LATOYA: I've had the business license since 2017 and I never really pursued it to a level that I'm pursuing now because I thought I couldn't do it, or some people were in my ear telling me, "That's not a good idea, you shouldn't do that." or, "Don't leave your nine to five, you need that job security." You know, the Negative Nancys, letting them get to my head or doubting myself has been my biggest challenge.
What is it that you do?
I consider myself a florist. I started in college and was trained in the retail sphere but I am kind of self trained. I was working for one of those big box companies and they asked me if I wanted to try working in the floral department. I said yes and that lasted for about 10 years. Once I graduated I couldn't find a job that was going to pay me as much as I was making there. I stayed for a while and I wasn't happy. I went through one of those life-altering... I wouldn't say changes, I just had an epiphany that I wasn't happy and I wanted to go back to doing what I went to college for. I had a degree in business administration so I dropped the floral and decided to go into insurance.
I was doing both for a little while only because so many friends and family were always asking me, "Do my event, do my party, do my bouquet for my wedding." I left the retail floral side, but kind of started a side hustle, still doing insurance as my nine to five. That lasted for about 3 years, then in January I told my husband, "You know what, I'm still not happy. I'm not finding what I want and I want to go back to floral full time." So I decided to pick up the business, revamp, re-brand, got a new logo, and just really went all out. Then corona happened but I've persisted and it's been really good.
Where did you come up with the name Rose Soiree?
I wanted to incorporate the name of a flower but I knew I was going to do workshops. I wanted to make it a little more fun, a little fancier, so a play on words. Rose Soiree like rosé and party in French for the workshop side of it. It just kind of came to me one day. I had a list of names in a notebook for months and that just popped in my head and I was like, "That's it. That's the one."
Who inspires you?
I've had a lot of inspiration throughout the years, even way back from my retail career. Everybody, all the ladies that I worked with. I can never say I was trained by one person because I'm the type of person where I can watch you do something and kind of like it, but I make it my own. I'll watch two people make a corsage and go, "Oh those are both really good techniques, but I like doing it like this." I get inspiration from all over the place. I follow a lot of designers on Instagram. Ladies up north like Sarah Campbell of Intrigue Designs. We do a lot of virtual classes. In this industry it's like we always work weekends, always work holidays, so it's hard to find that time for training. I do a lot of Zoom trainings to keep things fresh and learn new skills. Actually, I was just in a training with the Texas Florist Association right before this.
Who all supported you?
My family. You know, my husband's my number one supporter. My mom -I couldn't do anything without her. She's always running errands for me or taking the kids when I'm busy and have to do arrangements or a wedding. My uncle does deliveries for me. My aunts come in the shop and helped my when I had a pop-up for Mother's Day with Z Party Upscale Events. It was really really fun and all week long all my family was there helping me. Without them, I couldn't do this.
Rose Soiree events add fun to floral!
I told my husband, "Even with coronavirus it's been a big success." I kind of thought, "I should have done this so long ago." And he's like, "It wouldn't have ever worked until now." You know, I was in college and then we had a baby, and then we had another baby. There's so many things that have happened in our life that now was just the right time and despite corona, it's become my business baby.
Have you ever wanted to give up?
Yeah, and I kind of did when I left the retail floral industry. I just thought, "This isn't for me. I'm not happy. This is not where I belong." And I kinda just gave up. I still had a passion for flowers and design, I just didn't have a passion for the retail aspect anymore. Working in a big-box store is really hard and you don't get that personal touch like I can have in my shop. It's always the hustle and productivity and profit before anything else which is what I was starting to experience and why I didn't like what I was doing anymore. I gave up, but my spirit had a flair and passion for design which is why I ended up coming back to it. I don't think I would ever leave. Now I'm thinking, "How am I ever going to retire?" Haha!
What keeps you doing it?
