We had the good fortune of connecting with Keith Kralik & Rachel Parri and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Keith Kralik & Rachel Parri, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I chose this question because it comes up a lot between Rachel and I (Keith).

Work-life balance will always be difficult to manage especially at the start of a new business. Work basically came first for us and not much else. Your mind focuses in on so much at once that it’s pretty hard to find any sort of balance.

If you are starting a business, you are doing it for multiple reasons. So in order to fulfill those reasons you made to start the business, you ultimately better be able to handle some sacrifices of losing some balance. We teeter tottered on this fine line quite a bit.

Keith started the business as a hobby while working full time in 2021/2022. Rachel joined full time into the business early on in 2022. We honestly didn’t know what to expect when we started. We didn’t forecast sales, we did little marketing, and we were basically there to test the waters. We approached it cautiously.

Until May 2022, our work-life balance was totally OK. But there was a shift and we noticed it pretty quickly. Part of it was due to timing of the business and Instagram.

We started the business to focus on preserving bridal bouquets (timing was perfect as many COVID weddings happened in 2022) and Instagram helped bring our photos and videos to a much larger audience that eventually shifted our business model in hopes of creating a sustainable model.

June 28, 2022 – Balance went out the window. Keith and Rachel were both full time now with the business with little time to breathe. Our focus was not to screw up too much. We made LOTS of mistakes and that’s completely normal as is the feeling of quitting when you can’t catch a breathe. We worked for 8 months straight, every weekday, weekend, and holiday and days were very long. We were trying to stay ahead but it was a losing battle with orders coming in daily.

Everything we do is custom and we did not realize how much time each order would take (we did try to predict this but were very much wrong in our calculations). We did not have efficient processes at all. We worked steadily until October 2022 and then we started feeling a bit mentally lopsided. We still had the bulk of work to get into which consisted of designing the orders and framing. We ended the year in late February 2023 with about 200 customers, 250 original flower preservation pieces, and lots to reflect upon.

We knew our model was unsustainable so we decided to pivot as quickly as we could. Scrap the website and minimize it. Start promotion of the new model that focuses on content, prints, education, partnerships, and anything else that sounds fun to us. The new model offers a sustainable work-life balance outcome with almost full creative approach to the business and less restrictions. We shall see at the end of 2023 if we were correct in this new model.

Work-life balance – Things that don’t get talked about in the whole work-life balance question.

1) Working with your life partner every second of every day can be taxing for some. It was also true for us. I would say for the most part we rock as a team. There are moments of frustration, condescending communication, poor judgement, tears, anger, depression, and absolute exhaustion.

But also many moments of contentment and happiness. This did outweigh the negatives but the negatives can be physically and emotionally taxing. The first year I would say our work-emotional feeling balance was 50/50. Hence another reason we pivoted quickly. Emotional feelings need to be higher and healthier.

2) We balanced our workload with activities that were mindless. When you are absolutely exhausted and barely have time to eat, the evenings were spent with Netflix. We watched an overwhelming amount of whatever that was on as it was our way to cope with the exhaustion. This is not ideal for our lives and we did some serious reflecting the last two months on how we spend our time. We did maintain some sort of physical exercise routine through it all as we knew if this ceased to exist, we would crumble. We would probably go crazy and quit the business in all honestly. So thank you running trails and peloton. That helped us through it.

So I would say physically we did well to maintain that balance. You need something to latch onto to keep your sanity. Exercise was ours.

Work-life balance – The answer to this question should be different from year 1-2 and then years 3-5. And hopefully once you experience the 100% work and 0% model, you start to look for other ways to manage your business as that model stated above will not last long. Everyone has different pain thresholds (mentally, physically, spiritually, etc). We are all different but I don’t know a single person that enjoys to work everyday for every year of their life while missing friends and family activities. Just be sure to keep an open mind and your ears and eyes open to new opportunities for your existing business. You never know which opportunity will give you a better balance of work and life.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
We take a lot of time in pressing flowers. It’s not just about putting flowers into a book and weighing it down. There are hours of prep work with the flowers before they enter our presses. Thinning layers out, stem work, pollen cleanup, and simply knowing when the flower is ready to go into the press or if it should be left out to open up more. You really become familiar with flowers. After the flowers are in the press, we check on them and make adjustments with them for the next 5+ days.

