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Meet Shawn Featherstone of Petal Forest in Westchester

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shawn Featherstone.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As a lover of flowers and the joy they bring to others, I first got the idea to open a floral studio while working as a Database Development Manager at The Walt Disney Company. On a regular basis, I saw so many exquisite floral arrangements being delivered to the studio lot. It stirred something in me, and I started thinking about how nice it would be to work with flowers, designing beautiful arrangements.

I continued to work in IT for several years, yet, at a certain point, I started leaning in the direction of my dream. I began to take trips to The Flower Mart, creating floral arrangements for family and friends. I reached a huge turning point when I connected with a very successful Los Angeles florist. In my spare time, I offered to work for free as an intern in her floral studio. Her mentorship provided priceless hands-on education and experience, which helped propel me forward as a designer. With a bit of experience and a leap of faith, I decided it was time to pursue opening my own business.

Believing that if you lean forward life will meet you halfway, I began posting pictures of my arrangements on Facebook, even before I had an official website. Some of my Disney friends saw my posts, which led to Disney becoming my first client.

Having always been big on sweat equity, I didn’t invest a lot of cash into my business. In the early days, I did everything myself. I took the orders, did the shopping, prepped the flowers, created the arrangements and made the deliveries.

Doing it all you quickly realize, even with a firm belief in sweat equity, you can only do so much, it’s just too fatiguing. I never wanted my clients to suffer because I was trying to do everything. With this realization, I began to build a team. Initially, I brought on an assistant for shopping and prep work. That grew to multiple team members assisting with production. Eventually, I added a dedicated delivery person.

Bringing on more resources has allowed me to grow from the humble beginnings of creating individual flower arrangements to providing weekly and monthly lobby service for clients, arrangements for private events, and complete event management services.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
For any small business, you’re going to have obstacles, but those obstacles are really just opportunities to grow. One obstacle was refrigeration. If you take on a big job and you don’t have refrigeration, you have to wait until it’s very close to the delivery time to put the job together, which means you’re rushing like crazy. I’ve always been really keen on freshness, and what I hear repeatedly from clients is they can’t believe how fresh the flowers are, so it was critical to solve the refrigeration challenge. Through relationships with wholesalers, I’ve been able to gain access to refrigeration space for larger jobs, which has taken the limit off of the size jobs I can do.

Please tell us about Petal Forest.
Petal Forest is a full service floral design studio, specializing in lush, elegant high quality creations. We are known for our freshness, design and rich use of color. We take time to get to know our clients. If flowers, orchids or succulents are going into a modern home or workspace, for example, we take care in selecting the right vase and creating the right design. If there are certain flowers or a color palette a client is drawn to, we try to make sure that this is reflected in what we deliver. In addition to my goal of spreading joy, another aim was to have a business where I build relationships. The greatest compliment is when an existing client calls to place an order and leaves the design up to us. It implies they have such trust in what we’re going to deliver, they don’t have to worry about the details.

A large portion of our business is serving corporate clients, which includes everything from lobby and office suite service, to floral gifts and arrangements for their events. We also work with hotels, providing lobby solutions and guest room deliveries. For several seasons, we were the florist for the Dr. Phil show, proving flowers for the green rooms. We continue to have clients in the entertainment and media space.

In addition to fresh cut flowers, we also provide monthly orchid service, creating potted orchid arrangements to beautify any space. We use premium grade orchids and vessels, and ensure an optimal state with weekly watering and grooming visits. This is a nice option for those who desire a highly elegant, enduring floral statement.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I recently added someone to my team to assist with logistics and planning. In retrospect, I would have made this addition to my team sooner. Since I need to keep my eye on quality control and order fulfillment, it can be challenging to also focus on the long game. Having someone who can plan our future seasonal campaigns, while I tend to our immediate orders is priceless.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Stacey Adams Photography

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