For FleurGirl Owner and CEO Shanika Tyler, what was once a soothing pasttime has become a growing business.
Several years ago, she started making silk flower arrangements as a hobby. When friends and family got a glimpse of her designs −which Tyler calls “unique and exotic”− they began asking her to make arrangements for their homes.
“Floral design is very therapeutic for me,” says Tyler. “I never feel like I am working.”
Initially, she didn’t charge for labor. However, after being paid $150 to make an arrangement for a charity auction, she got excited− so excited that she quit her job and enrolled in The Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute, where she learned the basic principals and mechanics of floral design, as well as how to care for and design with fresh flowers.
“From home décor came weddings,” Tyler says. “I tapped into weddings and became intrigued. Weddings are were my true creativity is expressed. I love seeing a bride’s vision blossom with my assistance. Flowers are full of emotions. Flowers can change the attitude of an environment and a person. That is what I love.”
Her work isn’t limited to weddings, however. She also designs for corporate events, baby showers, and parties.
As a child, Tyler envisioned owning her own business; she just didn’t expect it to be a floral business.
“Unlike most designers, I never grew up in a flower shop,” she says. “My mother or grandmother is not a florist. It’s just something that found me.”
Without industry mentors to look to, Tyler’s first year in business was especially challenging. She says she reached out to several local florists, but none of them returned her calls or were “just plain rude.” Still, she was undeterred.
“Thank God I love flower designing,” she says. “I’m very passionate about my business. If I were not, FleurGirl would have gone out of business in the first year.”
As Tyler continued to look for ways to grow her company, she came across Bad Girl Ventures on Facebook and was immediately intrigued by the Cincinnati-based microlending organization for women entrepreneurs.
“Initially I was like, ‘I wish they would have something here in Columbus like this.'”
Not long after that, her wish came true.
“One day I was reading my newsfeeds on Facebook and noticed that BGV was coming to Columbus,” she says. “I was so excited. I checked their page every day until the day applications were being accepted.”
She promptly applied to be a member of BGV’s inaugural class, which would put her in a nine-week program that matched her with a mentor charged with teaching her about business law, accounting, marketing, and branding.
At the program’s conclusion, each of the 10 participating entrepreneurs completed a business plan, which was then submitted to a panel for review. Of the 10, one would be awarded a $25,000 loan from KeyBank, a one-year Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter legal advisory board, and a one-year Columbus Chamber membership.
“I was determined to win,” Tyler says. “I watched “Shark Tank” every day. I studied my 60-second pitch every day.”
Her hard work payed off. She won and has since quit her day job to devote herself to her business full-time.
“Without BGV and the resources I was provided, I would still be working part-time for FleurGirl and part-time for another employer,” Tyler says.
She is hosting an open house at her new shop at 14450 E. Broad St. in Reynoldsburg on Feb. 14− FleurGirl’s second anniversary.
To learn more about FleurGirl, visit FleurGirl.com.