Amanda Wojtas, founder of the Eternal Fleur, on the importance of building a great team
Amanda chats with us about leveraging influencer marketing to bootstrap her business, how COVID-19 taught her to be up to any challenge, and the importance of working with other strong women in your business.
Describe your business in a few words?
Eternal Fleur specializes in real flowers preserved to last 365+ days without water or sun.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
It was when I was working as an As Seen on TV Account Executive that I hit a breaking point and I realized that I wasn’t truly happy working for others especially male dominated companies. There had been a trend going on Instagram with models holding large fresh floral bouquets and with a combination of love for fashion and florals I discovered preserved florals.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was an Account Executive in both RTW and Consumer Goods after graduating from Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. While I was working as an Account Executive, I had the chance to not only learn Sales but also Marketing, Production, and Customer Service which helped me so much when starting Eternal Fleur.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I knew that I always wanted to have my own business since I was a teenager. When I was 16 years old, I ran my own eBay account that carried everything from women’s apparel to accessories.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
When Eternal Fleur first launched, it was important to keep our budget low as we were bootstrapped. We started by reaching out to bloggers and influencers on Instagram and asking them to post static posts and stories. As we gained traffic to our website, we captured emails and then launched email marketing campaigns. Both the influencer posts and email marketing really helped us figure out our audience. After a few months of generating revenue, we were able to reinvest into Google Ads, Facebook, and Instagram and retarget audiences that were more likely to convert into sales.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
I’ve made so many mistakes and I think I still make a lot. But I do learn from my mistakes and I believe mistakes are actually great because they teach us how to resolve problems and come up with solutions. One of the most difficult mistakes that I dealt with was not budgeting properly in the beginning and it truly taught me the lesson that you can have a lot of capital today and if you don’t create an efficient cash runway then you can lose everything tomorrow. It is so important to make a budget and really keep your eye on spending.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
From creating a one stop ecommerce floral shop to building out our B2B channels. There’s been a lot of accomplishments and I can’t thank my team enough for all of their help. Eternal Fleur started in a New York City one bedroom apartment and now we have some of the largest clients in the world such as Harry Winston, Landry’s, and Smashbox.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
The number one question that I always ask is “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” I think it is so important to be able to be honest with yourself because no one is perfect and we all have something that we need to work on. Some other things when I am hiring are that I look for someone who is willing to listen, learn and bring forth their ideas to the table. If you want to run a successful company it all comes with having a successful team.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
In the beginning of COVID-19, it was extremely difficult as a lot of our employees were calling out of work. It was stressful fulfilling orders and I had to step in and create floral arrangements as well. Thankfully around Mother’s Day we saw a huge surge in sales as a lot of customers were staying at home and shopping online. At the same time, we were understaffed and I pulled plenty of all nighters to ensure that the orders were delivered on time. COVID-19 wasn’t easy but it definitely taught us that you can conquer anything!
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We plan to continue expanding Eternal Fleur into more B2B channels. Our main focuses are retail as well as creating partnerships with hotels and restaurants. The goal is to help hotels and restaurants save money and switch from fresh florals to preserved florals.
Since we are women owned & operated and a part of the Female Founder Collective, it would mean the world to us to hire more women onto our team. About 90% of our company is run by women and I plan to keep it that way. Women are such a great asset to Eternal Fleur and have shaped the growth of our business. We have women from all diversities working with us and it’s truly such an honor to listen to everyone’s suggestions. We are a team and believe in creating leaders not just employees. We are here to empower women of all ages to follow their dreams and to be the best that they can be.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
There will be ups and downs in life! When things don’t go as planned, don’t panic and try to think of a problem that you had in the past. Once you are able to do that, try and visualize the steps that it will take to come up with a solution.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Build your team! Building and managing a successful team is extremely important in scaling and growing your company. In the beginning stages of Eternal Fleur, I wanted to do everything by myself and I realized over time you need to focus on your strengths and hire a team that can help you with your weaknesses.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Well 2021 has started on a great note. Since I didn’t get to travel much last year, I took small trips to help me stay motivated and focused. I felt like last year all I did was work and now I do that as well but I still make time for my personal life.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Yes especially after learning what it is like to own your first business and work non-stop. Stop and take a break once in a while or it will catch up to you. Whether that is working out, reading a book, traveling or whatever it is that you enjoy — make some time to live and love your life outside of work.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m actually on a Youtube channel, Sailing Doodles, which is about boats and traveling.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Wake up early.
- Make an agenda.
- Take breaks in between to balance your time between your work and personal life.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Make a change and help other women be the best that they can be and do what they love!