Tellie Hunt; Toronto;
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I own , a floral design business and small retail shop with a focus on weddings and events. As a creative director, my main role is to meet with couples and assist in planning their event florals from start to finish.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
When I was 14, I began working at a floral shop and learning the basics of design. After high school I began a tattoo apprenticeship but eventually discovered it was not for me and returned to floral design.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
This would be the tattoo shop where I had my apprenticeship.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
Getting a full-time job as a florist where I had complete control over my style—I like unstructured designs, inspired by Dutch paintings—and began planning wedding florals with clients from start to finish
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
Although I had been a general manager/event coordinator for multiple shops over the past seven years, there was still a lot to learn with starting my own business. Things kind of fell into place; I wasn’t planning on opening a business for another few years but my past employer was looking to scale back and it seemed to be the perfect opportunity for me to set out on my own. Now that winter has passed and I have gotten through the trenches, exceeded the amount of weddings I had projected to book, and hired my first full-time employee I think I got this!
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
I don’t like to think of mistakes as a failure per-se but more so as a learning experience. When mistakes happen with weddings, it is not about the mistake itself but how you bounce back and make it so that no one was aware that anything went awry.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
If you want to be successful in whatever your career may be, you have to go “all in” and give it everything you have,. Be bold. Building yourself up as a brand is the number-one thing I can recommend for any entrepreneur starting out. My brand is a lot more edgy and dark than most flower shops (and includes taxidermy and skulls as decor) and I believe this helps me stand apart and be more gender neutral, as florists in general tend to be more feminine.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
I remember having a past employer say “If you do the complete opposite of what I am doing, you will be successful.”
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
Being in a female-dominated industry is definitely a whole different ball game. I find that at times it can be very catty, judgmental and competitive. I try to separate myself from all bad vibes and kill them with kindness. There is too much hate in this world and putting positivity and love into everyday life has made me a much happier person.
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?
I am the kind of gal that will work 14 hours straight and won’t stop until the task list is done. I guess you could say I am a hustler. That being said, by working so hard for my own company—and not depending on a large team—I do believe I am making fair income. Being a florist is definitely not something you do for money, you do it because it makes you happy. I think you have to decide in life what it means to be successful.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
This is a tough one. I feel like the issue may lay with technology and being glued to our devices. I also think that sometimes we allow things like Pinterest to curb our style and creativity instead of making our own, especially in the wedding industry.