Women in Business Wednesday: Amanda Burnette

We are so excited to start featuring our favorite female business owners in Richmond, VA. Richmond is a city full of creative, innovative and ambitious small business owners. We hope to showcase this community in an effort to keep these small businesses thriving and our city improving. We hope you will get to know better other members of the community through their own words and pictures of their amazing work. Our first featured business owner is Amanda Burnette, a florist based in the Church Hill neighborhood.  You can check out more of her beautiful work at www.amandaburnette.com.

When did you decide to become your own business owner - to make the leap to go into business for yourself?

After planning my own wedding in 2012, I had grand plans of becoming a wedding planner. After helping a few friends and clients coordinate and style their weddings, I started to slowly realize that maybe wedding planning wasn’t for me. I knew I wanted to do something creative, but just wasn’t sure what that looked like for me.

After taking a little bit of a break from “being a wedding planner,” I realized that the times where I was able to design and arrange flowers for clients or photo shoots were the ones I enjoyed the most. I’m very lucky to have friends that are in the wedding industry- even way back then. While I was still working through all of my own thoughts on the wedding planner/florist/the great unknown subject, one of my wedding vendor friends approached me and said, “look, I have a couple that’s looking for a florist, and I think you should do it.” That was two and a half years ago, and the rest is history!

What is the greatest joy of working for yourself?

Working for yourself is such an awesome and weird thing! There are so many perks to being your own boss. Total flexibility with my schedule is really amazing! My husband works from home and has fluctuating hours. Since I can basically make my own schedule, I can ensure some quality time together to cook dinner, watch a movie, or even just make breakfast before we start our days.

Another thing that I say really “feeds my brain” is being able to provide a service to my clients that comes completely from my own brain. Once I collaborate on a design plan with my clients, I have creative control over the outcome of the product.  I think the greatest joy of the whole thing, though, is the opportunity I have to work with some really stellar couples and bring joy and pretty things to one of the happiest days of their lives!

What is the biggest challenge?

Being your own boss is also really scary and hard! There are so many things that you have to do and do well! Not only customer service and the actual floral design part, but correspondence, paying taxes, ordering flowers and supplies, updating my website, trying to blog images to share current work, etc. Since I work with fresh, perishable products, that also adds another layer of potential stressors. There are so many things that can go wrong or happen to the flowers that you have to be able to think on your toes when necessary.  

I think my biggest challenge, though, is probably the pressure I put on myself! I’m pretty self-critical in all aspects of my business. I should respond to emails faster, keep the house cleaner, go to bed earlier. I am also guilty of looking at my own work with an extra-harsh eye. I guess that’s not a bad thing though, right? Just always wanting to get better!

List 3 tools that are essential to your business.

Three essentials to my business:

1. My Macbook to take care of all back-end stuff (proposals, correspondence, ordering, etc.) I would say 60% of my wedding work is computer-based, and 40% is hands-on designing.

2. Sharp floral shears

3. A really good playlist

Honorary mentions: yoga pants and copious amounts of good coffee.

What is unique about being a business owner in Richmond? 

Being a business owner in Richmond is a really incredible thing. There are so many different communities and groups within the city that are so supportive of one another. The wedding industry is it’s own beast, in a great way. It’s so tight-knit and there is lots of support for other business owners with many different groups, networking events and meet-ups to participate in!

Do you have any other female business owners that you admire? Or look to for advice/guidance? Or are a role model?

I have two #bosslady friends that I admire greatly for their business prowess and know-how. Just in general, I’m really fortunate to be surrounded by a group of really outstanding women.

Christine Greenberg owns Wood Grain and Lace Events AND one of the owners of the bridal shop Urban Set Bride . We work together on many weddings each year, and I am so fortunate to call her a friend. Christine is the ultimate #bosslady. She’s cool, calm and collected and gets stuff DONE. She also juggles logistics and tasks with more ease than I thought humanly possible.

My second business girl crush/guru is Carly, who owns Two Spoons Photography  . Carly is a smart, strong, outspoken feminist photographer who values character and authenticity. She has helped me navigate any challenging situations I’ve gone through in my business, while also being a wonderful friend.

What is next for you?

Well, wedding season is getting ready to start in just over a month, and then it’ll be pretty steady for most of the year. This year, in an effort to achieve some work/life balance and less stress, I’m going to be hiring an assistant/life support person/design assistant. I’m really excited about being able to delegate some day-to-day tasks and tackle projects with a helper!

What is your favorite flower? Why?

Oh man, this is tough! I would have to say dahlias are my favorite flower, followed closely by hellebores and then ranunculus. Last year was my first year attempting to grow flowers on a small scale for my clients. I had great luck with dahlias and hellebores, and am adding 30+ new colors and varieties of dahlias to my garden!

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