Just four years into her floral design business, Amy knew it was up to her to make money for her family. Newly divorced, single-mom with three young boys, the financial pressure was on her to make this thing work. She turned to a financial advisor for help…
“It was a disaster. He told me my business was bankrupt and I should shut the doors.”
Back against the wall, Amy’s story is one of perseverance, triumph, and beating the odds. From the brink of bankruptcy to building a 7-figure world renowned floral design business in just ten years, how she turned it all around in today’s interview.
WILDFLOWER SHOWNOTES : shannaskidmore.com/amy-osaba
Amy Osaba (00:00):
I didn't really understand business basics 101 or accounting or anything. And I was doing everything outta the house with three little boys and one on my hip. And it was hard. It was very hard. And I remember finally after I got through the divorce and everything, I was like, well, guess that I'm gonna be a grown adult, I should get an accountant or like some sort of business person to help me. And it was a disaster. The guy looked at my whatever I called books back then. It wasn't even books. And he said, Well, you're basically bankrupt and you should quit. And I said, well, that's not really an option.
Shanna Skidmore (00:40):
You are listening to Consider the Wildflowers the podcast, episode 18. Today is one of those full circle moments. It was 10 years ago when I walked into the goat farm in Atlanta, Georgia to meet the somewhat famous floral designer Amy Osaba. I was tired of crunching numbers behind a desk, lol, <laugh> jokes on me, and I thought I'd tried my hand at floral design. While it didn't take long to realize that flowers are a love and a hobby, but not my career path, it was nothing short of fate that Amy and I were brought together. Just a few months prior to our meeting, Amy was told by a financial advisor that her business was bankrupt and she should close the doors. A single mom with three boys and no college degree, she didn't see any other options back against the wall, Amy's story is one of perseverance, triumph, and against all odds building a seven figure world-renowned floral design business in a field many would look and see as "just a hobby". We came into each other's lives at the perfectly appointed time and our friendship and journey truly shifted both of our careers and lives forever. Today is really special for me because I wouldn't be where I am today without this wonderful lady. She is inspiring and strong, a steel magnolia, a wildflower. If you dig professional bios, here goes: A self-taught designer, you could say that flowers found Amy rather than the other way around. After a successful career as a professional ballet dancer, Amy's innate sense of movement, grace and grand vision translated seamlessly to the magical world of florals and design. At first glance, her signature work evokes a sense of loose wild abandon while her keen eye and desire for precision have cemented her reputation as one of the South's most sought after event designers. Clients, colleagues, and friends alike admire Amy for her balanced approach to art and life. Amy believes in the power of having fun and strong females to make the world go round. Amy has been recognized as one of the country's top floral and event designers. Her work has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Bride's Magazine, HGTV, Vogue Domino, Architectural Digest, and many other publications. She has collaborated with renowned brands, including the Home Depot, LaCroix, and Goop to name a few. Okay, formal introductions over, this one's gonna be good. Let's dive in.
Hey, it's Shanna and this is Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast. For the past 15 plus years, I've had the honor to hear thousands of stories from entrepreneurs around the world. As a former Fortune 100 financial advisor, turned business consultant, I have a unique opportunity to see the real behind the highlight reel. I'm talking profit and loss statements, unpaid taxes, moments of burnout, and those of utter victory. Or as my husband says, the content everyone is wondering but not many are talking about. And now I'm bringing these private conversations to you. Hear the untold stories of how industry leaders, founders, and up and coming entrepreneurs got their start, the experiences that shaped them, and the journey to building the brands they have today. Stories that will inspire and reignite encouraged to redefine success and build a life and business on your own terms. Welcome Wildflower. I'm so glad you're
Hey Amy. This is gonna be so fun.
Amy Osaba (03:52):
Shanna Skidmore (03:53):
I had to really resist not calling you. Yo Saba. So hi Amy Osaba, How are you? Welcome to the podcast.
Amy Osaba (04:02):
Well, I'm super excited that you invited me to be here and I'm just so proud of you and I'm honored to be here talking to you are my money life guru lady
Shanna Skidmore (04:16):
Friend for life.
Amy Osaba (04:17):
Yeah, friend for life. Yeah. BFF for life, babe.
Shanna Skidmore (04:20):
BFFAE <laugh>. Do you know what I just thought about Amy?
Amy Osaba (04:24):
Shanna Skidmore (04:25):
That I started working with you 10 years ago, 2012.
Amy Osaba (04:30):
Are you serious?
Shanna Skidmore (04:31):
10 years. Does that bring a little tear to your eye? I know. Feels like a lifetime of goodness. Not in a bad way.
Amy Osaba (04:37):
Oh, a lifetime of goodness. I mean, you're the miracle that showed up in my life, but it feels kinda longer than that. But also it was yesterday. I remember the first time you came to the goat farm and sat there with me and I was like Yeah, basically. Can you do everything? Thanks <laugh>.
Shanna Skidmore (04:57):
I think the first day I came you had me strip flowers and <affirmative>. I was just like, Okay, what does that mean, <laugh>?
Amy Osaba (05:07):
Shanna Skidmore (05:08):
You're like, But you've got this, right?
Amy Osaba (05:10):
Yeah. I was like, I dunno, I made it up.
Shanna Skidmore (05:12):
I gotta pick up my kids.
Amy Osaba (05:14):
Shanna Skidmore (05:15):
That was such a highlight. I have pictures on the original IG. If anybody wants to scroll back. Oh, I guess my Instagram is gone. But scroll back all the way. It's probably one of my first pictures on Instagram was at Amy Osaba studio stripping flowers
Amy Osaba (05:32):
On my personal one, which I don't think it's public. I have a lot of those. Probably some Skidmore doing some good old rap back in the day. Yeah, those are some good ones. <laugh>.
Shanna Skidmore (05:45):
Oh man. Ok, everybody scroll back 10 years of Instagram posts and you'll see me busting a move, Amy. Hey, welcome. Let's dive into your business story. I'm really excited about it. And take us back to the days before you became a famous floral designer. What were you up to?
