Things are rocking and rolling here at Rasta Rita Flowers. Despite having no real shop or place to make my bouquets other than my own kitchen sink, I am doing about three or four deliveries a week. It’s been very exciting. I have so much to learn.
Cody came with me on my first delivery, and while he’s super cute and helpful, I’m afraid my first bouquet might have had a few long Golden Retriever hairs delivered with it. Nobody left a bad review or complained, but I think I need to be more careful in the future. Often, when I take Cody with me in the car (his favorite thing ever), I roll the windows down, and his long golden hair flies all over the place like he’s Linus with his personal dust cloud. Oh, Golden Retrievers… if you know, you know.
I delivered a homecoming corsage wristlet and a boutonniere.
I also delivered a Twentieth Anniversary bouquet to my good friend whom I did the flowers for twenty years ago! Isn’t it cool that here I am doing flowers again after twenty years, just in time to send the bride a remix of her bridal bouquet? It was a blast. I put peppers in it because I know her, and she’s always up for something fun and different. Bug said I must tone down my Rasta Rita aesthetic, but I disagree. I want people to hire me because I put crazy combinations together, and everything is bright and colorful. But I do have a bereavement bouquet coming up on Monday, so we’ll see how Rasta Rita toned down will look.
Side note: I got so tired of wrestling my big pink wooden headboard back and forth between my bedroom and dining room for flower photos I decided to hang it on the wall in the dining room instead! Then my bed looked naked, so I hung a tapestry behind it, dorm-room-style. I think it works great, especially since I have no idea whether or not I will be moving in a month. Everything is up in the air.
Here is my future shop space. I mocked up a rough idea of my thinking, but I’m not 100% on it yet. I need my dad’s help to come up with a functional workspace that also looks cute. The city rules say I can’t pass the property line, where you see the brick letters spelling “real estate.” (You have to look hard to see them.) I’m thinking of an expanding awning, and then everything wheels back in, past that line when I’m not “open.” I won’t be open every day since I don’t live in this town (yet), and it’s a bit of a drive for me, but at some point, I could be. I also need to think about refrigeration and somewhere theft-proof to work with my laptop out of the sun, but those puzzles will come in time. For now, it’s baby step by baby step.
Speaking of baby steps, I’ve finally gotten around to getting my resale license. It was a super cinch. I don’t know why I put it off so long. Probably because back in the day, it required putting an ad in the paper, going down to the courthouse, paying a fee, and then waiting for the paperwork to process. Now, you can get one in minutes online. It’s so weird. Of course, that also means I now have to keep track of taxes and have proper profit and loss statements, which is a real drag for me and my non-existent bookkeeping skills, but I’m promising myself I’m going to be much better at keeping track of everything this time around. The last time I was in “the flower biz,” I was a mess of receipts, and taxes confounded me.
Getting into wholesale markets can be extremely fun. Not for buying things (see above note about keeping track and taxes) but just seeing the behind-the-scenes of where everything comes from. I had to buy brown ribbon for my homecoming corsage, and when I went to the local fabric store, they only had two shades: beige and goldish brown—no normal chocolate brown ribbon. When I hit up the floral supply store with my resale license, there was a section of about fifty different browns!
That pretty much wraps up my flower shop update.
On the way back from a delivery, I did some recon at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. They have the best wild and crazy bouquets. They also have excellent dried flowers. I really want to up my game when it comes to dried flowers. I’ve seen some amazing bouquets on Pinterest. If I’m going to be doing events in the heat of the desert in Joshua Tree, where my boss’s venue is, I need to have a strategy to combat 104-degree heat and lack of humidity, a natural enemy of fresh flowers. I also need to get a new car. My car is 17 years old and breaking at every plastic point, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
There are a lot of things to worry about when you are starting a new business with no capital. Bug and I have significantly cut down on the little things, like going out to eat and treating ourselves to lattes and pastries… But last Sunday, we broke down and had dinner in a little cafe in South Laguna. I have raised my own perfect dinner companion. We like the same places. We like the same treats. We like to spend money, and it is disastrous. But she’s also my best pal and sounding board. She is rooting for my little business. I know at some point, I can count on her to help. She’s already a great source of advice. I can’t believe I am so lucky. I want to be careful that my dreams don’t steamroll her dreams.
We walked around Laguna and visited a local community garden until dark. It was lovely. A break that I needed.
In other news, Halloween season is here!
The days are so much darker. I’m glad I not racing the sun like I used to. Remember when I was doing craft photoshoots daily and trying to get everything shot in before my natural light disappeared? I don’t do that anymore. My life has evolved. I miss it sometimes. I gave away 80% of my crafts, and my closet has much more room. But now I’m filling it with dried flowers and floral supplies. I’m trying to streamline so that moving won’t be a huge hassle, but you know how that goes.
