Friday Feature: Megan Leiss with Spring Forth Farm

Welcome to my "Friday Feature" blog series highlighting female creative small business owners! I hope these posts will give you insight into what these women do and what their lives look like. I also hope you'll find these posts helpful if you're in the creative industry, you run a small business, or you're thinking about starting a small business. You can catch up on the "Friday Feature" series here:

Randi Russell with Carry Your Heart Events
Emily Guyer with Justified Paperie
Katy Osborne with All About That Hair NC

Julie Poole with Juliepatoolie's
Megan Leiss with Spring Forth Farm

Spring Forth Farm

Please introduce yourself and your business.
My name is Megan Leiss and I am a native of Hillsborough, NC.  I own and operate Spring Forth Farm with my husband, Jonathan.  Spring Forth Farm is a small flower farm in Hurdle Mills, NC and we grow fresh, seasonal flowers for florists, businesses and  weddings and events.  Our farmer/florist business model is “purely seasonal,” meaning we only use material in our event work that we grow and harvest off the farm.  Our flowers are top quality and as fresh as possible.  I love the artistic process of walking through the fields to see what is blooming before starting on arranging for an event. This inspires me to envision the various combinations of color, flowers and greenery and the different ways they might all come together in a vibrant and rich manner. Though we are not certified organic, we farm using organic and sustainable principles so that in our business venture we are also caring for creation, increasing soil health and supporting biodiversity of wildlife on the farm.

Why did you start your creative small business?
I started Spring Forth Farm for many different reasons.  The first is that I absolutely love flowers and the beauty that they bring into this world.  The second is that I wanted a small farm business that would allow Jonathan and I to create a self-sustaining homestead where we grow our own food and make our own electricity through solar energy.  The third is that I wanted the flower business to make enough money to allow us to grow vegetables for a local food pantry.  I believe that everyone should have access to fresh and healthy produce and I am glad that I can help make that happen in a small way.  Our farm also donates 5% of our gross income to a local food bank.

 

What does an average day look like for you? What things/responsibilities are you juggling?
I love that no two days are the same!  While we are getting our flower farm off the ground, Jonathan and I are also building a small, passive solar and energy efficient home from scratch.  Yes, we are doing 90% of the work ourselves and are learning as we go.  Jonathan is also a Durham City Firefighter and I am a preschool teacher.  Any given day I start my school day at 7am and get home to the farm around 3pm.  Then I work the rest of the day on the farm or on our house.  Farm tasks range from planting flower transplants, starting seeds, harvesting and arranging flowers, troubleshooting a struggling or failing crop (with lots of tears and worry), and communicating with brides or other clients ordering flowers for events.  During the winter months, farm tasks could include farm planning, building hoop houses and maintaining our perennial flower patch.  I am constantly juggling all of these different things in my life.  While they are all such rich and beautiful things, I struggle with feeling torn between giving both the farm and our home building enough attention.  Afterall, our move-in date for our home totally depends on how much time we can devote to building the house.  But we are moving forward, slowly and surely.  

What has been a struggle for you as a creative small business owner?
The biggest struggle for me as a small business owner is figuring out when to “leave” work.  It is all too easy to talk about farm business too late at night or over dinner.  We started giving ourselves a time frame for turning the business talk “off.”  This will be an ongoing struggle to keep the business from infiltrating every aspect of our private lives.

What has been a joy for you as a creative small business owner?
Flowers make people happy!  They make us happy too and there is nothing quite like seeing someone’s face light up when they see our fresh flowers.  I love bringing that kind of joy and beauty to people.  It has been a delightful surprise for me to see how Spring Forth Farm flowers have been so well received in our business community.  

What productivity tips do you have for my readers?
Get a good night’s sleep and eat regular and healthy meals!  I know it sounds a little obvious, but it is truly what keeps me full of steam (and boy do I need a lot of energy each day).  

What resources or tools have helped you in your business?
The most invaluable resource that I have found is having a mentor.  I interned with Linda Chapman at her established farm, Harvest Moon Flower Farm.  She is always willing to listen to my woes, answer my questions and encourage creativity in my flower arranging style.  Spring Forth Farm would not have gotten off the ground so successfully without her guidance, support and the information I learned from interning on her farm. The other resource I depend on heavily is being a member in a flower farmer organization called the Association of Specialty Cut Flowers.  Growers share information about growing practices.  We help each other trouble shoot issues, give advice on pricing and much more.  The community in this growers group is so supportive and enriching.  We have also found books written by other flower farmers to be incredibly helpful.

