Natalie at Native Poppy

Kelly Perry - 00:04 - You are listening to the Team Flower podcast where we talk about flowers in this episode, we're chatting with Natalie from native poppy in San Diego, California, and the next 25 minutes we'll discuss leaving corporate work to start a flower business getting started in tiny apartments and how being faithful in the small things has led natalie to full time work with flowers and not just one but two businesses an event business and in everyday retail shop with eight full time employees. We'll talk about the differences between owning an event, floral studio, and a retail shop and what it's like for Natalie to do both. If you own a retail location or a flower farm, I think you'll really enjoy learning about Natalie's subscription services and who uses them. If you're a multi-passionate person full of ideas and dreams like Natalie and I, you'll really enjoy listening to how we get our brain's organized. 

Kelly Perry - 00:55 - It's all right here on the Team Flower podcast. This podcast is brought to you by Team Flower. Team Flower is an online learning community focused on educating, connecting, and empowering flower lovers worldwide. Whether you're a professional farmer, florist getting started or just love flowers, welcome to the party. If you'd like to know when new podcast episodes are released in receive fun video tutorials and articles. Signup for pen pal club. It's free. Visit team,, and Click on free resources. Without any further ado, let's welcome Natalie. Natalie, tell us a little bit about how you started. I know that you have a wedding business called native poppy studio and then also retail location called native poppy. Which, which one came first? How has your business developed where there's some key moments that you just knew, okay, I've got to go do this. It's time to take the risk. 

Natalie Gill - 01:49 - Um, yeah. So I originally started my company while sitting at my desk at a corporate job. I was working in HR and everyday I was like inside of this room with no windows, just filing paperwork for this giant company. And I just was like, why am I doing this with my life? Like I get one time to live and I'm going to stand in a room with no windows, filing paperwork for the man. Like I can't do this, so then I was just at my desk and I was on pinterest all the time and I was just like, wow, these pictures are so beautiful. Flowers like these people's lives are so amazing. And then I realized, I don't know, a light bulb just went off one day. I was like, well, I could do that. Somebody else is doing that. That's a real job. And then honestly, within maybe a week I had come up with the name native poppy while sitting on my desk and I called this the only florist I knew it was a guy in San Francisco and I asked if I could come work for him and he said, sure, it's the holiday season. I need help. So I packed my bags, quit my job, and I moved home to San Francisco for a month.

Kelly Perry - 03:02 - I love that. That's awesome. 

Natalie Gill - 03:03 - And then the rest is history. 

Kelly Perry - 03:05 - Yeah. Wow. That is so fun. So that was the wedding. The wedding side of it is what you started first. 

Natalie Gill - 03:12 - So that's the backstory is that just you can do anything you want in life, you just got to put one foot in front of the other and do it and I started my wedding business out of my one bedroom apartment in San Diego and I worked on my patio and I just, you know, at the beginning I was just walking around my neighborhood stealing flowers from people's gardens and arranging them and just begging my friends to hire me to do anything they needed with flowers and it started very slowly. But within one year I was fully as a fulltime florist. So I guess really quickly actually. 

Kelly Perry - 03:51 - Yeah, right, exactly. Well that is super brave and I know that there's going to be a lot of people who were encouraged just even to know that you for the first year we're working in such a small space because so many people do get their start at home. I did as well. I was like arranging flowers in my kitchen until the branches, like wouldn't fit through the hallway anymore and I had to like evacuate. 

Natalie Gill - 04:15 - It just happened so naturally it was just slow, tiny little. Yeah. Projects that would work in my kitchen and then when I grew out of that, I found a warehouse that I could rent by the day and then, and then I grew out of that and then. And so yeah, overall I started with my wedding business and I did that for three years and it just slowly picked up and turned itself into its own, into its own thing. 