Until next time, pretty people! Thank you for cheering me along. It’s really helped!
I have lots of news! If you’ve been following along on Instagram, none of this will be new, but it will be more descriptive, and I’ll tell you the full low-down story behind every picture.
Last Wednesday, I decided to hit up Trader Joe’s floral department to get some flowers to make into bouquets so I could build a website and get this flower business idea off the ground. My process with graphic design always starts with photography. I can design many things with illustrations and cartoons, but with a flower business, you need photographs to tell what you do. So off I went to get images! This is really my favorite part of brand building. If I could do life over again, I would want to be an art director and direct photoshoots for fancy fashion magazines. Directing myself in mini-photoshoots is not bad either.
I bought $100 worth of flowers and rushed home to make bouquets in my kitchen. It was the usual manic mess of bouqet-making. If you catch me in the middle of this, you’ll find my sink full of leaves and stems, my floor littered with plant debris, an over-flowing trash can of plastic wrappers and mangled stems in rubberbands, and me up to my ears in empty vases, flowers everywhere and a giant smile plastered on my face. Flowers are my happy place.
I whipped up two big bouquets (one bridal-inspired, one as a centerpiece) and six small mason jars of country flowers.
Then I wrangled my plywood headboard (leftovers from the Memories with Mom project) out from behind my bed and set it up on my dining room table for an impromptu photoshoot. I should have taken some behind-the-scenes photos because it was hilarious.
The color of my headboard/backdrop is my favorite. I think it’s going to be a theme for the flower shop. (Please ignore the Cody hair that I failed to photoshop out of the above photo. I know, gross.)
After rapidly cleaning up after the tornado destroyed my kitchen, I packed up the flowers into my car and headed down to San Clemente for my “Pop Up Flower Shop.”
Sadly, the Pop Up Flower shop made NO money. I did not recoup my $100. But I did get a few interested passerby-ers and several people ooooh-ed and awww-ed. More importantly, I got a bunch of photos to populate an Instagram page and really show what I can do as a florist. This is only one trip to a “flower market,” (if you can call Trader Joe’s a flower market–which you totally can; they are pretty stinking awesome at flowers), so I am feeling pretty confident that I can pull this off.
It’s something I love so much. I can see myself throwing myself into this business easily. When I look at the competition, they often seem boring and stuffy. I think I have a unique aesthetic with the Margarita Truck branding. It’s fun and irreverent, bright and festive. I’m really excited about it. I’m also aiming at brides who don’t want the over-the-top traditional wedding but want something creative and whimsical. Just wait and see what crazy things I can come up with. This is going to be so much fun.
I worked on some branding…
Made some business cards…
I had a pretty great day! No money was made, but it was not a loss at all in my books.
The following weekend, I met my boss, Mario (pictured above), at 4:30 am in a Target parking lot to go on an epic journey to retrieve a “Flower Truck.” I’m going to need to fill you in a lot here. Let’s start with Mario.
Mario is a character and a half. He’s given me permission to write about him here, but I am worried about being completely truthful. While he’s loveable and has a heart of gold under many layers of grumpiness and loud barking, he is capital D, DIFFICULT. Picture a crazy, yelling, cussing-a-mile-a-minute, top-speed-at-all-times, full-octane, six-foot, passionately angry, red-blooded Mexican-Greek force of a man. Got it? Then scream and picture it at the same time. Then toss back three triple espressos and picture him… You might be there.
What I love about Mario is that he gets my artistic vision like no other. He trusts me completely when it comes to design. This has been a light in a very dark tunnel in this last year of rejection that I’ve been going through. I also admire his taste and sense of design. We get each other, and for me, that is rare. Hardly anyone really understands me like Mario does. I can’t stand being around him, but I also love working with him. It’s an interesting relationship. He calls me at five a.m. with crazy ideas, and I call him back at six with just as many. He gets mad at me regularly, and I’ve already quit on him three times. It’s amazing he’s let me come back. Or maybe it’s more amazing that I wanted to come back. It might be toxic. Anyway, we decided to take that toxic combo on the road because what could possibly go wrong in six hours with a crazy yelling fanatic and an adle-brained super-sensitive, ADHD-ridden artist who is afraid of her own shadow and recently getting over an especially strong bout of depression? Oh, I don’t know. Some tears, maybe?
