Tell us about YOU:
Describe yourself in 3 words: Driven, energetic, loving.
What do you consider your greatest professional achievement? I’ve been in business for only 2.5 years and I was able to increase sales significantly from 2018 to 2019. Specifically, the week of Valentine’s Day, I increased my sales by 60% from the year prior.
What websites do you visit every day? For business purposes, I tend to visit Google (of course!), Basecamp (to stay organized), Instagram and Facebook. Personally though, I love Youtube, Instagram and Facebook. I have also been getting into some late night Pinteresting too!
What are your 3 favorite places/things to do in RVA? Oh, this is a tough question because there are so many things I love about Richmond! I love to take walks with my pup, Ryland, through our neighborhood, Jackson Ward – it’s a great way to find out about new businesses I’d like to check out. I love to go over to Shields Market to pick up a snack (specifically, the Oreo Dream and a bottle of wine) and walk over to Scuffletown Park to enjoy my sweet treat. In the before times (pre-Covid), I loved to head over to the rooftop bar at the Graduate Hotel for some drinks and a swim. Trade secret, they have a rooftop pool with a gorgeous view overlooking the city and the last day of their season is a dog day! Lastly, going to listen to live music with my wife at The National or The Broadberry. My absolute favorite place to listen to live music is at Brown’s Island.
Tell us about your BUSINESS:
I have always envisioned my business to be everything creative. Where craft and plant lovers unite, as those are both my strongest passions. I love to teach people how to create and inspire them to put their own spin on their creations. My company, Crystal & Bloom, is a mobile craft and plant studio and we host in-person and virtual workshops as well as carry take-home craft boxes. Or, if you don’t want to create the item yourself, we offer ready made handcrafted terrariums and gifts. Our focus is hosting paint, plant and candle workshops, but we offer over 16 creative experiences. Our goal is to provide the most authentic experience with our guests walking away with a better understanding of that particular craft and a completed project, but most importantly, to have a blast while creating. We partner with other local businesses to host our workshops and are working on sourcing over 50% of our supplies from local vendors.
What inspired you to start your business? Both my parents at one time or another have owned their own businesses and I knew that being my own boss was something that I always wanted to do. I have been very fortunate to have amazing mentors in my life to help me along the way. My former boss and friend in community college, Tank, taught me the importance of being a strong leader and how to work in a team and I have always applied that to my teams. Another former boss and friend, Daraja, helped me to grow those skills and apply them in my role as a manager, of at one point, 60 employees. She also taught me the value of hard work, to always think outside the box and that there are no boundaries as a woman in business so I should always keep pushing. The tools my mentors provided me gave me the courage to start my own business.
What’s been the hardest part of running your own business? What keeps you going when things get hard? Currently, Covid has been the hardest part of running my business but before that, consistent revenue streams. Believe it or not, paint and craft parties have seasonal busy and slow periods and during the summer, our business tends to slow down when families are on vacation or spending their time outdoors. Maintaining enough revenue and work for my staff was always the hardest part. Covid has definitely exacerbated that and has challenged me to think outside of the box.
Before Covid, I operated a contract under one of the largest paint and sip companies in the U.S., but like many small businesses, I had to pivot during this time of hardship and I knew that in order to survive, I had to go fully independent. My business was once 100% in-person events, but I had to learn to transition to virtual events. Once it seemed that Zoom fatigue really set in for everyone, I created at-home craft boxes. Now, my most recent endeavor is ready made, handcrafted terrariums and gifts. To answer the question of what keeps me going, that would be my wife. Her unwavering support has been one of the biggest keys to the success of this business. She isn’t officially on the paperwork, but she is practically my business partner. From coming up with ideas to hosting events, boxing up orders, tabling at vendor fairs and grounding me when times are tough, she has just been awesome. Lastly, the gratitude, support, and kindness from our guests is something I have to remind myself of whenever I think, “Why the heck am I doing this?!?!”
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone that’s considering starting their own business? The best advice I could ever give would be threefold: 1) always continue to learn and educate yourself on business and to use free resources like SCORE, to help you get started. 2) be adaptable and understand that things will change, sometimes with short notice. 3) be kind and patient with yourself as your business won’t grow over night. Bonus tip: sometimes it really does take a village!! Seek help and assistance in areas that aren’t your strengths!
Where can our followers connect with you?