Amy Osaba (06:06):
You're funny and sweet. I don't know if I'd say famous rather than just trying to make a dollar for my kids, but. Well, really, my business life didn't start until Shannon Skidmore, so I feel like you could just tell the whole story. <laugh>. Not really. Well, prior to starting doing flowers or even thinking about it way before a long, long, long time ago, maybe a hundred years ago, I was a ballet dancer. Well let me say professional ballet dancer because of my southern accent. People think I say belly, but it ballet dancer, <laugh>. So I danced professionally for about 10 years and then kind of was very thankful to have pursued a dream and fulfilled it. But I kind of of grew out of it and felt like there's gotta be something more. And so I thought, well, I guess the only thing to do is to move back home to Atlanta and go to college, which I'm not a student. And that didn't last very long. I thought that, I mean, I didn't know what else to do, so I figured I should do that. But then I met and married my husband at the time and had three boys pretty close together. They're much older now. Oh my gosh. My oldest is 18 in college. That's weird to think about. <laugh>, my middle one's driving and my 15 year old is starting to drive. I'm too too young to have kids that old, but I was just content to be a stay at home mom. Honestly, I loved it. I loved being with my boys, just creating fun adventures for them and doing their birthday parties and all that. But at some point my marriage started to take a turn and I kind of realized that I needed to make the money for my family. And I just, when you're the creative one, you always get asked to do the creative things. So I just started doing little Christmas parties and birthday parties and little friends weddings. And the turning point kind of was when I was doing some flowers at market in Atlanta, I don't know if y'all are familiar with the market, whatever it is, every six months. And people do up their showrooms with flowers. And I was in the hallway doing some flowers and this lady walked by and commented on my flowers and she happened to be a designer. And she said that they looked pretty and she walked on down the hall and I was like, wait a minute, I'm gonna run back down there. And I was like, Hey, if you ever need any flowers my business cards are, my new business cards are being printed right now. I don't have one on me. I didn't have any sidebar at all. I didn't even have a website or anything, anything. And I was like, gimme a call. And she called the next day and said, Actually, I do have an event tonight. Can you come? And it ended up being this Ted Turner's daughter's first lead certified home anyway. And I did the flowers and after that I was like I could actually maybe make some money doing this. So that was the start. That is that a good backstory? Is that all
Shanna Skidmore (09:20):
I mean I could absolutely.
Amy Osaba (09:22):
Yeah, that what could be better. I could go way deeper, but that's like a roundabout.
Shanna Skidmore (09:28):
I know we could talk for four hours, but Amy what year, Can I just give us a timeline here? What year was that? Do you remember? Take it back.
Amy Osaba (09:40):
Let's see, My oldest son is 18 and I started, he must have been three or four. So
Shanna Skidmore (09:49):
Amy Osaba (09:50):
What is that? I can't do math. 14 years ago,
Shanna Skidmore (09:52):
2008. Okay. And we met in 2012, so you were like four years in. Okay, that's a good reference point. So tell me about those early days, those first few years, and if you mind sharing about your marriage and having to support yourself, just how did you figure out all the money and the pricing and getting clients?
Amy Osaba (10:18):
Well, again, I didn't know anything until Shanna Skidmore came into my life. But what I did was like, gosh, I was making it up on the fly and I always knew I was really creative. I knew I could do it, but I had no idea about pricing or money or anything. And like we all do. In the beginning, I felt bad for charging money because who am I? I didn't know anything. I had never taken a floral design class or a business class. I barely got a decent grade in algebra in high school, <laugh>. I mean, it was not my thing, but I knew that I was really good with people and I was good with sales. And back then I took everything that came along. And I know I undercharged basically, if I got a $2,000 budget, I would spend $1,500 and think, Oh my gosh, I'm doing great. Look how much money came rolling in, but not accounting for my time or gas or if I had to build anything or if I had to get anybody to help me. And I was doing every single breakdown by myself. <affirmative>, which we all know is not fun. And it will kill your creativity if you're a creative. That's just, it's burnout burning the candle at both ends.
Shanna Skidmore (11:42):
With three tiny little boys at home,
Amy Osaba (11:45):
Yeah, three tiny little boys. And really I was the sole parent back then, even though I was still married. But it was very hard time for me emotionally trying to decide if I should stay married or not. And I knew deep within my soul that it was gonna be me to financially provide for the kids. So eventually we did get divorced and it was pretty tumultuous. It was very financially disabling and crippling and not to mention emotionally. Plus during this time it was the recession 2008, I remember that. And I was trying to build a business. Thankfully back then there were hardly any floral designers doing that look of the kind of more garden wildflower look that still in our designs now today. But back then, no one on the West coast. Wait, what are we on? We're on the east coast, right? <laugh> was doing that. All those things. But I can do flower arrangement. But yeah, I don't know. I was just lucky. I filled a niche here that no one was really doing. And so it grew really quickly. And that was really before Facebook or Instagram, which is really weird to think that makes me feel ancient. But word of mouth was the biggest thing. I still feel like a mattress salesman, but under promise and over deliver. And I did that back then without making any money. I was just, the money would come in and it would go right out. So I didn't really understand business basics 101 or accounting or anything. And I was doing everything out of the house with three little boys and one on my hip. And yeah, it was hard. It was very hard. And I remember finally after I got through the divorce and everything, I was like, Well, guess that I'm gonna be a grown adult. I should get an accountant or some sort of business person to help me. And it was a disaster. The guy looked at whatever I called books back then. It wasn't even books, I think it was my business bank statement. And he said, Well, you're basically bankrupt and you should quit. And I said, Well, that's not really an option. So you got any other great advice for me. And of course he used all of these big words that made me feel stupid. And I just felt very defeated. And I was like, What else am I gonna do? I have to stay at home with my boys. I mean, I have to figure out some way to be there for them. I just didn't wanna have to put them in daycare. And so anyway, I just kept charging along and then God just plopped Shannon right into my life because I've always said that I started my business because God knew I was gonna need it. And then he brought me Shanna to help me actually live and sustain and build a life for the boys and I. So yeah, back then it was hard hand to mouth. I didn't know what I was doing. I made it all up as I went along. I had zero experience, not like I ever interned or anything. There weren't really workshops or any of that back then. So yeah, I don't know. It just happened <laugh>, thankfully. Thankfully. But yeah, then Shanna came into my life,