Amazingly, we made it in one piece. Sort of. Yes, I yelled back at full volume and lost my cool completely when he demanded that I copilot and then criticized me because I didn’t copilot well enough. Yes, I cried when he told me I’m broke because I don’t make good decisions and I don’t apply myself enough. Yes, I got super pissed off when he gave me parenting advice and pushed his political agenda on me. But that’s sorta normal for road trips, right? Heh. I knew it would be like that, so I took it as a par for the course.
What I didn’t expect was that the trailer I reserved at the Uhaul center, per Mario’s barking directions, didn’t fit the Flower Truck. I had originally researched an open flatbed utility trailer but was informed by Uhaul that they don’t rent out flatbeds for long trips for legal reasons. In a quick split-second decision, I reserved an enclosed trailer instead. I didn’t even think about it, really. I was on the phone (which I hate, by the way. I am NOT a phone person), and that seemed like the best choice. Well, it wasn’t.
We drove all the way to Salinas (six hundred and some miles of yelling and disagreeable discussions) only to find out that the Flower Truck was too tall to fit in a five-foot enclosed trailer. The Flower Truck is six feet tall. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. Mario had steam coming out of his ears, and he quickly informed me that this mistake was ALL MY FAULT. Of course, it was! You know, cause I have so much experience renting trailers and I always think of everything. I had played phone tag with Hugo, the man who sold Mario the Flower Truck, and the one measurement I failed to get was height. I got length and width but not height. Dang it!! How could I not think of this? I asked myself over and over. I don’t know. I will refer back to “adle-brained super-sensitive, ADHD-ridden artist…” and shrug sheepishly. I don’t have much experience with trailers, and maybe I thought Mario knew what he was doing because he’s bought and sold several vehicles. Obviously, that was the wrong answer to tell Mario, and I quickly regretted it. I am currently enrolled in the school of hard knocks, so I had to take that one square in the face.
We decided to tread on. I told Mario that my dad could come pick up the Flower Truck in a flatbed trailer because my dad is awesome and happens to know people who have such trailers and no legal reasons not to lend them to my dad for free. Mario was temporarily interested, but the timeline was inconvenient because my dad is out of town in Idaho, driving a potato truck until November. “We drove all this way for nothing!” Mario shouted as he paced around in the dirt. And even though he was madder than a pig in a small pen with a scorpion bite, his mind was working. Mario’s mind is always working. Every day is traumatic in Mario World, so thinking while angry is just normal for his mind. Not me. I’m whimpering inside and looking for a rock to crawl under but disguising it with *that stupid dead-eyes look*.
Then we tried to drive the Flower Truck INTO his van. It almost fit. It was only a smidge and a hair off. But when Mario got into the Flower Truck and attempted to drive it, it sputtered, and he suddenly got struck with a fear that the truck wouldn’t quite make it and would end up damaging both the Flower Truck and his van. He was right. Later, when we got home, we found out the Flower Truck has no breaks. That could have been a catastrophe and a half. But we didn’t know that yet.
Mario got on the phone and pulled some kind of Mario-negotiating magic with some locals, and before I knew it, he found someone who could drive it down to Southern California for us. Problem solved only a thousand bucks more, which is all my fault, of course. No pressure, Brenda. This flower business better pay for itself, and it is wracking up expenses faster than it’s wracking up wedding contracts. Ooooh boy!
But I am optimistic, and I don’t have a ton of other choices, so I made the best of it and took a bunch of selfies with my darling new Flower Truck.
We named her Flor Rita. Isn’t she adorable? You better make me a lot of money, Flor.
The drive home was more of the same. Exhausting but also a little bit fun. Mario is not all tyrant. We stopped at Casa de Fruitas and had a lively discussion with the wait staff. Mario bought me lunch and offered to buy me a slice of pie. I declined.
After a long drive through traffic, we both went home our separate ways. Obviously, since this was all my screw-up, I volunteered to meet the delivery guy later that night to direct him where to park her. It was a long night. Finally, at midnight, the truck arrived, and this was when we discovered the lack of breaks. I’m so thankful that Mario hired someone else to unload that trailer. The delivery guy had a tilted trailer, chains, and ties to handle the situation. It was tricky. He gently unloaded it onto Mario’s very tilted parking lot, and we tied Flor to a post like her life depended on it. Phew! Mario was already asleep by then, so I worried all night about how mad he would be about this added bad luck. I took pictures of every step and warned him not to freak out too hard because I had a plan, and we could pivot.
Turns out Mario wasn’t even mad. Maybe he knew already. I don’t know. He told me not to worry about it. So now we’re fixing her up and painting her pink, and I’m hustling up a flower business!
That is if Mario doesn’t fire me after he reads this post. Let’s hope he doesn’t.