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Petals of Progress

Ummehani Karimjee from Houston, Texas shares her entrepreneurial journey from preparing for a medical career to becoming an up-and-coming Wedding and Event Floral Designer.

Ummehani Karimjee from Houston, Texas shares her entrepreneurial journey from preparing for a medical career to becoming an up-and-coming Wedding and Event Floral Designer.

If you asked 12-year-old me where I thought I would be at 29, I would not have replied that I would be a “florist.” My childhood was geared towards a career in the medical field. I excelled academically, but I spent most of my spare time experimenting with different forms of art, such as drawing, painting, paper craft and pottery. 

Yet, despite the tell-tale signs of a creatively inclined mind, I was convinced that I would pursue a path in healthcare, so you can imagine the harsh awakening I experienced in my second year of college when I realized that being a doctor was not the right profession for me. This was my first identity crisis—the first of many. Here I was at 19, halfway through college, and completely clueless as to where I was headed.

Fast Forward to Three Years Later

I never finished college, but I was blessed with motherhood and, over the years, it allowed me to explore my creativity in each of my child’s milestone celebrations. I loved putting together unique themes for her birthdays, and it became a way to express my love and joy, and celebrate who she was, through art and design. 

After seeing my work, my friends and family began to ask me for help organizing their small-scale events. One thing led to another and, soon enough, I was asked to do my first wedding for a close friend. I had no idea how to create something on a large scale, but we live in the remarkable age of Google and YouTube, and so I figured I could teach myself. 

I searched for hours for the right equipment and how to use it. I bought silk flowers and over-thought every aspect of the occasion. On event day, I struggled with managing the decor and ended up over-spending time on basic things. But it was okay; I was learning. Something ignited in me after creating such beauty, so I took this motivation as a sign to go back to school and pursue architecture (of all things), but my husband encouraged me to consider wedding organization as a career instead. I remember opening Pinterest, pointing to a stunning outdoor floral-filled wedding, and saying, “If I’m going to do it, this is what I want to create”.

So, I got my business license, brazenly advertised myself as a wedding florist, and watched tutorials on how to work with fresh flowers. I expected clients would rush to me, but no luck. Breaking into the industry was a huge struggle. With multicultural weddings, I had no idea what I was doing. How could I convince a stranger to hire me for their wedding when I had nothing to show? Although I had a good instinct for design, I had never worked with fresh flowers, and the technique wasn’t as easy as it looked. I got frustrated, had zero knowledge of how the industry worked, and had no one I could even ask for advice. I received some inquiries but wasn’t successful at securing clients. Then, Covid-19 hit, and my new venture was halted before it even had a chance to start.

A year later, I finally secured my first floral wedding booking. It was a disaster. The boutonnieres completely wilted, and the bridal bouquet was messy. However, with each consecutive wedding, I kept asking with steadfast determination, “How can I be better next time?” 

When someone asked me to do something new, my answer was always an optimistic “Yes, we can do that!” Sometimes, I would find myself nodding and smiling brightly at a client’s request, but internally having a panic attack because I had no idea how to do it, but I would go home and think it out. Talent and skill were secondary; it’s this sort of persistence and enthusiasm that got us so far.

The Journey Continues 

In the first year of business, we booked only three weddings, and in the second year, eight. In our third year, we decided to get a professional studio with a floral cooler. It was a big investment and commitment, and I was terrified that I was being too hasty, but the decision was fueled primarily by the belief that we needed to do better for our clients, and we would keep improving only by striving for improvement. As long as that belief persists, it’s a self-fulfilling cycle. 

It’s now been eight months since we moved into our studio, and we are super busy and running out of space! 

We’ve been featured in the Brides of Houston magazine and also had the privilege of working with some of the most sought-after and prestigious venues in Houston, such as Chateau Nouvelle, The Bell Tower and The Peach Orchard. Although we do not currently do destination weddings, we have received numerous inquiries from couples beyond our city and state borders. 

One time, a couple and their family flew in from New York to have their wedding in Houston, and out of all the vendors in Houston, they reached out to us first, with the bride saying it was her dream to work with me. It’s moments like these that humble me.

It’s been a road filled with obstacles, with just as many disappointments as victories. Sleepless nights, physical labour, sweat and tears have been poured into this venture. Yet, despite the unknown, I am so grateful for where my journey is taking me and how I have been able to serve my community, and I look forward to continuing on the path of learning, blooming, and creating beauty that brings joy to others.