UT alumna Meg Hutchinson’s entrepreneurial journey began with a childhood dream to become a florist.
Since then, the journey has taken her abroad to Bath, England, to study floral design, and back to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she founded her business, the Florista, and filled her first large order in Neyland Stadium.
Most recently, Hutchinson’s florals received national exposure when she was asked to bring her arrangements to Los Angeles during the Teen Vogue Summit. Designed by Teen Vogue editors, the three-day November event hosted celebrity speakers, performances and workshops designed to inspire attendees to create change in their communities.
“This was my first big order outside of Tennessee, and my first event with a national brand,” Hutchinson said.
Leaning on knowledge gained from supply chain and entrepreneurship classes in UT’s Haslam College of Business, Hutchinson sourced florals on the West Coast and filled the 250-arrangement order.
“Seeing the finished product was exciting" she said. "Knowing that I can step out of my comfort zone, source product and bring it all together successfully is an incredible feeling.”
Hutchinson’s connection with Teen Vogue began last summer when she was chosen as a winner of the Victoria’s Secret Pink GRL PWR Project. The national competition awarded 20 young women $10,000 each to pursue their dreams. Hutchinson invested the money in her business and saw her sales continue to grow. During this time, she kept in contact with her co-winners.
“We’ve created such a strong network,” Hutchinson said. “The community of young women with such strong drive and passion has been really amazing and inspiring.”
Through this network, Hutchinson connected with Teen Vogue, providing florals for the summit events sponsored by VS Pink.
“I’m looking forward to working with new large brands that I’ve connected with via this experience,” she said.
Hutchinson said confidence gained during her time at UT prepared her for an event on a national stage. As a student, she connected with the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation through the center’s pitch competitions, receiving $19,500 from Vol Court, the Graves Business Plan Competition and the Boyd Venture Challenge.
“Winning these competitions reinforced that there is a strong presence in my idea, and that people have faith in investing in me,” Hutchinson said.
She continued working with the Anderson Center throughout her undergraduate career, receiving mentorship and resources to help build her business. Hutchison, who is from Franklin, Tennessee, graduated in May of 2019 with a degree in supply chain management.
“I graduated ready to take the next step,” she said.
The next steps in that journey include a shop, The Florista + The Find, located in Knoxville’s Southern Market, and more large orders.
“I’m excited to see this dream I’ve had since childhood continue to grow,” said Hutchinson.
Carrie McCamey (865-974-9964, firstname.lastname@example.org)