Note: Photo credit for this article’s featured image is attributed to Cripps Photography.
If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
This week, we’re joined by Harley Gignac! Harley is the primary florist and owner of The Wild Rose Florist, all while still being in her early twenties. However, don’t make assumptions based on her age; Harley is a very hardworking, driven, and skilled woman! Since taking over the business in August of 2018, Harley has been steering her full-service floral shop in a “blooming” direction! In fact, Harley was actually up until midnight, the night before our interview, working hard on an arrangement for a customer. Therefore, we’re simply thankful she made the time to join us this week!
Harley, can you please share a bit of your journey to becoming a flower shop owner?
“I was born and raised in Las Vegas, but I spent most of my childhood growing up in Texas; however, in 2007, we had a tornado come through and wipe out our town, so my parents decided to move here because we have family in Salt Lake City and Ely.”
“In all four years of high school, I took agriculture classes and competed in floral culture. After I graduated from high school (Spring Creek), I moved up to Montana to play basketball on a scholarship. However, I tore my ACL, so I moved back home and started a family. My interest in floral culture kind of faded away for a while because I was focused on being a mom and taking care of my family. It wasn’t until I saw the business had been listed for sale that I started looking at getting back into it.”
“I wondered if I was too young to do it. I contacted a friend who told me that if I wanted it bad enough, I would find the means to make it work. I thought about it, and I realized that if this was my passion and something I wanted to do, I needed to jump in and do it because it’s important to make a career out of what you love doing! So, for six months, I worked on getting it. I spent months being turned down for business loans because of my age and credit until I found a bank that was small enough that they were willing to work with me. I was able to get everything squared away, and I’ve been here ever since!”
“I really wanted to go to work every day without feeling like I was “at work.” My great grandfather was a pediatrician for fifty-five years; he did it until the day he died. Something he instilled in me was that I had to do what I love.”
Did you have some supportive people in your life when you were in the early stages of deciding to take over The Wild Rose?
“I have a close friend, Hope Cripps, who was a big encouragement and told me it would be hard and stressful, but it would be better to jump into everything now, rather in ten years, because she wishes she would have started her business ten years ago. My family was supportive as well, especially my parents, who are my number one supports in all of this. They have helped me day-in and day-out, and without them, I wouldn’t be able to do this. Also, I’ve had a lot of good feedback from the people who have been in or left reviews!”
Looking back, what’s been the most challenging part about being a business owner so far, as you approach your first anniversary?
“Being in my position (the owner) means you don’t just get to close the doors, go home, and not think about the business; I’ll be laying in bed at night, thinking about it. So, it’s something that has put stress on my life, but it’s not necessarily “bad” stress. I’ve just devoted a lot of time to this, but I think I just need to get through this first year or so of being a new business owner, and then I’m sure I’ll be able to go home in the evenings and solely focus on spending quality time with my family.”
Do you see yourself establishing long-lasting “roots” here in this area as a business owner, florist, and mom?
“This is home. I really enjoyed growing up in Spring Creek, and I would love for my son to attend school there. My initial plan in life was to open a greenhouse here; that’s still something I want to do one day as a part of my five-year goal. Here in Elko, we don’t have a real flower market which means the prices of flowers go up, so I want to open a market to help keep prices low and to be something the community can enjoy!”
Finally, Harley, what do you enjoy most about walking into your shop, every day? What do you love about your work?
“For me, building an arrangement is an art. I get to create something and then see people’s excitement when they come to pick it up, or I deliver it to them. I love being able to see people’s expressions, especially when I deliver the flowers to them, because I know it brightens their day.”
“My main goal in all of this is to make people happy.”
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See you around, Elko!