When we created the characters of Pete + Pari for “A Giant Story,” we grabbed inspiration from those closest to us – Intuit employees and our customers. Here is a real life story behind the inspiration for Pete.
Meet Spencer Falls, The Unlikely Florist. He is a self-employed florist making unique waves in the Los Angeles area. As a user of Intuit products, he’s been able to fuel his budding business. He sat down with us to share his goals, advice, inspiration, and definition of prosperity.
Intuit: Tell us about your background and how you became a florist.
Spencer: Originally, I came to the U.S. to snowboard but honestly after too many crashes I had to pivot. So I tried my hand at acting, as one does in Los Angeles, and had a few commercial gigs and worked in restaurants on the side. But what I was missing, was using creativity in my work. So I bought my van Untho, short for Urban Trash Optimized, and decided to sell flowers.
Intuit: Amazing. So what was it like starting your own business?
Spencer: It was hard. I’m an artist, not a businessman, but I was able to use my knowledge from acting in talent and marketing to figure out a way to grow my business. I had to HUSTLE. Get to the flower mart by 3am to find the right flowers and then park my van on Abbot Kinney three days a week. My motto is that we’re there till we sell out or the the sun goes down.
Intuit: Sounds like you had a lot to figure out. What kind of support did you have?
Spencer: My friends and family of course. Actually, it’s funny, my dad is the most supportive guy you’ll ever meet. When I said I wanted to move to the U.S. to explore a career in snowboarding, he was on board from the start! When I called him to tell him I bought a van and planned to sell flower bouquets on the streets of Venice, LA, he was a little unsure. In the end he got on board and he’s super happy for me.
Intuit: He sounds like a fantastic dad. Now that you’re really prospering with your business, what do you think attributed to that?
Spencer: Thinking out of the box, that I don’t have to make revenue in only one way. Think big and diversify. That’s what I did. After a year on Abbot Kinney, unfortunately we had to leave due to regulations for businesses. I’d just got a studio and it was at the complete wrong time to shift but I did it. Started thinking about other ways to grow the business. Ended up doing collaborations with businesses to have my van pop up at locations, started doing events/weddings, and even started an online marketplace on my website. Here, I’ve partnered with other artists and businesses like myself to share their creations with the world.
Intuit: That’s amazing. Do you have any other plans to grow your business?
Spencer: Oh yes! It’s already starting. I launched a subscription model for the shop. You can subscribe to bi-weekly or monthly bouquets to be delivered. Its a custom vase made for you. Each time we refill it, if you leave the flowers for us to collect, we give 5% to fund flower farms. With those dried flowers, we create another ‘life long’ piece or product, and when we sell that, we donate an additional 10% to the flower farms.
Intuit: Wow that’s a fantastic partnership. Are you close with the growers?
Spencer: Of course! I understand their bottom line and they understand mine. We don’t do any haggling or negotiating like you see at the flower marts. They need to make a profit to stay in business same as I do. When it comes to pricing things out, honestly, I want everyone to have flowers and I want everyone to have them regardless if they haven’t had their lucky break. We figure out the pricing that works for everyone.
Intuit: Having the right community seems to have been beneficial for you. As you continue to grow, what advice would you give to others starting out?
Spencer: So many things. But for one: don’t be an idiot with your money. You’ve got to be smart about that. You know that you have quarterly sales tax and taxes to pay, so keep that in mind. I don’t buy stuff I don’t need. Especially starting out. I find stuff, get given stuff or I make stuff. It’s more about growing your business than buying that expensive bag or computer or coffee table.
I’m an artist, not a businessman, and there is nothing worse than talking about money. I knew I needed to manage finances somehow, though. I started by tracking sales and profits from my van in a notebook! When I expanded to a physical location, my expenses got bigger and I no longer trusted my math. That’s when I got QuickBooks. My company wouldn’t work without it. Being able to visually see how my profit margins are is extremely helpful and a huge lifesaver.
In life, time is all you got. In business, time is money. I use Intuit to give my life a little more time, and my business a little more money.
Inuit: Thank you so much for that advice! I’m sure there are a lot of emerging entrepreneurs out there that could use that! Thanks for sharing all of these stories, hacks, and pieces of advice.
Find out more about Spencer’s path and his definition of prosperity below.