Women in Small Business: 5 Questions with Natalie Bowen Brookshire
Photo Credit: Kent Avenue Photography
Business: Natalie Bowen Designs
As long as I've known Natalie, she has been surrounded by flowers. She co-hosted her first flower arranging party with her grandmother when she was only in the first grade. Since then, she's used her background in industrial design to create some of the most breathtaking bouquets I've ever seen. Her San Francisco company, founded in 2003, is a boutique floral and event design studio specializing in stunning, edgy arrangements. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Town & Country, Brides, Sunset, and other major publications.
1. What led you to owning your own business?
I was finishing college and had a little dream of owning a flower shop. I decided to take the first step towards my goal and see where it brought me. I love variety and I think the fact that owning your own business means no two days look the same, really appealed to me. Both of my parents made their craft into a way of income, so it was not unfamiliar territory and seemed doable.
2. What is your business philosophy?
Fine-tune the skills you are already great at. You will excel if you get better at what comes to you with ease. Outsource the tasks that you struggle with as soon as you can afford to do so. Delegating is key when you start a business, and falling into the trap of “doing it all” may seem natural at first but needs to be stopped early on in able to grow, and thrive.
3. What have you learned about yourself by owning your own business?
I love people and connecting with people. I thought everyone loved learning another person's story and finding connections but I’ve learned that this is one of my natural skills and makes me who I am. I’m also good at seeing the natural abilities of others and cheering them on and placing people in roles that empower them. I have also seen that the struggles that show up in my business are reflected in my personal life and throughout my other relationships. Having my own business is a great mirror into my true self and a tremendous teaching tool.
4. What has been the most surprising thing for you?
Some lessons take a really long time for me to learn. I’ve made the same mistakes over and over and kicked myself for it. Personal patterns in life can translate into patterns in business, which can mean real dollars and time. It took a tremendously difficult client a few years ago to bring my shortcomings into the blaring light. I promised myself to finally change or just accept myself. I’ve stuck to the changes and when I slip, I see it as a gentle reminder to get back on track.
5. What advice would you give to a woman starting a new business endeavor?
Make sure you schedule time for yourself and don’t work all the time. If you start a business with that momentum, it will be hard to redirect and you’ll never feel as if you are doing enough because you did TOO much in the beginning. Delegate at the first chance you can. Find an amazing bookkeeper who can explain the financial side of things to you ESPECIALLY if numbers don’t come naturally to you. Most importantly, create a daily or weekly check-in ritual to acknowledge all that you are doing in addition to checking things off your to-do list. Use that time to find inspiration and note your progress. It’s so easy to see what we still want, and not take the time to see what we have done.