’ve made like a bajillion now, and by we, I mean Gwen
Um, so now we’ve designed so many websites and we’ve designed them on all the different platforms and we are 100% positive that show it for our clients and for ourselves is the best fit. Um, for sure. Both to be able to just design really dynamic, beautiful websites that have a lot of functionality and for our clients to actually be able to update them cuz it’s super easy to use.
So I’m glad that we went through the last couple years before starting to build out all these Squarespace templates and then realizing that Squarespace wasn’t actually the best platform. Not that there’s anything wrong us, the best platform for us. Sorry. Uh, there’s lots of people who build great websites on Squarespace and it’s super easy to use for them.
For us, we don’t. Wanna do any coding or a very, very small amount if we have to. Yeah, small amount. It’s a little bit harder to customize, especially how Squarespace was, you know, built in the past. Yeah. Anyway, oh, the other thing I love about show it is when they release a new version, you don’t have to like rebuild your website.
Like I know like there are people on WordPress Flow Themes, Squarespace, who like, they literally built a whole website and then they’re like, oh, we’re not supporting that version anymore. Like in order to get all of the new benefits of whatever the platform is, you have to like rebuild your website on this new thing.
Like that is terrible. And we’ve had clients that have come in and had that happen. I know. I feel like we could like do a whole thing about our love letter to show. I know stay tuned for a y show. It is the best. But anyway, so now that I feel like we have so much expertise in building websites on show, it’s the perfect time to like build up now a library of templates.
So over the summer we took a little baby break, um, from client work and built two templates and just recently working on a third one. So we had a client come in who wanted kind of a simple mini site, which is just like basically one page that you scroll down, but it has a lot of like interactivity within.
So you might like get to a certain section and it’s like about me, and then you hit the arrow and it kind of goes horizontally and it’s like, oh, now these are fun facts and it goes horizontally. Again. It’s like my process, you can fit more in on one page and then you might still have like a blog or something, but it actually like, instead of having that whole like five to seven different pages, there’s like some people who just don’t need that.
Well, and we knew that not everybody needs it because it was a whole custom service that we offered. , but we thought that was the only way to do it. Before it was the only way to do it because we didn’t have templates. Right. But now we know. But then when we went out for this client to look for like one page templates, there aren’t a lot of that.
Oh yeah. Because we were just gonna do a template customization Yeah. For her of someone else’s template. And we really couldn’t find a good one. So we’re like, Hey, if we build this for you, At like a discounted price. Do you mind if we use it afterward as a template? So we built the website for her and now we’re re customizing or reformatting it.
So it’s gonna be a template. And that actually feels like a really exciting thing. We could like almost specialize in or be one of the few people that has like a mini website. So even if you are somebody who again is like just starting out, you don’t need a full five to seven page website because it’s daunting and it’s a perfect way to start.
Because if you wanna build on pages later you can. Yes. But it like at least gets you. Yes. And a lot of people don’t even wanna have to like prepare all the content for that. I know. That’s why it’s daunting. Like can you imagine like trying to start out and you’re like, I just wanna look pr, like you know that it’s important to look professional and polish and you go out and you’re like, oh my God, I have to have five pages.
Like what am I gonna talk about on my homepage and on my about page, on and on my services page. Right? And like I don’t have enough. And then it takes out the worry of like having like a portfolio page. Cuz you don’t have to have a whole page dedicated to that. That’s true. But also, It. I think that like allowing yourself, like if you have one or two pages where you do need, like you do, maybe you’re a photographer and you know you need a gallery page.
Yeah. Like you can have that, but you don’t. That doesn’t mean you have to have four other pages. Maybe you just have a gallery and when you click on that, it like goes off. But even what we did for this client who was a photographer is we buried all her galleries and popups and so you would like decide what you wanted to see and then it would pop up and take over the screen, which is beautiful, beautiful way to look at photos anyway.
Yeah. Also my. Is currently like, oh my God, that’s another thing we need to do for a template. That’s another thing. That’s another thing. So we have lots of ideas. Um, so what we’re excited about is A, being able to just sell templates for people who wanna customize on their own. And then b, to be able to offer template customization to our clients.
Um, if they like something that are, we already have that exists, we can customize it for them and get them up and running, um, in a, a lot less time and for a much lower investment. Yes. And then, uh, with that we’re also, um, starting to dabble in some brand intensives for the same reason. So it’s more accessible for some people who are like fully custom services aren’t, but also it’s a little bit for us because it’s a quick dopamine hit.
Like, are, we’ve been doing so much less cocaine since we started . I’m just getting, we have not been doing any cooking cocaine . Um, I think, like I realized it as we did a couple, um, of the smaller projects that I was like, ah, that was like such a quick win. And I kind that we get to go back and forth quickly.
So it’s like, be Ava, like to the client, be available this day. Mm-hmm. and we’re like shooting them something. They’re sending us back comments. We’re shooting them a new version. They’re sending us back. Like there’s something really fun about almost collaborating. Yes. And normally in our really long process, we wanna give people like a chance to like, sit with it over the weekend and give like a lot of feedback.
But if you know when you’re coming in that this is gonna be a condensed process and you know that you wanna make a smaller investment and you want it done faster and you’re willing or. For a lot of people just like excited to work that way where you like get it so much faster. Yeah. You have to be really decisive.
Yeah. Or even like know like, oh, can I see that like one other way? Yeah. Or something like be able to ask for what you need to see. But so the combination of having a brand intensive and having a website template customization does allow you to get branding a website up a lot. Yeah. Faster and less expensive for sure.
But like a, again, like I love what it does for them, but I also love what it does for us because I didn’t realize, like I absolutely adore going deep with our clients and spending several months with them, but having something where I’m like, okay, this week I’m just working on this one thing. Mm-hmm. and it’s begin and finish and then it’s like, okay, can move on to the next thing.
Like that’s such a nice mix. Yes. And I want to have that. I feel like next year if we can do a mix of like going deep and having like a long 12 week experience with some people and then doing a coup, maybe it’s even a couple months where we book out like. So one, we did try something back in January that didn’t end up working out, which is like, we brought people in for like a smaller package, but we still ended up stretching it out over like a month or two.
And you didn’t have the process, right? Like we wanted it to be something that it just like didn’t feel good the way that we tried to do it. It really needs to be time capped. Um, and actually recommend this for anyone who’s like a creative service provider. If there’s a way that you can be creative with your process and have it happen sort of.
in a smaller amount of time where you’re only working on one at a time. Because it, it, that’s like the magic of it is like you said, you get to focus on this one thing for this whole week. And for us it’s always a little trickier cuz during that week it’s like somebody else is coming in and wants to book and then we have to get on a call.
