FIRST THOUGHT: Flower-happy
The day before I got married out of state, I showed up at a floral shop and asked for a bunch of baby’s breath. “Why?” the owner asked me suspiciously. “I’m making some bouquets,” I responded. “For what?” she asked me, again, super suspiciously. “For my bridesmaids.” I thought she was going to kick me out of the shop. Instead, she sold me some baby’s breath with a healthy dose of lecturing. You see, when someone does something outside of the status quo, it gets people riled up. (We’re moving away from that sort of judgment, thank goodness.) Now, DIY is in and doing something the same way it’s always been done is out. Will you choose the road less traveled or follow the pack?
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: $16 Billion
Admittedly, I chose the road less traveled because this bride was on a budget. Flowers can cost a freakin’ ton, y’all. The American floral gifting market alone is projected to result in about $16 billion in revenue by 2023. Some other fun flower facts: In Holland, tulips used to be more valuable than gold and the first planet fossils were herb-like flowers 120 million years ago.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Allegra Murray, Owner of the Petal Peddler's Shop
One of the main deterrents for going the traditional cut-flower route when it comes to weddings? The environmental impact, which ranges from water to pesticide usage. An alternative to traditional bouquets lasts forever, is customizable regardless of the season and can be majorly cost effective. I’m talking about paper flowers! Today’s Woman to Watch, Allegra Murray, is a paper florist and the owner of The Petal Peddler’s Shop.
Allegra’s designs range from bouquets to ornaments to home décor. She’s always been creative: She took classes when she was younger to express her artistic side, such as opera and dance. Later, Allegra majored in classical vocal performance and took her first entrepreneurial leap, starting her school’s first a capella choir.
In an effort to take her passion for the arts to the next level, Allegra went to grad school to study arts administration. Then, from volunteering at arts-centered nonprofits, Allegra pivoted to a career in finance. So, how the heck did paper flowers trail into Allegra’s life? One of those nonprofits, Friends of the Milton Public Library, gave her the opportunity to plan a Jane Austen-inspired tea party.
As is the case for many nonprofits with a tight budget, Allegra needed to make the event as whimsical and transcendent as possible. With a pile of book pages at her disposal, she created roses to be used as centerpieces. Attendees were taken aback by the magical afternoon and the flowers, in particular.
Allegra’s efforts paid off. In its first year, The Petal Peddler’s Shop sold more than 500 flowers, all handcrafted in her Massachusetts shop. Allegra fashions these one-of-a-kind botanical pieces using all kinds of paper and finishes, colors and styles. I particularly love how she can use keepsakes like a letter or artwork made by your kiddo to produce a timeless gift, like a necklace or wreath. Allegra’s imagination and her clients’ ideas know no bounds.
A deliberate business move Allegra made was to build her shop at the local level first. Instead of hopping on a site like Etsy, Allegra found connecting with her neighbors to be the most fulfilling, and clearly the most effective, at spreading the word. Thinking small—and differently—turns out to be quite the perfect creation.
If you’re a biz owner, you know enhancing the customer experience is everything. (After all, the customer is always right!) Check out Allegra Murray’s four expert tips for fulfilling customer orders by clicking here or, if you’re listening via podcast, head over to OnTheDotWoman.com!
QUITE THE QUOTE
Whether you’re feeling like one of Allegra’s perfect handmade flowers or more like a crumpled-up receipt, here’s some advice from our Woman to Watch:
"As with any worthwhile endeavor, trial and error are essential for growth and development. ... The most important lesson I have learned is not to be afraid of making mistakes.”