Interview with a Florist; Part 3 With Nancy White

 Nancy White; The Flower Bar, 11 Addison Street, Larchmont, NY

I'm excited to bring to you Part 3 in my series of "interviews" with some of my floral friends. Nancy and I started chatting in a most embarrassing way. She had sent us an order through one of our floral networks and in trying to match a picture of a design on her website, we pulled up the wrong item number!! Well, that made for an unhappy customer on Nancy's side, so of course, we sent out a replacement design right away. Luckily Nancy and her customer did not hold it against us. I'm sure, as florists, we have all had instances like that, but you never get immune to the feeling of letting someone down.

I met Nancy and her husband in person last July when they came to buy some of my wedding items during my store liquidation. I laughed when they drove up in a tiny car to take back a large arch. They did it, which shows Nancy's "can do anything" attitude.**

Nancy is a graduate of the prestigious New York Botanical Garden Floral Design Program, was raised in Larchmont and has a beautiful shop and has been interviewed on TV quite a few times!  I hope you enjoy her interview!

How did you happen to get into the flower business?

At my 50th birthday party, my now husband surprised me with a proposal of marriage! We had a very small, family wedding at home and the flower shop (that I now own) quoted an outrageous (thousands) price for a centerpiece, 2 tall arrangements, 2 bouquets and 2 boutonnieres. I have always loved flowers and would make my own arrangements from bodega flowers but I didn’t know anything. I decided to do the flowers myself – I got my tax ID number and went to our local wholesaler and some friends helped me. I had a book to follow for the bouquets and boutonnieres.

In the meantime, the print advertising world I was employed in was rapidly changing and was no longer lucrative enough so it was time to reinvent myself.   A friend of mine who taught landscape design at the New York Botanical Garden suggested I go to their career night and that’s when I thought – I can do this!

 I earned my certificate in Floral Design in the Spring of 2010. I started as an intern at The Flower Bar Valentine’s Day weekend 2010 and just loved it. In August the owners told me they wanted to sell it and we closed two weeks before Valentine’s Day 2011! We didn’t know anything about buying flowers or otherwise running a flower shop but somehow we got through it, we learned and grew.

What part of the business is the most valuable?

Our tag line is “We Deliver Extraordinary” and we couldn’t fulfill that promise without a great team. We sell the experience, which just happens to include flowers. Our retail flower business is our most valuable asset. 

What part of your business is the least valuable? 

Right now, we are investing in growing our event business to be 1/3 of our overall sales, but it is currently just 4% of sales.

If you could go back to the beginning, what words of advise would you give yourself? What do you wish you knew then that know now?

I’m sure it’s true for any business, but it is particularly important for a floral business. Planning ahead, 1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks, etc. makes everything else run smoothly. On a more practical level, I had no idea about pricing or even what sort of margin I should go for, let alone how to achieve it.

If you could change any aspect of your business, what would you change? 

My shop – the layout is awkward and I have no storage that is hidden from view. All of the production is done in full view and the room with the best light is not big enough for everyone. I would invest in a reconfiguration but I may have to move with little notice.  Our landlord is elderly and his wife is planning to sell the building as soon as he passes. It’s a teardown and I don’t know what we are going to do or where we will go. It will require a whole reimagining of the business.

Thinking about your business, what are you most proud of?

We have built a brand centered around being the best – and we were voted “Best Florist in Westchester” in 2022 by the readers of Westchester Magazine. It was a surprise, I had not even voted for myself! The business is very successful and profitable.

**Update!! Nancy reminded me that we first met at the North East Floral Expo and that we had dinner together at the Real Local Florist Expo in New York City. Have I ever mentioned that I have the worst memory. Leave it to me to remember the embarrassing part of our relationship and not the good part!!