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14 Aug

Creating a Gift & Home Destination

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The oversized windows of Zeb Grant Design on the square of Madison, Georgia says it all. An antique chest, a vintage push mower, fresh plants, eye-catching containers, gardening tools, new art work and colorful tableware are artfully arranged. On the sidewalk, rectangular stone planters filled with plants and flowers complete the picture. Each standout piece speaks to the unique elements of this interior design, event planning, florist and retail gift business.

The secret is in the mix, and if it seems organic, it's because the business has evolved from the talents, passions and marketing savvy of principal, Zeb Grant.

 

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Find Ways to Grow

An interior designer also drawn to retail, Grant seized an opportunity to open his first studio/store in Lake Oconee, Georgia. The resort destination had a variety of customers and a shortage of interior designers or florists. His design studio also sold home accessories, lighting and gifts. "I added a cooler in front of the store of grab-and-go arrangements because I had always loved florals," says Grant. Floral design and event planning would grow to be a mainstay of his business.

Today, he serves clients in North Georgia and Atlanta, as well as visitors to the historic city of Madison from his 225,000 square-foot location on the main square. People come in for expert advice on planning and staging a wedding, and are intrigued by the mix of home decor, antiques, art works and books, luxury fashion accessories, seasonal decor and faux and fresh florals.

Having a variety of products and curating them with a deign eye draws people in and keeps them coming back. The knowledgeable staff can answer questions or offer design or floral advice. "It's been a team effort to grow the business," says Grant. "And it didn't happen overnight."

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Learn What Matters to Customers

The installation of new furnishings in a client's home, seeing a bride's vision come to life and having customers enjoy his shop and return give Grant equal satisfaction. All of it comes from establishing a relationship with people and listening to their needs. Years ago, hearing that upscale disposable guest hand towels were hard to find in the Lake Oconee area, he began to buy them in bulk and re-package them for his shop. "They flew off the shelves," he says. Seeing that vacation homeowners weren't always around to water plants led him to explore high-end faux florals from NAPA Home and Garden and Winward International at AmericasMart to bring color and nature into their rooms.

"I love talking to people, providing them with fresh flower or a design solution, whether it's an antique or a new painting from a local artist. Someone will email me a picture of a blank space and ask what I'd put in it," he says. His intention is never to just be a store or a florist. "We aim to create an experience for any and all seasons."

 

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Discover Enchanting Resources

Grant credits AmericasMart as his go-to resource for keeping his merchandise fresh, high-quality and on trend. Seasonal collections run the gamut of opportunities. He frequently shops with his mother, who provides a second pair of eyes and classic good taste from a different generation.

"We walk the floors from top to bottom, even those areas where we don't buy usually," says Grant. "I want to see what showrooms have in their windows. You never know when you'll get pulled in or what will lead to fresh ideas, new vendors or products."

He buys for quality, but he's also learned to vary his selections by thinking of his buyers and clients. "Customers come in all different ages and have different tastes. You can't stay in business just buying what you love," he says.

 

Create a Positive Experience

Being a full-service floral design studio takes special skills and training, not only in the arranging, but in sourcing and marketing botanicals and seasonal items. "People come in all the time and say, 'it would be so fun to work with flowers.' Well, it is fun, but it's also a lot of scrubbing buckets and carrying heavy containers. It's not always as glamorous as it looks, and I learned a lot the hard way through doing it," he says.

to those wanting to add florals to their retail or design mix, Grant suggests:

- Start small and build on what customers request, i.e. florals for a party or the holidays.

- A love of flowers and some creativity are essential. So is a willingness to improve your technique and listen to your clients' ideas.

- Learn the business end. Working with someone who does this work will help you avoid common mistakes like over or under-ordering. Doing is learning.

- Include a mix of gift items to complement the seasonal and floral offerings.

 

Explore some of Zeb's favorite resources at Fall Design Week Featuring Gift & Home, September 23 - 25, 2019.

 

For more information, visit zebgrantdesign.com

Images courtesy of Zeb Grant Design

Contributing Writer
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