Blooming Bouquets By Caro

Pre-Covid, 21-year-old Caro had a very busy schedule. She is currently a 4th year student at Cal State East Bay pursuing a teaching career as an elementary school teacher. Caro juggles being a student, an elementary school librarian, a high school cheerleading coach, and now, being a small business owner. Her small business story, like many others, started in quarantine. This is the story of Blooming Bouquets By Caro.

What started as a quarantine hobby, quickly turned into a new found love and side business. Caro first started making “poster bouquets” as gifts for her family and friends. She played around with the poster bouquet idea in the beginning of quarantine and rolled with it. Caro’s parents were impressed with her floral creativity and encouraged her to start selling her poster board bouquets to others. She started to buy more materials and vinyl to add sticker messages at the top of the bouquets to make them more personalized. When Caro first started selling her floral arrangements, it conveniently launched around graduation season. She got flooded with orders, which was overwhelming since she just started the business. Graduation season came and went, and it was very successful for Caro’s first go. But, as quickly as the orders came, with time, it started to die down. Caro was no stranger to this feeling, for she had been in this situation before.

It turns out, the poster bouquets wasn’t Caro’s first time dipping her feet into the small business world. Blooming Bouquets By Caro was her second small business, the first was her false eyelash business that she established in 2018. When the false eyelash business started trending, it became more competitive to stand out from the other sellers. Caro started to feel burned out from the eyelash business, and suddenly she started to feel like selling eyelashes was something she needed to do, and not something she wanted to do. Caro was worried that her bouquet business would die down like her lash business did, and that made her doubt how far she could take Blooming Bouquets By Caro.

“I had mixed feelings about it dying down,” Caro said, remembering what it felt like when her lash business started to simmer down and how that experience caused doubts for her bouquet business. “I felt like I wasn’t passionate about the business anymore. It felt more like a chore than something I wanted to do. However, because it died down, I was discouraged to work on something new.”

This was also challenging since Caro had an overlap of both businesses running at the same time. Even though they were both running concurrently for about a month, Caro still felt like her time was being divided. The bouquet business was taking more of her time because she wasn’t getting as many lash orders as she used to. It got to the point where Caro sometimes forget to send out some lash orders because she was so busy with Blooming Bouquets By Caro. She knew her time and efforts were being spread thin by keeping both businesses open. She had to pick which business she was going to continue to nurture, and which one she had to drop.

After graduation season came and went, with very few bouquet orders following, Caro decided to close down Blooming Bouquets By Caro for personal reasons. At this point, her bouquet business was only up and running for a little over a month, but she had things going on in her personal life that she needed to tend to. Initially, Caro had no intentions of re-opening Blooming Bouquets By Caro when she first closed it down. But, she would be scrolling through her Twitter feed and would see amazing bouquets from people across the country, and she felt as though those kind of bouquets weren’t easily available in the Bay Area. Caro thought her poster board bouquets were pretty, but she always felt like there was something missing. Caro took a big step and invested in different materials and created a whole new look for her bouquets, and decided to re-open the business in August 2020.

“My friend once told me, ‘If you want to start a business, you must be the person to start the trend, not follow it,'” Caro said.

Caro started to advertise Blooming Bouquets By Caro‘s new revamped look on her personal Instagram. When she first started the business in June, she had made a business Instagram page for her products. When the Instagram page first started, a lot of her followers on the business page were mutuals to her personal account. She first advertised her new business on her personal account so her followers would follow and support Blooming Bouquets By Caro. But Caro’s real success came from Twitter. She had no idea that a couple of her tweets would go viral, giving her more exposure, admirers, and most importantly, business! In just one night, she gained over 1,000 followers. Her DM’s were flooded with people wanting to place orders. Even people from out of state were trying to place a flower order! Because of her tweets exploding overnight, Caro had to create a booking link to be more organized with her availability.

“I believe using the captions ‘My next customer could be on your TL,’ or ‘A simple retweet can bring my next customer,’ really allows people to realize how a couple of clicks can make a big difference when supporting a small business,” Caro explained. “Even if the person retweeting it isn’t planning on ordering, some of their mutuals might be.”

After her tweets went viral, it seemed like Blooming Bouquets By Caro boomed overnight. Because of her booked schedule, she decided it was time to discontinue her lash business because she wanted to focus on prioritizing her flower business. A “slow” week for Caro is 2 – 4 orders. But she doesn’t let those slow weeks get to her. Since the flower business was her second business, Caro was already prepared for the downs of starting a business and being your own boss. During her slow weeks, she reminded herself that it’s okay to not be busy all the time, and to look at it as an opportunity to take a breather. She does have “slow” weeks, but lately, that has not been the case. She is learning to appreciate those “breather” moments since she usually has 2 – 3 orders a day, Tuesdays – Fridays, with 1 – 2 orders on Saturdays. That usually means frequent trips to the store.

