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Balancing the Grind with Shavonne Stengle, Owner of The Flower Crowd

Shavonne Stengle from The Flower Crowd knows what this is all about.At just 15, Shavonne started her own floristry business while she was still at school. Now, at 18, Shavonne’s business has bloomed into a six-figure turnover.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role? 

I’m eighteen years old, working full-time as the owner of a floristry business. I started this as a weekend job when I was fifteen. 

How it started: 

At fourteen I started my first job at a chemist as a pharmacy assistant, where I worked for one year, but I knew that it was not my passion. I have always loved flowers, and I had been wanting to try floristry for as long as I can remember. Balancing work and school, I enrolled myself in a local college, The Flower School. 

My practical sessions at college always saw wasted flowers, which I hated, so after college on Fridays, I would take leftover flowers home to create arrangements. From there, I started selling them at the markets, waking up at three o’clock in the morning to get the best spot. 

It did not matter if I only sold one or two bouquets, I was just happy to know that my arrangements were going to make someone really happy. It encouraged me to make my passion my work, rather than just a hobby. 

To get the ball rolling, I visited my local Dan Murphy’s to pitch my idea of the ‘date night package’, which would see me outside the local bottle shop with a flower stand; and they loved it. I was fifteen years old spending my Friday afternoons with my sister selling bouquets to the locals in my area. 

To build further momentum in my business, I would ask my Grandad to drive me to my local IGAs, with The Brendale IGA offering me my first ever order. After telling my mum and dad, they were shocked. I knew nothing about running a business, but my parents were so supportive. 

The next day I got business cards printed and dropped off bouquets. Six months on, more and more local grocers became interested through word-of-mouth referrals and my business just kept growing. 

Now, four years on, I have rebranded my business to ‘The Flower Crowd’, fulfilling orders for weddings, events, funerals and more. Bringing on my first employee, creating a home studio and ensuring I am on top of all my invoices and bills has kept me very busy to say the least. 

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday? 

Floristry means very early mornings. I usually wake up at 5am and head to the flower markets, but meeting with farmers directly could see me awake and onsite as early as 4am. I am always on the lookout for fresh stock, which means that sometimes I drive two hours to different farms depending on what flowers I am after. 

I fill orders with a chain of local grocers twice a week and fill private orders for events in between. This means I am working 5 days a week, from 5am to around 4pm. Though, if I am lucky some days, I get an early mark! 

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal? 

It is not easy, with early mornings and deadlines constantly looming, though I believe work life balance is extremely important for longevity. With this being said, I try my best to keep work strictly from Monday to Friday, with weekend work scheduled through appointments. 

Setting boundaries with my phone has been helpful too, not answering calls when I have finished the day. To ensure this works, I have a detailed automatic message so customers can still text through any orders with a guarantee to get back the following business day. Communicating these boundaries to your customers is important. 

It is important to prioritise what matters the most to you in your business. For me, I take a lot of care in choosing the best quality flowers. Though, it is important to ensure that my customers are getting the best from me, so sticking to the boundaries is one of the ways I ensure I am maintaining a work-life balance whilst maintaining customer service. 

4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

I found that I was overwhelmed by the hidden paper-work that goes on behind the scenes of running a business. At only eighteen, doing the bookwork all by myself meant that I was missing out on time that could be spent securing new business or fulfilling additional orders. 

It was my accountant who introduced me to Intuit QuickBooks, and it has been an absolute game-changer. Of course, I still have my bookkeeper, but the platform allows me to save so much time on things like invoicing and cash flow management. A new feature which I have started to implement is a calendar, which helps arrange and book appointments. 

For me, adopting digital tools that save you time and take you away from additional admin would be my biggest tip for small business owners. 

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend? 

It has been the people that I have met along my business journey who have recommended some of my favourite books that have guided me to where I am today. Some of my wholesalers from the very beginning of my journey gave me a wealth of knowledge. Though, one book that sticks out is ‘The Smart Business Exit’ by Geoff Green, which taught me all about creating value in my business. 

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be? 

That is a hard one – I think I will be looking for more insights from other florists to see what their learnings they have embraced!

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers? 

My biggest piece of advice is to not give up, and to be fearless. When obstacles or criticism arise, use it to become stronger. If customers criticise your business, use it as an opportunity to change your practice and improve upon your procedures, rather than taking it personally. 

Another big piece of advice is setting boundaries for yourself and sticking to them. This is another massive tip for those seeking to secure a comfortable work life balance. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.