When Premier Flowers opened in 2015 it brought to fruition Colby Midgett’s childhood passion for arranging flowers.
When Colby Midgett started Premier Flowers as a side business in February 2015 out of her home, she wasn’t sure if it would take off. But she had enough faith in herself that she took leave from her job in health care so she could learn everything she could about the floral business.
Fast forward two years and Midgett has moved the business from her home to a storefront on the eastern edge of Binghampton at 80 Tillman Street and she’s considering another move to a more visible spot. The floral shop has two part-time employees along with Midgett who creates a massive variety of floral arrangements for any occasion.
Midgett didn’t set out with a career as a florist in mind. It was just something she enjoyed since she was younger and watched her grandmother arrange flowers.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last five years and I just eventually got the courage to do it one day,” she said. “One day I woke up and after having talked with some family members I said why not? Why can’t I do this and be successful?”
But her leap into entrepreneurship wasn’t blind. When she left her healthcare job, she put together a plan that would become Premier Flowers. It included building up a portfolio of floral arrangements. An aunt and uncle who had recently retired and moved back to Memphis from Los Angeles cautioned Midgett to try floral arrangements on the side to start.
“She said, everything you do take pictures of it. You grew up crafty and working in the yard,” Midgett said her aunt reminded her.
She watched videos and practiced arranging what she saw. Midgett also took a class at the Memphis Botanic Garden. And what started as a home-based business grew quickly into a full-time storefront.
“It grew so quick that I had to leave my home,” Midgett said, adding that flowers were overflowing her kitchen table and laundry room. “It grew and grew and got to the point I needed to make a decision. I can keep doing what I’m doing, going to work every day not happy and doing this on the side; it just grew and I decided I’m going to do it. You live once and you should be able to do things you want to do. I didn’t want to have any regrets.”
Midgett admits that running a florist shop isn’t easy. Much of her business comes from what are called floral wire services; her first was 1-800-Flowers.
“I don’t know how these people find you but my sales rep called and said, ‘I’ve seen your website,’” she said. “I was up late nights building my first website. He called and said I love your work. I want you to consider being a florist under our network.”
The business has grown from there due to social media and word-of-mouth. Midgett joined the Greater Memphis Chamber and was named a top business to watch in 2016.
Midgett selected the Tillman storefront between Poplar Avenue and Walnut Grove Road for its central location. Community L.I.F.T helped her find the location and River City Capital provided a micro loan to help with coolers and inventory. She would like to get more walk-in business; she said about 80 percent of her business comes from wire orders.
Whether customers walk in or go to the website, the process begins with picking from a large selection of arrangement possibilities. Once the order is placed Midgett gets to work. The arrangement can be picked up in the store or her staff makes deliveries.
Midgett said her biggest challenges include the lack of mentorship and support. She’s not too concerned about competition. In fact, she said she wishes more people would call a local florist for orders so small businesses have more opportunities.
Midgett is a native Memphian, growing up in Frayser and graduating from Trezevant High School. She went on to graduate from Southwest Tennessee Community College and the University of Memphis with a bachelor’s degree in criminology. A mother of two, she’s worn plenty of hats, including entrepreneur.
It’s funny how life gets in the way, but Midgett said she’s never been afraid of risks.
“Sometimes it’s a bad risk but it’s just who I am,” she said. “I try to make the best of things. I work hard regardless of what I’m doing or where I’m working. I love what I do.”
Darnell Reid came across Midgett at first through a friend who recommended he interview her for his podcast about entrepreneurship, Memphis Success. He now uses Premier Flowers for his own business, Good Hands Home Care, a senior home-care agency.
Reid often sends flowers to the seniors his agency cares for, and he said he prefers to use a local company such as Premier Flowers.
“There’s the ease and convenience of not having to go to a grocery store (to buy arrangements), and I’m confident the flowers will look good and smell fresh,” he said. “They’ll be arranged. Sometimes you have to buy flowers and arrange them yourself. But as a local business owner, I like to support other local business owners like Colby and I want to see them succeed.”