So there’s always gonna be a little bit of distraction, but yeah, there’s not like three, sometimes we’re working on three different projects with different deadlines on the same week and that is, you’re just splitting your focus a lot. Yeah. And I think it’s the fact that we know we don’t like doing it that way.
Like we like being able to like super focus on certain things and only doing the short ones where it’s the quick dopamine hit if it was like always that burnout city. Mm-hmm. . But having that mixed in with some of the bigger projects where we get to like move slow and let the process happen a little.
Drawn out and like take our time. And like if we’re having an off day, we like don’t have to push his heart. Like that’s like a really healthy balance too for ourselves. So I just love being able to take care of ourselves and be able to take care of a variety of people. Who wanna work with us. I agree. So stay tuned for templates coming in.
Hopefully January. If not, let’s say like February 1st. Well, that’s basically January. So I have one extra day. , I’m done. . Um, maybe it’s, maybe it’s like for Valentine’s Day. I then I give you two weeks. I am saying that I’m gonna set a personal goal of January. Some point to have at least two of them up in live for you to be able to purchase.
Let’s do this. Let’s do it. Okay. So that’s enough chit chat. Um, today’s episode is with Kristen Brewster, who is the owner of Merkel’s Floral Studio. And Kristen is such an interesting human because she has a fine art background. Then she was owning owner of a diner and then she was owner of a floral studio and we’re like, can you, is an owner of a floral studio?
Yes. Can you please take us through the journey where this happened? Because obviously you’re a natural entrepreneur and obviously you’re a creative, but like, what is this journey? And one of the most interesting things for me to learn is that she actually bought both of her businesses as opposed to like starting them from scratch.
And that’s such an interesting way to go about it that I never even thought of. And like brick and mortar businesses. Yeah. Like for us to start a business, we just feel like. Buy a computer. Yeah. So we worked with Kristen on, um, rebranding Merkel’s Floral Studio and doing her website. And I remember when we went into the project we were like, okay, so like, is Merkel’s like your maiden name?
Like we thought, we just assumed it was like a family business. And she’s like, no, I just bought it. It’s been around since the 1950s. So it was a family business. It’s just somebody else’s family. Yeah, somebody else’s family. Yeah. But it had been around, What is that like 60, 70 years? Yeah. Um, and then she just like purchased it and now is doing like amazing things.
They had to move into a bigger space. Um, and they do such beautiful work. Yeah. There her, it’s, Kristen specifically has become like a beautiful floral designer. So it’s all like, um, very exotic. Like she gets flowers in from all over the world. And, but she likes to focus on local too. She she does, yeah. She focuses a lot during the growing seasons, getting flowers from local farms, which I love, but I still feel like everything looks like, where did you get that?
Yeah. Like, oh, for sure. So everything is very like, , I wanna say almost Bohemian, but it’s an exotic, basically like when she was explaining it to us, she’s like, if you want like little white roses on every one of your tables at your reception, like I’m not your florist. Like there’s somebody out there who does that.
But like she loves the uniqueness of it. So one of the recommendations we made when we were going through the branding process was actually to change cuz they were Merkel’s flowers. Mm-hmm . And we said, what if you were Merkel’s Floral Studio? Cuz that better represents like the work that she’s doing.
And she like immediately replied and she’s like, just bought the domain. . Thanks girls. So I think just like seeing how that business has evolved into something that’s like. I mean, oh, and it’s been so fun to just watch her business evolve and it’s one of the most like in demand floral studios in Cleveland now, and she is incredible.
So yeah, love her. Same. All right, enjoy Kristen Brewster.
So one of our favorite things that we ever learned about you when we were all sitting down at happy hour one evening was we were like, oh, like people just like start businesses from the ground up and then you’re like, Nope, actually bought mine. And then you’re like, actually, I bought two. And we’re like, you own another business.
And you’re like, oh yeah, I like run a diner in my spare time . Then I’ll also run a floral studio and Fascinating. So I want to first just know, like, how does that happen? How do you know you can buy businesses? How do you decide to buy a diner first too? These are really good questions, and I’m not sure that there is a, you know, straight up answer that is just seamless and yes or no, but basically I, I think a lot of things led up to that.
I had actually been overseas for about a year and then returned back home to Ohio. I had been living in Miami for seven years prior, so I was, you know, not really attached to anything. I was about to start seeking out a career again because I had been traveling and I kind of decided for whatever reason that at that point in my life I needed to go.
Get a big girl job, corporate job, benefits, job, all those things. All those things that make a creative cringe. Yes, which it did. So as you can imagine, it didn’t last super long, but as I was going to exit that career, I heard about a diner that was for sale. I had never been to this Steiner, mind you okay.
Never been there, hadn’t ate there. None of the above. And I just started thinking, you know, it was kind of like a seed was planted. I just, I couldn’t let it go. I was, I was kind of at that point like, you know what, I’m going to just get the ball rolling and if it works, great, and if not, I’m just gonna keep continuing to find out what’s next.
So I reached out, and long story short, because that’s probably a story for another time, I ended up closing on the diner about six months later. and it was mine. I had you been to it at that point. That’s really funny. So I had a couple of times, I kind of shadowed for several days, but nothing major. Not like, you know, a six month intensive training.
During that time, however, I had grown up in that industry. My first job when I was 15 was actually at a diner as well, and after that I continued through school to work either at restaurants or bars, things like that. So I felt super comfortable with the industry. Little did I know at that time that owning a diner or anything is a lot different than just working in the field.
I eventually learned about all that too. So if you like was little Kristen, like little baby Kristen or like toddler Christian or little girl Kristen, like an entrepreneur. Like did you have like lemonade stands or come up with business ideas when you were younger? So it’s really funny, it’s not something I ever thought about until I got up and going with the diner and the florist and I looked back and I was kind of like, where did this come from?
And so looking back, I know that when I was a kid, I started very young. My grandmother and grandpa owned a video store, so they owned a business. I would hang out there, you know, make popcorn run up and down the aisles. I got this idea to start, um, painting rocks and selling them there. So I did that. Okay.
