Real Talk With Gabrielle Schryver, Operations Manager at Vase & Vine
Vase & Vine (originally Clarksville Florist), just opened up their second location in Little Rock, AR. Their Operations Manager, Gabrielle Schryver, has watched the company grow since she was 14 years old and had a major hand in the rebranding and expanding of the floral store. From watching her mother run her own business to starting her own in 2015, Gabrielle has learned a few major career lessons. And it sounds like she’s just getting started!
Name: Gabrielle Schryver
Location: Little Rock, AR
Title: Operations Manager
Company: Vase & Vine
What it is: A floral shop that specializes in natural, organic floral designs for happy brides.
Educational Background: Bachelor’s in Public Relations
What does a typical day look like for you?
Floral designing is only a small part of what we do at Vase & Vine. The majority of our time during the week is spent managing our social media, connecting with both current and future clients, scheduling bridal consultations, and creating quotes for brides. This is all the very strategic work that takes hours to accomplish—but this is also the most important part of our business.
Every day is really different at Vase & Vine, but I usually start the day by checking my emails, texts, and voicemails from the day before. Our flower truck will arrive around 11 a.m. with all the fresh flowers to use for the week. We will then process all the new flowers and arrange them into beautiful, fresh arrangements to be delivered or picked up by the customer.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Honestly, my favorite thing about my job is the people. We work with so many amazing vendors and we have the best customers! I love creating friendships with all the people we work with and continuing that friendship after the work is done!
You started working at Clarksville Florist (which is now Vase & Vine) in 2014. How did you get your start there?
My mother, Gina, bought the original Clarksville Florist [in 2004] when I was 14 and I have worked beside her since day one. I started out doing very simple things, like cleaning the dirty buckets and making bows for the arrangements.
My mom is very quiet, but she’s extremely talented and so good at what she does. I can remember watching her make the most amazing arrangements and hoping one day I would be doing the same thing. That’s actually how I taught myself to design. I would just stay around the flower shop and watch my mom. Eventually, I picked up the talent and have loved it ever since.
You left Vase & Vine in 2015 to pursue other opportunities. What made you come back?
I decided after college to move back home and open my own clothing store. I always knew I wanted to work for myself but I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do. I decided having a clothing store in a small town wasn’t exactly the right choice for me. After a little soul searching, I decided to go back to my original roots. We decided then that Clarksville Florist needed a big change. My sisters and I have always wanted this big change for the flower shop, but my mom wasn’t so sure. Finally, after 14 years, we re-branded the entire business to Vase & Vine and opened a second location. It was 1,000% the best thing we ever did for the business!
You started your own business, Paperwhite, in 2015. Can you tell me more about that experience? What was Paperwhite?
Paperwhite originally started out as a small gift shop inside my mom’s flower shop. The name Paperwhite actually comes from a flower. I remember staying up late with my mom, going through her old flower books, trying to figure out a name for the store. Clarksville is a small town, and we didn’t have many shops—and we for sure didn’t have any speciality gift shops.
When I opened Paperwhite in 2015, I really didn’t know what to expect, but it did really well for a small gift shop. In 2017, I decided to expand the gift shop into a clothing store. I rented out a small building across the street from my mom’s shop. I spent countless hours renovating that space and making it my own.
Owning Paperwhite was one of my biggest accomplishments, but it was also one of the hardest things I ever did. I was young and didn’t have the financial backing that I needed to own a clothing store. I realized within the year of having the clothing store that I needed to follow my heart and go back to what made me happy. I closed Paperwhite in January and started a new opportunity.
What was the biggest takeaway from owning your own business?
I opened Paperwhite with no fear. I wasn’t afraid to fail because I knew I was taking a huge risk and I was okay with that. I knew owning my own business was something I always wanted to do.
When I closed Paperwhite in January, I remember just staring into the building on the last day and still feeling accomplished. Even though I closed it down, I still did it. I still opened up a business at the age of 21 and I made it work for three years.
So ultimately, my biggest takeaway is understanding that just because I ended Paperwhite, doesn’t mean it failed or that I failed as a business owner.
Real talk—how did you go from being your own boss back to working for someone else? I can’t imagine that’s easy. What advice would you give someone who’s going through the same thing?
After I closed Paperwhite, I went through a really big life change and that’s how I ended up in Little Rock. I moved away from Clarksville and took a buyer position with a local clothing store in Little Rock. The transition was really hard, but I knew I had to do it. I needed that time to step away from what I knew and challenge myself again. It was a great job for me at the time. It kept me super busy and I loved all the people I worked with, but I realized I was needed back with Vase & Vine.
I think the best advice I could give is: if you have to, just do it and look at it as a challenge—entrepreneurs love a good challenge!
How has your degree helped you in your career?
All those public speaking classes have finally paid off! I remember hating all those classes so much and thinking why am I doing this to myself…well here we are! I speak to so many people on a daily basis, so those classes really did pay off!
Work/life balance—does it exist?
If I said yes, I would be lying; but I do try really hard to make it exist. Even though I don’t technically own Vase & Vine, I still consider it my business. My mom and I make a really great team and we put countless hours into making this business work. I try to make Sunday my no-work day; key word is “try.”
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve received?
To work hard and be nice to people. It always pays off to be a nice person, and nice people always accomplish more.
What’s next for you?
I hope lots of growth with Vase & Vine. We have so much talent and potential to show Central Arkansas. We have had a wonderful welcome in Little Rock and I can’t wait to see where this journey with Vase & Vine takes us all!
Are there any other plans to expand Vase & Vine?
Yes, we’re always thinking of ways to expand the business—I believe that is what keeps us growing. I love thinking about ways to expand, and that’s not necessary opening another location. Two locations is great for us right now, but I we have a few really exciting opportunities coming our way.
We are in the early stages of creating a wedding planning app for brides across Arkansas. My boyfriend, Bryan Howe, owns an amazing tech company, Altimize, in downtown Little Rock. He builds apps/websites for restaurants and retailers. We’ve been working on this for a few weeks now and I’m super excited about it! It’s really going to be amazing and super convenient for clients/vendors to use.
Last modified on July 30th, 2018
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