‘Selling emotions’ helps Seattle florist stay in business through pandemic
Jean Louise Paquin-Allen at Juniper Flowers.jpg
SEATTLE – With hundreds of businesses closing, during the coronavirus pandemic, there’s still optimism among many business owners. A survey by American Express, shows 81% of business owners say the benefits of owning a business still outweigh the challenges. The benefits they list are: financial stability, being their own boss, turning their passion into a business, and flexibility with their work hours.
Walk into tiny, Juniper Flowers in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, and this optimism shows in its owner, Jean Louise Paquin-Allen Barely stepping inside the door, with that whiff of fresh flowers, you’re likely to get quite the greeting from Paquin-Allen.
“Our customer service is impeccable,” she explains, saying she really works to convey emotions through her floral arrangements.
Paquin-Allen started her business 18 years ago, renting a small space in a hotel on First Hill. Her business is more than beautiful, great smelling flowers.
“We tell them about what we’re really selling and it’s feelings and emotions that you can’t be there with someone right now during the pandemic,” said Paquin-Allen.
So, how does she keep business coming in to keep paying her employees?
“It’s a struggle, I’m not going to lie,” said Paquin-Allen.
Denied the first round of paycheck protection, she worked through the frustration of it, looking for more information and resources to help.
“Fremont neighborhood businesses are very close, so we were all in contact with each other, texting; ‘Did you get it? Did you get it?’ and we’re just sending links to each other,” she said.
Eventually, she got the paycheck protection loan, plus, she got a grant from the Fremont Chamber of Commerce.
“Oh, you know, it feels like; should we work on borrowed money? But right now, I just feel like it is about staying in business,” said Paquin-Allen.
Beyond grants and loans, the survey from American Express also found that business owners want help identifying new opportunities, marketing and social media, managing cash flow and accessing capital.So, how does she feel about the future of her business?”You know, I’m optimistic because we do have an online presence,” said Paquin-Allen.Coincidentally, she had just revamped her website, before the pandemic hit. It gives customers choices beyond a single occasion, offering subscriptions to monthly deliveries.While Juniper Flowers remains open, Paquin-Allen said she does feel for those in other industries, specifically restaurants.”We kind of work the same way. We have a perishable product, but restaurants have a much higher staff than we do, and they really need some more help,” she said.Her advice includes, knowing who and why you’re doing what you do and keep getting on that wheel every day, to keep it turning. She knows from experience, since this is not the first time she’s emerged, from financial hardship.”When the economy had tanked (in 2008) I worked out of my garage for five years,” she explained.”I just want to tell other businesses, small businesses, to just hang in there. Because I do feel like there’s going to be a surge and people are going to want […]