Tag Archives: Georgia Tech Intown Alumni Association

Fleurty Fridays: Georgia Tech Intown Alumni Interview

I am honored to be Georgia Tech’s Intown Alumni Club’s first interview of Alumni doing things a little differently…

Melanie Joyce Pink, Le Bonne Fleur

Melanie Joyce Pink, Owner Le Bonne Fleur
Degree and Year: B.S. of Business Management 2003
Website: www.lebonnefleur.com

  • Tell us about your career path prior to starting your own company.
As a Freshman, I entered Georgia Tech as an architecture major in an
effort to continue my focus on fine arts, design and mathematics; it
seemed like the logical path for me. I changed directions and graduated
with a major in Business Management with a specialization in Finance and
Marketing. Post graduation, I headed to New York to pursue a career on
Wall Street. I worked for an Institutional Sales desk, a private equity
firm and a proprietary Hedge Fund. My most recent position was as an
employee at Lehman Brothers, which I saw through to its collapse.
Needless to say, I was part of Wall Street during one of its most
trying times in history! During this time, I took the opportunity to
revaluate my priorities and to determine my next steps in life.   I
spent time reflecting on what was going to satisfy me and help me reach
my professional and personal, creative and business-oriented goals.
  • What made you decide to start your own company and how did you get started in the floral design business?
While working in the financial services industry, my creative side was not
fulfilled; thus, I enrolled in various art and design classes of
interest to fill the void. On a whim, I took a class at The Flower School of New York and I could not get enough of floral design. While still working full time at my finance “day job”, I started interning with designers on the
weekend and managed a couple floral events on my own.  It was through my
small successes on those events that I saw the true potential in
staring my own floral design company as a side business. My first big
event was designing and managing the floral arrangements from bouquets
to centerpieces for a good friend’s New York City wedding.  In
2009, my husband and I decided to return to Atlanta for a variety of
reasons, one of which was to launch and run Le Bonne Fleur on full time
basis.
  • What makes your company different from the competition?
Le Bonne Fleur is a high-end, boutique floral design company, providing
exceptional quality with personalized attention to detail and
customization. As the lead designer of Le Bonne Fleur I pride myself on
being, both, creative and analytical. We tend to think outside the box
while listening to and understanding the client’s needs and desires.
Taking that information, coupled with extensive knowledge of floral
media, we create designs custom tailored to suit our client’s persona
and vision. This level of service sets Le Bonne Fleur apart from most
traditional florists in the market.
  • What ways have you found to be the most effective method for promoting your business?
Entering a new market in a new industry has been a challenge, but that is part
of the fun! One of the strongest and most valuable approaches I have
used to enter into the Atlanta market to promote Le Bonne Fleur is
through my established network of Tech Alumni, both in Atlanta and in
other cities. Through this network, I have met many quality vendors in
the industry and prospective clients. I know we all hear this, but it is
true – Network. Network. Network.
  • Which technologies and tools have been essential to your business?
My website has been Le Bonne Fleur’s most effective marketing tool, hands
down. Before launching this business, I knew it was important to design a
strong website to expose the brand and quality of work Le Bonne Fleur
offers to prospective clients.
These days, most people search the web for vendors, inspiration, and information – including most of my clients. www.lebonnefleur.com is most often the first point of contact and exposure for potential customers.  The website is essential in making a strong statement and differentiating Le Bonne Fleur from the competitors — all at first click. Search Engine Optimization “SEO” is also a key tool for Le Bonne Fleur to land
higher on appropriate keyword searches. This is a process in which we continue to work on to maximize exposure.
  • How the economy is going to impact the event supplier business for the holidays and upcoming spring wedding season?
I have found the current economic climate has impacted the bottom-line
spending on events and weddings.  With reduced budgets, brides and event
hosts are forced to cut line items from their expenses.  Thankfully it
seems the floral portion of most budgets is not usually cut outright. If
cuts are made, many people instead opt to decrease the total amount
they are willing to spend on floral design rather than forgo entirely.
As a small business owner and recent bride, I know the importance of
“stretching your dollar.” We do not want to alienate any of our
customers, especially due to budgetary concerns. Le Bonne Fleur works
with all budgets, provides multiple options to choose from and still
provides exceptional service – this truly separates Le Bonne Fleur from
the competition. Despite the economy, Le Bonne Fleur’s 2011 spring
season is nearly booked solid and I believe I can credit some of this to
our excellent product, superior service and continuing to “work” the
network.
  • What are some of the trends you see in your industry?
A recent and ever-growing trend is for a bride is to personalize her
wedding. This means making it unique to her and her groom by
incorporating colors, themes, items that have meaning to them.  Brides
want their wedding not to look like everyone else’s. To
achieve this, brides often have many “DIY” touches and also ask their
vendors to think outside the box – a task Le Bonne Fleur is eager to
embrace.
  • How did your Georgia Tech degree and experience aid in your success?
My Georgia Tech degree has helped me build and manage a successful
business from accounting to branding to understanding and reaching my
target market. My years at Tech have prepared me to work hard and
dedicate myself to achieving an end goal, whatever it may be. In
addition, it has given me the confidence to see my dreams come to
fruition, and taught me how to constantly move forward and open doors
for myself in an effort to ultimately be successful on multiple levels.
  • Describe your typical work day.
A typical workday is not typical and that is one of things I love!
I always start my day with emails (actually, its all day thing…which I
attribute being the “Techy” in me). Depending on the events for the
upcoming week and weekend, I will plan my orders for flowers, confirm
shipment times with my suppliers, arrange delivery times, set up and
break down schedules with the various event venues I am working with,
and plan and organize the schedules of my assistants.  I am always
meeting with new clients (brides and corporate), writing design
proposals, meeting with new vendors to expand my network and maintaining
relationships with existing contacts.  I also spend a considerable
amount of time marketing and branding Le Bonne Fleur design shoots with
other vendors, website updates and blog postings.
  • What advice would you give someone looking to start their own company?
DO IT! It is one of the most rewarding, challenging, scary and fun things I
have ever done. It takes a lot of confidence and support from others
when things aren’t moving at the pace you would like. I spent many years
of my life doing what I thought I should be doing and was not happy.
That being said, before you start a business, do your research. Make sure
there is a demand for your product or service, you are in the right
market, you have the necessary financial backing or support, and that
you have a plan.
  • What do you wish you’d known as a Freshman that you’ve figured out since?

It all comes together at some point. Architecture to Business Management
and Wall Street to Floral Design. That is definitely not the path many
people would have taken to get to where I am today, but all those
experiences have made me a stronger, more successful, responsible and
capable business owner. At the time it didn’t always make sense, but
looking back today I am glad I followed the path I did.

  • What are your favorite places or activities in Atlanta?

I love trying new restaurants in Atlanta, playing tennis, biking the Silver Comet Trail, hiking and entertaining at our house.
Top places in Atlanta – Atlanta Botanical Gardens, helipad on top of Ventanas to take in the view of the city, Piedmont Park, High Museum – great Dali exhibit going on now!

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