Giovy Buyers is a Charlotte entrepreneur and small business owner. Her business, Southern Blossom Florist & A Fruit Basket, creates stunning floral arrangements and gift baskets, with hand-selected fruit, flowers, and gourmet products. Giovy recently took advantage of the resources provided by Central Piedmont Community College’s (CPCC) Small Business Center. In our latest interview, find out what she has to say about entrepreneurship, starting a business in Charlotte, and the lessons she learned at CPCC.
CharlotteBusinessResources.com (CBR): Thank you for taking the time to talk to us! To start, tell us about Southern Blossom Florist & A Fruit Basket.
Giovy Buyers (GB): We are a family-owned florist and gift basket company in Charlotte. As a genuine local florist, we provide service locally as well as nationally. We are involved in the many special aspects of customers’ lives through weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, births, funerals, and more. Our customers are like family, so we can relate to their personal needs.
We buy our flowers directly from Ecuador, my native country. Ecuador is one of the largest producers of flowers in the world. With the opportunity to direct import flowers, we ensure that the flowers last longer.
We are very proud of our work. If you’d like to see examples, check out our Facebook page as well as Google+, or check out the testimonials from past customers. We stay connected with our customers. Our business is personal, and we want to keep it that way.
CBR: When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Have you always had a passion for flowers?
GB: I have an entrepreneurial spirit. In my youth, when I was not selling lemonade to neighbors, I was making things to sell to my cousins or friends. I knew that one day I would have my own business. My family is in the floral business back home in Ecuador, and I thought it would be a perfect fit for me to operate a flower shop. I always wanted to import flowers from my home country.
Many entrepreneurs say that having the spirit, vision, and willingness to take on a challenge, the ability to recover from disappointment, and the passion to succeed are a few of the essential qualities of an entrepreneur.
With this in mind, my husband and I decided to purchase “A Fruit Basket Company,” a business that was family-owned and had served the area for more than 50 years.
CBR: When you first began the process of starting and opening your business, what were some of the challenges you faced?
GB: The biggest challenge was finding information on how to start your business. I spent many hours researching where to start.
CBR: How have you seen Charlotte’s business community change over the years?
GV: I have seen a lot of growth in the Charlotte business community. These days there are many new resources available for businesses like CharlotteBusinessResources.com and the Small Business Center.
CBR: Which business resources in Charlotte have you utilized to resolve these challenges?
I took the SBC CORE class where they discussed all different aspects of running a business. They taught me how to market my business better, how to manage personal time, and how to organize the work place to be more productive.
SCORE advised me how to grow my business, how to look for ways to advertise, to partner with other organizations, and to keep control of my finances.
SBTDC helped me to value the business by using different methods based on my industry. This helped to make some changes to the company structure.
CBR: Let’s talk about the Small Business Center (SBC) specifically. How did you first discover it?
GV: I formerly worked for the City of Charlotte, within the Economic Development Office. In that role, I had responsibilities in assisting small businesses. It was there I learned many of the SBC programs benefits.
CBR: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself before starting your business?
GB: I wish I’d known more about marketing strategies. I’ve learned that not all marketing strategies work in this particular industry. Some produce poor ROI.
I would advise all small business owners find mentors within their industry and also ask questions. The kind of marketing that works for me might not work in a different industry. For instance, magazine and Yellowpages marketing didn’t work for me. I spent a lot of money on direct marketing because it wasn’t targeted enough.
Through trial and error, I discovered the marketing strategies that do work for me. For example, I go to bridal shows and I am part of an organization that focuses on special events and weddings. I go to hotels and I connect with people who host weddings and special events. Having my own website and boosting my traffic with SEO has helped a lot customers, they also find me through social media.
But just because these things didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean they won’t work for someone else.
CBR: What are your plans for the future?
GB: I plan to continue utilizing all the wonderful resources mentioned in order to grow the company, and hopefully one day to become a wholesaler.