Welcome to the next installment in our blog series, spotlighting local wedding companies that have been in business for 10 or more years! Today we feature florist Susan Kass of A Fantasy In Flowers: What year did you start your business?
I purchased a Fantasy in Flowers in 2003. It was an existing business with a storefront located in Mandarin. My previous experience had been in hotel sales and catering. I also managed a showroom for a clothing rep in the Miami merchandise mart for 6 years when my daughter was young. This gave me insight into the wholesale and buying end of business. It seemed like it would be a great match for buying a florist. I was naive…
What was your motivation?
We had moved to Jacksonville in 2001 and my daughter was getting ready to start high school. I thought going back to work would be a good idea. I just had no idea how much work I would be getting myself into!!
How has your business changed over the years?
There have been so many changes to my business in 10 years it is difficult to count. I started out with one retail location and 2 years later bought a second location on Park Street ( Catanese Florist). When the economy was strong I employed 7 people full-time and we concentrated on corporate events and daily deliveries. The recession came and the corporate market went dormant so we moved our emphasis to the wedding world and never looked back. 2 1/2 years ago we moved to our wonderful new design studio on County Road 210. We now have 2 designers and a part time driver/set up guy and we are busy and happy but only occasionally stressed. Last year we provided flowers and décor for almost 90 weddings. We have 72 reviews on wedding wire and a 4.9 out of 5 rating, so I guess we are doing things right!!
Looking back, what do you wish you had done differently?
Looking back I would never have expanded as much as I did, however everything has been a learning process. I have made every mistake in the book. I just try to not make the same mistake twice. The one real change I would make is to have never gotten involved with any of the wire services ( FTD, TELEFLORA etc.). On-line ordering is a big scam and it costs reputable florists hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, as well as delivering an inferior product to the consumer.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of many things, but mostly of my loyal and talented staff. They are the heart of my business and have stayed with me through thick and thin. I couldn't do it without them...literally!!
Why do you think your business has made it while so many other small businesses fail in the first five years?
Our business has made it due to changing with the economy and the trends. We also have a core group of very loyal local clients who have stuck with us. The positive reviews and word of mouth from our brides has also been invaluable. We always try to go the extra mile and it seems that we are appreciated for that.
What advice do you have for a business just starting out in your industry?
Starting a business today in the wedding industry is incredibly tough. Do not sell yourself short and please charge the appropriate amount for your services. Do not undercut the existing companies in the industry. This will make other vendors unwilling to promote you. You must have a strong vendor network and you must be patient. It takes a long time to build a good reputation and good relationships. Attend networking events and get to know others in your industry. That will pay off big!!
Do you have a most memorable wedding or funny story you'd like to share?
Most memorable wedding story...Just when I think I've seen it all something new and amazing happens for the first time. That's what keeps this business interesting!!!