Flora is owned by Kate Holl and Kerbi Howat, two friends who joined forces to bring the first specialty plant shop to Nashville, TN, as well as have a fresh start in their career lives.
The shop offers specialty house plants, event rentals, and consultations. But prior to opening their brick and mortar location and less than a year into their friendship, the two traveled around town doing pop-up shops in a teardrop trailer.
The pop-up was a great way for them to get our name their there and see if there was an interest in something like a specialty plant shop. A lot of trial and error and a VERY brutal Tennessee summer led them to what Flora is today.
Keep scrolling to hear their partnership story and take a peek inside their dreamy shop in East Nashville.
How do you guys collaborate together?
Kate: Collaboration is a huge part of our relationship as business partners so it was important for us to make sure we carved out time into our weeks to bring ideas to each other and tackle problems together. During a 3 month pop-up over the winter at the Nisolo Showroom we hardly ever got to see each other. It was awful! We missed each other! So when we got our storefront in March of 2017 we made our schedules overlap 4 hours every day during the week to make sure we are able to bring everything we need to to the table and to also catch up, unload grievances, and just maintain our friendship.
Many times ideas, creative or otherwise, come to us while we're a part (many times, unfortunately, right before bed) - we look forward to getting together to talk it all over whether they're thoughts of worry or excitement. Having a partner to share the joys of success and creative bursts is just as wonderful as having a partner to share the burden of stress and work through problems.
Kerbi: I love our partnership. When we started Flora, Kate and I barely knew each other. We were new friends who would get together to encourage each other in our respective journeys. That relationship has grown as Flora has. I think we lucked out that we work so well together and are also now such great friends who truly love and enjoy being around each other; but I also think the fact that we didn't know each other very well at the beginning is a big reason we are so successful as partners. As we learned how to run a business and the directions we were taking it, we learned a lot about each other- how we like to communicate, what our needs are, what we like and don't like about running a business.
I also like to say that we have our own language. Before we got our brick and mortar, we were a pop-up shop. We could set up our pop-ups without even speaking. We also almost always have the same perspective or opinion on something. Always on the same page.
Daily, we bounce ideas off of each other. We talk each other off proverbial ledges. Running a business is an emotional roller coaster and Kate always tells me it's going to be ok and I believe her.
Why did you decide to do what you do as a duo versus going solo?
Kate: I often tell people Kerbi was the missing piece to my entrepreneurial puzzle. I had this unformed idea of a business in my mind and I had Kerbi there telling me I could do it. One night (of course, right before bed) it dawned on me that we should do this together. Kerbi is such a doer, without her Flora would have never gotten to where it is today. But that's not to say Kerbi isn't a dreamer, she absolutely is and it would be such a mistake to think otherwise. Often times we balance each other out, when someone is worried about something the other person can almost always put their mind at ease. I couldn't imagine doing something as emotional and draining as opening a business solo.
Kerbi: When we started Flora, working with plants was something Kate had been bouncing around for quite a while. I had been encouraging her to do it but it never crossed my mind to be a part of it as I was working in a completely different industry. Right before we decided to partner, I had quit my job and was looking for a fresh start. Kate asked me if I wanted to start a business with her and I said yes. It was an easy decision.
What’s one challenge you have you faced in collaborating?
Kate: Right now we both wear so many hats at Flora since we're small but growing - and it's our baby! We have immense respect for each other so we always are wanting to run things by each other. I think eventually we'll get into a rhythm that doesn't require so much communication about the little things (or be able to hire someone to take on some of our many roles). I'm looking forward to that leaving room for a new phase of creative collaborating on Flora's next steps and expansion.
Kerbi: I honestly don't feel like I have faced any big challenges with Kate. I think, as with every relationship, you're learning who that person is all of the time. You're learning how they like to communicate, what they like and don't like, what makes them sad, what they believe politically, what offends them, what they're afraid of, what makes them insecure, what inspires them, what fulfills them. It's important to learn all of these things, be conscious of them and respect them.
Kate and I have a true respect for each other and I can't imagine working this closely with anyone else, as successfully. I've definitely worked with people who, through no fault of their own, just weren't a good working match for me.
What's surprised you the most about your partnership?
Kate: The friendship that grew from it. Kerbi and I barely knew each other when we started Flora. We had only hung out a handful of times but every time we did we had inspiring and uplifting talks which made me have no doubt about what we were doing together. I'm not saying that would work for everyone, that you could start a company with any acquaintance and get a best friend and successful business out of it, but it happened for me! I was also surprised by how funny Kerbi is and that she doesn't like caramel.
Kerbi: It has surprised me that it has gone so well for the last year and just keeps getting better! It can be so difficult to work with others. Having a business partnership is a lot like a marriage. They see your best and your worst.
Who’s your favorite dynamic duo? Fiction or nonfiction. Why?
Kate: A couple come to mind! Bernie Sanders and Killer Mike - what an interesting, amazing, and important dynamic duo. Oprah & Gayle cause damn, that friendship has stood the test of time.
Kerbi: This is a really tough question! The first one that popped into my head is Bill and Melinda Gates. They have used their huge success to give generously and try and tackle some of the worlds biggest problems in practical ways. I believe with great success comes great opportunity and great responsibility. They inspire me.