A year ago to be exact, Matt and I sat in our house in Cadillac and it wasn’t ours anymore. We had accepted an offer from a couple who were ecstatic about their adorable, charming, updated ranch in the heart of town, on the corner lot, with the giant birch tree aflame in yellow.
“What the hell are we doing?” Was a statement I made often during that time. I was pissed. Pissed at people who thought we couldn’t do it. Pissed that I had to dream like this, pissed that I had a partner who dreams as big as I do alongside me. Pissed we were looking at a house that every room needs to be updated. Pissed that our friends in town were mad at us. Pissed that I felt like moving to Petoskey was somehow encroaching on ‘other peoples’ turf. Pissed.
I was also spinning my wheels with this floral design company. We had 2. Read that, 2 weddings booked for 2016. You see, I was trying to run my business like I “thought I should run it.” Like the blogs, and businesses I admire ran theirs. Like the floral designers who mentor me. Then I realized, I’ve never ever really been any good at following the rules, or someone else’s path.
So I stopped trying to live like every other creative I admired, and decided I was going to do whatever the hell I wanted and operate our business how it felt best for me, by laying it all out there.
And sure enough. It worked. I invested basically every dollar the business had into some much needed upgrades to our booking system, payment system & web presence. And would you look at that- we got inquiries.
And those inquiries? They turned into clients. They turned into clients because I genuinely just give people exactly who I am. I’m loyal as hell, hardworking, obsessed with your wedding, emotional, creative and I love wine. And I seemed to be finding clients who were the same way.
Then May happened. And I realized we had booked 32 weddings. And about a dozen other events (rehearsal dinners, parties, etc.) And I panicked. Because. I felt like a fraud.
I still feel like a fraud somedays. Like, who the hell am I to be fielding questions from amazing women around the country who want to start a business? Who am I to be talking on podcasts, and speaking on panels and collaborating with these wickedly talented people I’ve come to call friends? But there is space for you. Space for me. You just have to wedge your way in a bit, and then it opens up. When you are a kid and you get your braces adjusted, your teeth hurt like a bitch for like 72 hours. If you think about it- its pretty intense. We have a metal contraption attached to our mouth that is MOVING our teeth. Its uncomfortable. But then, somehow, you settle into it. Having braces is a lot like starting / owning / operating a creative business. Its uncomfortable once in a while, and then you adjust and then its uncomfortable again, but its really totally totally worth it. ((flashes smile. thanks mom and dad))
In May we had our team out to the farm for a retreat. It was "Pure Stems & Sprigs" because it involved the dog, pizza & a lot of beautiful flowers. I could tell early on we had assembled a really awesome group of women to work with this season. And I wasn't wrong.
And just like that, any fraudy feeling vanished. They had to. I couldn't spend hours of my day wasting time thinking about how everyone else was doing it. Or what everyone else was thinking. Or if I was doing it right. Because once we started it did not stop.
We were off. Operating like a well-oiled machine in the moments we needed to most. There were epic failures- the time I forgot a hairpiece and we were two hours from home so I made one in a MONSOON in the back of the van sitting on a bucket and hunched over some rickety ass tool set I had assembled. I looked like Shrek in there. Or the time I came out to the barn and essentially every dahlia in all the centerpieces was dead. Or maybe the day we were locked out of a venue and I had to wake a man up in his home to let us in. Or the random lady who chain smoked cigs and somehow was at install with us wearing a tweedy bird t-shirt and yelling at me to move the urns because they didn't look right. (we still don't know who she was). We adjust. We made it work.
Floral Design is absolute insanity. Anyone who tells you it isn't is lying. But it is so freaking fun. My favorite part, as you know, is when we give the bridal bouquet to the bride and they are so happy. Any designer who does this will most likely tell you the same.
Creating for so many of you this season, was a dream come true for me. Thank you for trusting us to be a part of this day for you and your family. Thank you for laughing with us, and your sweet cards, and champagne, and dog toys for Maple and kind words and hugs and visits to the farm and your unending support.
Yesterday I cried for an hour about stupid stuff. It actually wasn't stupid. It was about expectations, and when people let you down and how it hurts and when people are real asshats. And then it was time for our evening pickup. Our final wedding. Kiley & Sarah. I was ready to go, but in all honesty- I was having a day. I had been crazy since the moment I opened my eyes, running all over town. I had literally been holding back tears for most of the day. And then - a red ford explorer barrelled into the driveway. I ran out to find Deb & Kory, Kiley's parents. I don't know how our Angels know exactly what we need in the exact moment we need it most, but Deb & Kory are two of the nicest, more genuine people I've ever met in my life.
Hugs! Right out the gate. And excitement. And love. And good ass people. I see a LOT of people on the day or day before their daughter's wedding. And I've seen every emotion in the book. I will never forget Deb & Kory. They were absolutely overjoyed. And it INSTANTLY turned my mood around, made me forget about the asshats and remember that people are really good and we are so lucky to design for these couples and their families. And that in the end- your family - and the friends you keep as such- is what really freaking matters.
Wooooooo y'all. I'm crying writing this.
Matt- I write like weekly about how you are the reason I am my happiest self I could ever imagine- so I'll keep this short. Thank you for being the one to tell me on the toughest days- that its beautiful. And thanks for being the one to tell me honestly when its not. Thats love. Thank you for being my forever teammate.
Taylor- I could not, absolutely would not- have done this season without you. An entire blog post is in the works about you- but T Swift, I am grateful daily that the cosmos brought you to our family.
KSB, Cath, Celia, Emma-Lou, Lily, Egan, Audra, Ani ---You girls kick ass. Without you- there would have been no Stems & Sprigs this summer. Thanks for lending your amazing creative talents to our small but mighty tribe.
Our team will look different next season. The farm will look different. The way we operate some of our systems will look different. But I will never in my life forget the summer we spent busting our ASSES in the shack attached to the barn to make beautiful things happen for 32 amazing couples. I never want to lose that part of it. I never want us to seem 'fancy' or 'high class' I want us to be real. And that means real couples who are really really in love and who want real people working for them on their big day.
My plan for now? Putting together our weddings for 2017. There are 10 brides already on the books and they are beautiful, unique, creative & amazing women. I am honored they chose us. Other goals? Learn to knit. More dinner parties. More time away. Better at keeping in touch. More writing. Less fret.
It's been a wild freaking ride. Thanks for hanging with us.