And then I was like painting. I like painting. I started doing some like face painting stuff. And then I think just little things like that, which had no connection at the moment for me, eventually turned into this. . Oh yeah. You totally were an entrepreneur. Slowly but surely. I didn’t know, I like specifically that you were making art and selling it like you were like finding a way to like use your creativity and then you’re like, that is worth something.
Now I’m going to sell it. It’s true. It’s so funny when I like say that out loud now because at the time it was just, it just made sense. I didn’t question it. I was just a little kid, you know, doing what I thought was fun. And then of course, like my instinct was I should sell this. Yeah, yeah. And I did. and that, that was great.
And I was cute kids, so everyone bought these rocks at the video story, you know? Oh my God. I also love that you grew up in a space where someone else owned a business, which is probably why when you heard a diner was for sale. Like all the, all your past kind of like came together. Like you had worked in the industry, like you knew people who owned businesses, so what wasn’t like, if that had come across my path, I wouldn’t be like, oh, this is for sale.
I should buy it. Like that’s not, I wouldn’t even think that was a thing. That’s not, yeah, that wouldn’t be like a thought at all. I’d be like, oh, I hope someone cool buys that. I don’t realize that. It’s odd until people say that to me. . , to be very honest, but because I never even really thought of anyone in my family as entrepreneurial.
Like I said, my grandparents owned the video store, but for some reason it just, it didn’t click that. That was a small business owner venture. I don’t know what it was, but. So they did own the video store. And I mean, like I said, I was very young then and so another thing that happened was I ran a bar for a while in Miami.
When I came to Ohio, I started working for a family that also owns a lot of businesses in downtown Willabee, which is ironically where the diner is. And I kind of connected with them as a team at the time that they were starting to open and renovate several other bars. So I saw a lot of the behind the scenes of the acquiring of a business and then renovating it, opening it, and just kind of launching it as something new.
I witnessed a lot of that with them. So I think that’s what kind of sealed the deal because right after that was when I, soon after started doing that for myself. That’s so interesting. So is that like for people that don’t know, like downtown Willowby kind of had like a. R. Huh? Like a Oh, revival. Yeah, revival.
Like where a lot of the businesses got redone and then it kind of became like a really cool place to be. So that’s what you’re saying, that you got to witness the people who were like in that ended up doing that, right? Definitely. So downtown Willoughby is, it’s a small little downtown area in a suburb, of course, near where I live and grow up and have my businesses.
Long story short, it was kind of, I don’t wanna say failing, but it wasn’t thriving and over the last few years, probably the last five years. A lot of new owners have come in a lot of new faces. The majority of the owners, I believe, are between 30 and 40 years old, if not younger. It’s just really like hip and up and coming now and yeah, like you said, it’s a great place to go, a great place to bring family.
It attracts a lot more people now. So I feel like the question that we all have that have never bought a business before is like, especially knowing that a lot of young people are doing it, is that like, I came from family wealth and just have a bunch of money, or is it like a business loan? Like how do you embark on buying something that’s.
big and expensive. That’s a really, really good question because I grew up pretty poor. Um, I did not come from wealth. I did not inherit some large sum of money. I did not win the lottery, nothing like that. Maybe one day . So there’s several ways to go about it. It really is. It depends on, each sit situation is so unique.
So there’s, you know, the option of doing a lease to own, where if the owner who currently has a business is comfortable, they essentially let you pay a lump sum, but then make payments as you go. You can get out a loan like you would if you were going to college. Something to that effect. You can also find investors if you really believe in what you’re doing and you feel that you can, you know, get someone else to be on board with you to do that.
So I did this. Different ways for each business. With the first one, which was the diner, I did bring on a team of investors. And with the florist I kind of got a really, really good deal on that just because the owners were retiring. I mean, they’d been trying to sell for a really long time. The business was just not doing well.
It, it really just, it wasn’t worth much at the time I took over, so I made payments on that, but I did buy that one outright. So I didn’t know that, that the floral business wasn’t doing well. Cuz it’s, I think, thriving now and from what we know it is. Yeah. . Thank you. So was that scary, like to buy a business that wasn’t successful at the time?
I think when I was buying it, I wasn’t really sure how well it was or was not doing. Oh, interesting. And I think I was a little more confident in taking a bigger risk, regardless of what it was doing since I already had the diner. You know, it wasn’t like I was putting all my eggs in that basket and needed that to be, you know, my sole source of income.
It was, Hey, I have the diner, the diner’s doing great, and here’s this florist, which I would love to get into. So let me just kind of, let me dip my feet in here, see what’s happening. And yeah, it turned out it was, it was not doing great, or at least not as well as I wanted it to do. I didn’t want to be the sole.
Owner and employee, I did want to build a team, which at that point it, it wasn’t capable of maintaining, just like wasn’t bringing in enough to be able to consistently pay a team. Exactly. It previously had been run by a, a couple, a married couple. Um, the husband had a job and you know, the wife was there as the florist and the husband also helped with deliveries and, you know, it was just what they needed.
That didn’t work for me. I have another business. I also Fun fact, . I hadn’t done anything with floristry prior, so, so interesting. I needed some teammates. Luckily I found them. Started, bought a diner, had never owned a diner, only had worked in stuff. Never had done florist design . I’m gonna buy a florist like So was your first hire then someone who did floral design?
That’s a really cool story. So my first hire was, her name is Patty. She’s with me now. She is just the greatest blessing to me. She had worked for Merkels previously and Merkels is the name of your floral studio. Correct. So she had already worked for this florist. Our florist has been around since 1940.
So she worked there for not one, but two of the former owners. Oh, so it’s gone through several owners? Yes. Okay. I am, I believe the fourth or fifth. Wow. So she had worked for two prior and she eventually parted ways because they told her they were looking to sell and you know, she needed to secure a job that was going to be, you know, stable for a long time.
And when I officially purchased, the owners I bought from had told me about, Patty helped me connect with her, and sure enough, within a couple of weeks she was headed to work for me, and she still does. And oh, it’s been the greatest thing. And she does floral design. She does, she has done this since she was 17.
I mean, she’s been doing this, this has been her life career and she’s truly amazing. So, okay, so let’s go back for a minute because you. in college you had a fine art degree, is that right? That’s right. Okay. So what, what were you interested in that made you get a fine art degree in college or, or a fine art major in college?
I really like all forms of media, but I definitely, starting towards high school, got pretty serious about painting. I would say that was my first love. I definitely enjoyed sculpting as well, which is funny because both of those things really play into my floristry career and really help now it kind of came full circle and, um, in what ways?
