By Christina Huynh
Floral photos hang on Rachel Ziegler’s apartment walls, and a porcelain vase filled with red tulips sits on her wooden kitchen table. In the kitchen is a closet filled with antique vases, and hanging on the front door is a straw wreath decorated with pastel flowers.
While Ziegler’s passion for flowers is obvious from one swift glance around her space, she never envisioned owning a floral business.
And yet, this past July, the 23-year-old started Floral and Bloom Designs, a floral designing business, out of her one-bedroom apartment in Rockville. Ziegler had wanted to become a wedding planner after earning her associate’s degree from Hofstra University. She got a side job at an event-planning company, where she was assigned to make florals. That made Ziegler realize her love for floral designs.
Her friends, for whom she had been designing wedding florals on the side, sparked Ziegler’s interest in being her own boss. “Why don’t you just start your own business?” they would ask her.
After four months of deliberation and seeking her family’s advice, Ziegler decided entrepreneurship was the right path for her. She Googled “flower schools” and “U.S.,” discovered the Flower School New York and attended two sessions, the equivalent of taking eight flower classes. Six months at a local restaurant working full time and several freelance jobs later, Ziegler saved about $10,000 to begin Floral and Bloom Designs.
“Through my grandma’s life experiences and the fact that she had such a passion and wasn’t really able to pursue it for as long as she could, it made me rethink everything,” says Ziegler, whose grandmother had put her aspirations to be a singer, actress and model aside to be a wife and mother. “It made me think I have a long life to live and, if this is something that I love to do, I should pursue it.”
Today, Ziegler balances working at the restaurant with running her floral business from her apartment. Friday nights are spent arranging flowers, and on Saturday mornings she delivers the arrangements to her clients’ weddings. Ziegler said she plans to expand her business by offering event coordination because she already tends to be deeply involved with her brides’ weddings.
Her website, the biggest investment Ziegler has made in her business thus far, launched the day after Valentine’s Day to the tune of $5,500. She spent six months saving money to get that amount.
The website is outfitted with recommendations from brides Ziegler has worked with, pictures of bouquets she has designed and a personal blog in which she details her adventures as a floral designer and future event coordinator.
“A lot of my clients, I don’t know them at first,” she says. “I wanted people to get a feel of who I am before they even meet me from my website.”
While she loves being a small business owner for the creativity and flexibility, Ziegler admits to the challenges, including competition and the disadvantages of working from home.
“There’s a high demand in the wedding industry around here,” Ziegler says. “The biggest challenge is that I have no shop and that I have to do things kind of last minute. I have to control my time when I make things, because if I [arrange flowers too quick], they’ll die.”
This year, she has 12 weddings booked with more pending.
“I love being able to take all the inspiration that I have, and I love being able to give florals my own twist and kind of giving it the ‘Rachel touch,’” Ziegler says. “I think when people can tell that you love what you do, they trust you a lot more. They have a vision in their head, but they want you to put your own little creative spin on it too.”