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Lynsea Coy is starting a sustainable movement in the floral industry
Running a business

Lynsea Coy is starting a sustainable movement in the floral industry

In honor of Pride Month, QuickBooks is spotlighting the LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who play a vital role in creating an inclusive and vibrant small business community.

Name: Lynsea Coy

Location: Portland, Oregon.

Pronouns: She/Her

Business: Coy & Co. Curatorial Floral

Tell us about your business.

Coy & Co. Curatorial Floral is a sustainable florist and floral design company. We use 100% locally-grown fresh and dried flowers and foliage all year, regardless of availability. We define local as a place you can drive to and from in less than a day. All of our flowers are biodegradable and non-toxic—that means they’ll never be dyed, bleached, painted, or preserved with toxic chemicals. We never use or buy single-use plastic like flower foam or materials wrapped in single-use plastic. We also compost locally and diligently, and include clean-up services in our event work to ensure responsible disposal and reuse of materials.

Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started?

I was told by every florist I knew that it was impossible to sell exclusively locally-grown flowers year-round and I just didn’t believe them! So, I started a small pop-up stand selling 100% locally-grown flowers 100% of the time! We sold out every weekend until I finally needed a larger space and expanded into the brick and mortar we are today. Consider them proven wrong!

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year?

That you don’t need a huge amount of capital to start a business, just start it and take it one step at a time. I learned I could trust myself and I could trust my community to support me as I learned and grew to better serve them and myself.

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner?

That your customers and community will be there even when you’re not perfect. It’s a relationship that requires grace and negotiation on both sides. I started my business with an incredibly self-sacrificial mindset that ultimately only served to burn me out. When I started setting boundaries I was surprised to find my customers celebrating me standing up for myself.

What is an aspect of running a business that you needed to learn more about when you started? How did you learn about it?

Bookkeeping! I had been an administrative assistant for many years, so I thought I was well prepared (I was wrong!), but it took finding a quality team to get me to where I am today. I have a bookkeeper and accountant who help me keep my head above water and focused on the important stuff, namely my customers.

How does running your own business make you feel?

Empowered! Empowered to affect change in my customer’s lives, in my industry, and in my own life.

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome as a business owner? 

Right now we’re dealing with the effects of inflation, much like the rest of the businesses in this country. So, we’re finding it challenging to remain affordable and accessible to our customers while still making a profit. We believe sustainable services should be accessible and affordable but we also believe in paying our farmers and ourselves fairly, so it’s a bit of a sticky wicket these days.

What are your proudest moments? 

The first that comes to mind is when we convinced the largest local dried flower wholesaler to go plastic-free in their packaging. We hope to convince many other growers and wholesalers to join the movement!

What are the next big plans you have for your business?

We’ve got an exciting new website coming soon that we’re excited to unveil! It will help us streamline our ordering platform to make it easier for our customers and us.

What are three things that you feel have contributed to your success as a business owner? 

Honesty, dedication, and community.

What challenges do you feel are unique to small business owners in the LGBTQIA+ community? Have you come up against any bias? 

Luckily we live in a pretty inclusive town in terms of sexual and gender identity, but we have had challenges in the past. I think the most consistent issue is the lack of support year round versus the blip during Pride month. It’s the quick “I bought gay!” and then disappearing act that we don’t love. 

We are always grateful for the support, and love helping our community find ways to show Pride, but being tokenized during a specific day just makes us feel objectified. I’d like to challenge anyone who wants to support small business owners in the LGBTQIA+ community to find more consistent ways to support. Signing up for automatic monthly donations to your local queer community center or buying wholesale from LGBTQIA+ creators to sell in your own business. In our case, you can sign up for a monthly flower subscription to get the flower love year-round!

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Find ways to shop local for everything you buy and sell and your community and customers will support you ten-fold.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in the community?

Ask questions! If you are trying to do something sustainably and are finding a lot of barriers, ask why. In our case, we had a hard time finding affordable, locally-made vases in the beginning until we started asking why. We cut out the middle-man (the wholesalers who were purchasing internationally imported products) and found a local ceramicist who custom makes all of our beautiful vases now. Find ways to shop local for everything you buy and sell and your community and customers will support you ten-fold. 

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going? 

That would be our Emotional Support Shop Frogs—Peaches and Cream. They sit in a terrarium on my desk and make me laugh when I’m having a hard time. They were found on a bunch of Peaches and Cream Dahlias one of our growers had brought us and we just couldn’t think of releasing them into our cruddy back parking lot, so we made them a home and they give us joy in return every day. Them, as well as the customers that send us many kind messages online and in person every day. 

What’s your “power song” and why?

Probably “The Judge Said (Intro)” by Malvina Reynolds. It always empowers me to keep trying, even in the face of rejection or failure. Because it’s for my community and I, and the future that we hold together. 

To learn more about Coy & Co. and support the business, visit their website or them out on Instagram.

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