Kelly Perry - 04:44 - And then tell us a little bit about the retail space that you have. Do you design your weddings out of there or that's sort of a separate area and kind of a, I know you call it like a sister company 

Natalie Gill - 04:58 - So everything has, like everything happened very naturally with that were at year two of doing the wedding business, I was approached at as an opportunity to open up a small retail location in this shared space that was going to be a coffee shop with all these vendors. Um, and I thought about it and I thought, you know, this is a good way to get my name out. I'm really interested in doing like daily flower arrangements rather than just waiting for weddings to happen and um, but that deal fell through and I think it was for the best for many reasons, but then I was approached again to open up the retail shop with a coffee shop and for a bunch of reasons it felt like a good opportunity and then, and then that space is pretty small and hard to work in because it's been so busy. 

Natalie Gill - 05:47 - Um, it was very hard to deal with customers and try to work on a wedding. So I did do that for a few months, but, uh, I was working from after the shop closed at once, we were cleaned up at 7:00 PM and then I would stay at work until like 5:00 AM to finish a wedding. So that was just not sustainable. So then luckily the business next door to us left and we were able to take over the second part of the building and now I have a full office and studio that I can do all my work in during the day. So that's really nice. And it's attached to the shop. 

Kelly Perry - 06:23 - Yeah. That's awesome. So is the coffee shop still there or that's the space that you inhabit now? 

Natalie Gill - 06:29 - Yes, the coffee shop is still there, so it's a coffee shop, a flower shop, and then we also on the same property as a plant nursery. So it's very beautiful. It's very fun. And then the coffee shop just expanded and then my shop expanded to the space next to us. 

Kelly Perry - 06:47 - Okay. Okay. Cool. Well there's quite a few people who are considering a retail location and I was wondering if you feel like there's something that's important for people who are headed down that route to look for whenever they're choosing a space and setting up their product offerings and just wondering like what a few similarities and differences might be between just doing a studio and then having a shop or you know, having both like what are, what are the differences between event versus every day 

Natalie Gill - 07:19 - They are so different? That is why I have called it a sister company and I'm trying to rebrand and make native poppy studios more of this full service event. Styling and design. And then native poppy shop is for just your average customer who wants to come in and get flowers, deliver flowers, get a few gifts on the side, and it's an experience we try to make, um, the shop experience, very special and fun to be in. Um, but it's, you know, it's completely different. When I was working as a wedding designer, I had a lot more free time and I didn't have employees and the bookkeeping was easier because it was project based and it was, it felt I felt like an artist. I got to take on one project and put my whole heart into it and design it. And then, um, and then having the retail space is, it's a business, it really feels more like a business. 

Natalie Gill - 08:22 - And I wish I had read more books about how to manage a business and you know, hr stuff, I wish I'd taken a small course on, you know, like I didn't go into this retail business knowing what a profit margin was or anything like that. So I'm kind of backtracking now where I opened it up. We just doing what I knew which was being an artist in designing this beautiful space and designing a beautiful customer experience and designing our offerings and that part was easy and fun and it was amazing and designing like designing the way my employees would interact with our customers. That was. That was fun and designing yet just that was amazing and now at the end of we're getting close to the end of year number one and I'm looking at my books and I'm talking to my accountant and I have a business coach now and I'm realizing, holy crap, I'm not just an artist making this beautiful place. I am a business owner running like running a ship. 

Natalie Gill - 09:28 - I have eight full time employees. It's right. It's nuts and it's just. It's completely different, but I think that if you like to always have your hair on fire it's something worth exploring. I mean it makes me feel alive every day and I feel like I'm definitely getting to contribute more to our community as a daily operation and we get to touch so many lives by being able to send flowers and gift that to the community. Something that we didn't have before in San Diego was like, you know, like there's still so many flower shops that do like a dozen red roses and baby's breath, so it's just so fun to get, to introduce the community to like King Protea and weird weird stuff that we get to use in the wedding world. 

Kelly Perry - 10:26 - Yeah, absolutely. I noticed that was one of your favorite flowers. Yes. Along with the Japanese anemone, which made me smile because they're two completely different. Two completely different flowers. But after getting to know you through your website a little bit and chatting with you, I'm think there couldn't be anything that's more fitting I feel like are you. Because there's those um, contrast and the openness to new things and I think that just sits you quite well. Um, I really love how you have all of your subscription offerings setup. You've got really great variety, a lot of different price points. Um, I just wondered if there's something that maybe you've observed or learned in the process of getting that offering established that you would tell somebody who's considering subscriptions for one of their product offerings. 