Like how so? I think it gives, you know, it definitely separates me from what other people do who maybe have only approached flowers with no creative background, but being formally trained. Painting and sculpture. And I mean, my degree was really in visual arts as a whole, so I did sculpture, painting, drawing, um, as well as digital art too.
So I kind of attack what I’m doing from all angles. Attack is a little bit of a harsh word for flowers, but I come from all angles when I’m designing. And I just think it gives it a different flare. Yeah, I, I never really thought about that, but yeah, if you’re like, especially painting, like understanding color theory and understanding how colors work together and then bringing that into floral design is like, So unique.
Totally. Like for me, I believe it comes as second nature and it’s a huge part of floral design. And I guess maybe I hadn’t worked with the medium of flowers before, but when I came into it, I did have that base of knowledge of color theory and just working with three dimensional shapes, things like that.
That’s amazing. Okay. So you went to school for, and you had the fine arts degree, but then when you started, um, or when you bought the floral studio, you did not, or is it called a florist? You bought the florist? Or are you a flo’s? Aris called a florist. It’s, that’s interesting. So I find that people really struggle with this.
Yeah. And it is a florist, the shop. , you are also a florist. Okay. If you’re a floral designer, I kind of refer to the studio as a studio or shop now to offer some separation from the term. Okay. But all of those are correct. Okay. So what, by the way, for everybody, like go look up Merkel’s Floral Studio, Cleveland, Ohio and take a look at some of their work because it’s not just floral design.
It is very unique and artful and really everything you do is like a piece of art. So it’s taking what you think of when you think of florals to another level, but knowing that you came in and you didn’t know how to do that yet, like what’s the process of like learning how to be a florist? Or is it just like, was it Patty, you said, yes, Patty just taught you , and then you just sweat from there.
Like did you take a class or did you just have like a natural knack for it? So ironically enough, I did work and. See Patty in action doing her thing. At the time when I took over Merkels, they were not doing weddings. That was one of the questions we wanted to ask you about. So this is great. Okay, so let me go into that a little further.
So I saw what Patty was doing, but Patty was kind of taking care of the day-to-day floral arrangements and that can range from everything from sympathy work to just, you know, something going to someone’s house for a birthday. There’s a wide variety there. But I was really focused on the weddings and getting that up and going.
So I saw what she was doing and learned some things and she gave me knowledge about individual flower types and you know, how to just clean out a cooler and place an order, things like this. But I kind of, I guess, self-taught myself. The wedding stuff. Uh, lots of YouTube videos, lots of just. Following Instagram accounts and like late nights of looking at photos and just wondering, okay, how did they build this?
What would I do? Because you know, Jess, you’re right. We do a lot of installation work and you know, things that aren’t necessarily just in a base. Right? And when I think of what I do for a living, I usually think of myself as a problem solver. So that’s actually right up my alley in terms of just kind of figuring out how to build something, how to make it work, and then just kind of trusting, maybe hoping even that it will.
Yeah. That’s amazing. So self-taught. How do you break into the wedding industry as a florist? Because. Correct me if I’m wrong, it’s it, it’s kind of a saturated market, right? It is a saturated market. I always say that there’s definitely way more saturation for photographers. Sure. But wow, there are so many florist.
And not only that, but there’s the florist like us who run a retail shop as well. And then there’s so many flos, you’d be surprised the majority of wedding and event Flos only do weddings and events. So those are two different ballgames. And I mean, they both, you know, have pros and cons. I’m sure. I can only speak for running a retail store.
But I think one thing that helped us, helped us was not only was Merkels not doing weddings, they didn’t have social media. Mm-hmm. . So as I learned with the diner, which was the same situation, the first thing I did was, let’s start marketing. So I. . I was like, we need to build this brand from the ground up.
Like I have a huge passion for taking historic businesses. The diner was around since 1928, so both of these places I took over were historic, but they weren’t up to speed with just modern day things, you know? Right. And to me, that was a no no-brainer. I was like, let me just do all the things you would do if you had a business today, implement it on these two old brick and mortars.
And it just, you know, it started working because these things do work. Right. This is why everyone does them. And what, I mean, one of my next steps was finding you guys and totally rebranding what I had started from the ground up in terms of having a website and just building our portfolio, getting our photos out there.
You know, there was no. Former content for Merkels in terms of the work that we had done and the things that we had done to show the world, and it makes a huge difference. When you can start showing your work to the world, will you also start like attracting the person who wants what you do versus like the people who are just like, oh, I just need a florist.
Then anyone will do. Totally. I could not have said that better myself. We’re actually at an interesting place with that. Now in terms of breaking into the wedding industry, I will say that the market is saturated, but wow, ladies, there are so many people getting married. I, okay. I know there’s never gonna be a shortage of people getting married.
You’d be amazed. It amazes me every year I’m like, you know, maybe this is from the pandemic and like, no, the, the flow does not stop. There are a lot of people getting. Married love is alive and well in the world, . So in terms of attracting the right client, that’s exactly what we experienced at first. Like I said, we just needed to get our foot in the door, start practicing, start practicing, start showing, you know, that we could do these weddings and then start doing luxury events.
And so we did it and we did it really quickly. And I think it’s just because I was so in love with it and seeing the results of that, and it just, I mean, it was like a snowball effect. We just slowly but started growing and attracting those clients that we want, because you’re right, we don’t want those people that, and, and hey, flowers aren’t everyone’s thing and that’s totally cool.
But we definitely want, you know, we’re, we’re a smaller team, I would say, compared to some of those that are. In the industry doing the type of things that we do. Right now we’re a smaller team, so we really found, and me personally, I wanna be here for the long run, so I don’t want to just get burnt out on taking everything that comes through my inbox.
Like I said, we have a smaller team, so we, we don’t take 50 events every weekend. We just simply can’t. So we really try to focus on the ones that they sought us out because they saw our style and they fell in love with it, and they just can’t imagine anyone else doing their flowers for their perfect day.
And that’s what excites us. That’s what keeps us motivated to continue learning because it, although I haven’t taken a class still, , there is so much to learn and there’s so many techniques and it’s always evolving and sustainability is becoming a huge factor. So even the things that we’ve done before, now, we’re trying to practice in a more sustainable way.
There’s just, it’s. , you’re always learning the awesome part too about your brand. So when we first started working together, and one of the questions we asked was like, when people say they love working with you, what are they excited about? Like what are the compliments that you get? And they’re like, I love working with you Kristen.
