We had the good fortune of connecting with Allison Madison and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Allison, what is the most important factor behind your success?
So many words go through my mind when I think about what makes Beach Girl Succulents successful. LOVE, PASSION, DELIGHTING OTHERS. I feel like these 3 factors are the driving force behind why I arrange succulents. I love being outside, sun on my back, smelling fresh soil. I am passionate about making each arrangement unique and beautiful. When I’m doing a custom piece, I think about my customer and the bit of personality/character I may know about them. I like asking them questions about what they want to see, texture, cacti/succulents, simple or fully loaded with succulents. I incorporate all of this knowledge into my arrangements – making the piece fun and spunky or professional and simple or tall and bold. When I complete an arrangement and I get to see my customers’ delight – it makes me so happy! It fills my bucket over and over!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At the beginning of the summer, I was trying to acclimate to my daughters at home with me all day. Due to COVID, no camps! And my husband, Jason got approval to go back to work. I had to find a retreat for myself and get some “me” time! I started going outside into the garden and picked up where Jason left-off while we were in quarantine. It was an easy progression for me. I started cleaning up the tomato plants, then I migrated to a large, over-grown succulent patch. At the time, I was wearing gloves and didn’t want to get dirty. But soon after, I was hooked. I no longer needed the gloves, I accepted the dirt under the nails! I loved the crunchy sound of plucking dead petals off the succulents. I was getting large pruners and shovels and rearranged all the succulents in the backyard. I started with what we had, but soon started buying all kinds of interesting plants at the nurseries. And I have to give kudos to my husband for supporting my business financially and supporting me 100% as I try to get on my feet. One day my best friend, Kim was over and I was giving her a tour of my garden and plants. She owns a gift shop called CardDeA in Redondo Beach. I jokingly said I could sell my arrangements at her shop. She said, yes! She asked me to bring some arrangements in. She helped me find the right pots, the right styles, the right costs. I am so thankful for my friendship with her – without hesitation she had me repot her pots at home (and she paid me!), opened her arms to me at her shop, and has been one of the biggest supporters of my business. She wants to see me happy and successful. I feel very lucky to have her as a friend because she gave me a chance and let me try and make some money during these COVID times. There have been times that a customer only has a certain budget to spend for an arrangement. I hold strong that I can make an arrangement for someone at any price point! But sometimes, it is challenging to make an arrangement that meets my standards at a smaller price point. At first, I would try adding the cost of the pot, the cost of the plants, and start arranging, but I wouldn’t be happy with the outcome. I found myself nitpicking cost. This was not me! I decided that I would make an arrangement full and beautiful, exactly how I like it, despite not making much on the arrangement. A succulent arrangement can be beautiful at all price points! I realized I had to let go of the penny-pinching, and think about the beauty of the arrangement. I stand by each and every arrangement I make with so much pride. I know in my heart that I put my all into each one. I think this is seen by my customers. They can see my happiness through my arrangements and I hope this happiness rubs off on them!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take her to the Strand House for a sunset dinner. The next day, we could take a walk on the strand from Manhattan Beach to Hermosa beach. We can look in awe at all the beach front property. I’d take her to Gumtree in Hermosa for some shopping and breakfast. Then we can drive up to Terranea for cocktails. Then we’d drive down the coast to Newport Beach. I’d show her Roger’s Garden, a beautiful shop and nursery. One day, we’d go to Hollywood and see a show at Pantages. Another day, we’d drive up to Malibu and do wine tasting. The last day, we might spend it shopping downtown MB and go to Barsha for a fun night wine tasting.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a shoutout to my mother-in-law, Leda. Her garden and love of succulents gave me a starting-off point from which to explore, experiment, and admire succulents. Everyday that I made arrangements, I would show and get approval from Leda. She was always so patient and encouraging with my passion for succulents. She would take me to nurseries and even pluck some neighbors’ branches off for me on her walks! Leda has also been so welcoming of me in her garden. I’ve pretty much taken over her entire yard! But she is always happy for me and smiles at all my arrangements! Thank you Leda!