Natalie Gill - 11:21 - Um, yes, so originally when we opened the shop, all of our pricing was about $15 cheaper per arrangement and when I was doing the numbers after being open for about six months, I realized that people were gonna tend to buy our smallest arrangement over anything heard that. So I, we upped the price on that. Not something that would deter people from not purchasing but to help us because the small $50 when we open, as, you know, it's hard to make it, like send it out and have it looked like something that you want people to photograph and share and it just wasn't looking. So we thought that by raising the price a little bit we were able to make a design that was more in line with what we wanted to do and still have it be something that was, it was going to be the most purchased thing anyway. 

Natalie Gill - 12:16 - So might as well just make it what we wanted it to look like. And at a price that wasn't crazy. But with subscriptions, we um, we offer them weekly, monthly or seasonally, which would be four times a year, which is cool because you could see it in the fall, winter, spring and summer and we give people a 15 percent discount overall for subscribing. And I think that it's just been a beautiful thing for other companies in the area, like for your front desk, for your office to have those and the discount to us is worth it as a business because it's repeat. And to the customer and make sense to. It's definitely an incentive. And I think I'm answering your question. 

Kelly Perry - 13:08 - Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I think that's really great. And even just thinking outside the box of, you know, an everyday consumer ordering a subscription and reaching out to make it an option for like you're saying, restaurants, hotels, some of those more corporate clients, hair salons, things like that. I think that's a really great point to make that they would be a prime customer for something like that as well. 

Natalie Gill - 13:36 - Oh yeah. Well I read this study recently because I'm trying to find the science behind why flowers are so important. Like I, I know that flowers are important because when I had them in my house, I feel I feel healthier, I feel happier and I don't think it's just because I'm a florist. I think everybody loves flowers, they're just don't know it. So I'm trying to find science behind it to back it up. And I found this study that they took an advertising agency and they had three studies. One was a control one, they put a sculpture on the table in one, they put a flower arrangement on the table and then they shared their creativity and the, the group that had the flowers on the table had I think 35 percent more creative ideas than the, than the group with the sculpture or the control. So it actually does promote creativity and I think that it can reduce anxiety. And so anyway, it's just I want to take flowers and give them to everybody. So I think that also just as a human, as a business, not as a business, but as a person. I want to incentivize people to have flowers all the time because I think just honestly make the world better if people are more creative and less stressed out. 

Kelly Perry - 14:54 - Yeah. I love that study. It's so cool. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah. Well I remember it. I can't remember the. I bet this was just like in an, in an issue of better homes and gardens or something, but it said that like for three days after you receive flowers, you still have those like happy brain chemicals going through going through your brain to make you happier into like you're saying like boost creativity and things like that. So I've, I've heard little glimpses of that, but now that I know that you're interested in this, I will keep my ears peeled and if anyone who's listening, um, you know, has any studies or come across anything like this, definitely leave us some notes in the comments. 

Natalie Gill - 15:35 - Yeah. Thank you. I mean, how amazing would that be if we could back up something we already know and feel with the science to prove that having flowers improves your life. Like that is such a simple solution. 

Kelly Perry - 15:49 - Yeah. Well, in speaking of improving life, I feel like riding bikes also improves life and you deliver some of your arrangements on bike and I was just wondering if you personally have taken an arrangement out and delivered it on a bike. 

Natalie Gill - 16:12 - I wish I could say yes, but unfortunately no I haven't even. I have a beautiful bike and I live in San Diego, which is honestly paradise and I haven't had that time this year to even get on my bike. So, so sad. But you do have this. We have these amazing friends. They're called courier collective and they're two blocks away from us and they're just a bunch of tattooed dudes who deliver all of our flowers by bike and that's so fun getting to work with them. They show up at the shop and they have a cargo bike and we get to just load their bike up with all of our flowering fence and they deliver it within, I think like five to six miles of the shop. So yeah, it's pretty amazing.

