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Katie MacDonald: Young, but seasoned in the business of flowers

Written By: SAMANTHA WASHER

Photos by: Mary Hurlbut

Katie MacDonald’s resume is quite robust, especially when one considers she’s just 23 years old. Over two years ago MacDonald purchased The Flower Stand at the Lumberyard. However, working with flowers was not her first love. “When I graduated from high school, I was really passionate about photography,” she says. She started taking photos for her family, then friends, then friends’ businesses. “I noticed that people always wanted flowers in their shots. I figured I was creative enough that I could do them myself.” 

A family connection leads to a new career

MacDonald’s mother was good friends with Beverly Walker who owned The Flower Stand at the time. “She and my mom were super tight. I ended up having a similar relationship with (Beverly),” explains MacDonald. 

Walker noticed MacDonald’s flair with the arrangements she created for her shoots and offered her a position. Eventually, MacDonald says, “I realized my love of photography was not as strong as my love of flowers.” It wasn’t too much later that Walker asked MacDonald if she would be interested in owning The Flower Stand. For a 21-year-old, this was a very big step. MacDonald consulted with her family and, after deliberating, they all decided to do it. “My family made it happen,” says MacDonald gratefully.

Katie MacDonald with offerings

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Katie MacDonald, owner of The Flower Stand, with some of her fall offerings

The flower business is not for the faint of heart

If her family helped make the purchase possible, it has been MacDonald’s blood, sweat and tears that has made it thrive. Walker stayed on for a year working with MacDonald. Their time together gave MacDonald a good idea of what she had gotten herself into. 

“I knew Bev worked brutal hours,” says MacDonald. So the up at 5 a.m. and to bed at 11 p.m. with the daily mad scramble in between wasn’t a surprise. The constant need to be “on” creatively was also not a surprise. MacDonald says that what posed a significant challenge in the beginning was the business side of things. “The creative aspect was never an issue. I’ve had to grow into the business end.”

Learning to prioritize has been key

Another aspect of the business she has had to learn to manage is her communication with clients. “Being in constant communication with people is a challenge,” she admits. “I’m learning how to prioritize.” MacDonald does a lot of weddings, for example. There are conversations with a client about things that are going to happen in three months and there are conversations with another client about things that need to happen that day. Every conversation is important, so organizing which is the most critical has been a learning process.

The good news is MacDonald learns fast. The first year she says she worked seven days a week without relief. Now, she manages to take a day (or even two!) away from The Flower Stand. This is not to say, however, that when she’s not there she’s not working.

Katie MacDonald working

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Katie MacDonald has a lot of options for her arrangements this time of year

Finding love at the flower market

With such a crazy schedule, it’s even better news to learn that MacDonald has managed to squeeze in some romance. “The first day I went to the flower market, I met my boyfriend,” she says with a smile. His family is one of the top wholesalers in the flower business. “His parents met the same way,” she says happily. “What started as a friendship grew into love.” The fact that he has an intimate understanding of her business is helpful. It’s also helpful that he has to get up even earlier than she does.

A creative endeavor in every aspect

MacDonald says the best thing about her job is that she has made great connections. ”I have made so many new friends. It has been great becoming part of the community. And I’ve done it myself. Plus I never have a boring day. Every day is different.” And it definitely fills her creative need. “It’s cool to be creative in every aspect of the business. There’s social media, finding and using new flowers…everything.” 

A vision for the future

But while she enjoys her shop, her long-term goal is to transition to a studio, and hire someone else to manage the shop. “I thought I wanted to open flower shops in high-end beach towns up and down the coast,” she says. Now, the idea of having a warehouse space that houses tables, rentals and, of course, flowers is the direction she’d like to move. It’s a more family friendly environment (for when the time comes) and as there are no walk-ins, it’s a much more focused business.

Katie MacDonald in front

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Katie MacDonald at The Lumberyard in front of her cheery flower shop

The Flower Stand opens other doors

Until then, however, MacDonald will continue running The Flower Stand. “Owning a storefront really sets you up for success,” she says enthusiastically. It opens the door for the other parts of her business, such as weddings and corporate events. “Corporate events are kind of my niche,” explains MacDonald. “I love them. They’re more creative than weddings.” 

A seasoned professional at the age of 23

She’s also partial to this time of year. “l love fall,” she says. “I love foliage. I try to find stuff no one else has, even a particular daisy variety that’s from Holland. Whatever I can find that’s unique.” She’s no longer bound by the constraints of tradition. “When you first learn you use the easiest flowers. You want everything to be ‘pretty’. Now I have confidence to use other things.” Spoken like a true professional. She may only be 23, but she has earned her status as a seasoned veteran, one arrangement at a time.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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