What tips do you have for readers who have (or want to start) a creative small business?
Start small.  I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to start small and slowly grow your business.  Spring Forth Farm has started small because of the house building.  This turned out to be a big blessing to have 2-3 years of figuring out our business model while not being overwhelmed by the business.  For example, we started out thinking we were going to have a farmer’s market business.  When we started up 2 years ago, we applied to 5-6 different farmer’s markets and didn’t get one call back.  At first we were devastated but then we decided to change our business model to fit where the demand was for our flowers.  So we decided to go the wholesale route.  This has been an amazing change in our business because we pre-sell all the flowers before doing our  weekly deliveries.  At the farmer’s market we would have no guarantee of any sales and would spend 4-6 hrs of time between set up, market hours, and take down.  Also, our quality of life is richer since we adopted a wholesale model.  Farmer’s markets are time consuming and exhausting and take up the weekend.  We do have a direct marketing aspect to our business through wedding flowers and a small business bouquet subscription program.

What advice would you give to brides?
Our advice to brides when it comes to wedding flowers is “be flexible!”  When using local farms for your wedding flowers it helps to have a more flexible approach to the colors and flower types for your wedding day.  Brides that work with Spring Forth Farm for their wedding flowers understand that we are at the whim of mother nature.  They trust that our flowers will be beautiful no matter what and are happy with whatever flowers are blooming the days right before their wedding.  This means that if you have a September wedding, you won't be able to get peonies from our farm since they bloom in May, but dahlias will be blooming like crazy.  Our May brides can’t get dahlias, but they can have peonies since that is what blooms in May.  Working with farms takes a flexible mindset.  I also recommend booking in advance.  It is a common misconception that farms will always have availability.  This is not true, we book our wedding weekends pretty fast and are usually unable to accommodate last minute wedding orders because we already have a wedding and have our florist orders to fill.    

Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?
I think that it is very important to not count on your new business supporting you for the first few years.  My goal was to teach preschool until the farm was established enough to support me full time.  I am currently in my final year of teaching, yay!!!!!!!!! Jonathan will not leave his job at the fire department.  Having a steady source of outside income, with additional benefits like health insurance, lessens the stress of the farm and improves our quality of life.  

We’ll end on a light note: What is your favorite clothing store?
I don’t really shop.  But when I have to replace clothing, I go to My Secret Closet in Hillsborough.  However in order to keep from accumulating too much stuff (I am kind of a minimalist when it comes to stuff) I have a “one in, one out” policy, meaning that for each piece of clothing I buy, I have to get rid of a different piece of clothing. 

Friday Feature: Julie Poole with Juliepatoolie's

Welcome to my "Friday Feature" blog series highlighting female creative small business owners! I hope these posts will give you insight into what these women do and what their lives look like. I also hope you'll find these posts helpful if you're in the creative industry, you run a small business, or you're thinking about starting a small business. You can catch up on the "Friday Feature" series here:

Randi Russell with Carry Your Heart Events
Emily Guyer with Justified Paperie
Katy Osborne with All About That Hair NC

Julie Poole with Juliepatoolie's

Juliepatoolie's

Please introduce yourself and your business.
Hi my name is Julie Poole and I own Juliepatoolie’s in Burlington.

Why did you start your creative small business?
I started my business five years ago because I saw a need in Burlington and wanted to fill that. I wanted to be a different type of invitation business. Today’s bride wants something that fits the atmosphere that she has created and wants the invitation to be an extension and statement piece of her wedding. Typically you go in and flip through albums and pick ABC, 123 - I enjoy sitting down with brides one-on-one and creating unique invitations.

What does an average day look like for you? What things/responsibilities are you juggling?
An average day for me starts out following up with any messages left the day before then I jump into either quoting or designing for all sorts of events including wedding, anniversary, birthday, baby, etc. In between designing I am helping clients that come into the shop. I’m a one woman show so I’m also doing all of the day to day business chores as well.

What has been a struggle for you as a creative small business owner?
One struggle that I deal with is creating a good work-life balance. It is so hard as a one person business to get everything done and still try to have a normal social life, without feeling guilty every minute that I’m not at the shop doing something.

 Photo by   Sara-Anne Photography   and Styled by   Delightfully Chic

What has been a joy for you as a creative small business owner?
It is always a joy hearing from clients and being able to be small part of their big day. I love working with them and watching their face as they see the final product.

What productivity tips do you have for my readers?
I will probably need to take my own advice more than anyone - but I think setting a schedule for your day is a good tip. This is something I have just recently tried to put in place. It is so easy for me to see the mail alert and want to immediately jump over and answer it - but that slows me down and distracts me from what I am currently doing so I have tried to create a routine for the day as far as checking emails, voicemails and updating social media.

 Photo by   Sara-Anne Photography   and styled by   Delightfully Chic

What resources or tools have helped you in your business?
I would say other business owners - most people are willing to help you with networking or referring you to someone who can help you with a specific problem. One of the best things I did when I opened my business was call another business similar to mine on the West Coast (California) - they were willing to share some of their knowledge on vendors, tips they learned and how they set up their store. Since we were not competitors they felt they could share everything with me. That was a wonderful resource for me and actually made me think twice about some of the vendors I was going to use.

We’ll end on a light note: What is your favorite clothing store?
I love TJ MAXX - I have a problem - I probably go three-four times a week. You never know what you are going to find! 