Kelly Perry - 16:55 - Cool. That's super fun. I don't know if you're familiar with um, pedal on in London. They have a sort of, they have a shop set up like you and they delivered by bike and things like that. Um, and she's going to be on the podcast here in a few weeks, so I just wanted to mention her. You might be interested in and popping on and hearing what she has to say as well because you guys remind me of, you know, each other a little bit, which is cool. 

Natalie Gill - 17:19 - No, I'm going to reach out to her. That's so cool. 

Kelly Perry - 17:22 - Yeah, she's coming out with a book here pretty soon. It looks Super Fun. So anyway. Cool. Okay. So my last, um, let's see. Yeah, my last little thing is like kind of into the future and um, I was noticing whenever I was reading your website that you wanted to be a ballerina and a neuro scientist and a florist and you've nicknamed yourself a floor Soares and I could not stop smiling because it was like finally I've met someone like me. I, um, I, my mom tells the story of in this is one of my earliest memories was my babysitter asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said I'm going to be a dentist like daddy on Monday and on Tuesday I'll be a babysitter like you on, on Wednesday I'll be a teacher like Mrs Stettler who was my preschool teacher and on Thursday I'd be mommy like mommy and on a Friday I'll be a scientist like me. 

Kelly Perry - 18:21 - And um, whenever I started philosophy flowers, some of the, like facebook didn't have like that name available. And so I was like, hm, what else can I call it? And I was like, oh, I'll be a philosaflower. So I got a big kick out of that. And so knowing this, I imagine that like me, you're full of ideas and projects that you like to try. And I like having my hair on fire a little bit too. I was wondering how you keep track of all of your ideas and if there's something maybe that you've learned in working with yourself over the years that's helped you sort through what you're going to do and when you're going to do it so that your business is sustainable because after you've had your hair on fire for a long time, you kind of want to just like put it out. So how you deal with that? 

Natalie Gill - 19:09 - Um, well, the first thing that came to my mind was you can do everything you want, just not all at once. And then I kind of like laughed a little bit to myself because I was like, Oh man, I'm not great at that. I want to do everything now. So, um, I have a journal that I keep and I write all of my goals in it all the time and I'm constantly updating that and changing it. And they're very specific goals. Like I want to be published in this magazine or I want to work with this person, or I want to make this book about this thing, or I want to start a podcast. Whatever it is, I, I'm so, I just constantly am writing that down in thinking about that and I have truly found that if you write something down it will happen. Like I've looked at goal list that I've had from five years ago and I think like I write stuff down and I'm like, that could never happen. And I read it and I say yeah, every single one of these things did happen. So I start with writing it down and I have a bunch of whiteboards in my house too that I'm constantly writing things down as they come into my head and then just kind of repeat seeing that it starts to happen. 

Kelly Perry - 20:20 - Yup. So exactly. That is so funny. I have like big white papers whenever I'm really going through like brainstorming time. So I cover the walls that just write it all down. Yeah, figure out how to link it together. So it's really fun. 

Natalie Gill - 20:37 - I guess I wouldn't say that I'm like super methodical and like at first I want to write this book and I'm going to do it today, and then, you know, it kind of is all happening all the time. [inaudible], that's what feels good to be able to, you know, at 2:00 AM like again, an idea I'm inspired, I'm going to do it or like just being a, that's why you work for yourself. That's why you chose. I mean for me, that's why I chose this creative industry. It's because you never know when that's gonna happen and you want to work on it and then, and then the like that side of you has to kick in to, to dedicate yourself to that project and set a goal and say, no, this needs to be done by this time. This is important right now, but man, my life just like you, my list of the other careers I want to have in my life is just beyond flowers. 

Natalie Gill - 21:31 - Even I want to grow flowers and then I want to start this thing and then I want to become this person. So it will all happen. I just, you know, you just got to ride the wave and just see how it goes and don't fight resistance too much. That's what I've learned too, is like if something isn't working, like yes, there is, there's something, there's something to be said about persistence and in the face of resistance, right? Like if you really want something, go for it. But also listen to that resistance, you know, maybe there's something else you could be doing that's equally important or beneficial are going to open other doors. So I kinda just try to like go with what's feeling good. But also, I mean that's not to say that I don't work hard at something that's, it's a balance. 

