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Inspiring Conversations with Natalie Lauzon of Flora Bae Home

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalie Lauzon.  

Hi Natalie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Flora Bae Home was conceptualized about 15 years ago, I had just moved back to Chicago from living in Los Angeles for 5 years and I had decided that I would like to open a boutique that was home-centric, beautiful, and filled with all the things I love. I wanted to create a space where people could experience all of the simple pleasures in life that I love. Being creative and entrepreneurial was always part of who I was, and I wanted to also somehow create a space where I could give others the opportunity to show their art, play music, etc… Over the years, Flora Bae Home morphed into what it is today. Some of my favorite things include food, wine, cooking, art, and entertainment. Showcasing those loves of mine by curating a store that is focused on them was where I ended up. 

The fear of failing kept me from pursuing my dream. Instead, I decided to focus on learning everything I could that would help develop and nurture my creativity as well as learn about running a small business. All of the companies I worked for in the last 15 years have been small businesses with the exception of one. I became a manager, and event coordinator for a James Beard nominated (now James Beard Winning) pastry Chef’s restaurant in Chicago. I had worked in the restaurant industry for a long time and had dabbled in flowers and events while living in Los Angeles, and it was something I really enjoyed. At that time, while working as a manager and event coordinator, I also started a small floral design business doing pop-ups around the city and taking on small weddings and events. The restaurant business was not somewhere I wanted to stay forever, although my love of food and wine, the slow food movement, and farm-to-table has always been a huge part of who I am. An opportunity to follow my creative path doing Floral Design full time presented itself, and I went on to work in a beautiful floral design shop filled with magical curiosities and unique gifts, I ended up becoming the lead designer and really honing in on my skills as a manager, event coordinator and high-end floral designer in that job. 

After leaving Chicago and moving to Colorado again, I set out on a path of following my dream and started another small business teaching floral design workshops wreath making workshops and even had a vintage flower cart that I took to farmers’ markets. I created a watercolor card line and was featured in about 10 stores across the country. Small business ownership became more of a hobby and not so much a financially sustainable career at that time, so I went back to full-service event coordinating where I had a steady paycheck and once again put my dream on hold. 

Fast forward to 2020, Covid. 

My job as an event coordinator for Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design turned into a tech job (did I mention I am the farthest from tech savvy?), learning how to plan, coordinate and develop virtual events in a matter of what felt like moments, days turned weeks and then into months. My life became a Zoom nightmare. Zoom Webinars, Zoom Meetings, Zoom Events, Zoom Fatigue… It was mentally exhausting, and my eagerness to follow my dream was getting more and more prevalent. I started binge-watching Schitt’s Creek to lift my mood and add some laughter to the end of my days during the pandemic, and when Rose Apothecary opened, I said that’s it! I am doing it; it’s now or never. The pandemic made me realize that life as we know it can change in a moment, and I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t follow my dream. 

In February of 2021, my boyfriend, Dog, and I moved to Northern Michigan, and Flora Bae Home was established in 2021! It found its home in Petoskey, Michigan, nestled along the shores of Little Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan, at 209 Howard St. in what is considered the Gaslight Shopping District. This beautiful resort community is steeped in history, Victorian architecture, and breathtaking views. As a Michigan native, originally from the Metro Detroit Area, spending summers in Traverse City, moving back to Michigan to open Flora Bae Home seemed fitting (although I said I would never move back to Michigan); funny how things work out. I am in my mid 40’s and was ready for a slower-paced lifestyle where I could become part of a community, open my boutique that offered something a bit different from what was already in Petoskey and supports my mission of featuring women artists and women-owned small business owners. My Grandmother came to the United States from Hungary in 1948 and was a sculptor and painter; she also had numerous small businesses when she moved to the US which is also why I have decided to focus on women artists and women-owned small businesses. 

Flora Bae Home is a home shop with a focus on women artists and women-owned small businesses, where boho chic meets eclectic with mid-century modern touches. Products are curated and sourced by me and the shop was designed by me as well. I offer minimal Interior Design services and consultations on a case-by-case basis. Also, I do workshops in the Fall and Winter in the shop, where I invite up to 8 guests for a creative and fun evening with cheese, wine, and charcuterie, along with learning a new skill or brushing up on an old one. Some examples of past workshops include Wreath Making, Terrarium Building, The Art of Floral Design – Creating a Thanksgiving Centerpiece, Calligraphy, and Hand lettering/Wax Seal Making. I also offer a subscription box called the BAE BOX! 

Over the span of my life, I have worked with or for many strong and successful women. All of them have encouraged me to follow my dream of being a small business owner, and all of them have been a huge inspiration in opening Flora Bae Home. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Finding a retail space remotely while living across the country in Colorado was challenging for sure and I must say, moving to a small town where everyone knows everyone there was some fear that maybe as an out of towner,  I wasn’t educated enough in the commercial real estate market, so there was some fear of being treated fairly in regards to pricing of rent. Moving across the country and finding housing in Petoskey also was a challenge as it is a small town with a limited amount of rental properties.  We really lucked out and were able to rent a VRBO monthly at a reasonable price until we found a house.   I also worked my full-time job in Denver remotely while I opened the shop.  It was a lot of long hours and 7 day work weeks but it was worth every hour of hard work!  I had dreamt about opening Flora Bae Home for so long, the work didn’t feel like work, it really has been a dream come true.  The most challenging and rewarding part of running a small business is staying ahead of the trends and finding unique product lines that align with my values,  are exclusive to my shop and that are priced approachably.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Flora Bae Home?
Flora Bae Home’s ultimate goal is to bring joy to other people’s lives and into their homes.  Our mission is to bring the community together, showcase local and handmade products, highlight women-owned small businesses and artists, as well as create a space where people can forget about the sometimes crazy world around them and take a deep breath and enjoy art, plants, nature, humor and little treasures.  Flora Bae Home prides itself on creating a warm,  inviting, friendly atmosphere that has something for everyone.

We carry a selection of beautiful artisanal products, home decor, handmade goods, candles, apothecary items, accent furniture, linens/textiles, house plants, local organic flowers, and jewelry. We currently have over 65 women owned small businesses represented in the shop of which, 20 are from Michigan.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
I expect to see a rise in women and minority owned small businesses over the next 5/10 years as well as continued growth and movement in eco-friendly,  sustainable,  socially good and handmade products.

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Image Credits
Flora Bae Home

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