Business in Bloom is a blog series created to get a peek inside some of the growing small flower businesses of students who have attended a Love ‘n Fresh Flowers master class. I initially started asking these questions so I could get a better idea of the long-term impact of what we have been teaching at the farm. I wanted to know what to nurture and what to weed out within the curriculum. Turns out it was so fun to read the student responses that I had to share them with you all and introduce you to some incredible farmers and designers dedicated to growing not only flowers, but also their small businesses.
We’ll kick it off with Stephanie Kirby of The Blue Daisy Floral Designs based in the North Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh. I immediately loved Stephanie when we met. She’s got such a warmth and happy energy to her. She’s a kickass designer, but also a total plant nerd too, which I adore. When students were handed shears to go cut what they wanted from the fields for our design segment of the class, Stephanie came back with all the best stuff and quickly showed she has a sophisticated eye for blending rich colors. I was so excited to hear how much she was able to implement things she learned at the class and how she’s growing her business now.
STEPHANIE KIRBY :: THE BLUE DAISY FLORAL DESIGNS
Tell us a little bit about your business, business model and
The Blue Daisy Floral Designs was started in January 2011 as a
wedding and event floral design company after I moved back home to
Pittsburgh from Philadelphia. When I began, I had another full time
job and was slowly growing one wedding at a time working out of my
parents basement and meeting brides in coffee shops. This January,
2014, I quit my full time job and focused on the business. In July of
this year I opened my design studio and classroom space in the
North Hills of Pittsburgh. My business model continues to center
around weddings and events with brides who are creative, stylish,
and unique, and who, hopefully, appreciate the enhancement of
flowers during their big day. I always make it my personal goal to
make their experience with The Blue Daisy Floral Designs a great
one from consultation to execution and want to pass on my passion
for flowers to others.
What got you into flowers in the first place?
I always grew up gardening with my mom. We would spend hours
perusing the aisles of annuals and perennials in the spring. She still
designs some of the most beautiful planted containers I’ve seen. That
blossomed into an after-school job at a garden center that happened
to have a floral shop. I always loved when I was able to do make
arrangements for mom, girlfriends, wives, churches, you name it. I
initially began college studying social work but quickly realized it
wasn’t for me and when I had to decide where to go from there, the
natural place seemed to be in plants and flowers. I transferred to
Penn State to pursue an major in Horticulture. There I found a few
opportunities to design including creating my own independent study
course designing weekly arrangements for our Agricultural
Administration building, joining the Flower Judging team, Hort Club
Flower Sales Chair, and working during Valentines Day at a local
floral shop. I started my career out managing a garden center but I
kept feeling the pull back to floral design so when the opportunity to
start my own business arose, I took it.
I wanted to gain business insight and see what others were doing.
Because I didn’t work in the wedding industry I wanted to find out
what I was doing right, wrong, or could improve on. I was also looking
for new tips and techniques in design.
What did you find most helpful about your time in the class?
Where there any surprises?
I found it helpful to talk about the consultation process, contracts, and
to find out that I was already doing a few things right. I was surprised
at how much easier arranging in chicken wire is! It sounds silly but I
only ever learned to work in foam (or water). This was a whole new
way to work for me and that’s my favorite way to design now!
Can you give us a specific example of something you learned
and then implemented into your own business once you went
Besides chicken wire, I did a major over-haul to my contract and also
started having my brides fill out a pre-consultation form. It makes my
life SO much easier going into the consultation and having something
concrete to go from when writing a proposal.
How has your business changed over the past several months
since the class?
When I went to the class I had just signed the lease on my studio so
everything is different now! It was great timing to go to such an
informative and supportive class just as I was entering an exciting
(and nerve-wracking!) phase of my business. I have already booked
twice the number of weddings for next year as I had by this time last
year and I feel much more confident in my process and practices.
Have you stayed in touch with any other students from the
Yes! I follow lots of them on Facebook and Instagram, have emailed
some for advice, and am even teaming up with Tara Fodor for a
wreath and bow making class at my studio next week!
Time for the “big question”! Where do you see your business
going from here? A healthy business is always evolving.
What’s that process look like for yours?
I hope to grow my Winter Workshop series to be a more profitable
and consistent source of revenue during the slow months. I am also
focused on increasing the price point of my weddings now that I have
the space and resources to do so. Lastly, I am working on honing in
my brand and creating an effective marketing strategy. This winter the
process looks like a lot of networking, a lot of research, and a lot of
reaching out to resources locally that I can learn from such as
S.C.O.R.E, women’s small business networking groups, and
seminars and workshops. I am also teaming up with other great
vendors to do styled photo shoots which is getting me acquainted
with more industry connections and building my portfolio with the
style I want to portray, as well as providing a great resource for high quality
images of my work with rights to use however I see fit.
So excited to see where Stephanie’s business takes her from here! We’ll be watching and cheering!!!