How a Floral Designer Launched Her Own $18,000 Floral Business School

Featured in this Story of Awesome:

Launched in October 2019, #ForFlorists is a paid online business course and community for Floral Designers on Mighty Networks

Kathleen’s Path to Awesome:
“A lot of trial and error and talking myself out of my comfort zone.” 

Kathleen Drennan has two great passions in life: business and flowers.

In 2014, she left her successful marketing career, started a floral design business, and grew it into a highly profitable, six-figure enterprise.

But something struck her. She noticed that many of her fellow florists lacked the business skills she had grown up learning in a family where business principles were discussed at the dinner table.

“Among my peers, I felt like the only person who was asking questions around flowers and business. For example, people don't talk about how to price. It's all very secretive. So many floral designers started out for the love of flowers and don't realize that they need to also turn a profit.”

Floral design businesses are predominantly run by women. In this, Kathleen saw an opportunity to use her business knowledge to boost the ranks of successful women floral entrepreneurs by sharing her expertise:

“A year ago I went to a workshop with 10 women, none of whom knew anything about business and I went, ‘Well, I know a lot about business. What questions have you got?’

And I just started sharing.

I want female business owners to know that they can build a hugely profitable creative services business, and that they understand the empowerment that comes with that.”

This Was Going to be More Than an Online Course Alone

Based in a remote area of Australia 90 miles south of Sydney, Kathleen knew she could reach the most women by offering her skills and knowledge online. She started with a course on Teachable but quickly realized that it was missing the crucial element of community.

“I wanted more hands-on access, teaching students how to deal with this scenario or that customer, what's in season here, etc. I firmly believe if one person has the courage to ask the question, a hundred people need to hear the answer.”

To bring her course and community together, Kathleen turned to a Mighty Network. She adopted the format she learned from taking the 5-Part Community Design Masterclass Mighty Networks CEO Gina Bianchini and Growth Lead Jessica Shambora launched in August.

Not only would Kathleen offer a fantastic online course, but with a Mighty Network she’d be able to go deeper by making connections between members via weekly live sessions, office hours, guides, and resources that brought people together and made sharing possible.

This community would do more to get fellow florists the results they were looking for–new customers, profitability, and more–than any online course video could on its own.

3...2...1...Launch

For her first launch this fall, Kathleen welcomed 35 women from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, and the US to her 6-week #ForFlorists Business Masterclass. She charged a one-time fee of $499.99 USD for the course, and followed that with a monthly subscription of $27.99 USD. In the course community, members continue to get coaching and support from Kathleen and fellow members.

Kathleen chose this model – using a course as a gateway to a community membership – to ensure all of her members could reference the same concepts as they help each other and themselves build their businesses:

“It's like you can enter the house, but you can't leave the living room until after the 6-week program. You've been through that induction phase.”

While Kathleen’s course covers practical concepts like business fundamentals and marketing, it’s also about teaching a mindset shift–normalizing the idea of making $500,000 to one million dollars in the floral design business.

Structuring #ForFlorists For Growth and Transformation

Here’s what’s included in the #ForFlorists Business Masterclass:

  • Two 1-hour live video training sessions every Monday on topics like hiring, flower photography, Instagram hacks, building an effective website, floral design mechanics, dealing with challenging customers and managing imposter syndrome
  • Two 1-hour live video Q&A sessions every Wednesday
  • Discussions across topics like mindset, money matters, sustainability, and marketing
  • 5 hours of recorded video content
  • 100-page PDF how-to guide and worksheets

Quality Over Quantity: It’s Not About 100,000 Followers

Kathleen’s marketing strategy is rooted in her email list, which she began in March of 2018.

She promotes a free guide using Instagram Stories – Top 3 Tips for Building a Profitable Floral Design Business – that requires an email address for download. Then on her podcast, she shares audio from some of the training sessions she offers in the course, to give people an idea of what they’ll experience.

She sends a newsletter to her email list every week and invites subscribers to join the waitlist for her course, which means they’ll be notified first when registration opens. Then she has a series of seven emails that run through the first week of the course.

“We average 250 downloads on a podcast and the email list has 3,700 active subscribers. These numbers are not massive. It's not about having 100,000 followers or a million downloads.”

Choosing a Premium Price for Growing #ForFlorists

In January 2020, Kathleen raised her price to $699.99 USD, extended the course to 7 weeks, and welcomed in her 2nd class:

“We provide our students with a huge amount of value. While I want it to be affordable, it's not designed for everyone.

If you don't have $699 at your disposal, then you're not at the point to learn what I have to share with you.

I want a price tag that's going to encourage my members to invest time in the program. We believe ‘the transformation happens at the transaction’. When members pay $699, they're going to step up for themselves.

In Australia, it costs you $10,000 to get your floral certification. Paying an additional $1,000 to get our four-step roadmap on how to build a business is a bargain. I know for a fact that if somebody invests in this program that it's going to have a direct financial return on investment in their business. ”

The Magic is in the Course Community

While engagement picked up a bit slowly, Kathleen followed the Community Design Framework of consistently posting at the same time and days 2-3x times per week. After a month, her members got the hang of it and started contributing:

“After a month, one of the girls posted, ‘Oh my gosh, I just got off the phone from a customer who complained about this, this and this’. Then, everybody jumped in saying, ‘Yep, been there. This is how we dealt with it. This is how you can solve it. Don't worry, you're not a bad human.’”

But the community is more than the connections happening between members. It’s also where Kathleen is learning how to take her fellow florists on a journey to master the business of floral design:

“Floral designers don't use business terms. I’ve had to learn their language, more than push new terms on them. As I’ve done this, I’m making even deeper connections to my members. As I do, I literally see the lights go on. Through this experience, I know they're going to get it. I know they're going to raise their prices.”

3 Key Takeaways From Kathleen’s Story of Awesome

Got a big idea like Kathleen that you can’t wait to bring to the world? Here are 3 key takeaways from her experience:

  1. It’s easier and more effective to launch a community-focused online course than a content-focused course. Especially if you’re starting off with your first course, you’ll do less work and get people better results when you have your online course and community together in the same place (which is possible on a Mighty Network).
  2. Don’t be afraid to charge a premium. Kathleen knew that the people she wanted to attract would get the best results if she charged a premium–first, $499, then $699. Charge more than you may be comfortable charging for and then invest in making your course and community valuable.
  3. Follow a proven framework. Kathleen used the Mighty Networks Community Design Masterclass to structure her own online course. That’s the secret of Community Design – not only does it offer valuable content for designing a community or course, you actually experience what it’s like to take a community-focused online course as a member.

In 2014, Kathleen Drennan and her husband Sloan left their successful marketing careers and moved to a small town 90 minutes south of Sydney, Australia. They bought the local flower shop – Little Bird Bloom Flowers – while simultaneously starting a new wedding and events business. They quickly recognized how little the floral design industry knew (and shared) about the fundamentals of business, making money and marketing. Today, the pair share their experience and business skills with floral designers from around the world, educating them on the ins and outs of marketing, business and how to make good money as a floral designer.

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