We were lucky to catch up with Andrea Castaneda recently and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrea, thanks for joining us today. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I started preserving flowers in 2016 after receiving a beautiful bouquet from my now fiancé for Valentine’s Day. My inspiration was his grandmother; she used the process too and we still occasionally find flowers in her old books! I’ve always considered myself creative, but it wasn’t until then that I discovered that I could make my career out of something I could make, using my imagination, my hands, and flowers. I remember the very first two projects I made with the first bouquet I preserved: coasters (which we still have, 6 years later), and a fashion portrait where the dresses of the “models” were made with flowers. After posting these two things on my personal social media, I started getting many requests from family and friends to make pieces for them. After creating and selling multiple pieces for over a year, I decided to go to my first market to sell in person. I remember signing up months in advance so I had time to prep. My first market was the first time I knew for a fact I was onto something amazing. When STRANGERS were shocked to see what I had created and decided to spend anywhere from $20-150 on a piece of art, I knew I wanted to do this as my career. That market, I sold over $2000 and I was SHOCKED. I sold almost all my original pieces and ran out prints I had made from some original work. Today, creating art and connecting with people are what make me the happiest! This business has given me the ultimate gift: to move people in unique ways through handmade art. My customers push my creativity more and more with each new order! I have learned SO MUCH from the people I’ve met on this journey and am looking forward to continue to serve more people.
Andrea, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I always suggest people to follow me (and my team) on instagram at @designs.by.andrea, even before sending them a link to book my services. Since 95% of my business consists of preserving wedding bouquets, I think it’s important for people to get to know the culture of the company, even me as an artist, my work and work ethic before they book me. I ADORE what I do; I absolutely LOVE making people happy by creating “the most treasured piece of art they’ll own” and I am beyond grateful that I am able to do what I do. Now, Instagram does paint everything to be so perfect. We typically show the beautiful products we produce, but not too much about the behind-the-scenes as an entrepreneur. Being a business owner, with a team of 15, is HARD. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I no longer work a 9-6 Monday to Friday job. I practically breath my company and most of my awaken hours are dedicated to running my business. An average of 12 hour days, 6 days a week (if I decide to take Sundays off) is the normal. LOTS of struggles, anxiety, stress and even tears go into the business, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t change it for anything. My mantra is something I have my whole team follow: Always have the customer’s best interest. I believe that if we all care more about the customer’s happiness, and not what we, as a company, get, that we are much more successful. We care SO much about the quality of our pieces, that we spent about 30 hours PER piece to make sure its perfect and timeless for our customers. We set ourselves apart by truly caring for each petal and leaf that we use in a piece. Our beautification process is what sets us apart from others. By shape and color restoring the petals, we are able to give our customers a piece of art that they will cherish for years to come and pass down.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
I first started selling random art I would create. Shortly after going about 5 markets per month, people started requesting specific types of art and so I expanded my creations to “custom art”. Wedding bouquet preservation is something I was not too interested at the time, though I was taking a couple of bouquets per month. There’s a lot of stress factors when taking flowers from someone’s special events: 1. you don’t always get the freshest flowers as they typically go through a lot by being out of water for long periods of time 2. white flowers (found in most wedding bouquets) do not preserve white – they preserve beige or even brown 3. you really only have one shot at making it right After I had quit my corporate-America career of seven years, I KILLED it at markets. Within a few weeks, I had already hired a few girls to help me run markets simultaneously. The first six months of quitting my full time job were amazing… until January hit and there was no longer a market season, nor people excited about buying Christmas presents. I soon had to pivot the company once again: focus and EXCELL on bridal bouquet preservation, as the demand is there, and there’s weddings year round.
Can you talk to us about how your funded your business?
The way I started my business is probably not the way most businesses start. It started as a hobby and turned into a full time career. I had to put $0 down for my business as I was preserving flowers and creating pieces of art, My now fiancee was supplying the flowers (or my garden) and we had multiple frames at the house that I used in the beginning. It’s funny looking at those expenses and comparing them to our $60-80k expenses per month we have now! Can we please talk about the American Dream? As someone whose parents are immigrants and who was not raised in the United States, I want to give you my perspective: I come from a country (Mexico) where there’s limitations of all kinds. If you don’t come from a wealthy, well known family, it’s hard to have connections that can help you become successful. The United States truly gives everyone the opportunity to succeed *IF* people are willing to put in the work. While some companies will certainly need initial capital, it costs nothing to create a business plan. It costs nothing to make connections. It costs nothing to pitch your idea to investors… and it costs nothing to start working on your idea one way or another.
- Website: www.dbandrea.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/designs.by.andrea
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/pressedflowercrafts
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/dbandrea/
- Other: Check out our new gallery! www.dbandrea.design