Shanna Skidmore (15:40):
<laugh>. I'm already crying over here because God put us together. Absolutely. Sorry everyone if we cry through the rest of this. But <laugh>, you're the reason I have a business today too. And I'm so grateful cuz now I feel like I understand a little more of your story so much more having Madeline and she's 19 months old. And so I remember everybody little backstory here. I was working with the fashion designer, I was the controller. So I worked directly under the CFO doing operations and finance. And I remember that. It was such a wonderful, I love those ladies and so grateful. That was my first job once we moved to Atlanta. But I remember that when I would get to go on photo shoot days, it was my favorite day because I got out of the office and I needed that creative outlet. I love spreadsheets and numbers, everybody knows. Nobody's surprised. But I have an art degree too. I have very creative. And I met Jenny Branch and she was the stylist. Do you remember that? I had been stalking Amy on Pinterest because I had this stream of doing flowers and I found out that Jenny knew you. And I said, Jenny, yeah, you've gotta get me in with Amy. I need to know. Aww. And so I think I called you or emailed you and never heard back. And then when I finally got a hold of you, I don't know if you remember this, but you're like, Can you come today? And I was like, No. I have a full time job. But I <laugh> did figure out how to come and another day and yeah, I remember the first day pulling up to the goat farm. It's in Atlanta. It's exactly what it sounds like. <laugh>. And I got lost trying to find the studio. So ended up being 15 or 20 minutes. It's a maze. And I was freaking, I was so stressed out because I was late. And then I'm going to this interview <laugh> and I walk in and you're like, Hey, can you just strip these flowers? I gotta go pick up my kids. Oh my gosh, you left me Amy. I mean you probably gave me five minutes of instruction cause I truly didn't have any clue. And the yes then that was the start of our beautiful friendship and our journey. But I remember, so after I left my full-time job and started working with Amy, so I was freelancing with Amy and doing all kinds of, I remember I was sweeping the floors. Anything you would pay me to do, I would do it. Cause we had to pay our bills.
Amy Osaba (18:14):
We were all doing it.
Shanna Skidmore (18:16):
I Know. Yeah, we were all doing it <laugh>. And I think it was our second or third event we drove, I don't remember where it was, Amy, you might remember, but it was an hour and a half in Dahlonega, Georgia
Amy Osaba (18:27):
Shanna Skidmore (18:28):
<affirmative>. We were driving back at two or 3:00 AM after breaking down this event. And I said, Amy, why don't you have a breakdown crew? You have your boys at home and why don't you have a breakdown crew? Do you remember what you said to me?
Amy Osaba (18:44):
I was like, I don't remember what I said but something like I didn't know I could or
Shanna Skidmore (18:48):
I remember you said, Cause we sat there for hours waiting. Remember we had to take flowers out of a tree. It was crazy.
Amy Osaba (18:55):
Oh, I remember.
Shanna Skidmore (18:56):
You said I don't have the money for that.
Amy Osaba (18:58):
I was figuring out. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (18:59):
Yeah, that's right. You said, I don't have the money for that. And I think that's where I realized my calling and my gift. And I love the creative, any type of entrepreneurship, but my gift is in the numbers. And that's when I started really being like, okay, we're going to figure out this money side. So will you talk through what did we do? And we can talk about it together. But what started to shift and change and maybe some aha moments you had about understanding pricing and <affirmative> at that time you were still known as the expensive florist. I mean in the five, I remember $5,000 events and we were like,
Amy Osaba (19:43):
Seriously, that was a big deal. I mean $5,000 still a big deal. But I'm just learned what things cost now. And if we're gonna work this hard a floral designer or event people or anyone, if you're gonna work hard at something, you should be paid for it. And there's nothing wrong with that. I think. Well first two things. One thing that I love about Shanna is you are extremely right and left brain. And that is a gift because I am a creative a hundred percent and I am not right in left brained. Like I hundred percent embraced. I've got ADD, I've got a thousand ideas in my head all the time and I'm like, look, something shiny. So it was hard for me to even, I had no idea where even to begin. But I just remember, I don't know if it was the same one you were thinking about, but one of the events, it was late at night at dark outside, I think it was wet. And we were trampling through and everybody's so tired. And Shanna was like, we're not doing this anymore. We're getting you a breakdown crew. And I was like, We're ok. And she said, Well what does your budgets look like? And I was like, Huh, what does that mean? She was like, Well what does your business plan look like? Huh? What? Crickets. I mean these were such foreign words to me. But not to mention I was just scrounging trying to get through a divorce and make sure my kids were okay. I mean, I didn't know what a budget meant or looked like or anything. And so Shanna, I think that it was sort of like this, Oh my gosh, we could make a really great team I mean, we can fulfill both outlets for each other. And that just kind of was even a learning thing for me of hiring to your weaknesses. That's a different section of maybe the podcast, but really I didn't know what I was pricing. I mean, I just made it up as I went along and I didn't think about labor, I didn't think about sales tax. I didn't think about actually making a profit. So when Shanna and I, that was the funniest thing of all was that I'd had this dude, some guy in a suit and tie come into the goat farm and I'm trying to run this business and talking over me and making me feel like about this big. And then here comes Shanna explaining everything in a way that I understood that made sense. And I just remember when we first looked at what my business, I don't even think I had a business banking account, honestly. And the thing I love about Shanna is that she will be so real with you, but in the most loving big sister way, but then also help you figure out the way out of the hole.
