Q+A: Erica Kelly, Flourish Collaborative
Hey guys! Erica here (the taller one who likes talking about success and biz life). Transparency has been something Caty and I have always talked about within our own brand strategy as well as just being a generally good rule of thumb for any business. As much as some people like to tout their transparency with work/life pics on Instagram or the occasional blog post about their kid, there's another side to being transparent that most shy away from: the raw, blind-siding, roller coaster of emotion that comes with owning a business. Because we're #fearless, Caty and I want to give you a deeper look at what we're currently dealing with, both as individuals and as a team.
What's the one thing people typically don't know about you?
I skipped the first grade (I'm awesome at coloring) and it put me into the class above, making me the youngest of all my peers. I think that ended up being a really influential moment of my life; ever since then I've almost had to prove that I deserved to hang with the older kids. When your peers think you're better than they are, you either start to try and impress them to earn your stripes, or you start to believe them. My attitude and work ethic is probably a mixture of both, to be honest.
Why did you want to start Flourish Collaborative?
The concept of Flourish had to have come up precisely when it did, otherwise I don't think we would've acted on it. I was once interviewing to work for Target's product development department while in college and the manager - while going off on a tangent about his spiritual life experiences - said something I'll never forget: "I feel like every single thing that I've done up until this point has acted as a stepping stone to this point in my life." That statement really impacted me, and has always forced me to look at each experience as a stepping stone to where I'm meant to be.
Flourish came from a lot of things, but it above all else came from this desire to educate and empower creatives to create a name for themselves by building a lifestyle brand. Savannah is such a hotspot for creativity and local talent, but we found that very few actually choose to take their work seriously and pursue making a career out of it vs. just a side hobby. Flourish Collaborative embodies the idea of bringing all of the necessary resources needed to be successful from concept to launch to relaunch all under one roof.
What were some of your hesitations going into it?
As a self-titled "serial entrepreneur", the idea of starting a business isn't a new one. I was the girl playing around in Microsoft Office and selling bookmarks on the school bus for $1 a piece. Since the grade-school hustle, I've always had something going on on the side as a source of secondary income. My biggest hesitation going into starting Flourish was that I didn't want another side hustle; I wanted the side hustle (turned full time hustle) to end all side hustles. Usually around the 1-year mark, I start to lose interest in the project or it begins to slowly fade as I've found something new. Blame it on the Gemini, but I like to mix things up! Before even approaching Caty about starting something new, I sat down and made a list of all of the things that would be necessary in order to keep me engaged and the business afloat: an accountability partner with equal passion, someone else handling the finances, and an immediately positive community response. Check, check, and check.
What has been your #1 struggle as Flourish has gone from concept to launch?
My biggest struggle has actually been learning how to close all 589 tabs open in my brain at any given point of the day and focusing on one thing at a time. Starting a business I can imagine is a lot like landing a plane. There are outside forces you can't control, several hundred buttons sitting in front of you that you need to learn how to use, and even a handful of ways you can get on the ground. I'm always thinking big ideas which never helps the now; Caty helps me focus on the tangibles.
How has your concept of Flourish shifted from day one and now?
Flourish started with the intention of helping creative entrepreneurs turn their talent and big ideas into a thriving business. Like I mentioned before, Savannah is full of untapped talent and we both knew a lot of friends who could really make a name for themselves if they had the right tools and motivation. However, as we started building our portfolio and speaking with creatives in all walks of life, we both agreed that turning our attention towards healthy business owners looking to grow or expand their products/services was more fulfilling. By that point in a business' timeline, the owners are invested in the growth of their company and see the value in establishing a brand platform. There's a "no turning back" attitude that makes it easier to make clear and concise brand decisions.
What's the single thing currently keeping you up at night?
Right now it's "how do we shift our focus from the old target to the new". Going from working with startups to "2.0 businesses" as we call them means a different target and a different marketing strategy. Caty and I did a ton of research from the starting blocks, interviewing creatives and artists and boss ladies alike. While that insight will never technically go to waste, we're getting ready to gather that same amount of information from a new level of business owner.
Where do you see FLOCO in five years?
Gosh, I'm just focused on FLOCO being here next month! Five years seems like a ton of time to grow, but I know it'll speed by. I'm not one to fantasize about seven digits in the bank account or an army of creatives across the globe. If in five years we were a healthy, stable business with a small design house and a collective of subs and employees, I'd feel pretty dang proud.