Elizabeth Schenk: Business is Blooming

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Once upon a time, there was a young woman who enjoyed flowers.

She was working at a greenhouse when she discovered she loved floral design, and dabbled in the art for years, learning mostly on her own.

In 2005, she did flowers for her brothers—three family weddings in one year. Then, she did flowers for a friend. As people saw the arrangements, they started asking about them and calling, wanting the help of Elizabeth Schenk's creative vision.

Things became more serious. Still, Elizabeth worked on Posh Petals outside of her full-time job at Universal Forest Products. She arranged flowers in her kitchen, and eventually created a basement workspace for her budding hobby. Business grew, as did her passion for flowers and floral arrangements. In April 2014, a space became available—walking distance from home. It was time to move from basement to ground floor, with plenty of room to arrange, create and, well, blossom.

She'd found a workspace.

She'd also found her customer base and event schedule expanding, and people were poking their heads in the door of her building. Workspace became retail shop, and full-time job elsewhere became something to reconsider. Elizabeth was working eighty to one hundred hours a week, between UFP and Posh Petals, and the latter had truly taken off. It was time to say goodbye to the corporate world, and hello to her own business.

Elizabeth's love of things lovely is evident in her designs, shop, and brand: Trinkets, baubles, candles, and vases add something extra to (or as) a gift. Posh Petals is spacious, welcoming, and homey, with room to relax and enjoy the sights and scents. Arrangements are designed to be unique, more tailored, and customizable. Think modern and nontraditional, or organic and natural, or glam, with tulle, glitter, and sparkle. The Posh Petals website is based on needs and style, and fashion and floral trends. Elizabeth isn't entirely joking when she says, "No dozen-red-rose bouquets are going to leave my shop!" (They might, but those roses will mingle with a variety of other flora.) The shop does a lot of themed and fanciful arrangements.

As word of Posh Petals grows, so do the possibilities. Elizabeth is excited about her first Valentine's Day in the shop. She looks forward to expanding her reach to deliveries and events beyond weddings and showers—and flowers for simple occasions or "just because." Through a partnership with Cheshire Village neighbor Sweetland Candies, she'll pair flowers with chocolates. She's also able to offer gift baskets, and products to compliment floral arrangements.

Elizabeth's favorite thing about taking the plunge is that she's doing what she loves—every day, she emphasizes. She loves having her own timeframe, sometimes coming in early to arrange flowers while her husband and son are sleeping, and then going home to see them before she opens for the day. She loves being close to home. "I got lucky with this space!" She enjoys the people she works with. "I have the best staff!" She enjoys the reactions of people seeing her work. "I love it when a bride cries when I hand her her bouquet!"

Posh Petals is finding its way onto preferred vendor lists of caterers, photographers, and venues. "The referrals are nice to see coming through!" Elizabeth notes. In 2014, Posh Petals was named Outstanding New Business by the Neighborhood Business Alliance.

Elizabeth appreciates the camaraderie of local florists, who share work to help others be successful. "It's better than competing with each other," she notes, adding that people know their niche and whom they should work with, and referrals happen as appropriate. Posh Petals isn't quite a family business, yet Elizabeth's husband, Derryll, is known to help with cleanup and loading, while her son, Waylon, has been seen gracing the shop and tagging along for setups. Elizabeth admits she's made things work "by working my tail off!" and that she's had no loans or investors. She also admits she's "kind of a gut-reaction person." To others thinking of making a change and starting a business, she says, "Do not think too much about it. If you want to do it, get your stuff together and dive in!

"Once you make your decision, don't regret it."

Written by: Amy L Charles is the editorial director for
West Michigan Woman.


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