And I just remember crying, it's hopeless. I might as well just run away or stop. And Shanna is just like, No, there is a way out of this and this is the plan that we're gonna do. And just laid it out so easily to these attainable goals that I was like, Oh wow. Yeah. I think the mindset was, well for me, I learned that I needed help and I can ask for help. And I learned about myself that if someone can help me figure out the plan, I can do the plan. I can work a plan, but I cannot come up with the plan <laugh>. Yeah. So yeah, I really relied on you for that. I mean, I would literally text her, can I buy the Starbucks today? I mean that's how much I relied her. I mean I don't think everybody gets that freedom with you. And I'm so thankful that you were my friend. You were my friend back then and
Shanna Skidmore (23:47):
I mean still today.
Amy Osaba (23:48):
Yes. Well yeah, <laugh> for sure. Oh my gosh, I can't imagine my life without her. But yeah, it shifted my whole persona kind of as a business person and as a entrepreneur. I just kind of always felt like this little, I don't know, hippy chick creative girl trying to just make a couple dollars. And I never thought that I could build it into something very profitable and sustainable and then be able to buy a house and take care of my children. But she just broke it down into such easy, attainable steps that it makes me sad sometimes for people when I see, I just know how hard it is in the beginning to figure it out. And the saddest thing for me is when people don't price what they're worth because we all feel bad about it. I mean, I don't know if it's just a woman thing or a creative thing or a human thing, but for a long time I felt like I didn't deserve it or I'm just making this stuff up. I don't know if I really deserve to make that much money. Now I'm on the other side <laugh>, I can't do it for a less than this cause I know how much work it is. Right? Yeah. That goes into what we do. So anyway, did that answer your question? And I went around the horn.
Shanna Skidmore (25:16):
No, so good. It's so good. And thanks. I just love you. I'm thankful for you. I'm thankful for our story together. Yeah, so
Amy Osaba (25:26):
Shanna Skidmore (25:27):
<laugh>. So special <laugh>. I wanna talk about numbers a little bit and, just walk through the transformation. So would you be okay if I share a couple things from when we first met?
Amy Osaba (25:40):
Totally. I'm an open book. Get into it. I want you to share the numbers, cause I won't remember
Shanna Skidmore (25:47):
But you can share what it looks like now. So when we first met, I remember if we got a $5,000 event, it was a huge deal And something that I teach all my students, all my clients, is looking at client averages and how important it is to see the growth, especially in a service based industry like floral design, the growth from client to client. So that was something I think I had you start looking at, okay, what are my average event size? And I get asked a lot about minimums and things like that. And I remember you were at 82% cost. Do you remember this <affirmative>? So with you price something for, I'm just gonna say a thousand dollars <affirmative>. And were spending $820 on flowers. So that only left you with $180 to pay rent at the goat farm. <laugh>, <affirmative>, which yes, they charge rent and all the other things, pay yourself, pay for gas, pay for life for your family. So that's why I'm assuming when you sat down with that financial guy, he said your bankrupt. Cuz you had a lot of money coming in, but you weren't holding onto any of it if not very much of it. And so that was the biggest transformation within one year you really started pricing correctly. So, I always teach my students 60% goes to the business and to you, 40% for cost. So if you were charging a thousand dollars, I would make you only spend $400 on flowers. And so we had to get into this creative space. We did a lot of foraging, <laugh> get into this creative space of not losing the integrity of the design but yeah, still creating profit. So I don't remember, I think it was within one year you were taking a full-time salary from the business and that next year you had bought a house for your boys, you and the boys. And with that was just with a simple tweak about pricing. Yeah. <affirmative>. So would you share Amy, just some things that you kind of remember and take away from now in your business? What are you looking at? Pricing, staying on budget, Just kind of talk through what it looks like now.
Amy Osaba (28:05):
Yeah, well I do remember a five year old, Shanna sat down with me and would do the actual number cuz I guess I am pretty visual. I do, I hate a spreadsheet, she loves the spreadsheet. But I do love a spreadsheet because it helps me be able to see, because when you're young money comes into your bank account, Oh I have a hundred dollars, I'm gonna go to Starbucks every day this week. And then you realize that you've spent $500 on Starbucks that month, all of the money that you just don't realize that whenever you're spending, if you don't actually look at it. So when she first told me about the 60 40 thing, I literally still to this day write out a line in the middle of the paper, 60% over here, 40% over there. Whenever I'm figuring out our budgets or now we have these in-house budget breakdowns for each event. And it's a spreadsheet <laugh>, and I guess I shouldn't say I hate spreadsheets anymore because I live by them now. And it's funny because over the years I will say things like, Well I'm gonna Shanna this because we don't need to spend this much on ribbon.
Shanna Skidmore (29:20):
You turned me into a verb? I'm so proud
Amy Osaba (29:22):
Shanna Skidmore (29:25):
That makes me so happy
Amy Osaba (29:26):
Because when you really start to look at it overall, well, so for example, there's been people on my team that think we need to buy new vessels every time or new ribbon every time when we had a plethora of ribbon and $5 or $10 times 70 events a year equals a lot of money, 500 extra dollars on flowers that don't get used and there's five buckets of flowers left over, that's like $700 times this many events at the end of the year. That's a lot of money. And so it is really fascinating to me, unless you're a business owner and it's your money, people don't see it that way. And until you really break it down, you do not realize how much fluff, extra money that you're spending on stuff that could be going into your pocket, that could be going into an IRA or into savings or home improvement.
So I'm definitely, I'm almost 50 now and that's the way I think about everything. And anything I see on Instagram, I'm like, I wonder how much that costs them. I wonder what their labor costs look like. <laugh>, which is so ridiculous. But now I still do the exact same thing and I've included a design fee because I know the time and the effort and I know what my clients are gonna get and I know that I'm worth that extra because it's okay to make a profit and it's okay to make money. And I think I had to, that was a big mind, mind shift for me was being okay with having money. You don't have to be a starving artist. It's okay with charging what you're worth. And it's like educating your clients a lot on what the value is that they're getting from you and educating them that anyone can have a beautiful Instagram story but can they show up on the day and execute a big six figure event.