Caro finds a way to balance out being a student, upholding her new business, and shopping for her products, all the while maneuvering through a pandemic. But she doesn’t let the stress of her school semester interfere with her work. The amount of orders isn’t something she complains about. Caro is just so grateful that her small business has grown so much in such a short amount of time. Since Blooming Bouquets By Caro is based in her home, she doesn’t have enough space to hold all the items and inventory. She is constantly ordering more supplies and going to the flower wholesale stores 3 – 4 times a week. She makes individual runs for orders that are coming up within the next 2 days. She wants to make sure her clients are getting the freshest flowers possible, even if that means putting miles on her car.

With how far her business has come, Caro remembers an embarrassing moment from the earlier stages of her flower business. It was during the time where she offered mason jars with her bouquets. One of her clients had bought a bouquet to surprise his girlfriend with. Caro was eager to give the bouquet over, and while handing it to his girlfriend, the mason jar fell and spilled all over her. Luckily, the client and his girlfriend didn’t react badly, they were super nice and understanding. Caro felt horrible, but there was not much she could do but offer to fill up the mason jar with new water. It was definitely a learning experience. And a short couple of months after that incident, Blooming Bouquets By Caro was booked for her first wedding event. She couldn’t believe that a bride trusted her to make her bouquets! Caro started the business in June 2020, and closed it down a little after a month, re-opened the business with it’s new makeover at the end of August 2020, and by mid September 2020, was booked for a wedding.

“I always saw my goal to create wrapped bouquets for special occasions, however, I never expected a bride to trust me with her bouquet for her special day,” Caro said remembering how she felt when she got booked for her first wedding event. “It was definitely a shocker to me and made me feel proud of how far I’ve come in just a short amount of time. I went from making poster bouquets to actual bridal bouquets.”

Blooming Bouquets By Caro has yet to experience being open during Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, but Caro has a feeling those holidays will be her flower business’ busiest time of the year. Most of the time though, Caro doesn’t ask her clients what the occasion is. It’s only when her clients tell her themselves is when she knows what she’s making a flower arrangement for. People gift bouquets for many reasons, some that are not so common. Caro has even made bouquets for a couple of “girlfriend proposals.” What encouraged Caro to re-open her business and give her bouquets a makeover, was the fact that she knew flowers are always going to be something someone needs for any occasion. She believes that when her tweets went viral, some people only shared and retweeted the post to give a “hint” to their significant other.

Caro is always trying to find new ways to stay creative, especially with her business gaining so much popularity. She tries to be on the lookout for new wrapping colors, offer more add-ons, and other options for her clients to choose from to customize their bouquet orders. When she first started out, she only had butterfly decals to add-on! Caro recommends that her customers check out her highlights on Instagram before messaging, in case any of their questions could be answered there. After using the link in her bio to select a date and time pick up, her and the client go over all the details and color scheme of the bouquets. Sometimes, the client may have the option to go with the theme of the specific month. When December came, Caro was very excited to showcase her “Jolly Bouquets,” that featured her “Winter Wonderland” and ” Merry Grinchmas” bouquets! 2020 was truly just the beginning for Blooming Bouquets By Caro!

In the future, Caro does plan on applying to credential programs and getting her Master’s, and plans on her flower business to remain her very passionate side hustle. Before COVID, Caro was very busy with her school, work, and personal life. But she knows that when things get “back to normal” after COVID, and things start to open back up again, her small business will still be here. She is very adamant when she says that Blooming Bouquets By Caro isn’t going anywhere, even if that means adjusting her availability when things get back to normal. What started as a pass time and hobby during quarantine, unexpectedly turned into a new found passion and new opportunity for income.

Caro admits that if it wasn’t for COVID and the mandatory Shelter in Place, Blooming Bouquets By Caro wouldn’t even be a thing. It never crossed her mind to have a personalized flower arrangement business until she started playing around with the idea during Shelter in Place. Without the mandatory Shelter in Place and social media, her business would not be where it is today. She thanks Twitter for giving her the most audience exposure. Scrolling through Twitter and seeing amazing bouquets that weren’t local was also the push Caro needed to re-open her business. She really had no idea that 2020 would be the year she launched a very successful small business.

“Honestly, if it wasn’t for Shelter in Place, I would have never thought to start a bouquet business,” Caro explained. “This all started as making gifts for loved ones, to now being booked every week with people who trust me on making an arrangement for their special occasion.”

Blooming Bouquets By Caro has challenged Caro with her patience and her time management. Starting a second small business made her realize all the ups and downs that come with the process. But at the end of the day, she has grown very passionate about her business because she loves seeing her clients’ reactions when they receive her bouquets. Caro’s advice to others is to go through with their ideas and to not let other people or past experiences stop you from testing the waters. She was hesitant to start her flower business because her lash business died down. She was afraid that her bouquet business would fail. If she had never taken the leap of faith, she would never have gotten to experience all of the success that Blooming Bouquets By Caro currently has. She thinks it would be amazing if, with time, she is known as the “bouquet girl.”

