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Soul searching brings focus, career fulfillment to owner of floral shop

FARGO -- One week of soul-searching resulted in Christy Tehven realizing she wanted to make a big change in her life. At the time, Tehven was using her bachelor's degree in marketing and advertising from Concordia to work as an account manager fo...

Christy Tehven has opened Love Aways Floral at 14 Roberts Street in downtown Fargo.David Samson / The Forum
Christy Tehven has opened Love Aways Floral at 14 Roberts Street in downtown Fargo.David Samson / The Forum

FARGO - One week of soul-searching resulted in Christy Tehven realizing she wanted to make a big change in her life.

At the time, Tehven was using her bachelor's degree in marketing and advertising from Concordia to work as an account manager for Flint Communications. But something felt amiss.

"I have always loved working with flowers, and when I was at Flint, I worked part time at a shop," she says.

Tehven took a week off from work so she could isolate herself and complete Danielle LaPorte's "Fire Starter Sessions" book. After journaling, reflecting and planning, Tehven realized her current career just wasn't going to jibe with goals she had for her life.

She returned to Flint and immediately told her boss she planned to open a flower shop. Tehven says her boss and the company helped develop an exit plan. At home, she began working on her new business, which she named Love Always Floral.

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"I want to be joyful and spread joy, and what better business to do that in than a floral business?" Tehven says.

The name specifically honors the joy Tehven's grandmother spread throughout the family.

"She always signs her cards 'Love Always,' and my mom does, too," Tehven says. "I ended up doing it as well, and we recently found out that my great grandma did it, too."

That's why the name "Love Always Floral" is so perfect - because Tehven is building a business based on spreading joy and love to other people.

Getting the business off the ground

At the beginning of 2016, Tehven found herself in an unusual situation: She had no job and was about to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure. Naturally, she felt some apprehension. But, she pushed past her moment of "sheer panic" and started working on a website and business plan.

"Once you get into it, you get so focused on what you're trying to accomplish," Tehven says.

She booked a few weddings and ended up working with the owners of a boutique for a stylized photoshoot. That particular relationship resulted in the two businesses deciding to share one space.

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Love Always Floral and The White House Co. vintage rentals business are in the final stages of remodeling their spaces at 14 Roberts St. Both shops had planned to open Saturday, Nov. 26, but the work has taken longer to complete. Tehven plans to host a customer appreciation evening sometime in December, while Katie Schiltz, one of the owners of The White House Co., says a soft opening is planned this month with a grand opening in January.

Schiltz says the company she owns with her sister, Samantha Klinkhammer, and friend Amanda Rydell, started in Thief River Falls, Minn. The owners realized many customers traveled from Fargo-Moorhead, so they decided to open a store in the metro.

Schiltz says doing the photoshoots with Tehven prompted them to explore a relationship between a vintage rental business and floral design company.

"We worked well together and realized that brides and vintage rentals connected with floral would make a ridiculously great team," Schiltz says.

The business takes shape

Tehven has four part-time employees who help fulfill orders and set up for events. She refers to them as a "tremendous team" that she's incredibly grateful for.

Weddings make up the core of the business, and Tehven says she wants to work with people who truly value what Love Always Floral provides.

"We want to bring floral design to events, not just the flowers," she says. "We really strive to work with people who are excited to incorporate some kind of crazy floral element no one has done before."

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When Tehven says crazy, she's actually referring to the distinct aesthetic style she and her team create with every design. She describes it as the "whimsy factor" - some type of unexpected color, texture or individual element that draws a person's eye to a specific location or component of the design.

Part of knowing what whimsy factor is best includes a "gut check" moment of having someone else review the design. That's why Tehven says no design leaves without at least two or three other people approving it.

Because Love Always designs are so distinct, Tehven says meeting with her clients is critical. Some people want to call and ask for general pricing, but that's difficult to provide because cost can vary depending on the florals included, Tehven says. When her storefront opens, Tehven says meeting with clients will be easier because she's dedicating an area of the space as the "bridal corner." Couches and chairs will invite honest conversation about how a client sees floral design being incorporated into an event, Tehven says.

Because the store used to house a cyber cafe, remodeling included lighter-colored paint and refurbished floors. Open shelving, mobile workstations and a large wallpaper mural create an airy, clean feeling.

Tehven says Love Always Floral plans to host floral design classes in 2017 as a way to build a community among people who love flowers.

For now, the focus is finishing up the store and enjoying the happiness her business spreads. Tehven says the support she's received from her husband, the business community and family and friends has been tremendous and gives her the confidence to know people want the product she is selling.

"So many people have cheered me on and supported me," she says. "It's amazing how much people will support you when you let them."

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday started in 2010 as a response to the focus on big-box retailers touting Black Friday deals. The next year, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution to support Small Business Saturday.

By 2014, American Express got involved with promoting the event with free personalized ads. A survey conducted that year indicated more than $14 billion was spent at small independent businesses on Small Business Saturday, according to the American Express website. A 2015 survey indicated 95 million people throughout the country shopped on Small Business Saturday.

To find businesses in your area that are participating in Small Business Saturday, visit www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/ .

Related Topics: FLINT COMMUNICATIONS
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