So you know, have to learn those kind of sales tactics throughout the years. But the pricing thing, one of the things that Shanna did for me too was helped me really price out how much each item cost. Because the way I was pricing it was just how much actual flowers cost and then the arrangements not considering the labor that went into it and delivery and gas and going and picking up the flowers, coming back processing and taking 'em and loading them and blah blah. All the things and breaking them down <laugh> and breaking 'em down. Yeah. So she helped us do a pricing guide and through the years that was my Bible, that's what I went on. But I will say we kind of learned as our budgets got bigger, that I needed to have a separate little spreadsheet within our proposal that line items out our labor charges because of installations and travel and things that just started to the pricing guide, the actual arrangements it was starting to eat into our profit. And so now I have a separate sort of labor and delivery charge because now we have to have a lift or we have to have a lot more freelancers and we have to have accommodations and then I give them per diem and a cooler and if we have to have multiple vans. So I have to line item all of that also and then keep that within our budget breakdown so that I know I don't go over and we can still make a profit. Does that makes sense?
Shanna Skidmore (33:10):
Yeah. I think Amy too, one of the things that you do so well that you never give yourself enough credit for is sales. And one of the biggest things, and I still talk about this now with my students and I like Amy Osaba is a genius cuz you always talk about and share with your clients, you educate along the way <affirmative>. And that is a huge part of this process. And I remember you always would say, I can verbatim, I think sell your sales,
Amy Osaba (33:36):
I know what you're gonna say,
Shanna Skidmore (33:38):
I'm gonna price your entire wishlist. And then you can pick and choose based on what fits in the budget. Because I think what everybody does, and probably what you did in the beginning too is like, okay, that's your budget. Great, I'll make it work. And now it's this idea and you're saying with your vans or your labor, you look at what it costs and then we add profit and then we create the price. And so just this, like you said, this major mindset shift of <affirmative>, how we talk about money. And I think that's I've seen you embrace that and build up your budget. Something. Amy, if you don't mind sharing <affirmative>, you've done this for almost 15 years or 15 years. When new people come in the market or price competition, how do you handle that?
Amy Osaba (34:29):
Well, the thing I always think about is this Oprah quote, which is, well it's not really a quote, but it's sort of a little story that I remember, which was when she first started the Oprah show, all these other people came on like Donna Hughe and Ricky Lake and Sarah Jesse Raphael, whatever her name was. And people would come up to her and be like, Well what are you gonna do about that? Or what do you think about that person starting? She was like, You know what, I'm not really gonna waste my time and energy looking back at what they're doing. I'm gonna stay focused on what I'm doing and where my goal is. I'm not worried about their goal, I'm not worried about what they're doing because I know what I'm doing and I know what I'm doing is where I'm supposed to be. And I just feel like that's such a great sustainable way to look at things. Cuz we all get in the comparison trap and we all wanna look at Instagram and be like, Oh why didn't I get that opportunity? Or I wanna do that. Or you think, well maybe I need to dive in and see what they're doing so that I can do something like that. When in reality the path leads, the path opens as you go forward. I just always loved the analogy of thinking of we're all in this kind of life race and we all have the same opportunities and while you're in your trudging momentum, you're not in the sprint, you're just in the race. I mean, why am I gonna waste my energy turning around and looking back what other people are doing and trying to compare? Let's just stay the course I mean, of course you can learn from other people and things, but it's like when you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, the path is gonna open for you. And yes, there's gonna be times when other people have a different opportunity than you, but I had to learn that that opportunity will come around for me. It's just not my time yet. And there's plenty to go around that is that abundance mindset of just cuz that person had that opportunity doesn't mean it is not gonna work out for me one day. It will. It's just not my day to do that. So I don't know, I kind of always think of it like that. I mean there's lots of people that even become an intern for me and now have their own businesses and maybe are even doing better than I did, probably are smarter business person in the beginning than I ever was.
Shanna Skidmore (36:59):
And I think too, so many people get afraid to charge profitably and price profitability when competition comes in. I know undercutting is such something I hear so much from students and clients and it's just one of those things, like you said, when you're educating and helping your client understand the pricing, people will pay, people will pay for quality and consistency. So I love that, Amy.
Amy Osaba (37:29):
And I think too that the thing is, is that if you just continue to undercut and not make a, it's not sustainable and you won't last and you'll burn out. So let 'em do it. I'm like good luck. Yeah, I mean it, it's happened to me, it's happened to everybody. But you kind of just have to know that something else is gonna come along. You know, have to trust your gut on that sometimes. But wait though, I have to say what I thought you were gonna say about the sales thing. I just wanted to say, and I think that people appreciate this and I think this is what I thought you were gonna say. I try to take on my clients when I was having my children, my obgyn, my doctor, she made me feel like I was the only person in the world having a child, even though she had delivered like 3000 babies. And she answered all my questions, no question was stupid. She made it feel like a special experience even though she does it every single day. And that's honestly kind of how I want my clients to feel that I'm gonna take care of them, I have the best interest in mind and these are the reasons why you wanna hire me. And then after that, if they don't want to, that's fine. They learn a good bit. So I bar on the sales thing.
Shanna Skidmore (38:46):
Oh, that's so good. And I do. Okay. Amy, will you share a little bit just how your business looks today?
Amy Osaba (38:53):
Well yes, sure. I'm very thankful that we have pretty good budgets. Our minimum in Atlanta I'll in Atlanta is 20,000, but to travel outside is between 30 and 50. So I feel like I'm very thankful for that. And we can do fewer events, but logistically they're a pretty big undertaking. But I do know how to price it right now and I have to have all of the logistics figured out before I can give the pricing to the clients. Because for six figure budgets, you have a lot of freelancers that you need to take care of. And I like to take care of my freelancers because I want them to want to come and work for me again. And I try to manage it where they're not working late nights and where it's sustainable for them. But I take into account everything. I mean, gas, trucks, meals, miscellaneous stuff, handle overtime, mileage, all the things.
