April is here...and we couldn't be more excited to welcome spring! We've opened the doors to our new Candle Bar and Boutique in Dock Square, Kennebunkport, Maine and loving the space and incredible natural light shining in. We're also in love with the increased opportunity to see more people! Folks getting out and traveling, taking in the sites, and connecting. It's been a great time already helping our customers create their custom candle (and now, reed diffuser) scents and the summer calendar is packed with local business special events, and 'Saturday Pop-Ups' every month with New England made products and small businesses!
So, we all know how the saying goes...April showers bring May flowers! And, with this being mud season around here, we just don't want to wait any longer. This months featured small business is all about FLOWERS, and may I say, not just any flowers. We welcome Michelle Glassman from Petalage, based in Portland, ME. Michelle's beautiful floral wraps and wedding arrangements are unique, stunning, and a lovely work of art. She created the most stunning bouquet and personals for our daughter's wedding (pictured below!) So, I personally feel a special connection to her and her small business...but read our Q & A and meet her for yourself!
- Tell us about your business and what you do (name, location, type of business).
I am the owner of Petalage. Petalage is a boutique home based floral design studio based out of Portland, ME. I specialize in high-end floral design services for weddings and private events along with daily florals and artisanal gifts.
- When did you open your business and how did you get started?
When my husband and I moved to Maine from Boston, the iconic image of a fork in the road appeared to me. I had to ask myself, “What am I willing to sacrifice in order to pursue something I love?” This was a difficult and scary question, not only for me but also for my husband and our future goals ---- a career change wouldn’t just impact me. So it’s hard to explain how I decided upon flowers. I didn’t grow up with gardeners in the family nor did I have a particular affinity for them. I really wish I had a more romantic story for you. However, it really just started with my appreciation for various artistic forms, which lead me to take a 5-week botanical program at Maine College of Art. I believe I truly started pursuing flowers around spring 2018 and my passion for flowers continued to organically develop as I taught myself floral design. I staged some amateur photo shoots with my little sisters, put myself on Thumbtack, and began a one-year online mentorship program with Emma Lemmke, an Australia-based floral designer. The rest is history!
- What is your favorite part of being a business owner? Least favorite?
I currently work out of my large detached garage studio. To be honest, I am in the midst of deciding if I want to invest in a studio/shop space. I have been looking at spaces for two years but just haven’t felt secure enough to take the leap. This decision just like the decision to leave my corporate career is another fork in the road that I need to figure out as an entrepreneur. I love that I have the control and power over my own professional journey, but I’d say this is also a negative because sometimes it can feel really alone & scary in the midst of decision-making!!
- From where do you draw your inspiration and decide on the products you want to offer?
I pull my inspiration from fragments of my own childhood like growing up with my Nana telling me fairytales. I also grew up with a mother who always allowed me to express myself whether that was dressing up in any way I desire or painting my bedroom yellow and purple. There were no limitations around being myself. My mother also dabbled in art and always had a knack for interior design. I sort of grew up surrounded by artistic influences. I believe growing up in nature on a lake always draws me back to the beauty & freedom of Mother Nature. I really try to keep my business streamlined in a world where technology is dominant. I primarily focus on my wedding design services & wildflower wraps. I am self-taught so I like to remain as focused as possible on refining my design capabilities and being the best designer for my clients & customers.
- What values does your business embody?
I believe in respect, mindfulness, being yourself & real, honesty, exceptional custom service, and professionalism. I’ve learned along the way that passion isn’t merely about picking a lane. Passion is about building a community of people around you that motivate and uplift you. Passion is about giving back by sharing your creativity with the world in whatever form that may be. It’s really about sharing I guess! It’s allowed me to emerge into a better version of myself in ways that I never felt I could achieve in my corporate life. I always say I am 50% creative and 50 % business and this is very significant to the success of my business and the relationships I’ve formed with my flower clients, customers, and community.
- Is your business a full time or part time venture? Do you have plans to grow/expand?
My business is sort of always part-time because the floral industry especially in New England significantly slows down in the “off season”. My wedding season runs from about May-November. December-April is more quiet and I fill my time with administration, conjuring up new ideas, marketing, organizing, proposals, etc…Right now I am just trying to stay focused on my big first full season of summer 2021. With that said, as I mentioned above I am always contemplating where I want my business to go. It’s hard because I love the freedom of working from home and just focusing on floral design but I also see so much opportunity in expanding into workshops and retail. We shall see where Petalage take me!
- There are many challenging that come along with running a small business. What is your biggest challenge and what is your biggest reward or success?
I am currently struggling with indecisiveness. I have a lot of trouble making decisions on my own. I need to talk to everyone close to me before I can make a decision or NOT. Also the off-season is really trying because it can be really slow. I need to remind myself to remain focused, disciplined, and set priorities & schedules. With that said, my biggest rush is simply celebrating the success of having actually left my corporate career and building my own creative business. I actually did it! I never thought that I would be where I am now. I have so much hope for what’s to come. I am obsessed with marketing my business and creating a community by just being myself and providing a beautiful product that brings happiness and joy. It beats my old property management job where I was a quarter of my truest and best self.
- How do you spend your time when you aren’t in your store or creating your product?
Honestly, I spend the majority of my time doing simple life things with my husband and dog. We like to go out to eat, work on the bungalow, conjure up future plans, discover Maine, read (I just finished where the Crawdads Sing) and hang out with family & friends. We like to travel but that’s been a bit on hold. We have a week planned in Harpswell this summer, which is my favorite spot in Maine. I wish I had crazier pastimes to share but any free time we have we typically set aside for our family & friends because their the most important people in our lives!
- How did you discover Sea Love Candles & Company?
I met Sea Love Candles when I worked at Antiques on Nine in Kennebunk upon first moving to Maine. I think we met via Instagram & we just started chatting about our creative business ventures. I mentioned she should bring her candles into Antiques on Nine and we just stayed in touch from there. Stacy has been very supportive and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her as we both have grown our businesses from scratch and have confided in both the good and challenging parts of the journey.
- Where can people go to find more about your business (website, social media accounts)?
You can visit petalageflorals.com, Insta @petalageflorals, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for taking time to chat with us, Michelle! :)