On any given morning, Suzanna Cameron of Stems finds herself at a local flower market by 6 a.m. selecting the brightest, most unique flowers for the day ahead. Stems, a flower shop located within a bar in Brooklyn, New York has seen sales double in the last year, hired three full time employees and is looking to expand to an additional two locations. Suzanna is an Accion client who was selected to be part of our new leadership and business accelerator program, Fast Track, which is supported by Capital One and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Fast Track is providing 27 outstanding loan clients from around the country with coaching and mentoring over several months to help set their businesses on a path to growth. See a video about the program here.
When asked what ignited the spark to own a small business, Suzanna laughs and calls herself an “accidental entrepreneur.” Having worked part-time at the flower shop for several years, Suzanna was presented with the opportunity to take over the business when the original owners wanted to shift their focus to the bar. Three years later, Suzanna is grateful to have taken that risk and turned her passion of flowers into a rewarding full-time job.
“You are your most expensive employee”
The Fast Track program arose at a time when Suzanna was uncertain about the next steps to grow Stems.
During a two-day intensive program training earlier this year in Chicago, Suzanna had the opportunity to network with the other program participants from around the country, entrepreneurs who all share a passion for their business in a range of sectors, including a custom dress company, a distillery, a mobile car wash, an art gallery, a co-working space, brewers, and coffee roasters, to name a few. During the training, Suzanna recalls having the realization that “You are your most expensive employee,” meaning that taking on too many burdens as the business owner can end up costing you more in the long run than investing in more staff. At the time, Suzanna was filling a variety of roles in the business with the help of only one assistant, and she found herself struggling with the growth of Stems. Suzanna realized the importance of growing a team in order to further her business goals. Fast Track shifted her mindset for expansion, and she now recognizes that investing in the right employees, rather than hiring while in a pinch, greatly benefits the business.
Suzanna also credits the program with helping her achieve personal growth in addition to accomplishing her business’s growth plans. The business coaching has allowed Suzanna to verbalize and thoroughly think through her ideas. Being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs from diverse industries has provided Suzanna with useful insights on a range of topics, from marketing to administration.
As Stems continues to prosper, Suzanna is enthusiastic about many more years filled with exotic flowers and delicious brews.