Last May, Michael Skaff, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, was closing on a piece of property so he paid a visit to his attorney.
The attorney’s office was in a building with about 30 other business tenants. When Skaff arrived, he immediately noticed the atrium.
“It looked pathetic,” he said.
Before leaving, Skaff asked his attorney for the building manager’s name. “I knew I could make it look so much better and I had to tell him,” he said.
In short order, that observation turned into a new business venture.
Prior to moving to Savannah, Georgia a few years ago, Skaff ran a flower shop and an interior plant company in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts then a wedding and events company in Hinsdale, Illinois. In recent years, he’s concentrated on freelancing.
After getting the green light on his attorney’s office building atrium, Skaff hit the ground running with his new business, Savannah Interior Plant Designs.
Skaff feels pretty confident with his latest adventure.
“For starters, there’s a genuine interest in this service,” he said. “Plant installations are popular because people love bringing the outdoors in. Green spaces make businesses’ clients—and employees—feel good. They create a warm, inviting environment.”
Additionally, Skaff has substantial design experience, a horticulture degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and several grower contacts in Florida, California, and Canada.
“And, my spouse, Paul has a financial background, which is very helpful,” he added.
Unlike his earlier experiences starting a business, Skaff has found advancements in technology to be hugely beneficial. “It’s so much easier—and cheaper—to connect with people these days,” he said.
“Years ago, you absolutely needed a marketing company’s assistance to get off the ground. Now you can design and order business cards, t-shirts, and other branded materials online yourself for a fraction of the price,” he explained. “And social media has been a godsend for getting a jumpstart.”
Facebook ads, for instance, allow him to really target specific demographics.
That said, Skaff has done a lot of face-to-face advertising, as well.
“I set aside one day a week to go around town, dropping off brochures and business cards and introducing myself,” he said. “You can’t be shy when you’re starting a business. Plus I figure I am my best advertisement.”
While temperatures in Savannah still hover in the 90s, Skaff has already lined up quite a bit of work for December.
“Most people, when they book us to decorate their business, decide they also want us to do something for the holidays too—whether that’s refreshing their space with seasonal décor or providing floral designs for a party. They also want to do corporate gifting.”
Skaff said is shocked how quickly life has changed since that visit to his attorney. (“We got a puppy the same month,” he said with a laugh.) But he’s excited for the new opportunities.
“I’m not sure people realize how diverse the floral industry is,” he said. “There are so many paths you can take.”