This year has been very eventful to say the least. With everything that has been happening in 2020, the impact to small businesses has been unprecedented.
This year has provided opportunities for some to pursue their passions and turn their side hustles into full-fledged businesses. This same year also has provided extreme challenges for small businesses to compete and have the support that they need to keep going.
There are many ways we can support our local small businesses during these tumultuous times. Some of these include:
Ordering a meal from a local restaurant to-go
Buying your presents from a local or independent vendor
Purchasing a gift card from a restaurant or shop
Following them on social media and sharing how much you appreciate them
That last point is a key element to the success of many small businesses. Telling other people how much you love a product or service can go a long way. Never forget the impact of your words. Using your voice to help others can be critical to the success of your favorite businesses or help them have the encouragement they need to continue pursuing their passion.
I hope to bring a few stories this holiday season of local small businesses that you can help support. Next week, I will have two interviews going up with more planned for later in the month.
Let’s truly show our community support this holiday season and do what we can to help out our neighbors by shopping small and local.
Thank you for reading and I’m excited to share these stories with you!
Today’s article is about Frondezvous, a small houseplant boutique specializing in 3D printed pots and plants that require easy to intermediate levels of care. According to owner Lex, this shop represents where the digital world and the natural world intersect.
Lex started Frondezvous after learning from her personal experiences growing plants for the past few years. According to Lex, “I knew I wanted to start a plant boutique after talking to several of my friends and learning about their trepidations in finding the right plants for their home. So many people immediately say, ‘Nope, I’ll kill that!’ But having and caring for plants around my house has really improved my happiness and well-being, so I wanted to share that joy. A friend of mine made a 3D printed pot for me as a novelty and the fully formed idea took off from there.”
By blending the unique designs of the 3D printed pots with the natural beauty of the plants, Frondezvous stands apart. “Anyone who knows me personally knows I’m obsessed with plants. To quote The Sill, one of my favorite online plant boutiques, ‘Plants make people happy.’ There’s nothing more exciting than swapping plants with a friend and having them send you pictures of every new leaf and growth spurt. I think plants are a joy that’s accessible to everyone with the right education and it would be the ultimate fulfillment for me to spread that joy.“
Though this is currently a mostly independent venture, Lex hopes to make Frondezvous more collaborative in the future. “I believe small, local businesses are what make any community thrive, and I’m lucky to be situated near a number of them, including the businesses and bars of the Milk District, SODO, and so on. Frondezvous is still a seedling but as we grow, I hope to collaborate with lots of local makers, artists, and businesses.” Lex has already started branching out into collaborating with other businesses to continue to produce unique products and has big plans for the future. “Currently I’m collecting used candle holders from The Thirsty Topher to repurpose as potting vessels. I’d like to start a recycling program with local coffee shops and restaurants to collect coffee grounds and food scraps for composting.”
Lex credits her business in helping her grow personally as well. “I’m becoming really proficient in ‘tinkering’ and technical work to make sure my prints are coming out right. I’m also learning so much about 3D design and building which are things I wanted to learn independently anyway, so it’s doubly exciting that I get to learn about them for my business.”
No business is immune from challenges. Sometimes those challenges can be personal. “I’ve had plenty of challenges, many of them stemming from self-doubt. Many of the big makers’ markets around Orlando frequently feature big names in the local plant community, so it was definitely intimidating to arrive at my first market in direct competition with them. I’ve also had a learning curve with design software since it was initially way far outside of my comfort zone. The great thing about working with plants and 3D prints is that you can see when you’re doing well and when you’re not. When my prints and my plants are pretty and healthy, I know I’m going in the right direction, and I gain a little more confidence to take the right next steps.”
Lex has many goals for how her business can grow and impact the community. “I’m doing what I can to spread happiness and plant education in my community! Although COVID-19 has slowed the process, I’m hoping to join the UFAS Master Gardener Volunteer program to improve my knowledge and help native Florida wildlife to thrive in the area. I also hope in the future to shed more of a light on recycling programs for businesses when I start up my composting program.” Lex also hopes to have a website completed by June so that she can reach a larger audience and help grow the local plant community.
When asked if there was any tips she had for people looking to start their own business Lex responded with the following advice: “Find a mentor.” As she put it, “When I set out to start Frondezvous, I was mostly flying blind and have had to restructure as I learned. Finding someone who has already been through the hard parts – or at least someone who can guide you in developing your skills and confidence – can make the process so much smoother.”
Thank you so much Lex for sharing your story with us!
Follow Lex through her social media accounts for updates about her nursery and behind the scenes looks at new designs. There you can also see where she will be selling her plants and pots if you would like one for yourself.
Today’s article is about Chelles Bakery, LLC a home based start up out of Winter Garden, FL.
This is run by business owner Darimar M. Velazquez, a self-taught baker and cake decorator. She specializes in Gluten-Free French Macarons and much more.
I found out about this business through the Chelles Bakery Instagram page. She has such a variety of different macarons that all look incredible.
When asked what made her chose this product Darimar responded, “The first time I tried a macaron was at the Bouchon Bakery in Rockefeller Plaza, NY. I became obsessed. I was fascinated by the range of colors and flavors that I instantly knew I had to make this treat. I researched a lot, read a lot, tasted a lot, and even threw a lot of macarons in the bin just to get them right. I chose this product because it has taught me one very important and valuable lesson: to not give up.”
The decorating component of the business came about after Darimar’s sister-in-law used fondant for a cake for her daughter’s birthday. This experience propelled Darimar on her quest to learn everything she could about cake decorating through Google and YouTube. She became obsessed to learn how to create.
She then gained experience through small time bakeries and just trial and error. After some time, she knew it was time to take the risk and start her own journey. Originally selling her creations through word of mouth orders though her friends and family, she said that she would carry her phone everywhere and show pictures to anyone who was interested pictures of things she had created. Eventually, she made a Facebook and Instagram pages to market her delectable works of art.
She says, “I knew I had to find a niche to be able to stand out from the crowd. That’s when I remembered how much joy I got from eating my very first macaron. I wanted to bring that same joy to others. I soon got to work on these delicate, little pastries that are notorious for enticing the hearts of people and drawing tears to those who want to perfect them. I started selling my macarons on December 2017 at the Winter Garden Farmer’s Market. It’s only been six months into the business but being at the market has brought me so much exposure. Since opening I have been commissioned to three weddings, Sweet 16th parties, and much more.”
“Becoming an entrepreneur has enhanced my life completely. It has provided me with a new perspective. You begin to think as a business owner (which makes you feel pretty special, by the way).”
When asked if there have been any challenges she replied, “I wear many hats. From being a stay-home mom of two young girls to running all aspects of the business by myself it’s easy to see that time-management might be one of the biggest challenges I face. What I have learned is to delegate. I consistently ask myself, ‘Is what I’m doing right now the absolute best use of my time?'”
Her tips for others to start their own business are to work hard and find your niche “Do work you care about and truly believe in. This type of business is very saturated and competitive, but it can also be very fun and rewarding.”
Thank you so much Darimar for taking the time to share your story!
If you would like to learn more about Chelles Bakery, please visit the links below.
Due to the extreme heat in Central Florida she will be returning to the Winter Garden Farmer’s Market by the end of September or beginning of October. Follow her social media links to learn more about this and when she will be starting to sell her amazing treats online. While these will not be able to be mailed, she will be able to provide either pick up or delivery within Central Florida.
Thank you all for reading! Have an amazing day and remember to be uniquely you!
All pictures are graciously sent by Darimar M Velazquez and Chelles Bakery and are not my own.