“I have been so blessed by Northern Initiatives. I went from literally working at a flower shop one day to owning it the next.” – Nicole Bradstreet, owner of Flowers by Evelyn
The names of Nicole Bradstreet’s four children, in sequential order, begin with the letters A, B, C and D. So it is only appropriate that her new “baby,” a floral business she purchased and operates in Gaylord, continues the naming convention with an E. She retained the previous owner’s Flowers by Evelyn moniker out of respect and gratitude.
Bradstreet found work making deliveries for Evelyn—the mother of a close friend—after losing her job in the banking industry. She intended it to be a temporary stint while she rode out her severance in search of a new career opportunity as her family’s primary wage earner. But the floral business grew on her. When Bradstreet’s husband secured a more lucrative position, she said she felt liberated to continue pursuing her newfound passion.
“In 2012, Evelyn started leaving the shop more and I was there more, so it was kind of a role reversal,” Bradstreet said. “When she decided to retire at the end of year, she was going to close up shop. I asked her if she thought I could take it over and she excitedly said yes. Evelyn offered me owner financing for the business and a lease agreement for the building. I kept the name because I thought the transition for clients would be better, plus it was showing up at the top of internet search engines. And when I thought of the E to follow the ABCD order of my kids, that sealed it. I love her to pieces and owe what I have to her.”
It is a tight-knit environment. Evelyn’s daughters volunteer to help on Valentine’s Day and one was the realtor for the building Bradstreet’s shop now occupies, which was financed by Northern Initiatives. NI also provided hands-on training in QuickBooks and assistance with website development, Facebook advertising, overall online presence and marketing strategies.
“I have been so blessed by Northern Initiatives,” Bradstreet said. “I went from literally working at a flower shop one day to owning it the next. I had never written a business plan or looked at the financials. I went into it blind and on faith. Northern Initiatives walked me through every step—from the application to turning my hodgepodge financial records into a presentation for lenders. Then after they helped me get a mortgage for the building, I learned about all the support services they offer.”
“Not only did they agree to take a shot on my business, they really invested time and resources into developing me as a business owner to make sure I would succeed. I came from the banking world, where you wanted people to borrow and actually benefited from them defaulting on loans. This was focused entirely on success. Northern Initiatives is irreplaceable. They become part of your team.”
Upon purchasing the business, Bradstreet shifted the focus from funerals to weddings. Her collaboration with a wedding planner at Treetops Resort morphed into her becoming Treetops’ preferred florist. She enjoys the same status with Otsego Club, Sojourn Lakeside Resort, the Otsego Grand Event Center and Blue Sky Barn. She credits her relationship-oriented approach as a key to her ability to thrive as a first-time business owner.