We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Bowker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I have always wanted to work for myself. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time. Over the years I’ve worked in a couple different boutique flower shops and while I enjoyed it so much (and learned a ton) I wanted to be able to make my floral arrangements and creations completely mine. I wanted to have full control over every aspect of my designs and business. I wanted to have complete creative freedom. It took me quite some time to get over the initial fear and hesitation of starting my own business. I hate failing and I also don’t love putting myself out there for people to criticize my work. I am extremely happy that I pushed through all those fears and finally started my business. I have obviously never started a business before so there has been quite a bit of learning going on. It’s a lot of trial and error. Sometimes It can get kind of annoying and frustrating but definitely worth it. I recommend anyone thinking about starting their own business to 1. go for it and 2. ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those who can. I love Instagram because I have met some other florists on there that have been extremely helpful when it comes to certain business aspects as well as design tips! Its a beautiful community of like-minded people willing to help each other out. I also recommend getting a tax person to help with any questions. I had a tax person help me fill out all the forms to get my business license and tax ID. Without him I would have been extremely lost! It can get very confusing trying to do it all on your own.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been a florist for 4+ years and have enjoyed every second of it – even the 14 hour work days leading up to Valentine’s Day! There is something so rewarding in bringing someones vision to life in the form of flowers. Seeing the happy faces from my clients after showing them the final product is worth all the chaotic, and sometimes frustrating, moments of being a florist. The thing I’m most proud of in my floral career is officially starting my own business! The process was confusing and long but with the help from a tax person and my mom we figured it out and j.christine designs was born! I had been putting it off for so long because I was extremely hesitant and nervous to actually start my business but I’m happy I finally pushed through those feelings and made it official. It’s been such a rewarding experience so far! Over these past 4 years I’ve learned so much about what it means to be a florist, as well as myself. I’ve come such a long way since I started both in my skills and with my mental health. I am very open with talking about my mental health because I think it’s extremely important. I have both anxiety and depression and am on anti-depressants. I work with a therapist twice a month (up until a couple months ago it was weekly). I think it’s important to talk about mental health so people know they’re not alone. So many people live with anxiety and depression and often times it can feel very lonely or you can get into the mindset that you’re crazy and unloveable. I want to be able to help as many people as I can by sharing my story. My advice to anyone wanting to start your own business but are hesitant because of x,y,z – just do it. Try not to overthink it (wayyyy easier said than done). It’s a lot of hard work and huge learning experience but it’s so worth it. Don’t let anxiety or afraid of failing, etc get in the way! I’m so proud of how hard I’ve worked and how far I’ve come and if I had never taken the risk, then life would be very different right now. Another piece of advice is don’t get too caught up in social media. I love following other floral instagrams to see what people are designing, be apart of a community, etc but I find myself comparing my work to others WAY too often. This leads to feelings of discouragement, discontent, and doubts in myself and my work. This can be extremely detrimental to yourself and your work if you let it control your life. Social media is necessary for exposure but make sure you’re kind to yourself while on it – give yourself grace and compassion. I feel I’m still discovering my brand and that is changes often. I am a bit of a perfectionist, which sometimes makes being a floral designer difficult but I have gotten a lot better about letting go. I have to remind myself constantly that not everything will be perfect and that’s the beauty of designing. I also have to remind myself that I am talented and that people do like my work. I sometimes suffer from imposter syndrome. According to Google’s definition “impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.” I know it seems silly, but I have to constantly remind myself this isn’t the case and I have learned I need to limit my social media exposure to small amounts a day so I don’t get in my head too much. It’s not always easy to talk about but like I said above, it’s important to talk about the hard stuff so people know they’re not alone (or crazy) for feeling a certain way! My hope is that people will read my story and know they’re not alone. My DM’s are always open for anyone who wants to talk!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in Ocean Beach, San Diego and I am obsessed with it! I very rarely leave unless I absolutely have to haha. It’s a small beach town that has everything you need (or at least I think so). When people come to visit I usually give them a little tour of area. I’ll take them to the cliffs next to my condo and show them the gorgeous view. My favorite bar here is the Arizona Cafe. It’s a small dive bar that has been around for a while now. There are always unique characters who frequent the bar and some of them have become some of my closest friends! It’s always a good time. I would definitely take them to OB Noodle House (Bar 1502) to try their famous peanut butter shots. They are responsible for Skrewball whiskey. They have amazing food as well. I’m actually eating some Pho from there right now! San Diego has so many hidden gems that it would take a fair amount of time to discover them all. It’s one of my favorite places in California. I’m originally from Los Angeles and I moved to San Diego almost 5 years ago! One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I recommend (if you haven’t been already) coming to San Diego at least once in your life. You won’t regret it.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to all the florists that I have had the pleasure of working with and that have taught me so much. (to name a few) Robin, Alicia, Amanda, Melanie, and Kate! I have been so fortunate to have been able to work with so many talented florists and hope to continue to work with, and learn from, more! I would also like to give a shoutout to my family + boyfriend. Their continued support has truly helped me get to where I am today. I feel extremely lucky to have such a solid support system in place – especially in my field of work, Not everyone is super supportive of the arts since there isn’t always a lot of money to be made and the work isn’t always super consistent.
pink + orange bouquet – @amisanabriaphoto white + green bouquet – @flagavenue red + blue bouquet – @kspringg.photography