April Showers Bring Wildflowers – How a paint-your-own ceramics business brought one mother and daughter closer
Vicki Hiley and Vanessa Hyde are a mother-daughter business team that revels in creativity and spontaneity, which is perfect for their business: a paint-your-own ceramics studio.
In fact, the business, Wildflower Ceramics, started quite spontaneously in August 2011 when Vicki had one week to decide whether to turn her ceramics hobby into a full-time business. After buying the store, Vicki asked her daughter, Vanessa, to come help. “It’s kind of how we are,” explains Vicki. “One gets into something and the other comes along.”
Vanessa, who learned bookkeeping from her grandmother, Marilyn Anderson, manages the store. Vicki orders the paints and unfinished ceramics known as bisque.
Clients purchase and paint these pieces in the Wildflower Ceramics studio. They represent all ages and levels, from the Ronald McDonald House patients and parents who come once a month to the 40-year-old painter who wants a unique flower pot for her garden.
Working together, Vicki and Vanessa show customers samples and painting techniques to create thousands of different looks. Then Vicki glazes and fires the painted pieces.
“I never thought I would work for my mom,” admits Vanessa, who is glad the unexpected opportunity arose. “I’ve grown closer to her by working with her.” Their new business relationship has also granted Vanessa greater flexibility in balancing work and family life, including the ability to bring her young children to the studio and to stay home when her children are sick, something she couldn’t do in her previous employment.
Vicki is just as pleased to have Vanessa there, professionally and personally. “I really rely on Vanessa’s ability to work independently,” praises Vicki. “She goes out of her way to help clients be creative but not do the project for them. She always smiles and is upbeat, which is a real asset to the business. Best of all, ” says Vicki, “my grandkids come and help, and we all have fun. I get to see them more, one on one, and they learn how to interact with other kids and adults. It means the world to me to be able to share my dream with those I love.”
A Perenial Mother-Daughter Business – How a second- and third-generation family floral shop keeps things blooming
Jessica Pearson has been around a floral shop since before she was born…literally. Her grandfather started Flowers by Jerry on Mother’s Day in 1969; her father works there, and her mother, Karry Patton, began working there when she was pregnant with Jessica.
As a child, Jessica embraced the business early, creating her own designs, riding along on deliveries and even working at the shop after school. “I washed out a lot of buckets,” Jessica recalls with a smile. Eventually she went to college and got a degree in business to help run the family floral shop when she graduated.
During Jessica’s childhood and student years, her mother, Karry, was learning every aspect of the shop, from retail sales to floral design to purchasing and merchandising. Jessica attributes much of her knowledge of the business to her mother, who taught her floral design by showing her samples and then working with her to recreate them. “She has a keen eye,” says Jessica admiringly of Karry’s designs.
Karry’s admiration for her daughter is mutual as she talks about how much Jessica knows and does for the store. “I feel incredibly blessed to be able to work with my daughter and share a life with
her, not only in a home environment but also a work environment,” says Karry.
They attribute their ability to work so well together to a camaraderie they have and shared interests, such as a venture to learn European floral design.
However, running the 76th ranked FTD floral shop in the nation as a mother-daughter team isn’t always rosy. There are times when they disagree. “You can argue with your parents,” says Jessica. “But when they are your bosses it’s different.” Karry admits she is more direct with Jessica and expects more of her because she is her daughter.
They have a system for dealing with their differences when they arise. “If we have a disagreement,” says Karry smiling, “one of us walks downstairs and the other walks the other way.” Jessica agrees they always seem to work it out and adds there is too much at stake not to.
“It’s not just a job. It’s a legacy. [My parents] have created a future for themselves, and I am creating a future for my family,” says Jessica, whose infant accompanies her to the shop and will, one day she hopes, toddle around the store, like she did, and wash out buckets.
Cut of the Same Cloth – How one mother-daughter business went from cows to quilts
Although Marcia Nagel and her daughter, Susie Diemer, love their quilting business, Pine Needles Quilt Shop, it is not the first business venture for this mother-daughter team.
Prior to buying her first quilting store, Marcia worked as a long-arm quilter in a shop, owned a dairy farm with her husband, and ran the farm with Susie, who has a dairy science degree.
In 2005, Marcia’s and Susie’s roles as business women changed when Marcia’s boss at the quilt shop told Marcia she wanted to sell her the business. Surprised but excited, Marcia bought the shop and asked Susie to work for her.
Seven years later this quilting duo has built a clientele that is a circle of friends, has traveled together to Switzerland courtesy of Bernina (the sewing and quilting machine company) and has replaced the dairy farm with two shops under the Pine Needles Quilt Shop name: one in Decorah, Iowa, and one in the TJ Maxx Plaza in Rochester.
So what is the secret of their success in business and keeping the peace at home?
“I let Mom win,” says Susie with a smile. Marcia smiles back but responds more seriously. “There are times we know we need to back down and give each other space.”
They also credit their knowledge of each other and their good relationship. “We can read each other like a book,” says Marcia. For example, Susie knows Marcia stammers when she gets flustered, and Marcia notices Susie’s hands, which are always steady, begin to shake when she gets upset. It is then that one steps in to help the other. “We have never had that volatile relationship some mothers and daughters have; we’ve always gotten on well. We still go on vacation every summer together,” adds Marcia.
“So there’s no escape,” jokes Susie.
Despite Susie’s joking about her mother-daughter work relationship—or perhaps because of it—Susie doesn’t regret choosing quilting over cows, and she knows that if that ever changed, her relationship with her mother could handle it. “If either of us would want to leave, we would both understand and figure it out and move on.”
Visit Marcia and Susie in one of their stores or at their exhibit at the Minnesota Quilters 34th Annual Show and Conference, which is open to the public June 14-16 at the Mayo Civic Center. They will have several quilts on display, as well as sewing, embroidery and quilting machines, and will be cheering on several of their clients who will be in the conference quilting competition. See mnquilt.org for more on the conference.
Marlene Petersen is a Rochester writer who admires any daughter who is lucky—and brave—enough to go into business with her mother.