What exactly is your business?
Wild Fox & Flower is a floral farming business. I grow flowers on my family’s farm with a focus on sustainability. Some of the services we provide are a weekly bouquet subscription and event floral design. I am committed to only using flowers grown on the farm that are always free of chemicals and harvested within 48 hours of their delivery. This guarantees for fresh, longer-lasting flowers in your home or office!
How did you come up with your business idea?
I started growing in elementary school. Like 1994. After college, I continued to help out on my family’s farm and would often sell our veggies and flowers at farmer’s markets. I didn’t really like doing that, so I decided I needed to rebrand the flowers separately from the farm to showcase how special they are. I knew the core of my business would be a CSA (community supported agriculture) because that’s a great way for seasonal farmers to keep their business going and it works. I just didn’t know where else to take Wild Fox & Flower.
How did you find out about Aviatra?
When I applied to Aviatra, it was called Bad Girl Ventures. I’m sure I read about it in the paper a few years before then, because I had taken a few courses in 2012. My mom agreed to sign up with me and help take on this business idea together.
What is your inspiration?
I’m inspired by nature and how powerful it is. Every year, my flowers die and the snow falls, but they always grow back again; then the flowers provide us with more seeds. We cut their stems, enjoy their beauty, and they keep producing more flowers for us. Flowers are so powerful and the warm smiles that appear when I deliver a bouquet are what inspires me every week to keep working.
I’m inspired by the first warm spring day in Cleveland that I can walk into the greenhouse without a jacket or hat on. Days like that fill me with hope and inspire me to keep going.
I’m inspired by the staff, volunteers and residents at Malachi House in Ohio City.
What has been your biggest accomplishment with your business so far?
Finding ways to make sure my flowers are accessible to everyone- no matter what. Everyone deserves fresh flowers in their home.
What was the most valuable thing you gained from your experience with Aviatra?
I learned how to talk with strangers. It took a while, but Aviatra gave me that first baby push to get out there, fake some confidence, and talk to people. I try to continue to do that every day. When I think of a new goal, I just put it out there and I make sure as many people know what I’m trying to accomplish, that way they can help me there. It’s crazy, but strangers want to help others accomplish their dreams. You can’t run your business alone in a bubble. You have to talk, create a team, build a network, and share your ideas.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?
Finding out what works and what doesn’t. The first year was a total experiment. I may have wasted a lot of time, but at least I was having fun. I can’t do that anymore, but I learned. I also had other businesses try to take advantage of me and the fact that I was a new owner. That didn’t even last five minutes. Also, making my own business hours was difficult. I have another full-time job, but farming is full time, too. I’m also in a long distance relationship. Balancing all of that was tough! My mom reminded me that I need to make business hours. Just because I work from home and don’t put a “closed” sign up on my front door, doesn’t mean I can’t. I need to live my life, too. So I try to remind myself that any other 9-5 business isn’t going to reply to emails at midnight or within five minutes. They aren’t going to take texts at 5 am from a client who wants to share their newest Pinterest inspo post. That’s ridiculous. And I’ll never be able to create beautiful gardens of flowers if I’m at a computer all day… so managing my time and creating boundaries was by far my biggest challenge. Oh, and money. I just didn’t have any money to start my business. Luckily I had the labor and tools already on the farm.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
Within five years, I want to have a cute little floral stand in a local boutique. I want to start a youth flower farming/entrepreneur program in Cleveland. I want to provide flowers to more local florists. I want to be able to pay my bills and have employees that I can offer good wages and benefits to. I want everyone to experience the joy of fresh cut flowers in a vase in their kitchen on a Sunday morning. I want to create a coffee table book about flowers, weddings, cooking, love, and Cleveland that has gorgeous photos on every page. I’ve planted seeds to all of these ideas, I just need to keep working on them.
Any advice for future Aviatras?
Just sign up and get out there and find everyone you admire or know who is following their dreams or doing what you want to do, too. Ask them to grab coffee or a cocktail and just talk about what inspires you. Participate and be passionate each day you feel well enough to.
Registration for the Aviatra NEO Spring 2018 EXPLORE Cohort is now open! Click here to learn more.