The Value of Resilience in Entrepreneurship with Chloe Stagner
Welcome to WCEAN’s Alumni Spotlight! The team at Goodspero, FocusCopy, and Bluberry Creative interviewed and produced this alumni spotlight to showcase the entrepreneurial journey of the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship's graduates. Please meet Chloe Stagner (‘16), owner of Picked Flower Co.
Meet Chloe Stagner (‘16)
Chloe Stagner (‘16) knew from a young age that she wanted to own a business and work for herself. Unfortunately, there weren’t many options for business schools in New Mexico where she grew up. In 2011, she ventured down to Texas where her grandfather lived.
When Chloe found out about WCE, she just knew that’s where she wanted to be.
Experience in WCE
For Chloe, WCE was life changing. It really tested her limits on how far she could push herself. She didn’t just learn how to start a business, but also...
How to work with people
How to deal with conflict
And how to get through novel problems
“[WCE] was enlightening. I don’t think I would be where I am or have started a business if I didn’t have that experience!”
Biggest Take-Aways from the WCE Experience
If there’s one clear theme throughout Chloe’s career, it’s been her ability to learn and grow from her experiences in extremely resourceful ways.
When she first started out, she didn’t know the first thing about floral arrangements and operating a floral company. She learned those things from people around her and gave them her own unique twist.
Chloe says she learned a lot of this from WCE. In the program, she went through situations completely new to her. When faced with a challenge, Chloe learned to barrel into it, learn as much about it as she could, and figure out how to get it done.
You try, you fail, and you do it again.
That entrepreneurial resilience and work ethic is Chloe’s biggest take-away from her WCE experience.
Breaking Out of the WCE Bubble
Chloe was always a very enthusiastic student, but breaking out of the WCE bubble and shifting back into regular school for that last semester to complete her minor in finance was hard for her. The transition out of WCE and into the working world was a challenge too. She was learning to figure things out without her classmates and the structure of the program. By the time she graduated she admitted, “Oh no! What do I do now? This isn’t how I thought it would be!”
At first, she found herself half-heartedly looking for jobs. But Chloe knew she didn’t want to get a nine-to-five. Her heart was set on figuring out what kind of business she wanted to start and how she could pull it off on her own without any funding.
After a year of struggling to mold her idea, she started Picked Flower Co, and it’s been full throttle ever since.
Being Open to Opportunity
One of Chloe’s favorite things to do is talk business, brainstorm, and advise her friends. And that was what helped her create her first business venture in the real world.
Around the time she was graduating, Chloe had a friend who did floral arranging as a hobby. Chloe started talking with her and found out she was looking to transition into doing a full floral delivery service. She saw the opportunity, researched the competition, and put together a pitch.
Before she knew it, she was running the business side of a hatbox floral delivery service. The service wasn’t scalable though because it was always intended to be a side hustle.
Moving In A Bigger Direction
Chloe had a vision for an even bigger direction.
“I wanted to build a big business and get it as big as I could get it!”
Her friend wanted to stay small and continue as a hobbyist. Having done all she could do for that business, Chloe decided to leave the company and start her own.
“I wanted a flower truck,” she decided.
Chloe’s family had been the brains behind several food trucks in the past. They’d also remodeled several RVs. The idea to create her own unique business was inspired by these roots.
Picked Flower Co started with a simple, fun, and innovative twist on classic floral arrangements: a flower truck with a stem bar.
People could come up and pick their own bouquets by the stem. It created a completely customized experience with a truly organic feel. The dynamic allowed customers to get creative and make their own arrangements – and it was a big hit!
As Picked Flower Co began to grow, Chloe decided to make some pivots in her business strategy.
When she first started out, the plan was to be fully retail.
Maybe some workshops and subscriptions… But she never thought she’d delve into the event space.
Along the way, her company started getting more and more inquiries about doing weddings and other big events. Her company already had a well-established retail brand for personal gifts and homes. Customers really wanted to bring that design and organic feel into their weddings too!
As inquiries piled up, Picked Flower Co’s entrance into the event space started to build organically.
It was customer-driven in every way.
Taking On A Manager Role
Part of growing means hiring more staff to help carry the load. Chloe had to learn to hire and manage new employees quickly to keep up with the growth.
“Learning to be a boss was kind of a challenge!”
When she was at WCE, Chloe was used to working with her peers. She didn’t have to be as direct because everyone had a high work ethic and drive. But with employees, it’s a different dynamic.
“You can’t necessarily assume everyone will be a self-starter.”
Resilience Through a COVID-19
Since COVID-19, many companies have been impacted. Unfortunately, Picked Flower Co has been no exception.
“It has affected us from every angle,” Chloe explained.
Just a few weeks before the pandemic reached the US, Picked Flower Co was gearing up for a big job at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Their flower arrangements would be presented in a ceremony for all of the Rodeo’s major sponsors.
Two days before the bouquets were scheduled to be delivered, the rodeo was cancelled. Around the same time, Chloe’s company was booked for a grand opening of a restaurant. They would be welcoming the restaurant's new customers with the Picked Flower Co flower truck out front. Sadly, this grand opening event was canceled too, with several wedding event cancellations in the pandemic’s wake.
Things were looking grim for Chloe’s crew at Picked Flower Co. But they were trying not to lose hope! After all, they still had their retail and delivery. These started picking up as other plans were shutting down. It’s a true credit to Picked Flower Co’s customer loyalty! But the COVID-19 challenges didn’t stop there.
Picked Flower Co’s main supplier and distributor shut down – making it impossible to get imported flowers from Europe and other parts of the world.
When Stay-At-Home orders were put in place, some flower businesses stayed open. But Chloe felt a responsibility for the safety of her staff and others interacting with her company. “Someone getting sick from this serious virus is not worth us doing deliveries right now.” After the non-essential order was lifted, Chloe was so grateful to start doing deliveries again. Though the company is still being impacted financially. They’ve had to minimize from seven different revenue streams to just one.
Mother’s Day is coming up on May 10. Support Picked Flower Co by ordering flowers for the moms in your life to show you’re thinking about them. Picked has been kind enough to extend a discount to WCEAN. Use the code WCE20 to access a 20% discount.
Picked Flower Co
Picked Flower Co is a full service flower company. They offer everything under the sun and then some.
They are well known for their flower truck. They travel around and do pop-up flower bars where you can pick a bouquet stem-by-stem with everything priced individually.
The same organic concept is carried over in their shop – some arrangements are available, but you can also pick by stem and get exactly what you want.
That’s Picked Flower Co’s thing!
Everything should be what you want.
The diverse floral company also offers:
Workshops on flower arranging and flower crown making
Florals for weddings and events – for any size event and budget
An a la carte menu online where customers can shop through bouquets, pick pedals or garlands, and make it their own
They have everything you need to make your flower dreams come true.
Words of Wisdom From Chloe Stagner
With our new alumni spotlight, we want to help current WCE students and WCE alumni skip the learning curve. Here is Chloe Stagner’s words of wisdom.
Just do it! Coming out of college, and deciding to start a business on my own was really really tough. But that’s the toughest decision you’ll make: to actually get going and take that first leap.
Don’t let yourself get in the way. If there’s an issue talk to your mentors about it or your peers, then put it to the side.
Stop being embarrassed about your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes when we’re just starting out. And that’s okay. You learn! The best thing to do is to stop being embarrassed by it.
P.S. Picked Flower Co is currently searching for a shop dog! If you know of any calm tempered, friendly, and fluffy dogs, send them to Chloe.
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