Towards the beginning of summer, I went to a really fun event at The Outsider where some of Milwaukee's bloggers got together to learn how to make flower crowns. Vicki Kunz of La Tulipe was our floral teacher – she was so nice and super cool, and I was instantly glad to know her.
Our paths have crossed a few times since then, so I was really excited to chat with Vicki to learn more about her business. Check out my Q&A with her and photos from my visit to her totally perfect studio in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.
My Midwest Is Showing: Tell me about your business.
Vicki Kunz: La Tulipe is a floral design studio that emphasizes one of a kind, lush designs using premium flowers. We’ve been producing weddings and special events for the past 15 years, and daily luxury deliveries have recently been added to our list of services. During the holidays, we add a curated selection of fine gifts.
MMWIS: What's the best part of being a business owner? The worst part?
VK: The freedom and flexibility to choose which projects to take on is a definite plus. The fluctuations of the market can make forecasting a challenge at times.
MMWIS: How did your learn about flowers and floral arranging?
VK: I started mainly with books. I studied the work of Paula Pryke of England and many of the designers from the Flower School in New York. There was no social media at the time. Now we have online tutorials from so many great, influential designers.
MMWIS: Describe a typical day.
VK: After dropping my two youngest daughters at school, I will head down to the local flower market to look over the cooler and make selections for our daily deliveries. If it’s a week with weddings, I make sure the studio is ready to receive the boxes of flowers and review the production lists for each event to make sure the votives, ribbons, vases and any other materials are ready for pack up prior to the delivery. When flowers come in, they are processed – given fresh cuts, leaves removed, properly fed, etc. – and placed in buckets according to event. The schedule of the day’s deliveries is reviewed and arrangements are produced and prepped for delivery. Some days we have bridal consultations, some days we have site visits with our venue partners. Each day, I try to post a photo or two highlighting day’s work on our social media accounts.
MMWIS: What is your favorite kind of flower?
VK: I love garden inspired flowers: peonies, ranunculus, roses, hydrangea, to name a few.
MMWIS: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
VK: Start with a very thorough marketing plan. The more you plan and prepare for, the better you will be able to react when things change. And they will.
MMWIS: What are you currently reading? Watching? Listening to?
VK: I’ve been reading mostly business books. Current fave is You Are a Badass. I don’t watch much TV, but I do try to get out to see great independent films as much as I can. I just saw Call Me By Your Name on a weekend trip to NY and I thought it was phenomenal. Because it’s holiday time, I’ve been listening to Sufjan Stevens’ Songs for Christmas.
MMWIS: If someone was visiting Wisconsin for the first time, what would you tell them to do first?
VK: Get some dairy: Kopps in Milwaukee, Babcock Hall ice cream in Madison
MMWIS: Favorite thing about the Midwest?
VK: The change of seasons, the pace, and the people.
MMWIS: How does your Midwest show through your personality and/or what you do?
VK: I feel that I am very approachable, and I try to listen to what people want rather than imposing my ideas on them. I also try to remember as many of our customers as I can. Relationships are so important.