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Episode 120: Francoise Weeks                                

The Farmer & I: A Tale of Love, Flowers, and Entrepreneurship

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Carrington Winkelmann standing in her Austin flower studio with a centerpiece of flowers

Franny Pullin Photography

The Beginning: College and Career Path

We’re excited for you to meet Carrington Winkelmann in Episode 113.  She’s a passionate florist who began dreaming about owning a flower business while she was a college student. Initially, she didn’t have a clear direction for her career path and considered various options such as journalism, interior design, and graphic design, but the vision for her own business felt blurry. Eventually, Carrington switched her major to agricultural communication journalism, which allowed her to explore different aspects of communication, branding, and graphic design related to agriculture.

Audrey Spiars Photography

Meeting Grant: The Birth of a Dream

During her college years, Carrington met Grant who had aspirations of becoming a farmer. As they started dating and discussing a future together, Carrington expressed her interest in arranging flowers for weddings, and Grant was open to the idea. They spent the next few years dreaming and planning their future. In 2015, Carrington got a job at Unforgettable Floral in College Station, Texas which gave her valuable experience in the wedding industry. She fell in love with floristry and decided she wanted to start her own company. This marked the beginning of her personal journey into the world of flowers.

Ranunculus bunches grown by Winkelman Flower Farm in Austin

The Present: The Flower Business

Fast forward to the present, Grant and Carrington are now married and living in the Austin area. They both run their own businesses full-time. Grant focuses on flower farming at Winkelmann Flowers, while Carrington handles the wedding side of the business through The Farmer and I. Together, they currently farm on about two acres of land, having started with a smaller portion of the property and gradually expanding it to its current size.They’re even planning to add a fifth greenhouse soon!

The Business Model: Wholesale and Florist Sales

Primarily, the Winkelmann’s sell their flowers wholesale to other florists, but Carrington tries to use as many of the flowers grown on the farm as possible in her own wedding work while only purchasing additional flowers when needed. They don’t do much retail, instead focusing on wholesale and florist sales. Currently, Carrington and Grant run the business with some part-time help as they’re working towards building a team in the future. It can be overwhelming, but they’re striving to create a sustainable business for their family.

The Challenges: Balancing Work and Family

Carrington says being a florist has prepared her for the challenges of having a newborn, but balancing work and motherhood can still be difficult. When it comes to their event work, Grant and Carrington split responsibilities and occasionally hire freelancers for help. Since they don’t have much family support nearby, they rely on each other with occasional assistance from community friends.

The Future: Fewer Weddings, Higher Budgets

Carringtone started doing weddings in 2017 and her goal was to do 25 weddings a year. However, in 2021, she ended up doing 52 weddings, which was overwhelming. As a result, she has decided to transition to doing fewer weddings with higher budgets. She also handles all of her own marketing, including her website and social media. While she enjoys working on the website, she says she doesn’t pay much attention to social media algorithms or advertising.

The Pricing Strategy: Value and Quality

One of the challenges Carrington faces is navigating pricing for her wedding clients. She makes it clear that the flowers used in the weddings are not all grown by her family, as some people assume. She emphasizes the value of her design experience and the high quality of the flowers she sources. Certain flowers, like dahlias, are expensive and not easily accessible in the Texas heat, which adds value to the flowers she and Grant grow on their farm.

The Dream: AgriTourism and Community

Looking ahead, Grant and Carrington have been experimenting with growing peonies on their family’s land in Nebraska. They dream of owning their own property where they can grow flowers and offer agritourism experiences, such as pick-your-own flowers or hosting workshops. They envision having a bed and breakfast on the property and creating a community-based space for people to enjoy.

The Reality: Working Together and Building a Business

Working together as a couple in a flower business has its challenges and rewards. While it may seem idealistic, it is not always easy. Carrington and Grant prioritize their marriage and make time for each other outside of work. They also look forward to involving their son in the business in the future. Carrington says their community and friends outside of the flower world have been a source of support and help in prioritizing their marriage and family.

The Clients: Understanding Vision and Budget

When working with clients, Carrington strives to understand their vision and work within their budget to create beautiful weddings. Her ideal client is someone who values the marriage behind the wedding above all else and has a budget that allows for creativity without being overly restrictive.

Pink dahlias in craft paper grown at Austin flower farm called Winkelmann Flowers

The Advice: Clear Vision and Purpose

For those looking to get into the flower business and collaborate with a spouse, Carrington has two pieces of advice. Firstly, find a spouse who can grow flowers – after all, it’s worked out well for her! Secondly (seriously), have a clear vision and purpose for why you do what you do. For Carrington, that purpose is to love and serve people, rather than seeking fame or money. She recommends keeping your main goal and focus in mind when running your business. This includes considering the impact on family and ensuring the business is sustainable and manageable. Seek professional help, such as getting an accountant, to ensure things are done correctly from the start.

Rediscovering a Love for Flowers

While Carrington experienced burnout before the pandemic, the slowdown during the pandemic allowed her to rediscover her love for flowers and the purpose they serve in connecting people. This shift in perspective made her want to care for her clients instead of feeling burdened by their requests. Carrington is a great example of what’s possible when we emphasize the importance of authenticity, purpose, and love while running a flower business.

 

Follow The Farmer & I

Co-Hosts: Amy McGee (Botanical Brouhaha) & Natalie Gill (Native Poppy)

BB Podcast Sound Engineer: Joel McGee


If you enjoyed this episode with Carrington Winkelmann, you might also enjoy our conversation with Jennifer Haf, owner BLOOM. Click here to listen.

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