This month’s featured florist is Connie Clancy, owner of Lompoc Valley Florist & Home Decor in Lompoc, California. Clancy began working in the floral industry at a very young age and still enjoys a career that now lets her work alongside her daughter and granddaughter. People often call Clancy a workaholic, but as she sees it: “if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”
Q) How did you to get involved in the floral industry and when did you decide to make it your career?
A) When I was a child, I never imagined I’d be a business owner, I just started off in the business and it went from there. I started working for my grandparents at the shop they owned in Selma, California when I was 14 years old. I started off making corsages and helping my grandfather with the bookkeeping. From there I started putting arrangements together, and when my parents later bought the shop I started working for them. When I was 16, my parents went away on vacation for two weeks and I ran the shop all by myself. I moved to Lompoc in 1981 to manage a shop and then purchased it in 1984. Ten years ago we moved from a 1,200 square-foot store to a 5,000 square-foot store where we currently are today.
Q) What is your favorite part of your job?
A) Our shop is the only gift shop in town, so we feature a lot of gifts and home décor, but the floral side of it is my favorite part. I love being creative and I especially love seeing the expressions and feelings people get – I love to make people happy! Plus, every day is different and there are always changing seasons so you never get tired of the same things because a new season is always right around the corner. I also love working with my daughter – who works in the shop and my granddaughter – who helps us out during holidays and other busy times.
Q) What makes your shop unique?
A) All of our displays are done in vignettes. They always follow themes and are very well thought out and very popular – they definitely draw a crowd! We also have a painted cobblestone pathway that goes throughout our store, and, of course, the entire store changes for the Christmas season. We also have a wedding section, a garden section, and even a “man cave.”
Q) You’re very active on social media and you appear to have some fun promotions like your “Wild Card Wednesdays” and “Bring Your Own Vase Fridays.” What do you feel your customers respond to the most?
A) Our “Wild Card Wednesdays” have always been very popular, but our “Bring Your Own Vase Fridays” are our most popular promotion. Customers bring in their old vases and we fill them for $15. We’ve been doing it for years and our customers love it! Twice a year American Express puts on a “Small Business Saturday” event that always gets a great response in our community. Those are always popular events for us. People like to be entertained, so we do things like putting discount coupons in balloons and letting people pick one out and pop it to see what they won. We definitely get a better response when we can entertain and engage our customers. I just love to see people happy and smiling and our employees really get into that as well.
Q) You’re very active in the community with things like the annual Flower Festival and Shop Lompoc-Shop Small. How important is community outreach and what are your favorite causes to support?
A) I love to support the youth. There is a high school here in town with a very active floriculture/horticulture program, so I am extremely involved with that. I judge their annual design competition and go to the classroom to teach whenever I can. Community outreach is very important to us, and we’re fortunate to live in a very floral-oriented community, so a lot of what we do naturally ties into the community.
Q) What advice do you have for a shop that wants to attract new customers and sustain relationships with established customers?
A) Never say no! I always believe in giving options instead of saying no to a customer. We never want to make a customer feel like we are shutting them out.
Q) What are you most proud of professionally?
A) I don’t even have a high school diploma, but I was still able to establish and run a successful business. I’m not encouraging anyone not to go to school, by any means, but I just want people to know that they don’t have to give up if they didn’t do very well in school or don’t know what their future holds. There are many ways to be successful as long as you work hard and never give up on yourself.