We started the business by using flowers Rachel grew in our backyard. We didn’t have intentions to make it into a full fledge business. It all happened very organically. We just kept moving where the signs were pointing us to.

Nothing is easy about a small business. Absolutely nothing. We find it’s important to know the ins and outs of each aspect of your business (enough to talk somewhat intelligently to an outside vendor or third party in preparation to outsource some work). It’s hard to outsource anything of your business until you know what you should or shouldn’t be doing and to get to that step, you need to run the gambit.

To get through the absolute low lows, figure out who stands with you and is excited for you. They will help you mentally. Anyone else is a distraction. Don’t get caught up in the negativity that shows up in your business (reviews, industry gossip, disgruntled clients, vendor rejections, etc.). Just keep moving forward.

We are very excited to keep moving forward with our 2023 and 2024 projects. Less bridal bouquet commissions means more original pieces and collaborations with small flower farms. These pieces will be made into prints, perhaps wall paper, and puzzles. We want to continue to work on a national (perhaps international) level with flower farms. We want to disclose everything we have learned to anyone looking to learn proper techniques of flower pressing. We are releasing a flower pressing course in Summer 2023 along with a gluing course and framing course. High resolution prints and educational courses are 2023 main projects. 2024 will have two new main projects.

This message goes to anyone wanting to make a change in their life. Keith has had 20+ jobs and has tried to start 5 businesses in his life. He is almost 39. Rachel is in her early 40’s. It’s always OK to start something new.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We are probably the worst people to ask this question too. We both have spent a lot of time in the service industry but oddly enough, never go out to eat. We grab burgers from Park Burger from time to time. We usually make all of our meals from things we have grown in our garden.

Favorite restaurant though would probably be The Plimoth.

Favorite drink – Any of the whisky distillers.

Visit the mountains. Go hiking. See the Fall colors in Aspen-Snowmass areas.

We are homebodies. We have plan to move to Paonia to be around less people and create a small flower farm.

Honestly, this question is the hardest question for us for us to answer.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to all of these.

Botanic Press is New Zealand. Emma is the founder and she started preserving bouquets before us. She helped answer some questions we had when we were embarking in this. She’s wonderful.

Picture Woods out of Boulder, CO. Without them as our frame vendor, we would have been lost. They all are the kindest, patient, helpful business we have worked with. They also produce frames that are sustainable which was very important factor for us. Their frames exceed quality and strength than any other frame vendor we looked at. By far the best.

Florists that referred our name to their brides and trusted our quality and communication enough to do so. Without their initial trust, who knows what we would be. They were crucial to our first year in business.

A Flore (Rachel)

Eleven Blooms (Allison)

Plume and Furrow (Kim and Grant)

Perfect Petal (Sandy)

Artemis Flower Farm (Helen)

Craftsman and Apprentice (first workshop we held and was for the kiddos). So much fun.

Arts Students League of Denver (second workshop but for adults and was a big success with the help of their marketing).

Strange Dirt (Marsha). She’s an artist and we looked up to her. She is so kind and she also referred us to Van Gogh Again.

Van Gogh Again. Our partner in taking our originals and scanning them to get an unbelievably high res print that looks life like.

Bricks Retail in Longmont- helped us figure out a work around with a vendor resource.

Yarrow and Spruce (Sheilan)

Website: Www.flowerpressstudio.com

Instagram: @flowerpressstudio_

Facebook: Flower Press Studio

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClrbLlfGzsiXHHKeJThEeGA

Image Credits
Rachel Parri

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