Like, you are so fun and you’re so invested in my wedding and, and kind and caring. And so I know one of the things that we did was like, we need to get you a photo shoot and we need, you need to start like showing your face up on your Instagram and on your website. And because it is like, and that’s the thing I think you’ll forget sometimes is how important your, your personality is to your business.
And so there’s this one level which is like beautiful work. And then there’s like, I don’t want like beautiful work with somebody who like sucks at organization or like isn’t like on top of their stuff. And so I think that’s so awesome that you’ve been able to like, Be the face of the business too. And that’s a really good point because believe it or not, I’m a huge introvert.
So you know, I was kind of hiding. I was kind of not being the face of the business, even though I was signing off on every email to every bride. And so that was kind of a missing gap that we definitely filled. And I’ve grown into more and more because it is important. People love our, our service. And although we might not take as many weddings as some people, we definitely take very intentional ones.
So that allows us to kind of go above and beyond because we feel a direct connection with these couples that we’re working with. You know? And you plan weddings? Gosh. I mean, some of these couples are planning with us for over a year, up to two years. I mean, you really get to know each other. Yeah. You’re kind of like friends and then you see each other on like, you know, the wedding day or maybe you’re final walkthrough and.
You actually feel like you know this person and you’ve been talking to them for so much and helping them work through stressful wedding planning situations and it’s just fun. If you haven’t heard yet, we have a new totally free workshop that’s happening right now. It’s called How to Create a Brand People Love.
If you wanna join us, we’re gonna talk about how to create a killer brand on a budget without hiring a designer. We’re gonna show you our proven framework for attracting more of the right customers and we’ll tell you our designer secrets that’ll push your brand forward to the next level and break through the noise.
You can register right now for free at hey hello.studio/brand. It’s so interesting cuz we have this conversation all the time with our business that as you get more differentiated, so as you like find your voice and who you are as a brand and what you do and how it’s unique, you can charge more. And so then.
once you start charging where you can take less clients. But the clients that you end up taking on are people who are willing to pay a premium for you. Like I want what you do and it’s so special. And so then you get this really great relationship where you get to work with everyone. And then like the business side of my brain, like when I’m hearing you talk, would go, oh, well if your booked up a year or more in advance, grow your team.
And like then you can do twice as many weddings and make twice or whatever. And when we’ve done that in the past and decided to hire on designers and have other people, it’s like, oh wow, the joy goes away when I don’t get to know every single person and work on their brand or their website or whatever.
And so it’s such an interesting, like when you look at it from a business perspective, if you didn’t care so much, you might like scale it or like hire on some more people so that you don’t have to do everything. But we feel the same way you do of like, I want to have that hands-on with everyone. It’s like, so it’s like what makes it so.
fulfilling. I love that you said that because I feel like there’s a lot of even small business owners that don’t feel that way and are, are doing what you said, always trying to scale, grow the team just to continue with the volume. I am definitely, uh, I agree. I like being a little more hands-on and it’s not as easy to grow a team once you have found your, you know, specific design techniques and look, it’s not as easy to just train anyone to do that.
Yeah. Um, we definitely have a very skilled, tight-knit group of people that I work with and love and it’s just such a fine balance and to just be creating and. doing, you know, way more work for the sake of doing way more work. Uh, I don’t know that that’s what we’re in it for. I mean, some people are like, I think that’s what brings them joy.
But it’s nice like for us to connect with other small business owners who are like, yeah, I don’t, I don’t want to take on that extra stuff. I like being really, really hands on and being really, really intentional with the clients that I have. 100%. And maybe if we were doing work that wasn’t creative, but for me Yeah, true.
I find it difficult to create from a place that doesn’t have some form of like connection. Mm-hmm. underlying connection. Mm-hmm. Yep. Because then it’s, it’s a little disconnected, you know? And these are obviously really, you know, they’re not just any flowers. It’s for their wedding. They’re gonna have pictures forever.
And people get really excited about the vision for their day now, I mean, People post these things on social media and do things that maybe 50 years ago weren’t happening. You know, you would get your wedding photos, they would sit in a photo album and just kind of maybe collect dust. Yeah. But hopefully not.
But, um, I mean, people print their photos now and people preserve their bouquets now. And there’s just so much more in today’s world that just, it’s so much better to have a connection. Yep. I totally agree. Um, so one of the things that we love is when our clients, who we do website updates for, send us their updates and they say, could you raise my prices?
Could you update my prices on the website? Could you, ra, could you double this? And you are one that we’ve watched over the past year and a half or two years, or however long. No, I think it’s almost two years, right? Mm-hmm. raise and from a, I’m, I’m just gonna say like, N not on the recording, but like this is a business podcast so people will be interested from that reason.
I’m not like talking to brides like she’s so expensive now, but Okay. . But it’s so, it’s so interesting to know that you took a business that was like not really doing all that well and wasn’t even doing weddings at all and then, you know, got it up and running and learned how to do these things. And then now we’re continuing to be able to become this like premier premium luxury brand.
Like what’s that experience like? I love what you said earlier, Jess, and it was about kind of knowing who your dream client is, because that’s a huge part of it. You have to really know what you first identify what you really love doing, second believe in it. And then three, you actually have to be able to back all of that up and produce what you’re believing in.
And if you can do all those things and. Like you said, prices are going to raise, prices are raising everywhere, especially over the last couple years. We know that, and I’ll be honest, when I first started out, you know, you, you don’t price how you should because that comes with time. You’re unsure. What if nobody books?
That’s a possibility. Mm-hmm. . So of course we were just kind of taking hits for a while. It’s not like we’ve just continually raised from a really great starting point, so we weren’t very profitable for a while. But sometimes you just have to understand that it’s, it’s not a sprint. Like you’re in this for the long run and it takes time to build, uh, a brand that has some trust in it.
And that’s essentially what got us to be here. And yeah, we’ve been able to raise our prices to where they should be, right to where they should be based on, you know, industry standards and what prices are like. You know, across the state, across the country based on what florals are being priced at now, which unfortunately floral prices have gone up a lot.
Like so many things, A lot of that has to do with gas because a lot of flowers are flown in and then driven all over the country. So as you can imagine, it’s kind of pricey getting them into your studio to begin with. But yeah, it’s a real joy just being able to believe in your brand and what you’re selling and what you’re offering and realize that it, that it is worth it.
