It's been a while since I updated you on the progress of the business I started out of my apartment. I wanted to share with you the ups and downs of owning and managing a rapidly growing wood flower business like Eco Flower. So here it goes.
Lets start with...
-Not being able to hire fast enough.
Our workforce became overworked with many hours of overtime that carried on for several months. We lost some great people due to employee "burn out", but I'm happy to report that we no longer work overtime and we hire a dozen people each month to prevent this from ever happening again.
-Space space space!
In the year and a half since I've been in business, we have moved four times. Four! When hunting for new warehouse space, I made it my mission to stay in my home town of Ogden, UT. Our latest and hopefully final resting place is a beautiful brick building that houses 30,000 sq/ft of perfect warehouse and office space.
Inventory has been a huge issue which we are combating with our new added space. Before our new warehouse, we had to make everything on demand. Now we are able to make several dozen copies of each item and house them in an inventory area where they wait to be pulled from the shelves as the orders come in. This has sped up our shipping process and has overall made our customers happier, which is always good.
Before Eco Flower, I was a single Mom, on welfare, doing my best with very serious dreams of entrepreneurship that were not supported by many people in my life. It's been a massive blessing to have my bills set to auto-pay (not having to decide how to time the power bill payment with the threatened shut off date). I can take my kids to a movie and not cross my fingers in hopes my card is accepted. So far, my biggest purchases are a $1000 motorcycle I bought from my Mom and a $650 plane ticket to Hawaii. These purchases might not seem like a big deal to someone with money, but for a woman who survived welfare and failed attempts at creating success, these are huge steps.
My most favorite part of this entrepreneurial endeavor is being able to provide jobs not only to my community, but also to my friends, family, and the random waitresses I recruit on the spot. We hire local musicians to play for our employees at lunch time, we have an interactive African Drum Circle for our staff next week, and our employees are constantly growing the ladder of advancement because of how fast this company is growing. It's fun to watch someone who was an entry level florist six months ago become an upper level manager in such a short amount of time. I love rewarding those who have a common vision and similar work ethic.
-"I told you so".
As I said, when I started this business, I was a single woman. When I would go on a date with someone new, one of the first questions was "Where do you work?" I would tell them I was an aspiring entrepreneur, and I usually got a light chuckle followed by more questions about my back up plan. I didn't have a back up plan. I went on many first dates and not a lot of second dates.
To THIS DAY, I get Facebook messages and texts from men saying "Hey, I heard your business blew up, we should go out". Thankfully, I am now a married woman to a man who was in a similar situation when we met. Basically, we were both dirt poor. We ate yogurt and granola on the roof of my apartment as a date and shopping trips to the local thrift shop to get a "new outfit" for the bar was our thing. Not long after I started my business, he started a wood shop that supports my business. It's been fun to grow with him. Last week, I took him to a professional barbershop for his first time to get his hair trimmed and he came out looking incredibly HANDSOME. Before Eco Flower, neither of us could afford to get our hair done. I would shave his head over the bath tub and he would make sure that I didn't miss any spots when I was bleaching the back of my hair.
So there you have it. I have achieved the American dream with the help of my family, my business partners Ryan Westwood, and Travis Johnson. I hope that with their help, I can stay in this dream for as long as I can.