Club uBloom Member Steven Santos, owner of S & S Designs, was the winner of the Independent Floral Network’s “Day with J” floral design contest. J recently went out to Boise, ID to hang out with Steven for the day, just the two of them (and the JTV film crew, of course)…every floral design lover’s dream come true! Keep reading to find out what Steven thought about the whole experience and get the “inside scoop” on his very exciting “Day with J!”
You are the Grand Prize winner of the Independent Floral Network’s “Day with J” floral design contest that was held earlier this year. You created a gorgeous design using purples, greens and creams as a color palette…what inspired you to create that arrangement?
It was actually for a funeral. the customer wanted something classy that didnt look “Funeral-y” I actually took an ugly container that had a Santa painted on it and repainted it and turned it into a classy vessel.
Were you surprised that you won? How did you find out…and what was your reaction?
I was so suprised! I got a call from an unknown number from Grand Rapids, and who was it? J!!
Did you make any special preparations for your “Day with J?”
I made sure and cleared my schedule as much as I could! There were so many things I wanted to show J.
What was it like to meet J in person for the first time?
He is exactly the same bubbly person he is in his videos. He is so much fun to be around!
Where did you two meet at and what was the first thing you and J did after he arrived?
We met at a lovely little breakfast restaurant named Goldies. We sat down for breakfast and just started talking, it was like we had been friends for years.
J brought his film crew with him…what was it like having them film while you and J designed flowers and talked shop?
It was a blast!! I felt like I was in a reality show… hint hint
Everybody wants to know….WHAT was it like to design flowers with J Schwanke?!
We were seamless. We bounced ideas back and forth. It was so much fun.
What were some of the other fun flower activities that you and J did together?
We set up our flowers at the Grove Hotel. It was a busy day at the hotel and the guest loved seeing us set up all the flowers.
What new design techniques, ideas or business/marketing info did you learn from J during your day together?
My biggest questions were about what I am doing with my career…opening a shop all on my own, etc., he have some great advice! You’ll have to have your own Day with J to get some great insider info
We heard rumors that you guys hit the town….what Hot Spots did you guys visit?
We went to some awesome places. Along with opening my own shop, I also bartend at a lounge called Red Feather. They specialize in uniquely crafted cocktails, so I had to have J try some. Some of his favorites were the “Mona Ramsey” and the “Through the Garden”. We also went to The Grove Hotel and explored the lobby. We had lunch at a lovely place called Bardenay. They are the only restaurant/distillary in America. Finally, we had dinner at Barbacoa, it is an ecclectic Brazillian restaurant with a giant metal sculpture of Medusa that lights up!
What was your favorite part of your “Day with J?”
I have to pick one favorite part? I think it was when I first met J. It was so amazing to finally get to meet him in person.
How did the day end?
We ended the day at our dinner table overlooking a beautiful pond and the foothills, sipping on some great libations!
In addition to your exciting day with J…you also won a boatload of prizes! Discuss!!!
Oh My Gosh!! It was so unexpected to win all of that…tools, ribbon, vases, nutrient just to name a few. It was so helpful, when starting a new shop that stuff can be very exspensive. It really helped me so much!
On to the business stuff….In my March 2012 “Spotlight Interview” with you, you were working for J. Michael’s Flowers in Boise, ID. Recently however, you have opened up your own floral biz “S & S Designs.” Congratulations! Tell us a little bit about why you decided to open up your own business.
I have worked for many florists in my time in the floral industry. It just clicked that it was my time to make my name in the world. Get my vision expressed.
What was it like to make the transition from employee to business owner?
It actually wasnt hard at all. Instead of relying on someone else to get things done, it was all on my back, my responsibility. I love it!
S & S Designs focuses on custom arrangements for Hotels, Special Events & Exclusive Clients…by appointment only. Talk a little bit about your decision to do custom work only…and why that appeals to you.
It takes a lot of capital to buy everything you need to have a retail storefront. Having fresh stock can lead to waste, which can make you lose money fast. Having a custom, by appointment business allows me to buy things as I need them…allowing me to give my clients the freshest product, and lowering my waste.
What are some of your most asked for flowers/designs?
Right now its all about FALL!! I love all of the amazing foliages and textures in Autumn. It is one of my favorite season for flowers.
Are there certain flowers & containers that you like using most?
Unique foliages are one of my favorite things to work with. You can create a stunning arrangment with no flowers at all!
What are some of the GOOD things about all custom work…and…what are some of the DIFFICULT things about it?
Creativity! I get free range with my creativity. The only bad thing is availability. Sometimes it can be hard to get in really unique items that my clients may want.
What is the biggest difference between doing all custom work by appointment and working in a flower shop?
One of the biggest differences is volume. Sometimes working at a retail shop, you can be stuck doing 40, $35 arrangements. Working in a smaller aspect and doing all custom, I really can focus on making quality products for my clients.
If you had $1,000.00 to spend on your biz…what would you do with it?
I would buy a new computer and accounting software. Bookeeping is a challange for many small business owners. Having all the right tools is very important.
What’s next for Steven Santos?
To Infiniti and Beyond!! As my business grows, I find myself have more and more opportunities. I really just want to keep growing and improving. Maybe someday I’ll give J a run for his money