When, when you’re realizing that the feedback you’re getting is confirming that you know you’re doing things right, because that early stage of not charging. what you could be charging because of, and a lot of it can sometimes just be like an experience, which is like a reason that you should like, get some practice before, but there’s also a lot of fear that comes into it.
And there’s, there’s scarcity mentality. So, you know, we even experience sometimes where if our calendar’s looking a little open, it’s like, sh you know, are our prices too high? And you start to devalue what you’re doing out of fear. And so when you can get to a place where you’re like just having an honest valuation of what your work is really worth and how, like, how it makes people feel and the way that it improves their wedding or their business or their life or whatever, it’s like just wonderful.
I love talking about this because in my experience, what I have found regardless of the industry is that. , the people who don’t wanna pay what you think you’re worth are not the clients that you want. They’re not the customer for you. Well, they don’t see your value at that level. And that’s totally fine.
It’s not for everyone. Totally. And yeah, it’s totally fine. I mean, but ultimately the people who you’ve really end up loving to work with, probably would’ve paid more. And that’s your, your ideal client. That’s who you’re going after. And it’s not just about money either, it just means exactly what you said.
They value what you do. Yeah. So how has, if we can, what’s the word you said, not cheat our own horn, but how has like the experience of going through like a, uh, getting a strategic brand, getting a brand that feels like you and having the right messaging that attracts the right person. Like how has that influenced or changed your business?
It was one of the single most. Important things that we did hands down. Not only did it start naturally attracting the people we wanted to work with, because it, I mean, it shouted from the rooftops exactly who we were very clearly and made it very easy to know how to work with us, what we do, who we are.
But it also gave me the confidence to talk about those very same things. You know, I know that I would be talking to brides, but then our website isn’t updated yet, or our Instagram’s not looking that great right now. And I mean, it, it wasn’t like the end of the world. It’s not like we weren’t booking anything then, but again, we weren’t charging what we were worth, which is so interesting, especially when it comes to florist.
I see that I, I talk and am networking with a ton of people in our industry now and know that florist really get, and maybe it’s a, a creative thing, maybe all creatives do this. But for some reason people think they can really, you know, bargain flowers, but you know, you don’t go to target. It is a, I think it’s a creative industry thing.
Maybe it’s a creative industry thing, but ultimately the way I price things, just like anyone else is mathematical. We have ver like, you know, recipe breakdowns of what every little single stem in something costs, and that’s that. And essentially anybody who isn’t wanting to pay that much is kind of just saying, I should be paying the additional cost for that.
Yeah. Right? Mm-hmm. , which you would never do at, you know, A target or when you go to McDonald’s or anything like that. That’s like our advice always to other creatives is like, if somebody’s budget is lower, then you reduce the scope. You don’t cheapen the thing that you’re delivering because you can say, okay, well if, if your budget for flowers is this, here’s what we can do inside that budget.
Rather than like, well, let me just eat that cost for you so that you can have what you want. Yes. And it’s, I mean, we laugh about this, but it’s so easy to get caught up in that. Especially like you said, if you’re, you know, having some scarcity mindset or imposter syndrome. Maybe you just got started, maybe you’ve been going for a long time, but you’re just having, you know, a slow month or a slow season, which is totally normal, even if you’re killing it.
And it’s really easy to get kind of stuck in your head about that. But absolutely, that’s the same thing I do. I reduce the scope. You know, we can take certain things off of a proposal, but we certainly aren’t going to just. Lower our prices. Yeah, yeah. As we go per request, right? , all you have to do is come in and ask them.
I mean, essentially my prices are what they are because of our overhead, which means what I pay my team, the benefits that they have, which I value so much. Our studio, which is new and awesome, and we love it, and it’s also big enough to hold all our rentals. So there’s just so much that goes into running the business.
You know, people kind of think. That’s so much for flowers. Oh, it’s so much more than flowers. Yeah. Yeah. Do you ever think about, like, so you were saying some people have the flower shop that has a retail space, and then some people are just doing wedding and events only, and maybe they’re doing it from their home.
Like, have you ever thought like, oh, it’d be so much easier to just do this part and like, not the the floral delivery piece, or do you like both of the, the sides equally? That’s a really good question. I think I personally, I’m more hands on with the wedding event side of things. But since it’s all I know, I can’t imagine only doing that.
And I found that some of the benefits that we have in being a retail store is, for example, I can over order for a wedding, which yes, we, we do that because we’re ordering a, a tangible product. It can come in not looking good. We will overorder to make sure that our brides have the best of the best. And we are able to do that easily because nine times out of 10 I can sell that extra still.
We have flowers going out every day and I think the biggest benefit is we have less waste overall. Yeah. Which is so important to me. That’s so interesting. I didn’t think about that. Yeah. You’re like leveraging for multiple things, not just for like one event and then you have to Yeah. So like how does that work?
Do like people come in on like, A Sunday and like they know that there’s like discounted flowers or is it just people coming in, they’re like, I wanted to pick up a bouquet. And you just, you’re able to utilize those flowers. The amount of flowers that we have come through our shop on a weekly basis is astronomical.
So we have deliveries that come in for weddings and events. Then we just have our standard shop deliveries. These come in every week, multiple times. So we always have just tons of flowers. You can walk in off the street, you can order from out of state and we’ll send it to your grandmother who’s in the nursing home down the road.
I mean, the sky’s the limit. You can send flowers to anyone and we encourage you to do so . But yeah, I mean sometimes those two groups of flowers borrow from each other and you know, if, if I got something in for a wedding and I’m not liking how it looks, but the shop has this over here that I think is better.
We’ll share, we’ll swap. Yeah. Okay. It’s just kind of, I don’t wanna say a free for all, but it’s an organized chaos. And does that freedom to be able to kind of swap, come from working with your ideal client where they’re just kind of like, I trust you. Here’s my color palette, but like just do whatever you need to do to make it look like your stuff looks.
That is exactly it. And we say this in all of our meetings now because it’s so important to us. We are known for and will absolutely rock your aesthetic out of the park. I mean, we will just nail the color scheme, the style that you’re going for, but we do not give itemized lists of flowers with specific colors or anything like that.
I actually don’t think it’s even wise. Even if we did enjoy working in that matter because. That’s fluctuating so much and in two years from now, we have no idea what’s going to be growing, looking good, you know? Is mother nature kind to us or has there been lack of rain? Has there been droughts? Our product is changing.
all the time. That’s so interesting. Yeah, I never even thought about that. So is it something that like a bride can’t come in even if it’s like the season I’m just gonna use pennies cuz I know that and it’s like end of May is like the season. This is why I picked my wedding date of when I did. But like is it something that if a bride comes in, she’s like, I want pennies.
