Heather Williams toggles back and forth between her decorative retail shop and floral design workspace at Twig & Twine. She greets customers as they enter while snipping arranging, and pruning upcoming orders for clients. Ending a strip of shops, her store perfectly punctuates the, Silver Lake adjacent, Virgil Village (East Hollywood). On the other side of the cluster of stores is the much prized SQRL, making this spot a relatively unknown local oasis. The area is certainly budding.
Just about everything inside Twig & Twine is beautiful. There is artisanal soap from Plant Brooklyn, hand crafted jewelry from the made in Seattle brand Baleen , and hand made ceramics from Humble Ceramics in Los Angeles. Inarguably the most beautiful thing inside the store comes from the hands of its owner. Heather’s work has been featured in publications like Angeleno magazine,Refinery 29, Racked LA and dozens of bridal blogs and websites. In 2013 she was doing well enough to open a space to house workshop, spreading her wings from working at a home studio.
The transition from live/work, to a dedicated office or workspace is pivotal for any business owner and Twig & Twine is no exception. Along with the drastic increase in overhead, having a physical space comes with the demand of having to staff the location, and manage the core component of the business, which, for Heather, is still offsite. Floral design can be tough work of little financial reward. It is manual labor, on your feet all day. Long hours need to be put in to prepare the pieces, load and unload them on the day of an event. It is not always as pretty of a situation as the arrangements themselves.
Though schooled in graphic design from Northern California, Heather has made a sustainable floral design business in Los Angeles without formal business training, and very little advertising. It seems that Heather, not only knows how to make flowers bloom but opportunity as well.
She got her start in the flower business working for a florist friend in San Francisco who needed some help at the same time she needed a job. Her design training from art school lent itself well to understanding colors and textures. It was only a matter of learning the technical aspects of handling the various types of flowers. After moving to Los Angeles the flower shop she was working for closed, Heather took it as a chance to focus on her own business.
Starting a business from scratch is no small task, but it is important to pace yourself. In regards to getting off the ground she explains, ” I’ve never felt the need to reach out so much that my business grows before I am even ready for it. I also feel that my work should speak for itself to a certain extent.” She formed relationships with other young businesses in the same industry.This meant reaching out to wedding and event planners that were just starting out, and photographers that needed work on their portfolio to get images done.
By offering to help other floral designers she was able to establish herself in a new city and be of aid when they were overbooked. Heather seems to understand the competitive nature of running a business but not to the point where there is not a friendship that underlines the work relations.She began to get press from blogs by doing weddings, and not from having to pay for marketing. She built a reputation for doing quality work, and that reputation translated into more work through referral.
Now things are a bit different because has to maintain inventory and her space. Heather talks about the transition into getting into a space ” Getting the space was more of a necessity than a decision. I had all this stuff in my apartment. I would have three freelancers doing arrangements in my home studio and things started to overflow into other areas of my home.” She has not only expanded her capability but it also has personal benefit, “Now I can better manage a work/life balance, which is already difficult as a small business owner.”
Having a physical presence has done a lot for marketing her business and she also does not only sell flowers. Selling hard goods helps with rent and provides and opportunity to be creative in sourcing new items to carry in the store. The challenge has become something she looks forward to, changing the shape of her business as it grows.With a solid reputation in events and weddings Twig & Twine is looking to do more daily arrangements, and deliveries to homes and business that enjoy flowers.
Events will always be a part of the business because it is another way to get the name out. She’s found smart way to spread the word organically and support her business at the same time.
The next phase of the business is to develop a staff that can handle more operations at a time on a regular basis. Being able to work and manage a social life is important to keeping a passion for your work and not getting bogged down by the everyday. There is a period of growing pains between the time she can afford more regular staff and having to work those heavier days until she can.
She has many favorites when it comes to flowers. ” In each season I have something that I really love. In Spring time the ranunculus are gorgeous. I like little delicate things that you can only get for a month or two each year. ” If you catch a glimpse of her left arm you can’t miss her brightly colored tattoo of poppies, she grew up with them in her mother’s garden. Both her mother and grandmother were gardeners, and though she never took to gardening she was familiar with seeing different flowers and knowing their names. She recognizes the gardeners and growers that bring her flowers to life and all the work that comes before she gets them.
Heather has found a way to support self, utilize and contribute to her professional community while growing her business, also putting her schooling to use, and just happens to coincide with some of her personal history. She not only has a knack for arranging flowers, but apparently for arranging her career as well. If you find yourself in Virgil Village make sure you stop by and pick up something beautiful.
Twig & Twine
716 N Virgil Ave, LA CA 90029.