My daughter is obsessed with the art of paper flowers, and she just might be Margie Keates’ biggest fan. Chloe discovered Margie’s work on Instagram, and I’ve been smitten from the moment she shared it with me. That work is no secret, though… The Lovely Ave has amassed almost 40,000 Instagram followers. One peek at their Instagram, and you’ll know why!
In 2020, I’m excited to continue our “Meet the Maker” series, introducing you to inspiring artisans we admire and asking them to share morsels of the business wisdom with us. What better way to kick off the new year than with a gorgeous bouquet of peonies, courtesy of Margie?
Margie Keates of The Lovely Ave
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Margie: I realized that I had the power to make people happy with what I created with my hands which in turn made me really happy. When this happiness became larger than my love for my corporate job, I knew I needed to focus on working for myself.
LBC: How would you describe what you create for The Lovely Ave?
Margie: We create realistic paper flowers out of high-quality crepe paper from Italy and Germany. Each petal is hand-cut, hand-painted, and hand-shaped in our Salt Lake City studio. We arrange our handmade product into beautiful arrangements for your home or loving gifts. We also have a fine art Still Life collection where our flowers are arranged on a canvas to create a 3D art piece perfect for any home.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Margie: Our website offers multiple options including our Lovely Bloom Subscription where you receive a flower a month for under $30.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Margie: I was one of the first paper florists to launch a full functioning paper flower shop online, therefore, it has always been difficult to envision where I wanted this to go since it’s uncharted territory. In the end, I wanted to help elevate our art form so that our flowers were a source of wonderment and inspiration to anyone who sees them for the first time.
LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.
Margie: Coffee first, always. Then, depending on the time of year or the time of the month, we are making flowers for our orders/subscriptions/and holidays. I try to focus on emails in the morning and in the evening since our workflow is best accomplished without distractions. On average, we create about 5-15 flowers per day.
LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
- Know your why. I am positive that most people have heard this said before, but my why is my foundation and has helped me through the toughest of times. I have found that the strongest foundations/why’s are not about how much money you make or if you’re “instafamous” but about how your business makes you and your clients feel.
- With that being said, both money and a good business sense are needed to stay afloat. Create a solid business plan that breaks down clearly what your product is, who your ideal client is, and what your marketing plan is to reach your clients. Invest in good marketing + branding materials to help elevate your business.
- Comparison is the thief of joy. Remember that your product is unique because you are creating it. Comparing your work to others during the first year or so of your business can cause self-doubt and will slow your growth along with making it almost impossible to create your own unique style. I also understand that this is almost impossible in this age of social media; however, train your mind to stay inspired by those you follow. If that account doesn’t give you inspiration or doesn’t bring you happiness, UNFOLLOW.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Margie: When I am overwhelmed, I fall back on my “why” and remind myself that I have the power to say no. This is one of the best lessons you can learn as a small business owner. Taking a rest is not the same as quitting, and saying no to work doesn’t mean you won’t receive work when you’re ready to come back.
LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.
Margie: Asking for help. I considered myself a type A control freak when I first began this journey and I had to learn quickly that I needed to ask for help in order to succeed. This allowed me to hire interns and lead me to find the incredible artist who is my Creative Director now.
LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?
Margie: There were small growing pains at the start that revolved around shipping and customer satisfaction; however, I believe my largest misstep was trying to collaborate too much and working for free because I was blinded by follower numbers and “exposure.” After a few months, it was clear that numbers really didn’t equate to orders or clients who truly love your work. I think collaborating is a wonderful way to meet people in your community or to build relationships with other vendors, but I recommend being wise and very picky when choosing collaborators.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
- Quickbooks Self Employed App. Perfect for tracking expenses and makes taxes sorta easy.
- Squarespace. They make it easy to create and customize your website and also allow you to track which products are performing.
- Social media (unfortunately). This is a key place for us to market our product but we are also weary of “needing” these apps too much. It’s a tough but necessary balance.
LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Margie: We are more established in the fine art community where our pieces are used by interior design firms and our Still Life Collections are represented by fine art galleries.
LBC: If you were given a million dollars, but you weren’t allowed to keep a single penny for yourself, friends or family, how would you give it away?
Margie: I would split the funds between nonprofits that help lower socio-economic families and LGBTQ+ youth.
LBC: Have you ever held an odd job or one you weren’t particularly fond of?
Margie: I was a waitress at a live comedy theater in high school where I had to serve in the dark. Needless to say, I spilled a lot of food on the floor and even on some guests.
LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?
Margie: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are here for a reason. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory that is within us. It’s not just in some of us. It’s in everyone, and, as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson
Thank you, Margie, for sharing your talent with us. We absolutely love what you’re doing with The Lovely Ave, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!