When Alicia and Adam Rico got married in 2009, the event was much more than a party for friends and family to celebrate their union. It was the seed of their uber-successful florals business, Bows & Arrows.
The wedding was in Brooklyn where they lived. The couple designed it themselves, personalizing every aspect, which is something you see everywhere now, but it was uncommon at the time. It was a lot of work for the 20-something creatives, but it got the two thinking: What if they were to start creating that kind of tailored event for other couples?
A honeymoon to India and five months later, Alicia and Adam moved to Texas and launched their business in East Dallas, which reminded them a bit of parts of Brooklyn that they loved. Soon, their easy, modern, tousled-beach-hair-esque florals — a style pioneered by Mother Nature and perfected by the couple — caught on, and their creations were appearing not only at weddings but also in print from Veranda Home to Martha Stewart Weddings, Lucky and Paper City.
Eight years later, Bows & Arrows is still in demand for weddings and events. The business also puts on workshops and takes special orders. In the last two years, Alicia and Adam have put a ton of energy into destination weddings, a trend that has taken them from Mexico to Brazil, Budapest to Bali.
We’re so excited that the couple is part of this fall’s Flea Style Summit panelist lineup. They will share more of their story and lots of tips for getting started and growing a business. Here they reveal more about the lessons they’ve learned and break down their success in six easy steps.
Did you have a business plan or did you wing it?
We jump into things headfirst, so we didn’t have a business plan. But we knew that we had a product that no one else in the region had. There was a new aesthetic in flower design that was just starting in New York, and we were lucky enough to be one of the innovators of the movement here in the South.
How have things grown since?
Our growth has been steady since 2009. We have fluctuated between having full-time employees to just the two of us with freelancers to assist when needed. You have to think about how to keep your business agile and flexible in order to change with the trends. We discovered that by keeping our overhead low we could really focus on the clients we wanted to focus on and give them a really personal experience.
What do you think has been the biggest contributor to your business success?
We both learned a strong work ethic in New York City, so hard work is one of our main drivers. We also stood out in the beginning because we were doing what we were passionate about and not sticking to the status quo.
What mistake did you make early on that you had to correct course in order to get to where you are now?
I think that we were unsure of ourselves in the beginning. When we started, we were 27 and didn’t think we could learn about the many aspects of running a successful business. We both studied studio art in collage, so our business knowledge wasn’t extensive. But we soon began to understand that the experience is part of the process and asking for help is OK.
What was an early win that surprised you?
We were very fortunate to get lots of press. I think we were surprised at the fact that people were interested in what we were doing enough to write about it.
What’s been the biggest hurdle to overcome? What steps have you taken to do that?
Accepting failure is important. We realized that failure could be as important as success because of the lessons learned.
Was there a point when you realized you were really onto something?
In 2012 Michael’s craft stores hired us to create online and in-store floral and wedding content for 2013 and 2014. We were in charge of art direction, creative direction and production of all content. It was a huge challenge but very exciting. At that point we realized that we could make a living by following our creative vision.
How have you measured success and has that measure changed over time?
Initially, we measured success by how many weddings we did in a year. We were focused on quantity over quality. We now try to do fewer events but ones that we are really excited about.
If you could choose one thing to do over, what would that thing be?
In the beginning we took everything that came our way, even if it sacrificed our brand and image. If we had it to do over, we would be more selective from the start.
What is the best advice you can give a creative person who feels ready to go for it?
Make sure you are passionate about what you want to do, and don’t be afraid to fail.
Alicia and Adam’s 6 Steps to a Blooming-Good Business
Step 1: Be yourself. Build your business off of whom you are and your unique perspective.
Step 2: Stay inspired. Whether it’s through travel or reading or going for walks, continually expose yourself to new ideas.
Step 3: Be kind. Thank those who have helped you along the way and always remember where you started.
Step 4: Hustle. Build relationships by connecting with the people who own small businesses that you admire.
Step 5: Manage your time well. Work efficiently. Stay organized.
Step 6: Take breaks. Make time for family and personal life. Downtime gives you the space to generate great new ideas.