Lately we’ve been chatting with successful small business owners across the country about how they made their first sale and how that early success took them to where they are today. Taking those initial steps can feel like magic: it’s where an idea starts to become reality.
Below is our conversation with Liz Fiedler of Sunny Mary Meadow. Liz and her husband Josh purchased their family farm, a St. Joseph, Minnesota, property that has been with the Fiedler’s since 1888. Their dream was simple: a farm stand selling cut flowers, eggs, jams, and canned goods. When tragedy struck the family, Liz found solace by continuing with the vision the two had created and support from her community.
In high school I was in FFA, the Future Farmers of America. My competition [for the class] was judging and arranging cut flowers. I loved it, but as I was going to college, I knew that sometimes when you decide to make your passions into a career it can be a challenge. I decided to major in nursing, then go to grad school to become a nurse practitioner, but my passion for flowers was always there.
After establishing our careers, my husband and I ended up purchasing his family farm. The farm has been in his family since 1888. We’re the sixth generation to live here. The farm has been a sawmill, a butcher shop, and a dairy farm. And when we were there we thought… you know, maybe it could be a flower farm, too.
We decided to open a farm stand selling flowers, eggs, and canned goods. [My Husband] Josh learned how to grow and process canned goods with his mother, Mary. Canning is when he felt closest to her. We decided to name the stand Sunny Mary Meadow, in honor of Mary and her sunny personality. She would have loved to know another generation was growing up here.
We opened the stand last summer on the fourth of July weekend and sold…one dozen eggs. We made three dollars. But I was so excited! Someone had come and bought eggs! The next day a lady pulled off on the side of the road as I was bringing flowers down. She looked at the flowers. They had a price tag of ten dollars, even though they were a huge bouquet. This is ten dollars!? I nodded my head. She handed me a twenty dollar bill and said Oh, I will be back! And she’s been back many times since.
Last December my husband unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack while exercising on his lunch break. The decision to keep going with Sunny Mary Meadow came because I truly know that this is what he would want. He wouldn’t want me to throw in the towel and move into town. This was our dream together. We built this together. And that doesn’t stop just because he’s gone.
It’s so important to me to find a little bit of joy everyday… to me seeing the flowers bloom, seeing the fruits of your labour, and your hard work pay off has just felt good. I planted these flowers from seed and now I get to pick them. Some of the flowers I am picking now I planted in February, two months after he died. And here we are so many months later just seeing the beauty of things continuing to grow.
Sunny Mary Meadow has flower subscription services, flower arrangement classes, and eggs for sale. If you’re in the St. Joseph area, be sure to stop by and purchase one of their beautiful arrangements. Have a great story to share about your first sale? Know a local business that we need to profile? You can get in touch with NorthOne on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.