#AceOnAce with Sierra Rohrbaugh, Florist
The #AceOnAce series concludes with the extremely talented Sierra Rohrbaugh. Sierra has a knack for floral design and a huge portfolio of weddings to back it up. She is a kind yet confident boss lady, and the perfect person to conclude this series with.
It was Mother’s Day weekend. Sierra Rohrbaugh stood in the basement of her parent’s home with a fresh shipment of flowers, a handful of supplies, and a dream about to flourish.
This was her first attempt at stepping into the floristry business on her own. When she was 14, she worked in a local flower shop where she jokes that they taught her how to do Valentine’s Day, a holiday where all hands, polished or not, were needed on deck.
She worked with the shop through high school until she had to depart for college. It was at that time in college that she had the idea to start something on her own; a floristry business that would become I Pick You Shop.
“I really missed working with my hands, working with flowers. I’ve always been a ‘find a house or make it’ kind of girl. I thought it can’t be that hard, so I tried it.”
Let’s fast forward. From the initial spark to her parent’s basement to a handful of trusting clients to over 30 weddings in one summer, Sierra hit her floral stride. She gained an expertise, a reputation, a troop of happy brides, and a LOT of new business.
This is the story of a passion turned to a success.
As we read stories like this, we tend to dehumanize the subject; we think of another’s success as a reflection on our lack of success (from our internal perspective). What is my call to action now?
So, I’m going to rephrase that. Sierra’s story is the story of the beautifully, chaotic transition from hobby to business. It’s human, and you’ll actually become inspired, not desensitized.
Sierra’s Ace journey is relatable.
I’m not saying you’ve had floristry endeavors or lucrative profits from a passion. However, my guess is that you’ve had ideas that never came to fruition (some you probably laugh about now) or you’ve grinded on something to an almost nauseating state or you’ve had to make hard decisions for your well-being (or chose not to when they should have been chosen).
This is all a part of Sierra’s successful journey. There were lessons learned, and she took them with grace.
THE FIRST LESSON: Try something new.
Sierra did not have a concrete game plan when she started her own business. She threw ideas against a wall and waited to see what stuck.
When she first began her business, she thought of creating custom bouquets where customers could pick the flowers like a person picks toppings on a pizza.
She went from individual orders to strictly wedding floristry.
She described that she went through about 6 different websites until she found a brand that felt right.
While this exemplifies her driven nature, it also shows that finding your niche or your successful endeavor comes with trial and error. Sounding familiar?
As Sierra put it: “I always say shoot for the stars, and if you land on the moon, you still made it pretty far.”
THE SECOND LESSON: Break the norm.
Sierra had to quickly learn how to juggle being a full-time college student while also pretty much being a full-time wedding florist. To all of my college grads and current college students, think of that for a moment.
That juggle would have turned into a catastrophe for most. And even for Sierra, she hit a moment two years in where she realized she had to choose one or the other.
It was then that through prayer and support she decided to take her spring semester off to devote her full attention to her business. She had the intention of going back to school in the fall, but she really wanted to take a run for her passion.
This decision summed up in 2 sentences seems casual, but it is so not. It is brave, it is unconventional, and it is inspiring.
When I took my semester off, I remember the stress I felt from FOMO and losing friendships. That stress is valid because all of that did happen for me.
But, like Sierra and myself, the reason you make such an “extreme” decision ends up working out really well for the reason you did it in the first place.
Sierra took the semester off, had a goal of working 20 weddings, and surpassed it with over 30.
THE THIRD LESSON: Take care of yourself.
While it was amazing that she beat her goal, understand that she was the florist for over THIR-TY weddings in ONE summer while there was only ONE of her.
Her work, play, rest balance was essentially nonexistent, and it led to the ever-dreadful burnout.
She explained, “There were so many days I would be working on a wedding and only get 2-3 hours of sleep for days in a row. I would just keep going, and I was so happy to do it, but I just got so physically exhausted from doing those weddings.”
When the end of the summer came, Sierra made the difficult decision to take time off from the business for the sake of her well-being.
She said, “I never wanted the flower shop to be my idol or my identity. I wanted it to be something serving me and not me serving it.”
I love that. So much actually. I have begun to look at my own decisions through this thought process.
When we reflect for a moment and find that something in our life has disabled us from our fundamental needs such as friendship, rest, etc., it is our obligation to ourselves to step in and say enough is enough.
Because Sierra made this decision, she avoided a pandemic’s worth of postponed weddings. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Sierra’s journey is a wonderful example for us to reflect on our own passions. They do not come easy. Ambition is required and so is self-awareness.
What is Sierra up to today? She still hasn’t ramped up shop, BUT there’s plans to change this very soon…
Sierra, with the help of her business savvy hubby, will be setting up shop in her new home in Rhode Island!
With a renewed sense of excitement and a matured skillset, Sierra is well on her way to succeed and find true fulfillment through her craft.
To remain true to this series, I had to end it with the Ace question. As I’ve said before, at the end of each interview, I asked my interviewees how they defined the word Ace, and what it meant to them to be called an Ace.
I think Sierra response accurately summarizes her Ace journey; a definition that is unique, fun, and thoughtful.
She referenced an Ace in a deck of cards.
“When you’re playing a lot of games, Ace can either mean the highest or the lowest. I thought that was really amazingly similar to the experience of a hobby becoming something more because it can either make you excel in your field and give you all this life and happiness [while] it can also be the biggest thorn in your side, the thing pulling you down the most.”
To this point, it is the proper balance of work, play, and rest that keeps an Ace like Sierra in the game.
Turning a hobby into a passion can be difficult, but through self-awareness and a true love of the process, it can be incredibly worthwhile.
I Pick You Shop’s Instagram: @ipickyoushop
Part 1 with Chef & Event Planner Mikey Robins. Click HERE.
Part 2 with Youtuber, Sydney of Syd's Vids. Click HERE.
Part 3 with Shane Gardner, Digital Artist. Click HERE.
Sierra, you are an incredibly genuine human being. It was a pleasure to speak with you and hear about your journey to today. I wish you so much success in your future endeavors, and I look forward to the evolution of I Pick You Shop! You’ve got a fan and a friend in me.