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Interview with Christi Lopez

floral education Jul 02, 2021

Mindset in a Floral Business 

Sharing her expertise and knowledge with passion makes Christi Lopez a unique coach!

Virginia is Christi’s home, with her Floral Business Agency based in Washington DC, but her knowledge and business acumen reaches around the globe assisted by her position as COO of EMC International. Her journey to this point has not always been easy but has given a depth of insight into what makes a successful wedding florist and what can go wrong, how to be a successful entrepreneur and how to learn from mistakes and treat the way out as something positive.Her floral life started out in her mother’s garage, where she describes herself as a ‘Basement Betty’! After ten years, she bought a pre-existing but failing flower shop, turned it around and made it very successful business.  Three years in and we see another hard learning process having to take place when sadly, in all ways, the events of 9/11 brought about a recession.  

As she says ‘Living and owning a retail flower shop in the metro Washington DC area, my business was cut almost in half.’ What ensued over the next year and a half was devastating for her business. Buildings cut off any sort of deliveries, weddings and corporate galas/events were cancelled; deposits had to be returned and no one wanted to travel to Washington DC. Cash flow was at an all-time low, then, just when it was thought things would start to make a turn for the better, the Sniper Attacks happened the following summer. 

Her retail store was in a shopping centre that had a Home Depot. At the time, the local authorities thought the snipers were basing their attacks where Home Depots were located, and the shopping centre became a ghost town. She didn’t let 9/11 or the Sniper attacks get in the way of realising her dreams. She had already had her business for twelve years. A business friend told her about the Small Business Development Centre, and she found one locally. With their assistance and mentoring for a few months she was able to revisit a business plan that she had formulated years before but desperately needed to be updated. 

She created a mission, vision, marketing strategy, created financial forecasting and learned how to “cut the fat”. She applied for a Disaster Relief Loan through the Small Business Administration and got it! That was the new start she needed and felt like she had cracked the code that she had been missing a plan, a strategy. As she says “I planned the work and worked the plan”. 

She designed, networked, hired, and gained new customers with a purpose, learning how to come back from catastrophic events with great positivity, building a 7-figure floral business with retail and high-end clientele, only to be hit by yet another recession in 2008.

This wasn’t the end of the learning process as this extraordinary, bubbly lady went onto open a second location several years later in a luxury, historic Washington DC and built up a substantial team to cover events and a full variety of floral design work.  This was still not her final risk-taking venture with the opening of a floral distribution warehouse to serve other florists in the DC area with direct purchasing world-wide.

In the past five years she has gone on to achieve long-desired personal goals in floral design, gaining certification in both the American Institute of Floral Design and European Masters Certification, going on to become a proud shareholder in EMC International and business consultant and educator to many floral entrepreneurs, giving her a career that she loves. 

Her years in the wedding event business have given her a huge insight into how to provide the bridal couple with everything that they require for their very special day within their budget, and she is now sharing her knowledge and expertise with others to help them to adapt to a very different post-covid world, where there is a need for adjusting to change to be successful. 

INTEGRATION at EMC Go Live with Christi Lopez

This huge on-line event is a great undertaking, a brainchild of yours and Tomas de Bruyne. What inspired you to create it?

Well, we all experienced a world-wide shut-down for the last year and a half, I knew that the floral industry was yearning for some floral connectivity! Not only from a design perspective but from all facets of our industry and beyond. EVERYTHING was affected, and so much has changed. But what is the one thing that stays the same? Our consistent, ever-present need for knowledge and connection. It’s what brings us together and helps us thrive. Tomas and I wanted to bring a kind of event that would spur on creativity and expand our minds to be more aware of what’s going on around us.

What is your vision when it comes to inspiring others? What do you hope to be the message you convey to your audience through your work?

My vision when it comes to inspiring others is to bring out what makes them light up! What is it that makes you want to learn more? What is it that keeps you going? If you knew that your success was inevitable, what would you do with your designs? How would it impact the world you live in? Last year I sold my floral business and took my career path to working with florists full-time. Now, I “design” by teaching others how to succeed and thrive in their floral career. It’s what lights me up!

When I was designing in my floral shops, my goal would always be to find a way to convey the emotions my client was looking for through bringing their vision to life. Consistently and consciously thinking of the outcome they want that I can provide. It’s not different now in working directly with floral designers and floral entrepreneurs.

If you were to describe what you do in the wedding event industry, what do you think sets you apart in your line of work? What makes what you do unique?

It’s interesting to think back on this and realize that for me, I got the “pricing/budget issue” out of the way, so that when it came time to consult with them, it was all about the vision and how I could make it come to life for them. I’ve always been client-focused and then used my style of designing to make it a home-run. I have always gone for a classic, tailored look with accents of “me” sprinkled in. Meaning, if there was a twist I could add in the designs, or focus on the collection of blooms I curated, that’s where it made the difference. The details are important for me.

How do you connect your ideas and plans to your clients’ expectations? What are the main 3 things you consciously focus upon when creating and building a relationship with the client?

Concentrating on the outcome is foremost on my mind. That means, taking in the W’s that we refer to so often in EMC...the who, what, when, why, where. If you have those in mind from the beginning, most often you’ll keep the focus where it needs to be. My top three things would be: communication/interaction, pairing the ultimate vision with my design ideas, and under-promising/over-delivering.

What is your thought process focused on when creatively contributing to a wedding-event concept?

Integrating the most important aspects of my client’s vision to maximize the outcome for the greatest impact.

In the recent history, everybody in the wedding industry had to shift focus and consider new approaches for how events will transform. What aspects did you focus on to adapt your business to all the changes?

After my business surviving 3 recessions in the last 30 years, I realize that the 3 most important things any entrepreneur needs to embrace is tenacity, resilience, and adaptability. Each of those on their own are noteworthy. But when you combine them, you’ll be able to create the success that you need to thrive.

Post Covid, how do you anticipate things will change? What are the trends that are emerging regarding the wedding industry in particular?

I think that floral entrepreneurs, especially those that are floral designers as well, have the unique opportunity to gain momentum and find ways to consciously make steps that will enable them to.

interview and blog by Sara Marie Andrews

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