We had the good fortune of connecting with Johanna Silva and Claudia Leon, Florist Business Owner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Johanna and Claudia, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
‘Respect who you are in this very moment… she is part of your evolution.” When being a business owner, it is easy to get caught up in the sole goal of entrepreneurial success. But it’s the perks of the process that need to be appreciated and respected. As womyn, as go-getters, as dreamers, as risk-takers, there is so much to be proud of throughout our journey. By respecting who we are in this very moment and acknowledging where we’ve come from, I hope we appreciate the growth even more than the destination.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
When my parents opened our doors in 1995 with my 9-month-old little brother and a 5-year-old little girl (me) they had one aim in mind, “let’s sell the freshest flowers, create the most modern designs, but most of all let’s make sure each person that walks through our doors feels like family.” My parents drew on their floral experience by coming from a flower importation background. They curated a team of designers with a strong technique and a genuine passion for the art of floral creation. Meanwhile, after college, I went on to work in the entertainment industry representing Top Forbes brands at red carpet award shows, galas, music festival activations, and more. My life revolved around brand partnerships, while always appreciating my small business roots. I decided to take everything I learned and use it to serve my community by helping small businesses stay relevant in the digital age we live in now. Our business was my case study and the results were groundbreaking as we have now established Andes’ Florist as the premier flower shop in the South Bay. Andes’ Florist day-to-day is operated by my mom Claudia and an amazing team of creative floral visionaries. I lead all of our event installations for high-end weddings, brand activations, productions, photoshoots and more. We were titled the South Bay’s Small Business of the Year (2019), awarded the Torrance Advantage People to People Award, and have been featured on KCAL9, the Daily Breeze, Torrance City Channel, Univision, The Knot, and more. Since we opened our doors we’ve had a growing, successful clientele due most in part to how our flowers and service make people feel. Seeing the growing generations of our customers walking through our doors is the most rewarding thing we could’ve ever asked for.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Coronavirus, the global pandemic that put a dark cloud of uncertainty on so many small businesses and led to the cancellation/postponement of 99% of our events and activations- was and continues to be a twist we could’ve never anticipated. We closed our doors and didn’t know what to do next. When researching how to remain safe, we went to the CDC website- that is where we read the following: “Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.” – This was when we realized that we needed to keep spreading joy for sake of our community, and we needed to do this the only way we knew how – through flowers. However, with the flower market closed, importers not working, and the world in a panic, it seemed like all odds were against us. That was when we started partnering up with local farms and got a hold of new flowers, while taking all safety precautions – but that was only the beginning. We created new designs with the flowers we were able to get a hold of, changed our catalog, and made it our mission to get the word out, digitally. We kept our followers in the loop every step of the way and were more active on social media than ever (follow us! www.instagram.com/andesflorist ) As a result, our growth has skyrocketed. We even started giving back with free virtual floral design workshops. Today, we still are living among the Covid-19 pandemic, but instead of living scared, we take on every obstacle as an opportunity for growth. We advise other young women starting their journey to not look at problems as walls but rather as mountains. Through the process of paving a new path, that is when the magic happens. You’ll end up somewhere you never would’ve imagined, because it was those unplanned ‘obstacles’ that lead to new opportunities. Don’t take no for an answer, ever.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The woman who left her country with nothing but a dream and took more risks than the average, knowing she wasn’t going to fail because her resilience wouldn’t let her. That woman… is my mother. Claudia has taught me to be fearless because every step either leads to a victory or a lesson and with this outlook, you’ll never see yourself as a failure but as someone consistently advancing. As a kid, my mom was my hero. I never questioned what she did – mom knows best. But as an adult, I confirmed she’s a superhero by asking questions. Learning the details of the risks she took and her will to find solutions no matter what, she left me in awe. I try to imagine myself in her shoes and I can’t even fathom that amount of strength it must’ve taken to be a woman in her shoes. I’m the critical thinker, the one who strategizes and one could argue, plans my plans- Claudia is the one who snaps me out of it and tells me, “Johanna, just go for it, go forward.” She’s the one who taught me that if I’m passionate about my craft then what I bring to the table already has authentic value – I just need to be brave and take the risks that are essential to realizing our dreams.
@RickNation85 Photography, TNK Photo, Jessica Lynn Photo