Pipestone Floral, Pipestone
Opened July 2018
I’ve always enjoyed the creative process of designing things and developing things. I was in marketing for years. The spark behind starting my own business was a hobby arranging flowers. I started to enjoy that more and more, so I became a certified florist by taking evening classes. I just felt like it was something that really brought joy to me. I eventually realized a desk job was not the place I wanted to be and decided to take a leap and go for it.
I knew Pipestone had a need, and truthfully, I needed a community like them to get my dream off the ground. The community has been wonderful to us. Pipestone Floral has been open over two years. We still have people who come in and thank us for being here. The community has embraced us. We’re starting to get a following from other little towns around the area and that are kind of tired of the traditional floral designs. They’re starting to come to us for unique things.
We’re rule breakers. We put our own unique spin on whatever we do. People just got used to having carnations and gladiolas. We’re using different flowers and things that they don’t see every day. If they call and ask for carnations, we’ll say, “Would you like to see the new mum that came out? It’s a hybrid.” The majority of our product is grown in Ecuador, exported into Florida and brought up to Minnesota. My favorite flower ironically is one I can’t afford. It’s a dahlia. They’re so darn expensive. Once in a while, I’ll buy some for myself and use it in an arrangement.
My best work style is to learn, grow and create along with my staff to showcase all our strengths. I feel as the leader of our team, we are motivated to continue to create pieces that people love and appreciate. We may make a big mess getting to the final product but in the end its worth the mess to meet our deadlines. We’re always learning, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
The people are the motivator too. We have a “thank you wall” where we keep notes from customers, and when you get that feedback, that’s what keeps you going. And it challenges you to step it up, to do it better. Especially with the customers we work with for funerals, I am humbled to know that these families, at the saddest time, feel our love and reach out to thank us.
After we opened, the City of Pipestone approached me about funding available for businesses, and that’s how I learned about Southwest Initiative Foundation and met Scott. We are so appreciative to the foundation for the loan allowing us to upgrade our delivery service from bikes with baskets to “Stella,” our new minivan. She has been nothing but a huge blessing for deliveries. We are also enjoying our floral cooler thanks to the foundation’s loan program.
Our biggest challenge starting out was finding the right team to make our shop what it could be and what it has become. We have myself and then Amanda, a full-time designer. My daughter-in-law, Kendra, she’s a nurse, so she helps part-time. And we have a few more part-time people. During COVID, I had to lay off people. It was terrible. It still is. We see a lot less foot traffic and funerals are a lot smaller. We do more door-to-door deliveries. I had to work alone a lot. I started to think I hated this job, actually. But when things opened back up and I got Amanda back, I thought, “I love this!” I realized it’s the people, that’s the fun part and why I’m in it. We’re looking forward to adapting to the new normal.
Our newest adventure is opening up a small event and gathering space in our building on Main Street. My staff and I are excited to offer more to a community that has embraced us so much. Our new space offers the potential for more storage for the flower shop and the opportunity to showcase our formal event table arrangements from the floral perspective, and it provides another location for community members to host, gather and have fun. Our new space, “The 109” can hold up to 150 people and has a beautiful archway. We are planning to provide a kitchenette and a “crockpot and cooler” feel for birthday parties, graduation parties, small weddings and everything in between.
Along with expanding into The 109, the back half of our building is turning into something we are proud to provide to rural Minnesota: “The Suites”, home to independent stylists, health coaches, massage therapists and more – each with their own private room to give clients a personable, intimate experience. The Suites is our opportunity to continue the small business advocacy we believe in. Each renter is excited to offer their services in their own space, as we are excited for them to pursue their aspirations and offer them a place to do so.
We really appreciate the community and foundations like SWIF that believe in small towns and ultimately small business. It’s something you don’t think about until it’s gone. We appreciate the people who appreciate that we’re here and all the help we have to stay going.