5 Things I Learned Owning a Flower Shop

October 19, 2016

It has been about a year since I stepped away from Franklin Street in Tribeca and it has taken just about that long to reflect on and understand my time there. Imparting upon you here, my top five:

  1. The More Beautiful, The More Fleeting. It’s a firm belief of mine that everything you need to know about life can be learned from flowers. We’re drawn to that which has the greatest to teach us — so flowers, with their fleeting beauty tell us the hardest: love fearlessly and let go gracefully. Occasionally, I’d get someone into my shop who would ask me why they should spend so much on something that would die. I’d look them straight in the eye and ask them why they woke up every morning. That usually ended the conversation between us, but hopefully began one within them that needed to be had.
  2. Mind Your P’s and L’s. When purchased, the shop was facing bankruptcy and within a few weeks it was being sued, evicted and free falling into debt. It was a mess. I watched every penny that came in and carefully allocated every penny that went out. The designers would say hey, we’re out of paper towels — I wasn’t ignoring them, I simply couldn’t justify a spend at that time for something that wouldn’t directly contribute to sales. Not knowing your financial health at all times is like a pilot flying through fog without checking the dashboard. Know your P’s and L’s, AR’s and AP’s — and have the discipline to fly accordingly.
  3. Learn Quick or Learn Prayer. (Or both) The previous owner had booked three weddings on a single day; I inherited the responsibility of fulfilling his promise. At one point in that fateful afternoon I was face up on the floor of an empty Grand Ballroom at the St. Regis, sobbing beneath the hand strung orchids of a custom built Chuppah. Details aside, the brides were happy but my team and I were wrecked. From there forth we committed to a one-wedding-a-week rule, until later that week. In life I believe that we’re here to grow from our mistakes and when you show the Universe that you’re not learning from them — it dishes out stickier situations that even inflated budgets and hyper-planning cannot account for. Again details aside, brides were happy — but it was not without the Rabbi and I holding hands and fiercely praying for a miracle.
  4. Don’t Sell, Create Value. When you need something from someone, it changes the dynamic of your interaction. The exchange becomes exhausting for everyone involved and is therefore not the cake-like soil needed for building solid relationships. Think of the quick sale as winning a mini-battle in a long drawn out war. Make it your objective to simply connect with people, let them walk away without having to buy. When they need flowers, they’ll remember your kindness and they will come back to you. Being genuine and having a product people like is the magic behind build it and they will come.
  5. Good Things Take Time. Early on at the shop, I was dating someone who decided they were done with New York and going back to Greece. He told me to pack my bags, at which point I reminded him of the responsibility I had to the shop. You’re going to pass on the Aegean for that sinking ship? I passed on the Aegean and would go on to also pass on friends’ weddings, holidays, vacations, weekends… weekends? Whats a weekend? Starting or owning a business can at times be an isolating path with seemingly no purpose to it’s madness. Though three years later, I can confidently say that it is the hard lessons and deep understandings I gained through that experience which have led to all of the incredible people and opportunities surrounding me now. It might not look like the Aegean but it sure feels like it. So have faith in your path, work hard and be kind to people along the way.

Sarah Corrigan


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