Kelly Perry - 22:19 - Yeah, it absolutely is an, as you're talking about this, there's a book called Psycho cybernetics that you're going to love. Ooh, I'm going to have to get that. You definitely need to get that. Um, it's, it's like my favorite book of all time, but they talk in there about how your subconscious brain does all kinds of work for you behind the scenes. And so sometimes like what you're talking about, if it doesn't feel quite right or there's a lot of resistance, you're having trouble getting over, that really encourages you to just read, learn as much as you can and then just put it to rest. And then your subconscious brain is working on solving these problems and sort of working out, you know, how it can all fit together behind the scenes. And then your brain is actually made to work spontaneously. So when it needs that information, then it pops back up. So yeah, that psycho cybernetics, 

Natalie Gill - 23:21 - There's the neuroscience part of me. I'm stoked I'm going to order it right now. 

Kelly Perry - 23:27 - Okay. So the last little thing I have here, I was so encouraged whenever I read what you'd like to do in the next 25 years. And you said that one of your goals was to become more balanced in how you live day to day. Taking time away from work to appreciate friendships and other aspects that are fulfilling in life and that you hope to encourage everyone to be brave enough to share their own talents with the rest of the world and to help everyone step into their fullest potentials. And one of the things that I love about a best fit business model is that it does allow you to step away and it creates room and it takes time to develop. But developing with that goal in mind of balance and being able to step away I think is so important. And I wonder if there's any experience or encouraged you might courage, but you might share with someone who currently feels like I can't step away right now. Have you ever been in a place where you felt like that? How did you cope? Maybe you could be there right now too and that would be fine. 

Natalie Gill - 24:29 - Um, I definitely. I've felt that way for a long time. It was easier when I was just doing weddings and because it's so project based, like Wednesday through Saturday you're doing the wedding Sunday, you're recovering because it was like you just ran three marathons and then the and then the next few days, yes, you do want to do emails and keeping track and then advertising. Maybe you're working on a photo shoot, whatever, but I did feel like that was more conducive to relaxing and then having a shop that's open seven days a week with employees that are always there and then a wedding on the weekend. It's very hard to walk away and I've kind of got. I tricked myself into thinking that I couldn't because there's always going to be work to do. 

Kelly Perry - 25:21 - Yes, exactly. That what you just said is the key thing that I think is for anyone who's in that kind of place to feel is that it is a lie that you can't step away, but when you're overwhelmed and you've got all that adrenaline pumping, it's hard to see what that weight out might be. 

Natalie Gill - 25:41 - Yeah, and so there's something very sad that happened to me this in the last 10 days. One of my very close loved ones got very sick and he's been in the ICU for over over a week now and so I did just drop work and I've been there for him and I've been at the hospital and I've been with his family and I. It's a horrible situation, but I did realize that you can step away from work. I, I did. And life went on and work is fine and everybody is fine and it's sometimes. Yeah. And then that's just the point that it was. I realized only this week that that was a lie that I was telling myself that I need to work all the time. I want to work all the time because I love my job and I want it to improve and be better and I want to work on it. But it was a lie to say, you know how that I couldn't leave. Like I've gotten invited on camping trips and vacations and I haven't been home to visit my family in a year because I just say like, I'm too busy, I have too much work, but I'm, I'm choosing that. I mean, of course there are some times where you need to work, but. 

Kelly Perry - 27:02 - Yeah. But it's just, it's one decision at a time. I think that that's a big piece of it and also getting yourself set up so that if right now it does feel like a lot that it's like, okay, in the next three months, like that goal is that you're talking about the goal works the same way with something like this. So writing down some specific things. Like whenever I started going into, um, I guess it was, I had like a big burnout experience where my body just completely shut down and I knew that I was like, yeah, it was just too much. So that summer or that next season whenever I went in it was like, okay, what holidays am I taking off this year and what things am I not going to book right now? And how can I, uh, you know, maybe adjust some revenue streams or changed some things so that it's really easy for me to hand it off to someone like, is there a revenue stream that I could create that's really needed in my community, but that I'm not so super passionate about it that I feel like I have to be involved in every single part of it. Things like that. 

