Talking Small Biz: Roxborough florist is growing revenue

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Brittany Gillespie of Petals Lane prepares her company's exhibit for this year's Philadelphia Flower Show.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Brittany Gillespie of Petals Lane prepares her company's exhibit for this year's Philadelphia Flower Show.
Posted: March 01, 2013

B RITTANY GILLESPIE, 30, of Roxborough, is CEO and lead designer for Petals Lane, a florist and wedding/special-events planner on Ridge Avenue near Harmon Road, Roxborough. Her husband, Michael Phinney, 32, takes care of the books and the event setup and breakdown work. I spoke with Gillespie.

Q: How'd you come up with the idea for the biz?

A: My husband and I worked at Robertson's in Chestnut Hill and there was no way to move up in the business. We were dating at the time and we just decided to start our own business. We started it in 2006 in my mom's garage.

Q: What does the business do?

A: Weddings and special events. We do work for the Phillies, the NFL, and Temple University, including alumni and donor events, graduation parties and graduations. I'd say 40 percent of our business involves Temple. We do floral arrangements, linens, china, rentals and lighting. If you need to drape off a room for a different atmosphere, we do decor. So we're not just flowers.

Q: Is that what separates Petals Lane from other companies?

A: I think that's a value-added benefit. Some people just don't want to deal with getting their own lights or drapes. They like the idea of a one-stop shop.

Q: How much do services cost?

A: We go from $3,000 to $40,000 per wedding. We have clients who just want to do personals and centerpieces; others want it all. Temple, we could do them at $20,000 or $1,000, it depends on what they want.

Q: How big a business is this?

A: We did about $1 million in revenue last year.

Q: How many employees?

A: Five full time, including me and my husband. We have 12 part-timers who work weekends, usually three to four per weekend.

Q: What's the biggest challenge you faced growing the business?

A: Time. To get business, you have to network, but I spend most of my time running the business. I get up at 8 a.m. and work until 9 p.m.

Q: How do you see the future?

A: I'd love to be a $10 million company. I feel the reason we're so successful is because of our quality and customer service.

Q: You're an exhibitor at the Philadelphia Flower Show, which starts Saturday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Your theme?

A: We're doing the "Mad Hatter Tea Party." We wanted the Tea Party and decided to bring in Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. It's whimsical, you just want to sit and be part of that tea party with Alice and the Mad Hatter.

Q: What's the most interesting thing about your exhibit?

A: A company in London, Wonderland Bronze, reached out and shipped us 5-foot bronze characters, each weighing 300 pounds, of the Caterpillar, Alice, and Mad Hatter. Mad Hatter has a teapot and is pouring tea into a cup. It's a cool water feature and I think people are going to be wowed.


On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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