Audrey Chaney



California Polytechnic State University - B.S. Environmental Horticulture Science

Audrey Chaney has been designing florals and events for more than a decade, but her passion was already blooming back in the fourth grade, when she came up with her first arrangement. So, it was only natural that in high school, one of her first jobs was at a flower shop where she immersed herself in the bouquets and blooms of the industry. It was around her time at the flower shop when Audrey realized she wanted to start her own business, helping clients create their own dream events — from paper to party.

Working with many of California's best floral designers, Audrey began her own company, Botanica Floral and Event Design, about five years ago. As noted on her website, Audrey's ultimate goal is to offer "expertise and experience to clients with a design pairing that makes our services unparalleled." Everything Audrey's studio creates is an extension of her personal style or brand. "When it comes to creation, design and art, your name is on everything that goes out of your studio."

Make whatever your passion is your career. I believe everyone should follow their dreams.

What drew you to your job?

Even as a young child, I was very interested in plants and flowers. My parents actually have a photograph of me in the fourth grade with my first floral arrangement. At 15, I was working at the local flower shop. I also took courses in high school on floral design and competed in FFA (Future Farmers of America) competitions to learn and study floral design. I immersed myself in the wedding and floral industry throughout high school and college and knew that, at some point, I'd start my own business.

The idea of working for myself -- doing what I love, setting my own hours and being my own boss -- is a huge plus to my career. But I will say working for yourself also can be much more demanding, with expectations set very high and hours that exceed a regular 9 to 5 job. But when you love what you do, it hardly feels like work!

What does your job involve on a daily basis, and what types of responsibilities do you have in your position?

As other small business owners can attest, we wear many hats. And because my work is a form of art, I believe everything I create and design at my studio is an extension of my personal style and brand.

On the creative side, I spend time coming up with floral recipes for bouquets, centerpieces and all of the wedding designs for an event. Creating inspiration boards with photos, containers, linens and other design elements inspires our clients and helps bring the ideas together in one place.

When we're in production mode, it's very hands on: think stems on the ground, music in the background and the creative juices really flowing.

On the office end of things, I spend time sharing our art through social media, our blog and networking mixers and events. Building business and client relationships is essential; we're all working together as a team. General office work, like creating proposals, providing a high level of customer service and setting and tracking goals and growth, can't be overlooked either.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Seeing an event come to life from ideas on paper to the final product -- with guests interacting in the space created and designed -- is quite rewarding. I also enjoy helping clients turn their initial concepts into so much more than anything they've imagined.

What challenges keep you awake at night?

Because each project is different every week, it's essential to be organized and on our toes. I often wake up in the middle of the night thinking about what I have coming up and what needs to be done for current projects. It's never the same routine in a week -- or day -- so keeping a pad of paper bedside and a thorough planner where I can track tasks is key.

Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

Staying balanced in work and life is essential to being successful. Because my line of work often demands working on the weekends, in addition to the day-to-day work throughout the week, it can be difficult to balance a social life when I’m working and most of my friends are off. However, thanks to the flexibility of owning my own business, I'm able to spend time with friends and family during the week at luncheons or evening get-togethers.

I like to try and set aside a few hours each day for myself, whether that involves reading, working out or taking a walk with my dog. I think people forget that a lot of small business owners aren’t surrounded by an office full of people, so it can be isolating at times. It's essential to have that social networking and personal time.

On that topic, as a business owner you sometimes work alone, so how do you stay motivated?

Ultimately, what motivates me are the possibilities of where I want to be and go. My goals, where I’d like to see my business, the work/life balance I’d like to have. I'm very happy with my career; my passion, but I have to keep pushing myself to grow. Otherwise, there isn’t a reason to be doing this if it becomes mundane. Giving back is also key, teaching younger students, supporting new designers coming into the industry … that motivates me, as I was once in their shoes.

On a personal level, I watch many TED Talks, read books on business ownership, entrepreneurial reads and personal growth books. I find this gives me balance and an always-learning attitude that keeps me going.

Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I can't believe I have this job?" What was it?

Every year, I attend the American Institute of Floral Design Symposium, an international event with floral designers from around the world. Last year, I was inducted into this prestigious organization and it was a touching moment for me because it's been a goal of mine for many years. Being surrounded by so many inspiring designs, designers, flowers and ideas always gives me goosebumps and makes me think of how I got started in this industry and where I've grown to today. I'm grateful for every day I'm able to wake up and pursue my passion.

What are some of the rules you live by?

Make whatever your passion is your career. I believe everyone should follow their dreams.

Speak your truth. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, how you should be treated or making a choice that might be.

Treat others with love, kindness and respect. Give and put out the energy you want in return.

Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do. As a business owner, we have to be the driving force behind getting things done. Procrastination and stagnant tendencies don’t get you anywhere.

What qualities does one need to possess to be successful in your line of work?

Being a good listener is really important. You have to listen to your clients' needs in order to be able to carry out what they envision and to elaborate on their ideas from the get-go.

Having integrity when it comes to business, relationships and your own style is essential. This is where your personal values and beliefs play a big part in your business and how you operate. And this is why I feel like I'm personally so tied to my brand. I’ve had times where we’ve had to turn away work because I didn’t feel what the client was asking for was something that would align with our brand and look. When it comes to creation, design and art, your name is on everything that goes out of your studio, and you want to be sure that aligns with the business you want to attract.

What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?

I started journaling a few years ago and it's changed my life! So I'd suggest that the 21-year-old Audrey do so. Also, writing down goals and revisiting them frequently. I now write my goals down and track them to stay more focused on where I'm going and where I want to be.