Women of the Wedding Industry Wednesday with Kalin Sheick of Sweetwater Floral
She is synonymous with this place we call home in Northern Michigan.
With boat rides on the aquamarine waters of Walloon Lake.
With luscious, big, focal point bouquets made for brides who consider her a bestie by the time all is said and done.
She's synonymous with giant Bernese Mountain dogs roaming around a hilly lavender farm and a husband named Matt and a minivan. She's synonymous with a cup of coffee + cream, a top knot, a cozy sweater, a Himalayan salt lamp, a pot of soup, a home renovation project, a purple shirt, a sprig of lavender, a glass of wine, a workshop, a closed mouth dimpled smirking smile, a garage studio, a workshop, a Christmas tree farm, a women's retreat, a blog, a Tiny, and Good Vibes Only. The Boopings. Asshat. The Gather Series. Stem Squad. Hygge. Honey lamb. CLINKS. Stems & Sprigs. Sweetwater.
She created a language around her life that instantly and infectiously draws you in, unparalleled and unique, and a novel we all can't wait to turn the page on.
She's also synonymous with some of the deepest truths and hardest pills to swallow, and openly shares them with us.
Things like: businesses thrive when they find the right people to serve. And you might not be one of those people.
And that businesses are fronted, run, managed, and maintained by actual human beings. Human beings who have faults, feelings, make mistakes, have bad days, have bad weeks, have bad months. Human beings who get sick, prioritize their health and family when needed, and have a generous yet healthy limit to your expectations.
Other truths as well: Like, it is unkind to be unkind just because you have a client/owner relationship with someone. It is pointless to compare our journeys and successes to others in our field. It is silly to limit your potential because you've been raised to think that money and wealth is equated to being selfish. It is essential to have boundaries and speak them into the world if you want your relationships and business to thrive.
Truths like: owning a business is the least glamorous thing in the entire world, but with a good sense of humor and passion, it can be the most rewarding thing.
Honestly you guys, how do we even write about Kalin?
A larger than life personality who gives us a window into one girl's dream of working with flowers, living on some land in Northern Michigan, and serving others creatively through her many and endless talents and business endeavors.
Kalin and Stems & Sprigs was the first wedding industry account I think I started following when I moved up to Northern Michigan three years ago. I wasn't engaged yet, didn't know anyone yet, and was one year away from facing the hard truth that my dream of working for the National Park Service would be coming to an end due to budget cuts, and I would be figuring out what to do as a young, careerless gal who just bought a house without internet service in the middle of nowhere, two and four hours away from friends, family, and familiarity.
Before I even met her, Kalin offered me hope that there was more to life than the path well travelled. The one filled with accomplishments and degrees and corporate salaries and long nights proving your worth by the hours you punch on someone else's time machine. She gave me some hope that there was more to strive for than the annual raise, the corner office, the perfectly curated wardrobe, and the accolades received for being everything you and your parents thought you'd be. In her mid twenties, Kalin had left her job and career in television as a news reporter, and moved to Northern Michigan with lofty dreams of living in lavender and flowering for newlyweds. And from that, we all know the story and legacy of Sweetwater Floral became so much more.
I'll totally admit. I watched this story unfold through squares on a screen and was jealous of this life. Jealous of the fun which Kalin brought to every single day of her life on the farm and the anecdotes that came along with it. Jealous of all of the seemingly wonderful female relationships she seemed to cultivate as part of her business. Jealous of how much time she seemed to be able to spend outside in the sunshine, at home, or with her dogs all while working and making money on her own schedule. I was jealous in a way that let me know that our emotions, each of them, even the ones we think of as ugly serve a purpose. And what I began to realize in the six months between my career ending, and starting The Revel Rose was that this unexpected life circumstance was the push I needed to start my own business. I don't think I would have had the courage to do it otherwise. What this small business was going to be didn't exactly matter. What it became was a combination of geography, local economic opportunity, and a pairing with a skill set I felt confident in, and an interest to learn along the way.