Bohemian rustic wedding invitation

You can see more of Julie's work and follow along with her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Friday Feature: Katy Osborne with All About That Hair NC

Welcome to my "Friday Feature" blog series highlighting female creative small business owners! I hope these posts will give you insight into what these women do and what their lives look like. I also hope you'll find these posts helpful if you're in the creative industry, you run a small business, or you're thinking about starting a small business. You can catch up on the "Friday Feature" series here:

Randi Russell with Carry Your Heart Events
Emily Guyer with Justified Paperie
Katy Osborne with All About That Hair NC

All About That Hair NC

Katy Osborne

Please introduce yourself and your business:
Hi, my name is Katy Osborne. I am 24 years old and a Gibsonville native. I am currently engaged to my wonderful fiancé Chris. I have no children, but I do have three lovely rescue cats that I care for deeply. I enjoy the simple things in life, like hiking, fishing, and swinging in my hammock.

I am a hair stylist and make-up artist at Urban Chic Studio in Burlington NC and wonder of All About That Hair NC. I have been working in a salon for three years now, and have enjoyed every bit of it. I have worked in the make-up industry for almost seven years. I got a passion for hair and make-up at a young age. The way it can completely transform someone is what hooked me. But most of all it is the smile you get when a client looks in the mirror for the first time after you are done. And the genuine gratitude you receive for helping someone achieve the look they so desired. I love to do everything from bridal hair and make up, to trying the newest color trends and cuts! I recently started a blog on all things hair and make-up. I have really enjoyed putting some of my time into sharing my passion with everyone to see!

Why did you start my creative small business?
There are many factors that made me want to pursue this career. As a child, I got to watch my talented mother do make-up artistry. I immediately became fascinated with the art of making people the best possible version of themselves. After many years of being in the make-up industry and completing beauty school, I decided to start out on my own beauty journey. Since then I have branched outside of just working in a salon and have started doing freelance hair and make up for photo shoots and weddings. I started doing my blog as a way to interact with my clients and to expand my knowledge with those who may also be interested in this industry.

What does an average day look like for you? What things/responsibility are you juggling?
Usually my morning starts off pretty early. I am a little bit of a busy body so I can always find something to do before I go into work. Before I go into work I always like to take some time to drink a cup of coffee and try to post a blog. When I get into the salon I usually work a full day of making people beautiful. Once I am off, I usually spend my nights either with my wonderful fiancé, friends or family.

What has been a struggle for you as a creative small business owner?
I think with any business it is always hard to set yourself apart from everyone else in your trade. Being in a profession where there are so many other hair stylists and make-up artists it was really a struggle, at first, trying to figure out how to make myself different from the other talented professionals. Another struggle is getting your services out to the public. It is easy to grow once you have built a positive reputation for yourself but getting there can be challenging at first.

What has been a joy for you as a creative small business owner?
My greatest joy is getting to work with my clients. I enjoy getting to establish individual relationships with each of them. They are the most rewarding part of my job.

What resources or tools have helped you in your business?
Taking continuing education classes is an important part of keeping your skills up to date. With all the new trends that pop up every year, its crucial to constantly be challenging yourself to learn all that you can so that you don't fall behind. Another great resource is to network with those in your particular field. I find myself learning tricks and tips from stylists who have been doing hair much longer than I have. Watching others and asking questions is a great way to build knowledge.

What tips do you have for readers who have (or want to start) a creative small business?
Networking is a great way to meet other small business owners and new people. Get involved. Join some local small business groups and ask questions on what they did to grow their business. When I decided to step outside of my box and join a local small business owners group, I met some of the most creative people with some amazing ideas. Not only did they have great ideas on how to help grow my business, but they also used me as a reference if anyone needed someone for a hair or make up job. A great way to grow your business is by growing your network!

What wedding day hair and makeup tips do you have for future brides reading this blog?
For the wedding hair, it is always best to wash your hair the night before. The less heat that you can put on your hair the better. Worried about your hair being greasy? That's nothing a little dry shampoo can't fix! And always make sure to do at least one trial run before the wedding. This will help the bride feel so much more at ease on her big day!

When it comes to make up, I like to tell my brides to think of one thing they really want to accentuate. If you want a bold lip, maybe do a more natural looking eye. If you want to play up your eyes, try doing a soft lip in a nude pink. Lashes are always my best friend when it comes to bridal make up. They are really great to use even if it is just for the pictures. It makes such a big difference.

What is your favorite clothing store?
I love going to little boutiques and shopping. BoHo Blu is one of my favorite go to stores! But you can never go wrong with Belk either because they carry most of my favorite purse brands! I tend to get into a little trouble every time I go there!

Is there anything else you'd like to share with my readers?
Check out my blog and instagram! I would love to hear from you!

Instagram: @AllAboutThatHair.NC

Blog: AllAboutThatHairNC.wordpress.com