Ever wonder what it would be like to “walk in the shoes” of another person? Follow me as I "Walk in the Shoes" of someone else for the day.
On Wednesday, December 5th, I put on my first pair of “shoes” with Georgianne Vinicombe, owner of Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Co. and the 2012 Princeton Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year.
Georgianne’s workday typically starts 7:00 a.m. when she arrives at her Princeton location in the Forrestal Village. Her second location is in Yardley PA which opened in 1998. What I learned today is that Georgianne doesn't just make floral arrangements; she does just about everything else! She does a lot of heavy lifting, literally. She spent the first two hours of the day unloading "hard good items" like vases, baskets, and ribbons that had arrived.
A little side note about my experience with flowers: I was not blessed with my mother’s green thumb. One summer my sister-in-law and I planted sunflowers together at my house and the four that she planted to "teach me,” grew like a stalk while none of the one’s that I planted grew. Our flowerbed looked pretty sad.
My Day Begins
To look the part as one of the Monday Flowers team, Georgianne handed me a pink “Monday Mornings" shirt to change into so I didn't get my clothes dirty. Then she set me up with the task of freshening up all of the lovely poinsettias in her store. I was taught how to pluck the dead leaves off and then water gently.
After that we headed to the upstairs office and worked on updating her website. She took a picture of a beautiful holiday arrangement and then loaded it onto her website. She explained how they had created this custom arrangement and then would post it so that customers could go to her website and order the arrangement. (Order your Santa Puppy $49.99 Here)
As she was showing me this, I realized her website had seasonal content and that the task of updating it must eat up a chunk of her day. She has to constantly add new items for Hanukkah, Christmas, and Mothers Day etc., with new pictures and pricing. I'm sure I'm missing some steps.
While we worked on her site, I learned that Georgianne had opened her business over 25 years ago and that during the first 2 years she ran the shop out of her condo. The next four years, she operated out of an office in Princeton. During that time she was both the floral designer and delivery person (She would shut down the store to deliver). She admitted it was not a great business plan so the first person she hired was a driver! She currently has between 18-20 employees at any one time.
After the website was updated, we headed back downstairs to work on some fresh flowers that had just been delivered. I walked into a freezer type room that was so fragrant upon opening the door. The smell was an amazing array of floral scent. We picked out some red carnations that needed to be cut and then we moved on to lily's.
CONSUMER TIP! - Here's something that I learned that I thought would be helpful to share. I knew you were supposed to cut fresh flowers to have them last longer, but I learned you should cut them on an angle, not straight.
The Power of Networking
What’s great about being a local businesswoman is the network of other professional women who become good friends. Georgianne was invited to lunch at a restaurant that was supporting a local organization and I was delighted to see a few familiar faces and meet some new ones. Some of the ladies attending were; Debbie Schaffer of Mrs. G's, Denise Taylor of Great Looks for Less and Melissa Tenzer of CareersUSA Princeton NJ
Networking is a big part of Georgianne's success. Sometimes it's hard to get away from the store, but she makes networking a priority. The lunchtime discussion was focused around social networking sites likes Facebook and LinkedIn and how to make social media, in general, work better for each businesses that was there. One of the women commented that she only had 10 likes on her business page and Georgianne jumped right in and offered that she come to her store so she could teach her the in's and out's of running a business Facebook page. They set up a time to meet later in the afternoon. Georgianne was so kind to offer me some advice on running a successful business, and since she is a social networking wizard I soaked it all in. Running a success social networking campaign is a full time job!
Does the Shoe Fit?
I learned today that being the owner of a floral shop doesn't mean that you are standing around making floral arrangements all day. Georgianne wears many shoes throughout the day: she meets with brides, is the marketing (traditional & social) director, does a lot of networking, unloads boxes of products, runs a staff, gets involved with local causes, updates her website, takes pictures, and so much more. Georgianne's philosophy is "The customer is first. My job is to provide them with the experience that they are seeking. I want to meet expectations, but I prefer to exceed expectations."
Georgianne's shoe type was comfortable "like an old friend" and I wore ballet flats as I had a feeling I would be on my feet most of the day"
Thank you Georgianne for letting me “walk in your shoes” today. Here's hoping that all of your poinsettias don’t look droopy by tomorrow, thanks to my "non-green' thumb!