But yeah, I mean we have a really pretty good profit margin. And I will say one of the things, it was right before Covid, it was before Covid was even on the radar, I decided to get rid of my 4,000 square foot studio because I Shanna'd it again and looked at <laugh> and looked at how much annually we were spending just on rent. And honestly we were hardly ever there because we were traveling so much. It was a storage facility basically. And it was beautiful. I loved that place. I know we had photo shoots there, we rent it out for some weddings. It was huge. But it was such a huge expense that I moved everything into storage and I just do everything from home. And when we travel, we do our pop-up floral shops in the Airbnbs or at the venues. And that saved me so much money, which is freedom. And not to mention I was in the car two hours a day not being at home when my kids were at home from school driving back and forth to the studio. So for me it was a financial decision as well as just a life balance decision to I'm just, I need to be at home. My kids were becoming teenage young men and I just needed to be at home, whether they talk to me or not, whether they wanna have a conversation with me or not, I'm here. I just needed to be present. And I am so thankful that I did that because it ended up being what teenage years are hard and I needed to be here. And now I like, I am so beyond thankful for the relationship I have with my kids for that. Because it's cool too because a lot of times for some of the events people come here and <laugh>, they come here and we'll process and load up the van and stuff to my house cuz a lot of stuff is in my garage and the storage unit down the street, real glamorous, let me tell you, <laugh>.
But the sweetest thing of all is the boys have said to me over the years, including you, Shanna, that he's like all the people that work with you, mom, they're like our aunts. They're like family because they love my kids and they're so sweet to them. And it's just been a neat experience for my kids to not only see us all working hard and their mom working hard and them participating in it, but just to be in that environment. And it was just a unique experience that I'm really thankful for. But I would not have made that decision to shut that studio down unless I, Shanna had taught me to look at the numbers because I feel like a lot of times for floral design or any kind of business, you feel like you need to legitimize yourself by having a studio or something. And I don't know, I just got over that. I was like, I don't really think I need to have a studio to legitimize myself anymore. And I rarely have face to face meetings with clients anymore. It's all on the phone. You feel like you need to have a place for people to come or whatever. That's just me personally, what has worked for me. But
Shanna Skidmore (43:27):
Amy, it's so good. That was my thought. As you were talking about downsizing, getting rid of your studio, sometimes that feels like such a pride moment and for some people, again, like you said, that may be what you want. But for you in this season, what you wanted more was to be home and just giving yourself permission to do that and not feeling like <affirmative>. It is real. That mindset of this is legit. And I don't know if you wanna share numbers, but you've said multiple times about six figure events. It's amazing that, No, it doesn't sound braggy. I want to just give some, everybody listening at reference point that even at that level you're still feeling I need to feel legitimate like legitimize myself. And it's something that maybe we all will struggle with or it's just, it's good for you that to embrace and for us listening to embrace, it doesn't have to look any certain way <affirmative> what is success really?
Amy Osaba (44:38):
Right? Yeah. Well I don't mind sharing numbers or things. I mean, yeah, I wasn't saying that to sound braggy,
Shanna Skidmore (44:44):
You didn't sound braggy at all.
Amy Osaba (44:46):
And I'm <laugh> thankful. I mean, well, a couple weeks ago I asked Shanna to give me a, I need an annual financial reboot. Is it called? Yeah. Or a audit kinda. And I hadn't really gone through our sales for last year and last year was a big year in the event industry because of the covid reschedules and things. And when I got that looked at that number, I was like what? Now? I was kind of like, whoa, that's exciting. But also,
Shanna Skidmore (45:25):
Do you wanna share what it was?
Amy Osaba (45:26):
I don't know. Do I?
Shanna Skidmore (45:28):
IdDon't know. You don't have to. It was big.
Amy Osaba (45:30):
I don't care. It was
Shanna Skidmore (45:32):
Lots of zeros
Amy Osaba (45:33):
It was over a million dollars in sales. That doesn't mean profit, which I had to learn that sales does not mean profit. Okay, that's business 101. I know that sounds ridiculous, but seriously, I had to learn what net and gross meant. Cause I just didn't know. But that just meant sales. That doesn't mean that that's how much money made, but still, I literally sit in my bedroom desk and write proposals. I mean, I do have one employee, but little old me who doesn't know anything about business, who I'm running around a crazy person most of the time. And I was able to do that and have a profit, make a profit. It was sort of like a wow, that is really cool.
Shanna Skidmore (46:23):
A pinch me moment?
Amy Osaba (46:25):
For this year for sure, yeah
Shanna Skidmore (46:27):
And I think Amy, I hope just gives, inspires or gives hope to someone listening where you are an amazing businesswoman, you need to give yourself more credit. But you learned the few numbers that you have to look at and that you have to know and that you've run with, that you have run with it. Pricing, cost, profit, margins, you have run with it. And so I'm so proud of you. <laugh>.
Amy Osaba (46:56):
You're sweet. You're sweet. Well, I mean, I know
Shanna Skidmore (47:00):
Way to go you.
Amy Osaba (47:01):
I forgot what I called you back in the day. It was like the dream to go or what did I, and I can't remember, just left my brain. I was like, he's the
Shanna Skidmore (47:10):
Dream, dream. Oh, I don't know.
Amy Osaba (47:12):
No, I remember. I mean, I will remember, I'll text it to you later.
Shanna Skidmore (47:17):
I thought it was Abany who called me the dream releaser, but maybe it was you.
