We’re 9 months into the existence of the BB Garden Style shop and Workshop Series and feeling like it’s time for an update on what we’ve been up to. Thanks are in order to all of you who have supported us in so many different ways – sending monetary donations, shopping our booth at Market 1023, shopping online from across the country, purchasing a workshop ticket, sending texts and emails to encourage us to keep on keeping on, praying for our discernment, sharing our story and events with others, and offering services/products for the shop and workshops. We can never repay you, but we’re forever grateful and passionate about the stewardship of your gifts.
So, what have we been up to since opening in June 2018? We’ve run our little corner of Market 1023 with the help of the Gabe and Robby and their team. From garden-inspired gifts, t-shirts, and bags to plants and gardening supplies, we’ve loved sharing our love of flowers and gardening with shop visitors.
We’ve had visitors come through to show their support and make purchases and we’ve hosted the first BB Garden Style Workshop in November 2018 with guest teachers Hitomi Gilliam AIFD and Holly Chapple. More on that later…but, here’s a sneak peek!
We’d love to have you join us for the next BB Garden Style Workshop on April 2nd with Francoise Weeks and Jenn Ederer! Francoise will be teaching Woodland Design and Botanical Haute Couture while Jenn will focus on sharing the logistics and business strategies she’s used to land and produce large-scale weddings and events. Proceeds will go to assistance and opportunities for local families and students.
This month we had the opportunity to move to a storefront space in Market 1023! The light is perfect and an anonymous donor provided us with much needed shelving. We couldn’t be happier! Thank you, secret flower friend.
Purchases at the shop and workshop thus far have gone to help with rent assistance, dental care, transportation needs, and educational opportunities (floral design and driver’s education) for our neighbors.
Along the way, we’ve had a steady stream of curiosity and questions about what we’re doing. So, we think it’s a great time to answer a few of the Frequently Asked Questions we receive. Hope this helps!
Is BB Garden Style a nonprofit organization? Why or why not?
BB Garden Style is not a nonprofit organization. We chose to open the shop and create the workshop series as a for-profit business even though the profits are used to help meet needs in our community. While we understand that this model means we pay taxes on the profits and it prevents donors from receiving tax credit for their contributions, we had a couple of reasons for deciding against creating a nonprofit organization. First, over these past four years we’ve become aware that the majority of help received by the families we know has been through government assistance or nonprofit organizations. We wanted to create something more along the lines of a partnership with these families – because that’s how our relationships were born in the first place, as friends. We want to work hard together with our neighbors in hopes of making a profit that will benefit them. Secondly, we weren’t interested in having a board of directors (as is the case in a nonprofit organization) because we want to meet the immediate needs and we want to meet those needs promptly without waiting for meetings and lengthy discussions. The specific needs we see as we go about our daily routines and our inability to personally provide financial assistance for each one are the only reason we created BB Garden Style in the first place, so we want the profits from our work to go to the specific needs we are aware of and be able to meet those needs promptly.
What specific needs are we meeting with the money raised by the BB Garden Style shop and Workshop Series?
To date, our profits have helped with rent assistance, dental care, car repairs, driver’s education, house maintenance, and work opportunities – paying members of the community for helping in the shop, working as team members for our workshop, and providing vendor services for a photo shoot which will be featured on Black Bride in 2019. We have plans to expand our assistance as we’re able with increased financial support. We’re currently aware of many more needs than we have funds to meet and many opportunities we could create for our community with additional support. We’re hoping for the chance to expand in 2019!
I’m still unclear on who you’re assisting. Can you be more specific?
We get this question a lot. The short answer is: It’s complicated. While we understand the desire for us to be more specific, we’re living and working side by side with the recipients of the assistance we’re providing. As a result, we are careful to respect the privacy of our neighbors and feel our assistance is a responsibility rather than a gift. That being said, we’re feeling it’s time to talk more about the reasons we found it necessary to start BB Garden Style. We’re hoping those reasons provide more clarity for those looking to support the project.
We moved to this neighborhood in 2014. It wasn’t long before we began to meet some of our neighbors and especially some children who were attending the local middle school which is located just a few blocks away. As we got to know these children and their families, we began to see some of the issues they were facing. This awareness eventually led us to start BB Garden Style and it continues to propel us forward.
The issues and needs can be boiled down to what we’ve seen in regards to the following :
How can I help with the BB Garden Style initiative?
There are a number of ways you can help. Here are a few:
Links of Interest:
All images courtesy of Ten23 Photography
“I encourage couples to just let the beauty of the beach speak.”
-Brian Watson | Myrtie Blue
Today we’re visiting Brian Watson (on the right above), co-owner of Myrtie Blue with his husband Gene in Fort Walton Beach, Florida to discuss:
Join Brian and Gene in Cleveland, Georgia for three days of total immersion in nature and floral design… complete with nature walks, artist-led sketching, a visit to a local flower farm, meditations, lunches and a styled finale dinner.
