Growing up, I would pretend to be sick so my mom would have to bring me into the work. Now looking back, she definitely knew that I was not sick at all. But anyway, my mom owned an worked at a small down-town flower shop for four years of my life. She ended up selling the flower shop due to little money earned and the stressful environment she would undergo every time she would walk through those doors. So I decided to interview my mom on her experiences with owning a small business in a traditionally woman-dominated field.
How did all the employees get along?
Answer- “I think they all got along well, but many of them talked behind each other’s backs and played the blame game often. In stressful situations, they would argue about job roles and responsibilities, especially when I wasn’t there. Also, they were petty when it came to who was doing what.”
What was the male landlord of the shop like? Did he often feel like he needs to control the shop when he knows nothing about flower arrangements?
Answer: “He was the original owner of the flower shop. He always would talk down to me and always try to compete with me. He would fight me on repairs that needed to be paid for by him because it was a building matter. It felt like he was trying to take advantage of me because he would try and tell me that I needed to pay for it. He would throw around how he would raise the rent if I needed things done around the building.”
What have you learned from owning your own business?
Answer- “It takes your heart and soul. Its never-ending, 24-hour job, and it’s almost impossible to go home at 5pm. There’s no free time and I always needed to watch over my employees. When I would finally take some time off, employees would call me non-stop and complain about one another not doing what they were supposed to. I always had to be on everybody to do their job.”
Do you regret anything about your shop and how you ran it?
Answer- “Of course. I needed more help than what I got. I have never owned a small business before and your father had a job of his own. I regret owning when you were so little because I wasn’t around for you. The timing was just off, I should have done it when you left for college. I originally owned the business with my friend at the time, and I regret that because she quit and our friendship was over.”
How did you communicate with your employees?
Answer- ” With respect, sympathy, empathy, and even too friendly at times. They saw this as a weakness and they began to take advantage of me. I was under so much stress because I didn’t want to be a mean boss. It felt like I had babies at home and babies at work.”
What’s your take and feeling towards small businesses?
Answer- “I feel like the government doesn’t respect small businesses enough. They would offer no help, and we were heavily taxed. My competitors were big businesses that benefited from this type of system.”
Why did you sell your shop?
Answer- “Numerous reasons, there wasn’t enough money to warrant the time and energy. My marriage was falling apart and couldn’t take all of it at once. You were a big factor because I wanted to be around more. I always was a part-time worker and there was no preparation for this amount of work”.
What made you want your own flower shop?
Answer- “I thought it would be cool and fun. It was one of my talents, and I thought I would be my own boss. I have previous experience in this field and I enjoyed so much. I wanted to be able to enjoy what I do for a living, not like many people out there.”
What surprised you the most about owning a business?
Answer- “How cutthroat it is and how stressful it is”
Being a business prominently female, what challenges did you face?
Answer- “We were all female except the drivers/delivers. Most male customers were usually respectful and would try to get the cheapest arrangement possible. Most of the customers were male but they knew that I was qualified to pick the right thing for their significant other. Most of the female workers would talk behind each other’s backs and they would be rude to one another.”
Did you have many competitors?
Answer-Yes, many competitors. Mainly Produce Junction, grocery stores, Wegmans, and other flower shops.
When you owned a small business what was your feeling toward big businesses?
Answer- “They can swallow up small businesses and spit them out because they have enough money to buy in huge quantities, which costs them less. And the wholesalers will give the big businesses better deals because they’re buying so much at once.”
I would say that this business taught my mom a lot. This flower shop was a big part of her life and mine too. Although it seems like there were a lot of negatives that went into this shop, she created art that would stand next to a couple on their wedding day. She created art that accurately represented someone’s beautiful life at their funeral. And she even got to create my bouquet at both my proms. My mom is a role model because she put up with so much for so long all while raising my siblings and me.