Amy Osaba (47:21):
I don't know. Oh, maybe. Well that'll come back to you. That sounds about right. But basically it was just, I always felt like you were, no one can afford not to hire you to help them because hiring you saves so much money in the long run. Or just even if it's not Shanna, even though I'm extremely biased and I think she's great because she understands the creative world and mine and can explain it to us in a way that makes sense. I just, even more so now as I'm getting older and closer to retirement age, because mama knows I can't keep going and doing these events. It's just so exhausting. I'm so tired just looking at how to plan for retirement and things I mean and different sort of investment opportunities. I mean, I'm trying to pick her brain about that kind of stuff because you do have to eventually think about an exit strategy or at least morphing your business into something else. And that's one of the things I love about you is that I feel like you know care about people and you care about people's future. That's why I think it's such a cool creative outlet for you because you see such success with the principles that you give us to live by. And I know I mean money talk and money talk, but regardless of whatever kind of business you have, money does equal freedom. And it enables you to have the life that you want, which is maybe spending more time with your family or for me it's creating fun adventures and memories with my kids. And even now as I'm getting older, I think, well in the next 10 or 15 years, I wanna be able to do awesome, fun things with my grandkids and the whole family. So I don't know, I'm just extremely, extremely thankful that you were my mentor and are still and helping me understand those things. Cuz I feel like money becomes the thing that holds us back the most. I feel like all of us humans,
Shanna Skidmore (49:33):
<laugh> And Amy, thank you for sharing that and everybody listening, this was not to be a 48 minute testimonial. Our journey goes deep. I mean, for both of us, you are the reason I have my business today and I'm just so grateful. And I remember when that first year, taking your first six figure salary and buying your house, that changed my life too. I always say, I can't get you more clients. I can't make you better at your craft. And you were great at those things. You were great at marketing, great at your craft, and there's just this piece that needed to be unlocked and just, once you unlock it, anybody, like you said, gimme the plan. And you have worked the plan. You worked it to seven figures, girl. That's right. I'm so proud of you. Okay, I wanna ask you to end this section and then we'll go into a quick far round. What would you say is the best thing that you have learned about money?
Amy Osaba (50:38):
The best thing is I've learned how to save. And that you can still live on a budget that helps you save and to save for a better future and things that you want and desire in the life you want and that you can have a good relationship with money. I used to hate it <laugh>. I used to hate it, hate dealing with it. But that you can learn to manage it and it's like a good relationship. You have to take care of it and it'll take care of you.
Shanna Skidmore (51:07):
Yeah, that's so good. You love money now, <laugh>
Amy Osaba (51:12):
<laugh> sounds terrible, but
Shanna Skidmore (51:16):
That happens to so many people I work with. I get emails all the time. It's like I hated numbers and now I love them. I love my spreadsheets.
Amy Osaba (51:23):
I know it's true. It's not that they say the love of money isn't good if that becomes your whole world. But having a healthy relationship with money is the best thing that you can do. I mean, you can learn to be a good steward of it.
Shanna Skidmore (51:39):
So I always say I live and breathe on my money plan, which is what I teach my students. What do you need to sell? How much can you spend? I mean, that gives me so much freedom. So anyways,
Amy Osaba (51:52):
Get a whole bunch of Facebook marketplace stuff in the garage right now. <laugh>
Shanna Skidmore (51:57):
Amy. Gosh, I'm so grateful for you. Thank you for sharing your story. I wanna go into a little quick fire round. I'm gonna put you in the hot seat. You ready?
Amy Osaba (52:08):
Shanna Skidmore (52:09):
Let's do that. Okay. When is one thing you would be embarrassed if people knew?
Amy Osaba (52:16):
That was hard. I think it was what I've already said that I literally knew absolutely nothing about flowers or business or money or I didn't know what I was doing. I knew nothing. I looked at pictures on Pinterest and copied them. That was my floral background, <laugh>. And that was it. So I think, I don't know if it's necessarily embarrassing. I think he used to be a lot more embarrassed of it than I am now. But yeah, I just didn't know anything. I was very ignorant, went on my gut and intuition, but that was it. Yeah. Didn't know anything. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (52:50):
And extreme talent.
Amy Osaba (52:52):
Well, you're sweet. Thank you.
Shanna Skidmore (52:55):
Well, dancer flowers. I'll never forget that.
Amy Osaba (52:57):
Shanna Skidmore (52:59):
I did flowers like a month ago. I brought it back for a cousin's wedding. I know. Well, yeah. Thank you for getting my flowers while you were in Mexico. Oh my goodness.
Amy Osaba (53:09):
Oh well that's okay.
Shanna Skidmore (53:10):
It can't be a floral event if something crazy happens
Amy Osaba (53:14):
A hundred percent chasing down flowers baby all the time.
Shanna Skidmore (53:18):
Chasing down flowers.
Amy Osaba (53:19):
And you're still just as good as forever. You might have to come back.
Shanna Skidmore (53:23):
Hey. Well you already mentioned your event in February in Tennessee. Yeah, I'm coming. Okay.
Amy Osaba (53:28):
Shanna Skidmore (53:28):
Bring it. That'll be so much fun. Okay. Second. Do you have any wish you could do over moments?
Amy Osaba (53:36):
Yeah, I wish I had met Shanna a long time ago and I wish that I had started investing and saving a lot sooner. Cause I have teenagers now and I'm trying to teach them about an IRA and all this stuff. And we look at what it would look like now for them if they start now. And I'm like, man, yeah, I could be in such a different place right now. <affirmative>. Yeah, that's one of my big wishes. <affirmative> do overs.
Shanna Skidmore (54:00):
Yeah. Yeah. That compound interest <laugh>,
Amy Osaba (54:03):
That compound interest man is insane. I know. And to my youngest is all over it. He's a saver. He's like, When are we gonna open my IRA mom? Cause he got a job and he could do it now that he has
Shanna Skidmore (54:16):
Good job buddy.
Amy Osaba (54:18):
So cute. Peanut. He'll always be little peanut. Even though he is taller than me now.
Shanna Skidmore (54:24):
Oh I bet. Okay, third question. What is a big win or pinch me moment?
