Women in Business: Amy Child Marella, Founder, Fleurish

Amy Child Marella is a nationally recognized expert in wedding décor, special events and floral design whose celebrity clientele includes the likes of Tom Cruise, Gwen Stefani and Jessica Simpson, among many others, as well as organizations such as Tiffany & Co., The Beverly Hills Hotel, and the NFL Super Bowl. With nearly 15 years of experience in floral design and renowned as the founder of LA's premier florist The Hidden Garden, Marella regularly lends her expertise to national wedding publications such as Inside Weddings, and her work is often featured in national magazines such as People and US Weekly, to name a few.

Marella's latest creative endeavor is Fleurish, a unique, sophisticated design-it-yourself flower bar, opening in Brentwood in Fall 2014. Born out of Marella's belief that anyone can create beautiful floral designs given the proper tools, along with an overwhelming demand from her fans, Fleurish is a unique space where you can create your own arrangement, take a class, celebrate a special occasion, or purchase an exquisitely designed floral arrangement to go.

She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband Greg and two children, Zachary and Samantha.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I started my first company, The Hidden Garden, 15 years ago. It was just my Dad and I back then and I had to do it all: buy, process, and design the flowers. Luckily, my dad helped me deliver them! Having experienced every aspect of the business made me "live in the shoes" of my employees. I completely understand what each and every person's job is, and what it takes to get it done. As a result of my ground-up experience, I treat my team the way I would want to be treated.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Fleurish?
Fleurish bloomed from my other company, The Hidden Garden, which I still own and operate to date. My experience developing The Hidden Garden and all the lessons I've learned - both good and bad - I'm taking with me to Fleurish. I think my success with The Hidden Garden will definitely help me grow Fleurish into an amazing company with an amazing team of people. It's all about the people that you surround yourself with to help build success.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Fleurish?
The highlights have been watching people be genuinely excited at the concept of Fleurish. I love that people have embraced the concept and say things like, "I can't believe someone hasn't thought of that before" and watching future "fleurists" come in to the store and be so proud of what they created. Of course, having my Hidden Garden team so excited about their "little sister," because if it wasn't for The Hidden Garden, this would not have been possible.

The challenges have been creating something new and different. When you are doing something that isn't out there, you have to prove the concept. For me personally, balancing Fleurish and The Hidden Garden is always going to be tough, but again, without the right team of people around me, it would never be possible.

What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
You can do it! It might seem hard and impossible to juggle all the different aspects of life but "if it was easy, everyone would be doing it." I tell myself that once a week and it keeps me going. Everything worth anything in life is a challenge. Also, find people that you admire and talk to them. Ask them how they do it, how they started and how they juggle it all. Believe in yourself and your concept - whatever it may be - and your confidence will shine through. If you believe it, it will be apparent to everyone.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Treat people the way you wanted to be treated. This is from your employees to your customers.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I have a great team around me; I truly could not get it all done by myself. I have learned to delegate tasks that aren't my strong suit, and empower the people around me when I know they are the right fit for the job. It allows me to free up my schedule and focus on the tasks I'm best at. I also enjoy life more when I'm not the one doing each task. I make time for my family and friends. I always remember that time goes by so fast, and you can't get these precious years back with your kids, friends and family. Vacations are also very important - don't forget to get away! Everyone needs a vacation. It helps you rejuvenate.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
The misconception is that you can't have it all. It is possible to be a business woman, wife and mom! I always joke that "I'm a stay at home mom, with a full time career!" For me, being a business woman makes me a better mom and wife. I think finding the balance of it all is difficult, but achievable if you set the parameters on how you are going to accomplish your tasks.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I've always loved letting people into my world. When I first started in the floral industry, I had tons of questions. I was self-taught, so I really relied on other people to learn how the flower industry worked. Fifteen years later, I feel so lucky to still be doing what I love and to be successful at it is icing on the cake! So many women ask me how I started, or how the industry works, and I love talking about it. I'm an open book and I'm happy to share my mistakes with others; hopefully they help others from making the same ones when starting their own business. A lot of people have told me I'm a little "too open" when discussing these details but, I truly think that you can't copy someone else's business. Everyone has a personality and it truly shines through in each company.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Alli Webb from Drybar is very inspiring to me. She has created an amazing company from a very simple concept. I love that! Her concept is so simple and concise, and she has stayed true to her core concept. I also love the aesthetics of Drybar, it's just as pretty or prettier than your own bathroom. When you go there, you feel good! I'm also a huge fan of Tory Burch. I love her line of clothes and sense of style. I love that she started a company at her "kitchen table" it reminds me of how The Hidden Garden started in my apartment kitchen! It's from the ground up, and it's the best foundation for any business. She's a major success story in a tough industry, and she's accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. The fact that so many of her first employees are still there to date is another testament to the type of employer and person she must be.

What do you want Fleurish to accomplish in the next year?
I would love to see everyone embrace the concept, so that they can design flowers! Getting the concept out there and finding future "fleurists" who love to design is so exciting to me. I'm hoping our Fleurish brand and store expands to a few more stores over the next year. The most important part to me is making sure we grow and expand with grace. I want the second store to be just as lovely as the first store.