Managing Business Relocation
I started Whirly Girl Flowers from the dining room of my home located just outside Boston in a town called Arlington. A lifelong love of flowers and a sister getting married gave me my start. A few more cousins and friends along the way and suddenly this passion and hobby turned into a portfolio and a viable option as a side hustle.
For six years Whirly Girl was my side hustle and creative outlet, a community builder, and friendship maker. I spent early mornings visiting the Boston Flower Market, processing flowers with friends over croissants and coffee before heading to my day job, making bouquets and arrangements late into the night with Thai food fueling my work. I flowered in amazing venues like The State Room overlooking Boston Harbor, Alden Castle, The Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge and numerous historical estates throughout New England. Clients became friends and referred their friends and on average, spent $3000 - $5000 for flowers.
And then I met a tall, handsome man on an airplane who lived 2,134 miles away in rural Wyoming and my life changed forever.
In 2015 I moved my life and six boxes of my most favorite vases, bottles, and tools to Sheridan, WY to marry that tall, handsome man in a misty Wyoming meadow surrounded by our families. With weddings already on the books in Boston, I headed West the day after my last June wedding in Arlington, MA. I returned twice that year to finish and thought I might be saying goodbye to flowers as a formal part of my life.
As I settled into a new rural life and adjusted from the big city, I considered what a flower life might look like in Wyoming. How would I source flowers? Was there a market for my wilder garden style arrangements? What could I offer that was different from the competition? Would anyone choose to spend money on flowers?
At the time, my day job wasn’t very flexible and wouldn’t allow for large-scale flower work, and as a result, I put Whirly Girl Flowers on hold. In 2016 I did flowers for a friend’s wedding here in Sheridan and realized just how much I missed it. Following the birth of our son that fall, I decided it was time to dust off my flower brain and put it back to work.
I kicked off 2017 with a new plan for flowers that started with a few pop-ups at a beautiful local boutique called Twisted Hearts. The owner cares about the community, has impeccable taste and loves supporting fellow women makers. These monthly events provided me with two significant opportunities: to showcase new types of flowers not typically available in a flower shop and the chance to introduce myself in our small town and meet some fellow flower lovers. I brought in ranunculuses by the box, parrot tulips, fritillaria, lisianthus and all of my favorite little extra textures and greens. I chatted with strangers, made arrangements on the fly and shared my passion with everyone who came by. These events also gave me the great product and Instagram fodder I needed to help build a local brand and following.
Conversations started at those pop-ups led to phone calls, emails, and more introductions, thus ending my first real season in Wyoming with six weddings, five pop-ups, a few large corporate events and a handful of group flower arranging classes. Looking back at the books, I sold more flowers that first year in Wyoming than any year in Boston!
For anyone considering or needing to make a move and wanting to take their business with them, here are a few things that helped me along the way.
Research your Market
What does your ideal client look like in your new community? Do you need to change your minimum or what you offer? For example, in Boston, I had a firm $1500 event minimum and rarely did pick-up weddings for personal flowers only. In Sheridan, these are my bread and butter! I lowered my event minimum to accommodate brides with smaller budgets who wanted gorgeous bouquets but were using other options for centerpieces. I also started offering a DIY service for brides, providing bulk flowers and basic instruction for simple centerpieces to compliment their fancier personal flowers.
Find your Specialty
Consider how your work will be different from what is already offered. In our small town, there are a handful of options for flowers, but most utilize one of two more traditional flower shops. My style is more relaxed, a little wild and stands out from what is typically seen in town with the types of flowers I choose. In a broader market, the difference might not be as great so find that special something that sets you apart from the others.
Meet local vendors. Find a photographer, event planner, caterer or venue that fits your style and the client you’re hoping to reach. Make a vendor date for coffee and take them flowers. Building relationships and meeting individuals already serving your new community is the best way to find new clients.
Use Social Media
I don’t have a fancy camera or a perfectly curated Instagram feed, but it’s authentically Whirly Girl. I use relevant location tags, local hashtags and credit anyone local whenever possible. In less than a year I was booking events through Instagram in my new location.
I still have some significant growing to do with my business and will keep taking steps, building relationships and sharing my love for flowers as I go. I’m thankful for a portable art and hustle that has allowed for more time with my young family and the opportunity to work from home with my little by my side. If you’re planning a move and want to take your flowers with you, I encourage you to take the leap.