You’re like, I can do my best, but I’ll just, I’ll do the look of with something else in case you don’t have the season and you just like, I just need you to trust me. Exactly. You’d maybe make a good florist . So in the back of my mind, I’ve wanted to like learn that was like a, if this didn’t work out, , please don’t leave me.
I’m not going to, I have absolutely no idea. And if you saw me put together a bouquet, you’d be like, don’t worry. There’s no no future in that for one . Oh my goodness. Don’t quit your day job. Um, so that’s exactly what it is. There’s definitely some stuff that is very seasonal, unfortunately, p ands, which everyone loves.
Mm-hmm. is one of those things. So I will be very honest when, you know, hey, it’s probably not gonna happen, or I know that it’s nearing the end of the season, so the prices are gonna be way higher, so you might get them okay. But it’s going to be, you know, you’re gonna have less of everything else to accommodate for that.
I’m just very open about. how that will look in terms of their budget. And I, I don’t promise it because the last thing I would ever want to do is overpromise and underdeliver. Right. In regards to a wedding. Yeah. You know, there’s not really room to make mistakes in this field, so I just, I lay it out how it is a year or two in advance.
They know, and you know, it always works out. Has there been anyone, that’s a tricky question, but ha have you had that experience where someone will come back and say like, this is not what I expected, or, or are you like at this point, like matching up with people pretty well? That, that isn’t happening anymore?
I would say at this point we’re matching up really well. Better than I could expect, actually. I mean, we really, we love our brides. I, I can’t say that enough. I mean, we get. cards and thank yous and the reviews. I mean, we wouldn’t be here without them. So literally they’re the heartbeat of my company. And, um, I would say the majority of them find us from word of mouth and brides just sharing the photos of their flowers.
So, yeah, I mean, that’s amazing. So one of the things that you tried a year or so ago, I think that was really interesting from a business perspective. And, you know, we’ve talked before about like a membership idea because that’s like how recurring revenue works in our digital business. But you tried a, a subscription, uh, I don’t know if you still do it or not, but what did, what was that like, how did it go?
What did you like learn as part of that? So interesting. That was a good learning experience because we’re not still doing it. It didn’t work out in the way that I had wanted it to. The funny thing is I didn’t believe in it that much, at least for what I wanted to offer was a luxury subscription service.
to kind of separate us from what all the other subscription services in the area were doing. But I don’t think we’re in a good area for something like that. I’ve seen it work a lot better in places like downtown Cleveland and just a little more, um, cities that are a little bit bigger and yeah, so we, I said, Hey, worst case scenario, we put this out there, it doesn’t, it doesn’t go and we pull it.
Yeah. And I think that there is so much good that comes from that, from being able and willing to just say, Hey, here’s an idea. It’s okay if this doesn’t work, because you know what if, if you don’t try, you’re gonna miss out on the things that do land and stick and work really well. So it was, like I said, I feel like I also didn’t, I wasn’t 100% in it myself, so that speaks a lot for how it worked out too.
So I wasn’t sad to pull it either. And that’s just kind of how it went. Yeah, I, I like the freedom to be able to do that too. Like every once in a while we’ll do something, you know, like just isn’t quite right and we’re like, let’s just not do that again. But then, yeah, we wouldn’t, if we didn’t try the stuff then we wouldn’t have found some of the things that did land or did work and end up connecting.
We’ve also just like learned so much about like how we wanna run our business from taking those chances and trying those things because we don’t know what we don’t know. Yes. And I think there’s just as much to be said for learning what you don’t want to offer. Yes, yes, yes. That teaches you just as much about who you are and your identity within your business.
Right. For sure. What in your business has changed or how you run your business? Has it changed since becoming a mom? Well, for starters, I can tell you I’m super tired right now. . , and most days I remember that I have so much under eye concealer on right now, , right? So, yes, I mean, I became a mom if. beginning of this year, January 6th.
So my daughter is six months old and it has taught me so much about something I’m so bad at, which is work-life balance. I knew I was bad at it, but Wow. Eye-opening. I mean, I, I’m possibly like the worst. And, you know, I, I don’t think it’s a terrible thing in that I’m not forcing myself to go to work and take on extra hours and things like that.
I, I do it because I was really enjoying it. But, you know, I would clock back in, in the evening, work my weekend away and just not even really think about how many hours I was actually logging. And sure, I’d miss out on stuff here and there. That’s, that’s going to happen in any job or business owning venture.
But now, I mean, it’s, it’s a lot different. I have a lot less. Bandwidth and available time. Um, and I also don’t want to miss out on everything that’s happening with my daughter, so I’ve really had to reevaluate. But I think it’s kind of just helped us to refine even more what our ideal client looks like because we are honing in on that more and more, and we’re not taking all the extra jobs and all the extra work because even, even if we do, again in a year or two or three, it’s really important I think, to sit down with yourself and understand that a, a business has an ebb and a flow and a season of motherhood is definitely something that I don’t wanna miss out on at the moment.
Yeah, it’s really great, especially it’s, it’s so temporary, like it doesn’t feel like it’s a phase. . They’re only gonna be a baby for so long, so temporary. I mean, like I said, my daughter’s six months, so it’s already half a year. I feel like I’m gonna blink, she’s gonna be in school and I’m gonna be ready to take on a hundred weddings again in one season.
Yeah, so it goes quick. I’m not worried about it. At first, it was kind of, you know, I had to like fight myself on how I was going to navigate this time, but it feels good. I kind of did a practice this July and I didn’t have a wedding every weekend and it was really nice because then I, I was not only spending time with her, but doing things that I kind of miss out on doing just for myself with my family, with my husband, and honestly, pouring that time back into myself has made me a much better business owner and leader.
Yes, the balance. It’s like, it’s so hard. I hate the word balance cuz I just constantly feel like that’s a thing I fail at. But the balance is so difficult, but when you do get it right, it feels so much better. Cuz I have always been like a terrible workaholic. And same thing, nights, weekends, like I was just spending way too much time and I enjoyed the work so much.
So I didn’t think I was missing out on anything. But now I feel like my life is so much richer because I have a variety of experiences and I have like a different level of connection and self-care and all those things. It’s, I think it starts to put things into perspective too. Like then you start being like, is this work thing actually how I wanna spend my time?
