It all started when I was on the high school dance team. I noticed that there were no flowers available for purchase at our annual recital. It was then that I began selling flowers at local dance recitals and team competitions. Any flowers left over would die a few days later and end up in the trash.
My senior year in high school, I was working as an intern at a local credit union. I met a woman named Rusty who told me about wood flowers that were made in South America. I immediately fell in love with them. I found a supplier, ordered as many as I could afford, and they became my top seller at the dance recitals. Any flowers left over could be saved and used at the next event.
After graduating high school, I fell in love, got married, became a Mom and focused on my family as a stay at home Mom. This photo is of me and my best friend Katie. We had our babies together and to this day, she is still my very best friend. In my spare time, I taught dance at my aunt's dance studio called Julie Moffitt School Of Ballet and I coached high school dance team at St. Joseph's Catholic School.
After a few years of staying at home with my babies and teaching dance part time, I craved more time on the dance floor but I found it very difficult to find dance classes that catered to women. As a child/teen, dance classes were easily available, but it seemed that the dance world had forgotten about the dancers after high school graduation. With the help of my husband and a $10,000 small business loan, I founded Adult Dance & Fitness. The name later changed to French Kiss Fitness. We specialized in dance classes for women including hip hop, jazz, ballet, belly dance, and even pole dancing.
I owned the dance studio for seven years. It grew to three locations and dozens of employees. Entrepreneurship took it's toll on my family and by the time it was over, I had been divorced twice, but was given two beautiful children in the process. Suddenly, I realized that I no longer wanted to own the dance studio's and they were closed. For the next two years, I would bounce from job to job living on welfare and trying to find love with someone who would accept me, my kids, and my need for entrepreneurship. I found single parenting to be very challenging and I knew that I needed to make a change.
In one of my darkest hours, I called my father on the phone and asked for his guidance. He reminded me of my wood flowers and suggested that I revisit that business idea. I took my last $500 and purchased inventory from my old supplier. I sold flowers at dance recitals, farmers markets, and I even had a weekly event where I sold flowers out of my apartment. Within 6 months, I was paying my own bills and no longer needed the welfare system. Needing welfare was very embarassing and I was thrilled when I got to make the phone call to cancel my food stamp card.
A few months after I started selling wood flowers, I saw a familiar face on a dating website I belonged to. His name was Wesley and I met him seven years earlier during a very brief pulic encounter. When I saw his face on the dating website, I was surprised that I rememberd his name. He has been with me since the beginning of this wood flower business. In fact, he quit his job in corrections to become one of my first employees.
My flowers were a huge hit and within one year, I was renting a warehouse and had hired a dozen employees. I saw a TV show called Shark Tank and I knew I wanted to be on that show. I tried out six months after starting my business and failed. I tried out a second and third time with no luck. Then, I heard Shark Tank would be holding another round of auditions in nearby Las Vegas. My boyfriend and I made the trip and together, we made a pitch to the producers. The audition went so well that after the tryout, we went to a Las Vegas chapel and got married.
Six months later, I pitched my business to the Shark Tank judges. It was the highlight of my career.
One month after appearing on the show, I sold my business so that I could start a new business called Sola Wood Flowers. This move would allow me to be the only owner of my business. I think it is very important for female entrepreneurs to own 100% of their business. This move was very difficult for me but it has built my character and made me understand that I am stronger than I once thought. We have now been in business for almost nine months and we have thousands of customers, 25 employees, and I couldn't be happier with where this journey of entrepreneurship has lead me. Thank you for being part of this journey!