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GROWING HER OWN BUSINESS

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Karen Dixon

A love of flowers, customers fuels Dixon’s florist ‘ministry’

When her niece Sami Dixon was getting married, Karen Dixon (WC ‘80) wanted to find a way she could help with the ceremony, so she volunteered to arrange the flowers. There was just one problem, however.

“I’d never done a single arrangement,” said Dixon. “Much to my amazement, they turned out wonderfully.”

Flushed by her first success, Dixon teamed up with her sister-in-law, Cyndi Dixon, who was starting a flower farm in London, OH to form Vinca Gardens. Currently, it’s a two-person, online operation. Cyndi, who is married to Rob Dixon (WC ‘88), cultivates the flowers while Karen does the arranging.

“After Sami’s wedding, lightbulbs just went off,” Karen said. “The vision is to create one of a kind, artisan-style arrangements that surprise and delight because their style and flower composition are out of the ordinary. The vases are from my collection of found and vintage vases, which lends a boutique sensibility to the arrangements.

“It’s a side business for me but when I retire from the corporate world in several years, I will do the flower business full time.”

For now, the Vinca Garden’s florist shop exists only in the virtual world with everything being done online. Through word of mouth and Facebook, Dixon’s enterprise has been producing business at a steady, manageable pace. 

While she has only been in the flower business for a short time, Karen grew up with a love of flowers.

“Gardening was a lifetime passion for my Grandpa. In his yard there were orchards and terraced gardens and hidden paths and every variety of dahlia,” she said. “I was thoroughly entranced.

“Flowers are a gift of beauty. They remind people that they are worthy of receiving a fleetingly lovely gift of beauty, purely for their enjoyment. I love the thrill of creating something beautiful. That’s not a skill, per se, but it’s the creating part that makes me happy and fuels my desire to have this business.”

The side business allows Karen to express her artistic side. Only 20 percent of the time, customers will come in with a particular color scheme or a certain type of flower they need for the arrangement. For weddings, she often has Zoom conferences with the bride and groom to discuss their vision.

“Most customers relay information about the reason for the flower gift and/or the type of event, and I take it from there,” Karen said. “The key is having lots of pictures! The online business model is great for that. Sharing Pinterest boards to create a vision together is the way to go.

“If you add the word ‘ministry’ to the end of any job title, it transforms it. This ‘flower arranging ministry’ provides a small window into people’s lives, whether it be for a birth, a wedding, a party, or a sickness, accident or loss. Adding the word ‘ministry’ inspired the idea to pray for the giver and the receiver while creating the flower arrangements.”

The one thing that has surprised Karen and Cyndi has been the difficulty of transporting their goods.

“I don’t have a van or SUV, so trying to stabilize everything in my car is a challenge,” said Karen, who often recruits her daughter Brooke, a senior at Olentangy Orange High School, to help deliver the flowers. “I borrow vehicles from my extended family when necessary.”

 The Worthington Christian alumnus said cultivating friendships and an eye of art in high school has been a plus when starting her own business.

“Without question, Carolyn Rand’s art classes helped me,” she said. “She taught us to develop an eye for beauty. The exercises in her class to study line, balance, color, and perspective have stuck with me.

“(Classmates) Casey Fihe Ganger, (a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker), Cheryl Kinnell Popyak, (owner of the Shag Hair Studio in Westerville), and Jeanne DeWitt Karbowski, (a corporate banker), have given me great advice. It’s fantastic to have friends from 40-plus years ago who can provide me with guidance on starting and running a business.”

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