Real Wedding: Brian + Gene (featured on Martha Stewart)
Click here for dates and locations of 2019 Mayesh Design Star workshops with Atlanta-based floral designer Shean Strong. And don’t miss Shean’s Tutorial Videos this year! Watch his Indoor Meadow Tutorial here.
BB Podcast Sound Engineer: Landon McGee
Photography courtesy of Lauren Kinsey Photography
Several years ago when I was leaving a professional job and training a replacement, I realized how much I depend on templates and processes. My first thought was, I’m either really lazy or kind of brilliant. I just can’t stand doing the same tedious things over and over. So everywhere I go, I create systems.
Now I run my own business, Flathead Farmworks, which has evolved from a small urban farm to include more and more wedding design. And I’m still lazy – that is, I can’t stand doing the same tedious things over and over. So I rely on templates, forms, checklists and scheduling.
This may sound rigid and stifling, but a system doesn’t have to put you in a box. It can actually give you more time and space for creativity. The primary reason for creating a process is to free your brain from that little piece of work. Then you can use that stored mental energy to solve a design problem, create something entirely new or have a deep conversation.
Creating a system doesn’t have to be painful and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It won’t fix everything, but it might make your days a little easier.
Before you begin, take some time to know yourself. What are the things that are hardest to get done or that take the most mental effort? Is it difficult to respond to emails promptly? Are you having trouble getting clients to answer all your questions so you can create a proposal? Do you miss small steps that you’d like to accomplish each time?
If you find yourself creating something similar more than two or three times, consider a template. It can be as simple as saving the text of an email in an easily accessible spot, and using that as a starting point the next time you write a similar email.
I have templates for emails I send often, like my initial response to a wedding inquiry. To store my templates, I use cloud-based tools that I can access on my computer and my phone. Google Keep and Trello are two of my favorites. A simple text document also works well. Make sure you can search by keyword or organize your templates by topic.
Rather than looking online for templates, I suggest using your own words so it feels natural. That will make the template easier to use. With text stored in the cloud, you can revise it as your business or needs evolve.
Oh how I love forms. I’m a nerd, I know. But online forms where you can require answers, create checkboxes, and allow for uploads and links – I love all that. It saves so much time.
Forms go hand in hand with templates. If you find yourself asking the same questions, consider creating a form. Having everything in the same order and the same format every time will make it that much easier to create your proposals and contracts.
Most websites include a form tool. I use Squarespace and can easily build custom forms. I have a simple wedding and event contact form and then a longer follow-up questionnaire that lives on an unlinked page (meaning that I have to send out the link). That way I can screen inquiries and make sure I’m available before the client fills out the questionnaire.
I use checklists so I don’t miss any steps. I don’t use them all the time, but a checklist is indispensable for complex tasks or those that occur over a long time period. Checklists are a place to store all those little details so you can lose the mental clutter and focus on bigger things.
Breaking your checklist down into small pieces will make the list easier to use. Each item should take 30 minutes or less.
Trello is a great tool for checklists because you can use a list as a template and create copies, you can set due dates, and you can even share with others and assign tasks. I use checklists for weddings so I remember to review the details, finalize the budget, order supplies, check in with the client along the way, and schedule the delivery or pickup time.
If you try the first three tips and are still not satisfied, I highly recommend scheduling time to work on small tasks. I discovered years ago that the only way I could make progress – or feel like I was making progress – was to actually schedule my to-do items on my calendar.
If I have a wedding proposal to create, I make sure I have the completed questionnaire and then I block out a half hour or an hour on my calendar and I work on that one task. If I have emails piling up, I schedule an hour just to read and respond to emails. That way I’m not overwhelmed with a mountain of tasks and no idea where to begin.
Even when I’m working on a new process or updating a process, I schedule time for that. Blocking it out on the calendar helps me see the task as important and I find it easier to focus.
I also try to stay within the time allotted, unless I’m completely engrossed. So if I don’t finish, I’ll reschedule rather than spend half the day spinning my wheels.
My final words of advice: Don’t try this all at once! Do a little at a time, test it out to see if it works for you, and then build on that. Success with one small piece will motivate you to add more. And before you know it you’ll have a system that works for you – plus more mental space for creativity.
April Vomfell is a farmer florist in northwest Montana near Glacier National Park. In 2015 she and her husband founded Flathead Farmworks to provide fresh vegetables and herbs to local restaurants. Flowers have gradually become the focus of the business. A fourth generation cool climate gardener, April grows annuals, perennials and specialty cut flowers for wholesale, weddings and a summer flower CSA. April uses her professional background in publishing, libraries and marketing to guide and build her business. Since she first got glasses and a camera at the age of 9, she has been taking pictures of flowers and watching things grow.