“If something doesn’t seem to work out or you feel like your business doesn’t match you personally, it’s okay to shut that one down to open a new one,” Caro said, reflecting on her own experiences. “It’s a time to experiment and find your passion!”

Old Kanye

Kanye West during Outsidelands festival in San Francisco in 2014.

I miss the old Kanye, straight from the go Kanye / Chop up the soul Kanye, set on his goals Kanye / I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye / The always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye / I miss the sweet Kanye, chop up the beats Kanye / I gotta to say at that time I’d like to meet Kanye…” –“I love Kanye” by Kanye West

To be honest, that’s ^^^ how I really feel about Kanye West. I used to be the biggest Kanye fan. When I tell you I was obsessed, it is not an understatement. To put it into perspective for you, before J.Cole, Kanye West was hands down my favorite living rapper. In 6th or 7th grade I got my first iPod, the iPod nano 3rd generation in black. Oh that little chubby square device, how I loved you. For once, I didn’t have to sit infront of the computer for hours on YouTube to listen to music. I quickly downloaded every single Kanye West song that I could. Some of these songs still had Kanye down as “Kayne West.” I had every single song he ever made on that iPod, I knew every song’s lyrics by heart, and “Bittersweet” was my MySpace song for the longest.

I admired Kanye because he was obnoxious and talked about issues that some people wouldn’t dare to. He jeopardized his reputation and name for the sake of saying what’s on his mind. He didn’t care that some of the topics were taboo for famous people to bring up. And I liked that. Kanye had the fame and the money, but still knew where he came from. However, he went from “George Bush does not care about black people,” to suggesting that slavery was a “choice,” saying Harriet Tubman didn’t actually free any slaves, and publically supporting Trump… Oh, Kanye, how did you get to this point?

Many believe that the death of his mother, Donda West, in 2007 is what caused Kanye to snap. I agree. In many of his songs, Kanye talks about how he was raised by his single mother. He was a total mama’s boy in its whole definition. Kanye understood all the sacrifices that his mother endured for him, and he appreciated that she always had his back through whatever stage, even if that meant dropping out of college to pursue music. He wanted to pay her all back for it – all the sacrifices, jobs, pain. When Kanye finally started to make a name for himself and make money, his mom benefited as well. The song “Hey Mama” released in Kanye’s 2005 album Late Registration, gave his fans a taste of how much his mother meant to him.

Under the circumstances of how Donda West died, I know Kanye must feel a lot of guilt and anger. Donda West underwent cosmetic surgery, and had complications which resulted in her death. She got liposuction, a tummy tuck, and a breast reduction, and returned home the same day of surgery, even though she was advised to recover in the hospital. Because of these surgeries, Donda West had complications the following day, she ended up collapsing and was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. In the article I linked above, they claim that Kanye blames himself for his mother’s death saying in a Q Magazine interview, “If I had never moved to L.A. she’d be alive.” Meaning, if he never made it big, his mom would still be living.

Before his mother’s death, Kanye was a man who wanted the fame, money, and respect. And Kanye West wasn’t ashamed to admit it. The irony is that when he finally “made it” and had all those things, he was trying to extend the high life to his mother, only to have it backfire in his face. His mother’s death was a result of his fame and wealth. At the time – and still to this day, regardless of everything that Kanye has said and done – my heart ached for him. What a tragedy. Imagine, finally being successful and wanting to share your success with the person who raised you and stuck by you, only to have that feeling of pride and accomplishment replaced with shame and guilt in a matter of 24 hours.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to feel responsible for your mother’s death. The fame, wealth, respect, the name he made for himself, doesn’t even matter anymore. Kanye worked so hard to make it in the industry, but the fame and recognition only brought him pain. The thought of being famous probably fills him with loathing feelings. The one thing he wanted the most in life is what caused him his greatest loss. Especially under what circumstances his mother passed – this wasn’t life saving surgery that was needed. That’s what probably adds salt to the wound, the fact that these surgeries were by choice to alter appearance and make his mother feel more confident and healthy.

After his mother’s passing, it’s as if Kanye went down a steady downward spiral. He became more obnoxious, but not in the way that I applauded before. I found myself defending him to everyone that had something negative to say. This was a man who was acting out and asking for attention, maybe even help. This “I’m a genius and I’m the shit” attitude seemed like a cover up for the tremendous amount of grief he carried on his back. That attitude and way of thinking is what made past fans change up on him. But not me, I was loyal. I still defended him and listened to his music – old and new.