Like is this specific project or this client, like is it going to add to that or is it gonna take away and it, it all balances out. Yeah, totally. I definitely grew up, I mean the food and beverage industry is kind of. Brutal and fast and you know, you’re working doubles and you’re closing an opening for anyone who’s been in the industry and you don’t think anything of it.
So that just bekin kind of becomes the way you do all your work and it’s normal and it’s, it’s all I really knew for a while. But I love what you said about it, putting it into perspective because I’m a business owner and that means I have the freedom to choose what I do. I don’t have to just take work that I don’t love for the sake of taking work that I don’t love.
And it really gave me kind of the push I needed to just kind of own who I am in my business and, and use that and do what I’m supposed to, which is if I want my job to be enjoyable, which is why wouldn’t I. It’s in my power to make it enjoyable. Yeah. Was there any shift in like your team in seeing how you started to approach your work-life balance knowing that you used to be a workaholic and now you’re trying to balance your personal life a little bit better?
Or did, were you always respectful of their thing and they didn’t like let what you did get in the way? It’s funny because I really push my employees to have, I hate the word balance too, but I really push my employees to enjoy life outside of work. You know, I’m not gonna text you or call you outside of work unless it’s an absolute emergency.
One of the first benefits I offer is paid time off. I’ve never said no to a vacation or a trip or any sort of travel. I. I so appreciate when my employees go and do those things. So why that didn’t ever transfer over to myself. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because realistically with two businesses it was understandably a challenge to take off and go do things like that.
But they definitely, they, they are happy when I do the same for myself, I think. Yeah. . Yeah. Um, so you decided to sell the diner, right? I did. What went into that decision? I think, I mean, several things. I mean, I would assume owning two businesses and wanting to be hands on in both of them would probably be exhausting.
owning two businesses for starters. So they definitely both grew during my time with them. I knew I was never going to have the diner forever. I was shooting for about eight years. , but then I got the florist and then they both grew. And the florist, like you said, it, it really is thriving. We’ve more than tripled in size since I took over.
So I, I am, I do like to be hands on and that just simply wasn’t happening at both. And I could have been the world’s greatest workaholic. It would not physically have been possible. So it got to a point where I was like, I really need to kind of, you know, it, you can’t do everything and be the best at it.
And it was just time. As much as you need to know when to push and when to grow and things like that, you also have to know when it’s time to pass the baton. Mm-hmm. . And it just simply was, I think another factor, well, a couple other factors was the pandemic definitely changed. really a whole lot about the management of both places, and it definitely made things like staffing an issue.
Um, just navigating all the health rules, restrictions, regulations, lockdowns. It was challenging. So I think it burnt me out a little bit, to be very honest. That’s fair. And I just knew it wasn’t going to be quite the same at the diner after that. I knew it would take a, a significant amount of time, more time than I planned to spend at the diner to get it back to where it was and normalize that I intended on being there anyways, so we were already showing growth again after the pandemic, and it, I, I said it’s now or never.
And then of course, becoming a mom too, I said. I can run two businesses. I don’t know if I can be a mom, own a florist, work for my florist, own a diner cook at the diner. Oh God. . You know what I mean? Like I can wear a lot of hats, but that kind of got a little ridiculous. So we put some fillers out there.
Let me tell you, selling a business isn’t easy either. Hard. That was a lot of work. I, I underestimated, I’ll say that. So I was actually working on finalizing some parts of that sale after I delivered my daughter in the hospital. Oh my God. And we closed in January and the official handover was February 1st of this year.
Okay. Oh my gosh. Well, congratulations. Thank you. I do think that’s probably a very healthy decision. I’m sure you’re family. What a stressful time having a baby and selling your. My goodness. So do you still foster kittens, , on top of everything else? I love that you asked this . So I already have two dogs and two cats of my own.
Small zoo, if you will. So at the moment, the fostering is on hold, which is so sad because the shelters always need help. You guys, if you have spare time, go foster a kitten or a puppy or take a dog for, you know, a little overnight stay. It’s worth it. But at the moment, and until my daughter can also help.
Yeah. Yeah, we’re, we’re on hold. I did love when we would be on a call and you’re like, just so you know, if you hear any meowing, there’s like a bunch of kittens down by my feet. I’m like, show me immediately. I wanna see all the kittens, , you know, it worked so well because we actually got some adopters by doing that.
And it was literally, it wasn’t even, you know, a marketing ploy, it was just kind of like, no, they literally were in my office and I’d always be on virtual calls, and so you’d often get to meet a baby animal if you had a meeting with me. genius. That’s amazing. Okay, so. You are all booked up for 2023, is that right?
You know, we have about four spots left, but we have so many quotes out that. . I would venture to say that those are going to fill up pretty soon, so I don’t wanna say the books are officially closed, but they’re really full. Okay. So if somebody listening is interested in hiring you, they need to get on it asap, but they really do, or they need to plan their event for 2024.
Really? Which sounds like they probably will need to tendance drops. They should, because to be honest, we actually just had our first inquiry for 2024, so people are already on that. I recommend getting engaged really soon. Reach out for 2024, getting engaged really soon. , pick up the pace if that’s, that’s something that’s get that moving on for all the guys out there.
Just, just so you know. Just some advice. Amazing. Okay, so if people want to follow you, learn more, where would they. . I think Instagram is the best place to follow us. Despite the ever-changing algorithms. Yes. Right now that people are hating on, it’s still where we post the most. It’s still where you’re going to see behind the scenes and stories, things like that, that are fun And, and what’s your handle?
It’s going to be at Merkel’s Floral Studio. We’re also, of course, on Facebook, we’re on the Knot. You can check out our awesome website made by Hey. Hello. Woohoo. All, all the things. Still one of my f It’s so pretty. I love it. Just go look at it. Just sit and drool over it and it’s so pretty. I mean, the photography, the photography is very good.
And just the florals. Yes. Well, yes, . I mean this really, photography of the floors is what I meant. Like the flowers in the pictures are just stunning. All right. Well, amazing.
Thank you so, so, so much for us, letting us take so much of your time. Yeah. Thanks for chatting today, your time. And just being our friend.
Yeah, we love you. I love you guys. I say this all the time, I’m Hey Hello’s biggest fan. If they ever have a legitimate fan club, I’m gonna run for president. Vote for me.
Should we start a fan club?
Oh my God, I love it.
Thank you so much.
You’re the best, and we’ll talk soon.