Grounded in Love, Growth Flourishes
The story of The Faded Poppy reads like an unexpected love affair, perhaps not unfamiliar to the many brides and grooms who have walked down aisles bedecked in the business’s flowers. Asked to tell the story of its beginning, Jason Kite, who handles the logistics and technical end of the business, says simply that, “My wife has a vision for color. She sees in shades, in complements, in design.” What began as a hobby became a past-time, and then a business, and ultimately a consuming family passion.
Sara began The Faded Poppy business by helping with the baby showers and birthdays of friends and family. As she expanded to listing her services on Craigslist, she soon found brides to inspire and encourage. Her first official client had a grandmother who owns a family flower farm “overflowing with hydrangeas.” They became friends, and Faded Poppy still hears from that bride. To this day, Sara hasn’t spent a dime on paid advertising, relying on word of mouth and their distinctive style to carry their entrepreneurial growth, expanding the Faded Poppy into the arenas of wedding planning, event coordinating, and flower arrangements. The business also received a $7,000 grant through Grow Waynesboro in 2016, which allowed them to open a store front at their current location of 220 Rosser Avenue.
A Home-Grown Affair
Sara, the creative driver of the business, grew up on the Basic City side of Waynesboro. Jason, a UK native, moved to Waynesboro for a position with McQuay International, which specializes in HVAC wholesale supply. The opening day of the Faded Poppy was their ten-year anniversary.
Waynesboro, the home of both their partnership and their business, has become the center for what they see as an emerging wedding industry hub. From White Dress by Greta Kay, to Amanda’s Touch, to BlueOregano, custom designed gowns and locally grown and catered food fill the needs of beautiful weddings in Valley venues. Many of The Faded Poppy’s business peers attract brides from a wide geography, driving Waynesboro to become a wedding destination.
Asked what some of her most rewarding experiences have been, Sara shares that “It’s not about the money. People have a misconception that we have a glamorous life, being around the wedding industry, but that’s not true.” Despite the long hours and weekends of work, Sara glows about her experience working with fellow entrepreneurs. “I think I’ve grown a lot personally by being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs. We want each other to succeed. In general, in the wedding industry we are very supportive of each other.”
Advice for Fellow Entrepreneurs
The support that Sara and Jason have received shines through when asked what advice they would give fellow entrepreneurs. They are quick to be encouraging, and also comprehensive and inviting in their shared wisdom:
- Never sell your business by tearing others down. “Don’t sell me on why you’re better than someone. Sell me on why I should work with you.”
- Be honest and approachable with your clients.
- Create space for friendships to form with the people you work with. Model laidback, calm, and contented behavior.
- Work to find clients and vendors with whom your personality aligns. Everyone is not the right fit, and that’s ok. Helping people find the right businesses for them will leave them grateful and complimentary of you, regardless of whether they ultimately become your client.
- Invest in getting the paperwork right. “As a creative person, I hate the paperwork,” says Sara. “But you just can’t overlook it. It’s such a good investment to get it right from the beginning.”
- Be whimsical, and above all be yourself. A signature look means that clients will respond to who you are and what you can truly offer.
Sara and Jason put themselves into everything that they do. “Flowers are like cooking, says Sara. “If there’s no love in your cooking, it won’t taste good. Flowers should never feel clinical. You should always, always feel the love.”