Then he got married to Kim Kardashian in 2014. It seemed like he was happy to be settling down and starting a family. The running joke is whoever gets with a Kardashian gets destroyed. But to me it seemed like they were a good match. It seemed like there was a period of time where Kanye wasn’t making the news for saying or doing something out of pocket or controversial. I used to be an avid watcher of Keeping Up With the Kardashians in high school and early college. When I went through my social media / media cleanse, the Kardashians were the first ones I unfollowed because their content made me compare myself and generally just made me feel shitty about myself. But I’ve gotten to a place over the years where I can watch the show every so often, I don’t really keep up with them anymore in terms of watching every episode. However, I feel like there’s no escaping their updates through social media.

Everytime I saw Kanye West trending on social media, I cringed a little. Oh God what did he do now? I supported him knowing that he’s grieving publically and maybe is suffering from mental health. I felt like I was defending a friend from all his critics that I knew in real life. But what drew the line for me is when he started to publically support Trump. Even then, I thought it was a publicity stunt and still tried to look past his political views. I thought, There’s Kanye, just saying whatever for attention. But the cherry on top was when Kanye West said slavery was a “choice.”

I was astonished. What. The. Fuck. How did he stray so far from his original views? It seemed like he turned his back on the Black community. This wasn’t the same Kanye from The College Dropout. No way. It was then, in 2018, seeing Kanye in the MAGA hat, supporting Trump, and speaking this hurtful nonsense that I threw in the towel. I could no longer defend him. That’s not the Kanye I grew to love.

Whenever he would make headlines, it felt like that feeling after a bitter break up to be honest. I would see his name in the news or hear about whatever else he said, and I would feel some type of way. I used to look up to you… now look at you… what a shame. I didn’t listen to his new music, but still listened to his old albums – the Kanye I was a fan of. I didn’t want his current choices to over shadow the fact that he was once a great artist. I fell off his fan wagon in 2018.

Everything Kanye related from 2018 to now I didn’t really keep up with. All his Trump supporting content or obnoxious outbursts, I would just take with a grain of salt. Up until now. His recent outbursts on Twitter is making the public go crazy. He’s serving all the hot tea on the Kardashian family, and he’s not holding back. Not to mention that he was running for president, or still is? I’m not sure. All I know is, it was all too much for the internet to handle. The video of Kanye West saying Harriet Tubman never actually freed slaves, then having a meltdown about saving North’s life, then taking it to Twitter, it was like following a movie. What the hell is going on? Yet, my eyes were still glued to Twitter, knowing that @theshaderoom would have screenshots for me if I missed anything.

People were outraged with his comments. I was outraged. The same feelings of what happened to you, Ye?! crept up on me. Reading the comments made me realize that some people agree with Kanye, some don’t, and some think that he is trying to drop hints or clues to whatever deeper meaning he is trying to get to. The “read between his tweets” kind of people. I don’t know where I fall under. In the past, I was so over him and his commentary outraged me. But now I read the tweets of this man who has been under the public eye for almost 2 decades, and I truly pity him.

He’s exposing his wife and her family on Twitter, all their personal secrets, everything they’ve gone through in private – it’s a true shit show. Some people are blaming the Kardashian family for Kanye’s instability, some are egging him on, some blame him. Kim Kardashian posted an update to her followers stating that Kanye has been battling bipolar disorder for years, and she’s trying to help him get the help he needs. However, she makes a point to add that, legally, she can’t force an adult to seek help for themselves. I know the Kardashians get a lot of hate for how they rose to fame, their family and who they date, etc. But these are still real people dealing with real issues broadcasted for the world to see.

When I was reading Kanye’s tweets, I imagined what Kim must be feeling like. To have your husband air out your dirty laundry like that, having this be on the internet forever, and having your daughter possibly find out in the future that you wanted to abort her, all the while dealing with your husband who is having a mental health crisis. We often hear stories about people explaining what it’s like to live with mental health issues, but we rarely hear the stories of the people in their lives that have to deal with the second hand outburts and moodswings. Just because Kim doesn’t have bipolar disorder herself, doesn’t mean she doesn’t carry a lot of shit from the result of being with someone who is bipolar. It’s a rollercoaster for the person with the mental health diagnosis and their loved ones.

Instead of bashing this family and egging Kanye on, I wish people would just let them be. Don’t give him the attention that he so desperately craves (even though it’s so hard to look away sometimes). We know that Kanye says out of pocket shit, but the more we feed the obnoxious behavior, he’ll just try to one up himself. Not everything he says deserves headline attention. We have given Kanye the power to enrage us when we really don’t have to be. Whether he is just making a scene to promote his new album or if he’s really reaching out for help – this is a person who has gone through a tremendous amount of grief and guilt. I hope he gets the help that he needs and finds peace within himself. Fan or not – it’s unfortunate to see someone who was once so great go downhill over a span of years. I feel like this is his rock bottom, and I hope he decides to get help for the sake of his children.