FISH CREEK − Owning a flower shop is a natural extension of Tracy Melger’s personality. Her business, The Artroom Flowers in Fish Creek, allows her to show off her creativity.
“I’ve always been passionate and creative,” Melger said. “I’ve hung with that kind of vibe and have been surrounded by art most of my life.”
The Green Bay SCORE client has the experience to prove that. She graduated from art school in Chicago, worked as a creative display artist at Neiman Marcus and obtained teaching certification in art at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. She taught in Japan and Milwaukee, and while teaching in Milwaukee, spent summers working for a florist.
“I have always loved flowers, and by working at the shop, I learned all of the mechanics and techniques of floral arrangement and how to make garlands, centerpieces, and the like,” Melger said.
When her husband was transferred to the state of Washington, she brought along those talents. There, she set up a studio and started a floral business. As people learned about it, she attracted small and large clients, including a well-known corporate client who recently flew her back to Washington to do floral and moss arrangements for a Christmas party.
But the business was still a part-time venture, and Melger continued to hone her skills as she worked for another florist and learned more about how to run a successful business. Her schedule was hectic as she also worked full-time teaching art.
Everything was going according to plan and Melger’s business was growing when the unexpected happened; she tragically lost her husband in January. She finished the school year, sold her home and moved back to Wisconsin to be closer to friends and family.
One of those friends, her “soul sister” and owner of Hands On Art Studio in Fish Creek, has helped her begin to establish her floral business.
“Karon Ohm (her friend) is such an inspiration to me with the successful business she has built over the years,” Melger said. “She has taught me to be authentic, genuine, humble and true to myself.”
Ohm has also been at Melger’s side during a difficult time and new journey in life. As Melger works to establish The Artroom Flowers, she is teaching classes at Hands On Art Studio, working part time in a painting studio, making floral arrangements and crafts for holiday markets and working on a business plan.
“Before moving, I always had a job and the business was a side gig,” she said. “Now I’m learning how important it is to be organized. I never thought I’d need a business plan or would be doing this as my source of income. If I had known that earlier, I would be farther along.”
She has formed an LLC and is meeting the general business requirements. But she felt she needed help writing a business plan.
“My Aunt Sandy is a SCORE mentor at the Fox Cities Chapter and she encouraged me to find the nearest SCORE mentor. She found Paul Carron (of the Green Bay Chapter) for me. I am looking for assistance with the business plan and marketing help, and he got in touch with me almost immediately,” Melger said.
In Door County, there are few chain businesses and she recognizes the need for branding to stand out. She wants to emphasize the unique style that she says differentiates her work. As a niche, there is one thing that she excels at that isn’t common elsewhere – her moss creations. She makes unique wreaths and frames out of moss that are sold at the markets.
“The corporate client I work for had me make huge moss pieces in their conference room so that those on the zoom call can see the moss behind when they are conferencing,” she said. “It brings the outdoors inside.”
Many of the moss arrangements are custom-made, and along with flowers, Melger is drawn to the textures. She says she loves flowers and their shapes, colors, feel, smells, and how they can be arranged.
“It is my creative outlet. I can make people happy,” she added.
Arranging the flowers allows her to show off her ability and style. First-time clients become repeat clients, and word of mouth, along with social media, is helping build a following. But she knows that it will be challenging to realize her dreams of success while learning to manage her time.
“I am burning my candle at both ends right now. This is the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing at night,” she said. “But I love what I’m doing, especially at this time of the year. I love the winter berries that are out right now and the smells of cedar, sandalwood, frankincense and eucalyptus.”
There is joy in flowers and Melger says that getting help from mentors will help her along the way. She looks beyond the single floral shop to future growth.
“I want to eventually have my own little flower farm. I am looking at buying land in Fish Creek by Hands On Art Studio where I have a small space to live, run my business, and teach classes in floral arrangement and maybe even the moss pieces,” she said. “Karon and I are also looking at collaborating on a small event space. Everything around here is booked up and there is such a need for that. I would love to see this business thrive.”
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.
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