"That was my first large event and since then the orders have been rolling in."
Supply Chain Management - Student
What started out as a love for flowers turned into a business for Meg Hutchinson after she finished a course on floral design in Bath, England. She enrolled at the University of Tennessee pursing a different career, but found she could not shake her childhood dream of becoming a florist. Her experience abroad helped give her the confidence to pursue it, and now the Haslam College of Business is giving her the education to succeed.
“I had always wanted to be a florist,” she says. “I went to England to learn the kind of modern floral design you see constantly on Pinterest, but no one seems to offer.”
Meg’s instincts paid off. She recently decorated the Senior Toast banquet in Neyland Stadium and after disseminating pictures of it and other small jobs that she had done over the holidays through her website and social media, her business has picked up.
“That was my first large event and since then the orders have been rolling in,” she says. “People started asking me about Valentine’s Day flowers, and I’ve had brides from all over Tennessee reach out to me.”
Meg is partnering with another student business — Free for the Fort — to deliver flowers during the Valentine’s Day rush and beyond. She says that her collateral in entrepreneurship is helping her launch the business, but her major in supply chain gives her an advantage in her market.
“Flower delivery and ordering is a huge barrier to a lot of florists,” Meg says. “Florists are dealing with really expensive inventory with a short life span. We have to account for flowers we’re going to receive that are damaged and figure out how to use everything we buy.”
Balancing her business with her business classes is a challenge for Meg, but one that she says she happily pursues.
“Most of my mornings involve me waking up early to get to the wholesaler when it opens at 7, getting flowers, then getting home and prepping them before I can even start arranging,” Meg says. After she does the work of arranging, there is still delivery, marketing, website management and planning and ordering for the next event.
“I decided I wanted to do it big, and I’ve been working nonstop on promoting and marketing,” Meg says. “I have to keep in mind that I’m a student, though.”
Meg plans on eventually opening up a floral and coffee shop where she can offer flowers in a modern, minimalistic environment.
“For me, it’s super important to foster an environment that makes guys — who are the ones buying flowers most — comfortable with coming to order,” she says. “I want to be a florist for people who don’t know anything about flowers, but still want something beautiful.”
Until she has a retail location, Meg shares her flowers with the world and finds potential clients through her website, which she hopes soon will have the capacity to take full orders and schedule deliveries beyond Valentine’s Day.