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UCLA student’s creativity blossoms with Instagram-based floral business

Michelle Miranda holds a colorful bouquet in her arms. The second-year political science student said her interest in flower arranging began when she worked with a florist. (Esther Li/Daily Bruin staff)

By Breanna Diaz

June 4, 2022 6:56 p.m.

One student’s part-time job has blossomed into her own business.

Michelle Miranda, a second-year political science student, is the owner of “Garden by Michelle,” an Instagram-based floral shop. She said launched her small business on Instagram in November 2020 and now offers handheld bouquets, boxed flowers, house plants and succulents to clients, who can place orders through the platform. When Miranda landed a part-time job with a florist in high school, she said she unexpectedly picked up an interest in flower arrangements.

“I’ve always liked flowers, but I was never one to buy myself flowers,” Miranda said. “This (job) just opened a brand new hobby of mine that I never would have explored if it (weren’t for) the flower shop.”

At first, Miranda said she helped out around the shop by taking phone orders, but when her manager saw her take interest in creating arrangements, she began teaching Miranda how to do it herself. Putting together flower arrangements became both a therapeutic hobby and a creative outlet for Miranda, she said.

Miranda’s friend Desiree Ortega, a second-year business economics student, said she noticed Miranda’s newfound passion for creating arrangements when the floral shop she worked at posted a photo of a bouquet made by Miranda. Once Miranda decided to launch her own business, Ortega said she and some other friends gave Miranda advice, such as suggestions for her business’ name, before Miranda finally settled on “Garden by Michelle.”

[Related: Bruin expresses artistry through boutique, nail art business]

Once she left her job at the shop, Miranda said she chose to start a florist business of her own to continue making an income. One of her clients was second-year physiological science student Lizbeth Crisanto, who said she had been following “Garden by Michelle” since the page only had a few hundred followers. For Mother’s Day, Crisanto said she ordered a bouquet of pink roses for her mom, asking Miranda to recreate a bouquet she previously posted on her Instagram page.

“She’s very open, and I think that’s what makes her a good businesswoman,” Crisanto said. “She’s also creative – it goes hand in hand with her business.”

All of Miranda’s plants and flowers are sourced from the Los Angeles Flower District, she said, while other supplies such as ribbons she buys online. Because she runs her business from home without a cool place to store flowers, she said she buys the flowers a few days before an order is due to ensure they will not wilt before she can make the arrangement.

Typically, customers ask Miranda to recreate arrangements they found online, she said, or they send her photos as inspiration. However, she said people also give her creative freedom to design the arrangements however she wants. When she does freestyle designs, Miranda said she bases her arrangement on one specific flower, then finds others that pair well with it based on the flower’s color and shape.

[Related: Alumnus-run jewelry company rooted in sustainability puts the planet first]

Although Miranda said making arrangements is usually a soothing process for her, this past Mother’s Day landed on the week of her midterm exams – when she normally avoids taking on clients – and she was left with no choice but to take orders while studying. To make sure she had all her orders in for what is her busiest holiday, Miranda said she bought all the flowers she needed three days in advance and kept them on ice until she could dedicate an entire day to making arrangements.

Despite the challenges that may arise, Miranda said it is rewarding for her to see customers come back and order more bouquets, as it shows her they were happy with what she had previously made for them. While Miranda originally never saw herself making a business for herself from flowers, she said she now hopes to have a physical shop one day.

“I just want this little spot where I can just dedicate my day to flowers,” Miranda said. “That’s definitely one of my dreams.”

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