Natalie Gill - 28:11 - Totally. Yes. And I would also say that like taking the time when things are not crazy to create systems and systemization of your business. Huge. It doesn't have to feel like corporate McDonald's, but it just make checklists for people to do every day. Like have a handbook for your employees, have policies and procedures because you never know what's gonna happen and it's it. That taking the last year knowing that we needed to systemize everything has paid off. 

Kelly Perry - 28:44 - I love that. That's so good. Thank you for sharing that. Well, before we go today, I would love for you to tell us what's coming up next. It Native Poppy. I saw that you have a lot of workshops in private lessons at the shop that looked really fun. Tell us where your shop is. I would you San Diego. It is in San Diego. What, which part and how can people find out about those and get connected with you? 

Natalie Gill - 29:08 - It's in the city of San Diego, so we're down to downtown in North Park. Um, and we, our workshops are really fun. They're more tailored to just, uh, not to, not somebody looking to become a florist but more just a therapeutic morning and we have pto hours. Oh my gosh, it's so fun. There's Mimosa is and pastries and we play. I give about a 30 minute introduction and to just have about having fun with flowers and the basics and then we just spend the next two hours just playing and taking pictures of the flowers and just, it's just therapeutic. It's really lovely. We pay play fun music. I love it. We've done quite a few of them and they're just so fun. And then I teach private lessons. Those are more designed for somebody who's really looking to like learn a lot about my process and what I see when I'm making flowers and it's definitely more tailored to somebody who wants to refine their craft. 

Kelly Perry - 30:17 - Yeah, absolutely. 

Natalie Gill - 30:19 - And one last thing is yesterday or first roses bloomed in our garden. We have a little garden at the shop and it's kind of like a prototype garden, trying to figure out what we can grow and then hopefully we're going to start expanding that side of the business and be able to grow more flowers so we can produce the stuff we want . 

Kelly Perry - 30:42 - Are you doing any seeds? Any seeds? Seeds in there. 

Natalie Gill - 30:50 - Oh my God. My favorite. I got love in a puff, which I'm so excited about. Um, and then I got some of her, um, cosmo's and the apricot straw flowers and we got some solosia and we got sweet peas and I, we ordered way, like I have a tiny garden and we ordered so much. But man, her website is just, it's so good. I just wanted every single. 

Kelly Perry - 31:16 - Well, yeah, of course. Well, the nice thing about some of the different things that you chose, you have some coolest season things in there and then some warmer seasons so you can get those cool ones going and then as they sort of teeter out you can pop in later, you know, 

Natalie Gill - 31:34 - Although San Diego kind kinda always, warm

Kelly Perry - 31:40 - Always a little warm. Oh well you might maybe with the sweet peas, have you grown them before? 

Natalie Gill - 31:45 - We are growing sweet peas right now around our roses to put help with the nitrates in the soil. We're not growing them as cut flowers so we'll see what happens. It's a lot of throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. 

Kelly Perry - 31:59 - Seeing what sticks. Well I know that with the sweet peas, Aaron was saying that it's super duper important to get them going in the fall and then over the winter time they stay sort of smaller and I don't know how it will be in San Diego. They might just start coming and growing and doing their thing, but having that, that root system establishment over the winter gives them the longer stems which make them more useful for cut flower arrangement. So I thought I would just toss this case. You've heard that before. 

Natalie Gill - 32:30 - I'm so excited. I will. And you guys can follow along on our blog. We'll be posting about, um, what's going on in the guarding and I'll let know about how the sweet peas are doing. 

Kelly Perry - 32:41 - Yeah. So fun. Well, thanks so much natalie for come in and chat with us today and it's been a delight to have you. 

Natalie Gill - 32:49 - Thank you so much. It was really a pleasure. 

Kelly Perry - 32:53 - See you soon. This podcast is brought to you by Team Flower. Team Flower is an online learning community focused on educating, connecting, and empowering flower lovers worldwide. Whether you're professional, farmer or florist getting started or just love flowers, welcome to the party. If you'd like to know when new podcast episodes are released and receive fun video tutorials and articles, sign up for our pen pal club. It's free. Visit team,, and Click on free resources.

Sammy Go of Lambert Floral Studio

Erin from Floret Flowers