After spending almost a decade in the legal and insurance fields, Memphis entrepreneur Holly Writt found herself ready to pursue a passion as a career. "I wanted to love what I was doing, and feel like I was doing something good for people," she said.
Out of this desire came Holly and Ivy
, Writt's Midtown floral business.
Launched in January of 2015, Holly and Ivy is a full service floral studio but without the traditional retail component. "This helps keep our overhead low, and waste to a minimum," explained Writt. "Instead of having things sitting in a cooler for days waiting for someone to come in, all our arrangements are created on an as needed basis. So we only order what we need, when we need it and our customers know they are getting the freshest product."
While the floral industry has seen a decline over the last decade, Writt credits this to the rise of mass production florists such as FTD and 1-800-FLOWERS. "These companies create generic platforms for mass production of certain arrangements, then charge local florists to participate in their networks. The margins are low for the florist and creativity is diminished, and the customer ultimately sees the product as less than desired," said Writt. "This is why its so important to shop local. I hope that we can make flowers more accessible, and build a business based on sustainability for a community that appreciates quality product without a big budget."
Holly Writ, owner of Holly and Ivy
Writt found the ideal home for her business within Midtown's Art Factory
at 777 S. Cox. A resident of the Cooper-Young neighborhood herself, Writt had eyed the Art Factory with curiosity. "When the opportunity came for us to actually get a studio there, I was so excited," she said. "The Art Factory provides spaces for local artist to practice their craft without having to pay for a big retail space. We have painters like Maggie Russell
, photographers like Ramblin Rose
and Rob Lyons
, potters like Erica Bodine
, and everything in between."
Writt is grateful for the community the Art Factory provides her and her business, describing it like a "little family."
The Art Space holds open houses for the public to come tour the studios a couple times a year, allowing the public to explore the building and meet the artists who have set up shop there. Aside from the physical space at Art Space, Writt has also taken advantage of other local entrepreneurial resources. "When I first decided that I really wanted to start my own business, I consulted with some of the start up incubators and had meetings with some of the consultants at Start Co
.They gave me great advice about how to tailor my business to whats needed in my industry."
Writt's favorite part of operating a floral studio is her interactions with customers. "When you see someone light up when you hand them a bouquet, it makes it all worth it! I also love it in the spring when I get to go out to the Roots Memphis
farm to pick flowers. I love having a local non-profit like Roots where I can source things grown locally and organically."
As for advice for other potential entrepreneurs, Writt urges those considering starting their own business to talk to their market. "When I first met with Start Co they suggested polling people who have recently ordered flowers for their wedding or event, and using their answers to customize my business to best meet the needs of that market," explained Writt. "Because of our research, we knew we needed to come up with a business model that would allow us to keep cost reasonable, allow us to be flexible, but also build a reputation as being friendly, laid back and low pressure."
As her business grows, Writt has lots of ideas for the future. "I love the idea of a mobile flower studio. Something to take to farmers markets and fairs to hand out fresh bouquets."
As for the artistic side of floral arranging, Writt has been studying Ikebana, the Japanese Art of Flower Arranging that looks at floral design as more art than decor. In the future, she hopes to be doing more specialized work with Holly and Ivy, doingmore Ikebana style arrangements and themed weddings.
"There is purpose and meaning to the forms and types of flowers. I love the idea of treating flowers like an artistic medium, and really appreciating the beauty of an individual flower. As I continue to grow in my own education, I think starting an art exhibition to bring that appreciation to the public would be fantastic."
Enjoy this story? Sign up
for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.