It's the freedom to be more independent to make the decisions on what I buy, what I sell, how my designs look. I have so much more freedom with my creativity and the community has really embraced me. I'm just really happy that they like my style, they like what I'm doing, and they keep supporting me. A lady came in maybe two weeks ago and picked flowers from the stems table and I started to wrap her flowers in paper that matched. I didn't do the black and white paper that I normally post on my Instagram and she was like, "No, I want the black and white paper! That's your signature style!" And I was like, "I have a signature style? That's so cool!" Haha. So I wrapped her bouquet in the black and white.
What's been your favorite part?
Probably watching it grow from the ground up. It went from just an idea to, "Oh, now I have a table" and, "Now I have a bookshelf" and, "Now I have a sign on the wall" and, "Now I have a desk!" It's grown from nothing. Literally my garage. I have pictures designing my sister-in-law's wedding in my garage to now having this beautiful shop. It's so motivating and humbling and that's been the best part.
What would you tell someone who's thinking about starting a business?
Just do it. Don't wait. I mean, obviously go through the proper legal training to start selling, but don't doubt yourself. Don't let anybody say you can't do it because you can. If you need advice you can always drop in my DMs or send an email. I am always here to help. I think some parts of the florist community are very competitive but I'm not that type of person at all.
I urge community over competition every day.
There are other florist shops and designers in town that I am really good friends with that I could call up at any moment. Ginger Rodriguez at Peony Bliss, she called me a couple of weeks ago out of town and had a client of hers that needed a sympathy arrangement. She sent her client my way. I've helped Christina Bell at the Floral Reef from Port Aransas many times and we're always there for each other. I could call her with any question I have and she's not the type of person that's gonna say, "I'm not gonna tell you where my vendor is," or something like that. There's enough business to go around. I mean, if there can be a barber shop on every corner there can be a flower shop on every corner.
What do you think makes a good business?
I think just somebody who's really passionate as the owner makes a good business. I would not say I'm very organized -when it comes to weddings I am- but today it's like I got a good deal on gerbera daisy so I'm gonna have a special on gerbera daisies. In that aspect I kind of fly by the seat of my pants. I think being passionate about what you do, waking up everyday with an agenda in a way you can make your business better every single day is the best thing.
What's something you've learned that you wish you would have known in the beginning?
I wish I would have known how much taxes Uncle Sam wants to take. There's a lot of hoops to jump through when you go through the proper legal channels, especially having a brick and mortar. I need a lot more certifications and all of those cost money... especially when you're starting a business in the pandemic. Unfortunately money is always an issue, but that's just one of the things that we have to live with. Like, I don't just have to have a floral certification, I also have to have a plant/nursery certification if I want to send plants to a funeral home. Even though I'm a flower shop -technically not a nursery- if I want to send a plant for a sympathy arrangement, I have to have a separate certification.
Where would you like to be in the future?
I would really just like to see the business grow, maybe get a bigger space. I like the intimate workshops I'm doing workshops again soon and keeping it very small like six people but when we had like 30 people the energy in the room was just so much fun. I would eventually like a bigger space to get back to doing big workshops.
Festive Frida flower crown workshop.
How would you define success?
I would define success by being happy and not feeling like you're going to work everyday. I don't feel like I get up and go to work everyday. I really look forward to coming to the shop every single day and the new opportunities that the business has brought me. Successful or not, I think I would still want to be here because it's really what's brought a lot of happiness to myself and my family.
What are your dreams?
My dreams would be to eventually bring on more staff and have the business be successful, not just for my family, but for somebody else's. You know, to take them under my wing, train them to do what I do, then see success and happiness for their family through Rose Soiree as well.
Before the interview was over, I asked LaToya if she was doing anything we could look forward to seeing in October. She expressed her excitement over a fun wedding she'll be doing on Halloween, as well as looking into glow-in-the-dark roses, spooky arrangements, cauldrons and things. Rose Soiree is certainly bringing the festivities to flowers, while managing to stay high-class. You can see her listing in Floral Services and support local businesses like hers in our Directory.