This is the most-asked question about my life, by far. It’s actually a really amazing story that only God could have orchestrated long before it was a thought in my mind. Every time it is asked, my eyes light up and I usually say something like “hold on tight and grab a cup of coffee because it’s a long one.” Usually, though, this question is asked during a new client meeting, at small group, or in passing which doesn’t allow for the full story with all of the details. My short answer is usually something like, “I was a teacher for six years, but really wanted a career that allowed me to stay home with my future children. I’d always loved flowers, and when I was pregnant with Cooper I decided to just make it happen. We’ve been in business for 6 years now!” This response paints a quick picture, but totally leaves out the most important and God-glorifying parts. This response makes it seem so easy, which makes me cringe. The journey to starting Gold & Bloom was anything but easy.
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. Specifically, a second grade teacher. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Phares, was such an important adult in my childhood. I repeated second grade, and she was my second 2nd grade teacher. She loved on me and made me feel special during a time when I felt very insecure. I wanted to be just like her, so I grew up with a one-track mind to be a teacher, never considering anything else. Eventually I graduated from Georgia Southern University with a bachelors in Early Childhood Education. Despite the major job shortage at that time, I managed to land a teaching position at a private Christian school as a…second grade teacher. My dream was actually happening! To be honest, I’m not sure it was actually my dream to begin with. I knew pretty early on that something was missing. It was a confusing time for me, because on one hand I was really good at teaching. I graduated with honors, had great classroom management skills, and loved the kids. On the other hand, I was stressed, anxious, and it wasn’t long before I became depressed. It only got worse when I began teaching at a public school around the corner. Again, second grade. The children were wonderful and absolute blessings to my life! I was drowning, though. I cried to and from work every day. I won’t go into the details here out of respect for my former bosses and colleagues, but it was a pretty dark time for me. I will say, teachers are extremely underpaid and undervalued. Teaching just didn’t seem like the healthiest career for me. I began to explore the idea of working from home in some capacity. At that time, I was also lifestyle blogger, and made a very small income from that. I never really considered that as a career path, though. It wasn’t until my fourth year of teaching that I made a serious effort to find something that would allow me to work while staying home.
I decided to make a list of possible jobs/careers to explore. The list consisted of “practical” ones that used my degree such as starting a tutoring business, or something to do with homeschooling. The list also included calligraphy, blogging, going back to school to become a counsellor, and of course floral design. I can tell by looking back at my journal that I was the most excited about the idea of floral design. It also happened to be the topic I knew the least about, and it made the least sense. After months of exploring and crossing careers off of my list, I decided to put all of my eggs into learning floral design and making it become my new career. For the next two years, I poured nearly all of my extra time to studying floral design, attending virtual business classes, attending virtual floral design classes, and shadowing a local floral designer (my floral hero and friend, Lindsay Coletta), and taking on my own small-scale events and weddings. Needless to say, I had two full time jobs and I was spread pretty thin. Towards the spring of 2016 (one year after starting the business), Gold & Bloom was getting to a place where I could begin to think about doing florals full time. Lamar and I were having a bit of difficulty conceiving, and we had a plan that when I became pregnant we would know it was time for me to step away from teaching. I’m a big “signs” person, so I fully believed that my pregnancy was going to be timed perfectly by the Lord, and that I would have peace knowing it was the right time to step away from teaching. I was praying fervently, hoping and wishing for a baby. I was so ready to begin my dream of being a work from home mom. Eventually we decided to seek a fertility specialist in July 2016. Our first fertility appointment was on the third day of pre-planning for the 2016-2017 school year. We never made it to that appointment.
At 6:00 am on the very first day of pre-planning (the first day of work for teachers), I decided to take a pregnancy test. I’d taken hundreds of them during our trying-to-conceive journey, but felt the need to take one before I left for school that day. It was positive. I took two more tests to be sure, and then woke Lamar up with the good news. What a perfectly clear sign from God! God gave me peace months before that moment that the timing of leaving teaching would be perfect. On that first day of work for that new school year, I knew it would be my last year as a teacher. I’ve never felt such peace in that day and the days following. Teaching kept me busy during the days, Gold & Bloom kept me busy on the evenings and on weekends, and baby boy in my belly kept me up at night. Needless to say it was an exhausting final year, but I knew the goodness that what was coming.
I taught my last day on March 31, 2017 and our son Cooper was born four days later. And so my career as a work from home mom and full time business owner began! It’s certainly not easy and we’ve had our fair share of hiccups, but our day-to-day is mostly calm and peaceful. I’m able to work from home with the kiddos, and help support my family with a career I adore. I don’t view my teaching career as a mistake at all. I learned so many life lessons and parenting skills that have shaped who I am as a person and a mother. I also met wonderful teachers, parents, and students that have impacted my life.
While there are many stressors in owning a business, there is an abundance of freedom I feel each day. I’m thankful I let go of my fears of failing and trusted in where God was taking me. I still occasionally have to pinch myself that this is the life I get to live–wife, mom, business owner, floral designer. God is good.
“What Led You to Become a Florist?”
March 31, 2021