I joined the league of women in this awesome, creative industry a year and a half ago, and many of us share similar stories of being inspired by Kalin. Or mentored by Kalin. Or feeling seen, heard, and validated by Kalin. One thing I have always admired about her is that she doesn't soft peddle her influence. She is one example of one woman making her life a reflection of what is important to her, and there is usually a call to action in her communication with her followers that they are worthy and capable of doing the same thing.
If it feels hard to watch happy people doing what they were born to do, live fully and reap rewards by way of living a life they are genuinely joyful to wake up to, then guess what. I think you need a life shift. I really do. I know it sucks and there are bills to pay and building a website is a bitch. And you have a lot of late nights ahead of you, and a lot of crying in your car where no one will hear you. You're going to lose friends because they'll wonder why you disappeared. You won't be going out to happy hour every damn day and you're going to be broke as a joke for awhile. You're going to miss out on trips to Tulum and your LinkedIn account is going to send you work anniversary kudos and you're going to remember what it felt like to have a company matched 401(k), health insurance, flexible paid time off, profit sharing, and a vending machine down the hall. But one day, you'll open a bottle of wine, go into that LinkedIn account, put your company name in the new job box and under your title, you'll put Owner. You'll think sheeeeeiiit. And let that sink in for a solid 5 minutes before getting back to your emails.
Take a cliffnote from my story, or Kalin's, or anyone else who has graced this blog over the past five months. There is no method to the beginning. You just start. Really small. Really slow. On a ping pong table in your basement. And you have all the support behind you. I promise. Clinks babes.
Photo Credit: Courtney Kent of The Compass Points Here.
You went through a business re-brand last year from Stems & Sprigs to Sweetwater, and this year you launched a branding course for small business owners. How did you know it was time for a change and what does that feel like in the beginning, and now on the other side?
In the beginning of my business journey 4 years ago I was so eager and excited and impatient to start that I just randomly picked a name and brand. The first year I felt like I wasn't walking in my own shoes, it was someone else's version of how a flower business should be run. I became obsessed with branding and finding my own groove of what defines a 'brand'. Meanwhile we named our farm Sweetwater and it felt so weird to have 'the farm' and 'the business' its all one in my mind- we flower here and live here and love here and get weird here- so the renaming to Sweetwater at year 3 was a no brainer.
A wild and whimsical arrangement by Kalin. Photo Credit by The Compass Points Here.
You moved to Petoskey from Cadillac, and before that from downstate, and yet you feel like the most quintessentially Northern Michigan woman I know. Delivering bouquets on the back of jet skis on Walloon Lake, wearing sunhats and chambray, living life in an old farmhouse. What about your spirit is most aligned with what this place is, or what it represents?
We are suckers for where the best memories are held right? I grew up spending my summers Up North. It was where my family seemed happiest, where I fell in love with 4th of July and where I realized I feel SO much better when I'm by the water. I could not love calling this place home any more- it always comes back to the people and the views for me. We are laidback, kind, honest, hardworking and normal. There's no rat race up here. Just show up early and work hard and treat people well and crack a beer and float in your boat after work. Its so damn simple to me. Good people tend to flood into good places. That is so true up here.
You are someone who makes me and other people feel okay about showing our true personalities within our business, and it has been so encouraging especially in Instaworld. YET, I still don't 100% feel like I can share some of the most normal parts of personality as part of the wedding industry without it backfiring completely and deeming me "unprofessional". So I just go back and forth with this. Do you just get over that, past that, or care less about it as business experience grows? Is it really, super, 100% okay to be as yourself as possible and not GAF and still be respected for your work?
As much as I wanna say "YES LETS BE OUR WEIRD ASS SELVES" its a fine line in business. I think its a trial and error process. You learn with time what your client and audience and people like from you - and I try and give them more of that. At a