Amy Osaba (54:31):
Well, I think I have two. The biggest, one of the big things that you encouraged me to do when you were still doing flowers with me, and we had gotten through a lot of the money stuff. You told me to dream big and if I could do any photo shoot or anything in the world, what would I wanna do? And I said I would want to do a photo shoot with a New York City ballet dancer. And you're like, Okay, we're gonna make that happen. And we did. And we went to New York and I got a New York City ballet dancer to do this photo shoot. And it was really not even about flowers, but me and you and Meredith were standing there and we just looked at the photographer and Megan Kay Sadler was shooting it. And she had done these little square drawings of how she wanted each image to look. And then we looked at it through her camera and then we looked at the studio and we all looked at each other and we started crying. Yeah. Do you remember?
Shanna Skidmore (55:26):
I'm crying right now.
Amy Osaba (55:26):
That was huge. <laugh>. That was a huge, I was like, I cannot believe this is literally my dream. Okay, I've done it now. I don't know what to do now.
Shanna Skidmore (55:35):
And we did flowers in the bathtub <laugh>, remember we put flowers in the bathtub at the hotel?
Amy Osaba (55:40):
At the hotel. Absolutely. And that was a huge pinch me moment. And then a bucket list I always wanted in my career was to have a spread in the Martha Stewart Wedding magazine. And we got it in the second to last issue before she stopped the wedding magazine, a spread in Martha. So I feel like those were two big, big deal moments, but It's like a big dream and it happens. Yeah. That's pretty cool.
Shanna Skidmore (56:13):
<affirmative>. Yeah. Yeah.
Amy Osaba (56:14):
Shanna Skidmore (56:15):
That was such a good moment to be a part of. Okay. Number four. What is the best advice you've ever received? Or just really good advice
Amy Osaba (56:27):
That was, There's so many, but I think really it was just learning that from you because money was such a hard thing for me. And I knew I needed to learn to manage, and do well so that I could provide for my family. And I think learning from you that if you just write out your plan and stick to it, you can do that and you can make money and you can have the life that you want. I mean, I didn't believe that until you showed me how. So I think just the best advice is to, I remember you said what do you wanna make? What is your financial goal for the year? And then you work backward. On, okay, well if you wanna make a hundred thousand dollars profit this year, or if that's what you want your salary to be, how many weddings do you have to do to meet that. So I think it's just simplifying those things in terms of money and saving, learning to save every single check that comes in to save some.
Shanna Skidmore (57:28):
That was perfect actually. Amazing. Amy. So great at this. Actually the saving piece is something I've been learning about. Kyle and I were so focused for so long on debt reduction, which for my students who are doing personal finance with me, I say I believe that debt reduction is a part of long term, long term savings. However, <affirmative>, I do wish I had even just started with $50, $10, a hundred dollars <affirmative>. I think so often we think we need to be able to save big amounts before we can start saving. But those small, we are already saving a little bit every single month for Madeline. And it really does not this year, but it really does compound and add up. So yeah. That's good. Yeah. Okay, last quick fire question and then we'll send it off. What are you working on now or what is one resource that you would like to share?
Amy Osaba (58:24):
Well, I'm working on simplifying and scaling the brand into something a little more sustainable for me personally, where I don't have to do so many events. So there's something in the works that I'll probably announce, I'm hoping at the beginning of 2023. That's sort of a fun, been a fun side project I've been working on. And it's one of those things I think it could totally work, but also it might not. So I don't know. But I would also be really disappointed in myself and I would always wonder if I didn't start. So
Shanna Skidmore (59:05):
Yeah. Do you have a place that people can hear about this secret project? You heard it here first.
Amy Osaba (59:13):
You heard it here first. Well, yes. It will be on our website cuz we're revamping the website and it'll, they'll be announcements and things on there and our Instagram, social media. But it'll have its own social media too. But of course we'll be announcing it and kind of gearing up hype and things leading up to that. So just keep checking out our social media and our website and Facebook, Instagram.
Shanna Skidmore (59:41):
And we'll put all the links in the show notes too. Yeah. Ooh. I'm pumped 2023 Secret Project.
Amy Osaba (59:47):
Yep. Baby, we need that mailbox money
Shanna Skidmore (59:51):
Okay, Amy, we're gonna send it off in style and I would just love for you to take it all the way back. 2007, 2008 <laugh>, the beginning days of AO. What would you tell yourself on day one of business?
Amy Osaba (01:00:10):
That it will all be okay and it all works out eventually. <laugh> Don't worry so much <laugh>. Just that hard work and just trying to stay focused and keep trying to do the right things. Learn from your mistakes. But yeah, I would say that eventually it does all work out. Just keep trying to learn, keep trying to better yourself and your business. I think that's the worst thing is when people go through a hard thing and then they just keep repeating it and not learn from it. That's sad. That's a sad cycle for me. But Yeah, but you're gonna be okay. It'll be okay. You have Shanna, you're gonna be okay. <laugh>. I know I sound like a Shanna commercial, but it's true. I mean, I just feel like people need someone in their life to have a sounding board, to be like, Is this okay? Am I doing this right? I dunno if I'm doing this right.
Shanna Skidmore (01:01:09):
And to be given the tools and the formulas and then it's like you said, you can work the plan. Yeah, <affirmative>.
Amy Osaba (01:01:17):
Cause not everybody has all of that. And it's okay to not know all of those things. Yeah. Yeah. You need a good Shanna in your life. I love you and I'm thankful for you
Shanna Skidmore (01:01:26):
<laugh>. Amy, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You are clearly an absolute gift to me and my whole family, and I know so many people listening are gonna resonate with your story. So thank you for being transparent and sharing with us. And I love you always and forever.
Amy Osaba (01:01:44):
Well, thank you for having me. And I feel the exact same about you, my children thank you. My children's children, thank you. So that they have retirement <laugh>. They can have a life <laugh>, thankful for you and our friendship. Always. And I'm proud of you. You're killing it, girl. <laugh>.
Shanna Skidmore (01:02:03):
Back at you, girl <laugh>.
Hey Wildflower, You just finished another episode of Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast. Head over to considerthewildflowerspodcast.com for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Amy. One final thought for today from Simon Sinek, "We achieve more when we chase the dream instead of the competition." As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.