We first met this lady at a styled shoot, and about half an hour later low key asked her if she wanted to collab on a Boss Lady feature with us! Sarah of Triple Wren Farms is a pure joy to be around, always laughing and always finding ways to serve others. Every Boss Lady we feature has their own special strengths, Sarah's is her heart.
Please tell us a little about your business, what inspired you to begin it, and what your focus is!
Triple Wren Farms is a small cut flower farm and artisan florist located just north of Bellingham, WA. We grow stunning flowers and offer season-long internship programs and an amazing workshop series for new flower farmers. Seasonally, we have blueberries and an awesome pumpkin patch.
When the job that brought us to WA ended, we were considering moving back to the Southeast. Out of the blue, an acquaintance asked us to babysit his apple orchard and farm when his existing caretaker plans had to change. Right at this time I spied a cute display at our local library on Small Ag Business books which included a book called The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski, and was struck with the new-to-me idea of growing flowers as a business. When the orchard owner said we could try to grow anything else we wanted to try, I decided to explore a flower business.... and that's how we began our adventure.
How do you work your teaching skills into your flower business and why did you decide to have an apprenticeship program?
I think that teaching is in both Steve's and my blood, and I probably bore my crew by teaching constantly as we work together. A well-educated team just works more intelligently, so I'm motivated in that way, but also I just want to share the joy of the WHY behind the WHAT we do. I also encourage my team to observe the plants and blooms at the farm in order to really see what's happening and to see what the flowers are telling us they need.
We teach design workshops in order to help others become comfortable with arranging flowers in a beautiful way, so that they can enjoy them better. This year we are teaching a series of six workshops designed to walk new growers and farmer-florists through a year of tasks and skills. Our most intense teaching program is our farmer internship program where we accept 1 or 2 interns per year to move to the farm and work alongside us for 7 months (our growing season). They learn what we do and why we do it in a deep way. These field hours are combined with 5 classroom hours each week where we follow a curriculum for training new farmers.
How do you balance being a #bosslady with having a family/life?
I balance it better in some seasons than in others. My family is the most important part of my life, but the work we do is how we make our living, so it needs due attention. I am actually working hard on this area this year, and if you'd like to know more of my thoughts about it you can check this out: https://www.triplewrenfarms.com/2018/01/14/is-it-worth-it/
The fact that Steve and I are both married and business partners means that we can both work to our strengths (which thankfully complement each other!), and we can trade off time being with the kids. For example, Steve does almost all of our delivery now, which means that although he is gone on very early morning Seattle runs several days a week during the growing season, I am home with the kids and can enjoy breakfast with them and have a morning family routine. On weekends, when I am busy doing weddings, Steve takes over and is an amazing Daddy to our kids. We have made it a priority to take at least one day off a week, where we stop working and focus on our family. We generally take Sunday off so we can go to church, worship together and enjoy a day without business interruptions.
What is a hardship or challenge you have had to overcome and how did you handle that?
We had the opportunity to grow our business really quickly - probably too quickly - and we both jumped in with both feet. This was exciting and quite the adventure, but we didn't grow our farm infrastructure and gain the experience that just comes with years of growing and so we hit bumps in the road when things didn't go as expected. We sacrificed sleep and worked physically much harder than we had been accustomed to. It was too long of a marathon and we paid for it a bit with our health. Now we're making good choices to work smarter, not just harder, and not pushing for dynamic growth.
If you could give someone starting their own BUSINESS any advice what would it be?
Oh goodness - there are so many things! I think that I would say don't bite off more than you can chew. Carefully budget your time. Schedule in uninterruptible time for you to think and organize your mind. Be careful not to jump into learning too many skills at once. If you're learning how to farm, how to work out logistics, the language of wholesaling, and solid business practices all at once, for example....... it might be too much. Overall - pace yourself. Make a plan for slow, measured growth and give yourself reasonable goals, then chase THAT dream.
If you could grab coffee with ANY #BossLady, alive or dead, who would it be?
Huge shout out to the one and only Emily McLaughlin for the gorgeous photos! Seriously people, check this lady out, her talent amazes us every time!