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Why We Left The Flower Industry

Flower Industry

As you might have been able to tell by my previous post about how we got started with flowers, the burnout set in real quick. You may have noticed the lack of sustainability there was in working and stretching yourself thin in too many areas. What I hadn’t told you is exactly just how many hats I was wearing and it led to our decision to leave the flower industry.

Yes, I was driving hours to source flowers, I was tending to and expanding our farm, I was providing daily care for all of our farm animals, I was booking flower truck setups and weddings, and I was working. What I failed to mention was that I was working multiple jobs, and I was managing our social media accounts and marketing, responding to emails, doing our business, personal, and farm taxes ( I am horrible at taxes) and teaching myself what we could in fact write off. I was meeting with brides and working flower truck setups where the line was so long that after 3 to 4 straight hours I hadn’t so much as stopped for water because I was so busy wrapping bouquets. One Valentine’s Day I had suckered Drew into helping me and for five hours in an ice storm no less, I never sat down because the line was a 45-minute wait to get a bouquet. I am so grateful to our customers. The support was unbelievable. But my husband travels for a living and trying to manage all of this by myself was really hard.

By the time I really knew that something had to give, I had a full time job as director of an after school program that I was implementing and developing while working with federal and state grants, our farm had grown by 60 acres and many more animals and I was tending to them daily, my husband job changed and he was gone even more, including every holiday and all weekends, and I had so many weddings on the books, each one more elaborate than the last. I was nearly having a panic attack managing it all, but it was getting done. One of the last weddings we did, I had myself, Drew, and one fellow florist we hired on construction ladders until 4 in the morning installing flower clouds. Drew was not happy. I knew something the business had to change. I can stretch myself thin, but I should never expect my husband to.

I ended up making the difficult decision to leave my job to focus on the flower industry. I enjoyed it, but in one month I made as much money in the flower industry as I did in six months as a teacher. I have to do what is best for my family and it took me a long time to learn the word no. I started saying no to more and more things. I stopped serving on the board of the local chamber of commerce, I started to phase out our wedding offerings, I stopped volunteering so much, stopped serving on the board of Kentucky Farm Bureau, it was just too much. My husband was supportive, but it was clear he needed me at home, and he expressed that. He had reached his limit of sharing our precious time together and that was the biggest sign to me that we needed to slow down. He, our farm, and our little family should, and will always come first. I just tend to get a little distracted along the way. 

Learning the word no was the best thing I ever did. It has given me my power back. My independence. And my happiness. I stretch myself too thin for other people and a lot of times for people who don’t return the favor.

Saying no to weddings was hard. It was the most lucrative part of our business. But without help it just cannot be done. Full-service wedding flowers take many 12-hour days in the studio just in preparation. The day before, day of, and night after the wedding required lifting, carrying, schlepping, setup, and tearing down. It is absolutely exhausting. I would be so dead after an event that any leftover flowers would just sit in my studio in moldy buckets and rot for weeks. It took everything out of me. I cannot do weddings alone and I will not jeopardize the most important day of a bride’s life by our business lacking the proper team. And help (not even good help, just help in general) is hard to find.

We have tried hiring a few people who have experience in the flower industry in the past. They only last a couple months at the most and even during the time they worked for us they would only come to work one or maybe two days out of the week. We live in a small, rural town. Having people willing to drive to our farm is rare, and we certainly can’t pay $20 per hour to shovel manure. So not only have we not been able to find help with farm labor or in the gardens, we also couldn’t find event help unless it was a fellow florist who would freelance alongside us for the event.

So, without hired hands, and the ability to pay them, I had to say no. No to something I loved but that would not last long term. I was a ball of stress, I gained a ton of weight, I wasn’t taking care of myself, and I put the business and other responsibilities before self care and before my family. A plate of chips with melted cheese from the microwave at 10:30pm after you come in from working all day cannot be considered dinner…

So, we stepped away from the flower industry.

It was extremely hard. I felt I was letting people down when they reached out to book our flower truck or loved our wedding florals. The transition for me was really difficult.

However, in the year or two since I made this tough decision, my relationship with my husband has grown exponentially. We have added more animals to the farm, and I am finally milking my cow and goats like I have always dreamed about. We added pigs to finally raise our own meat. Drew bought a roping horse and is getting back to his passion. And I have expanded the garden threefold! I completely redesigned the original garden, we had new raised beds built, I constructed a trellis system, and we bought a greenhouse. Tasks that desperately needed attention on the farm are finally getting it. I know now it was the best thing I could have ever done.

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