Laura Campanelli: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Laura Campanelli, who left a safe banking job to pursue her passion of creating art with flowers. The result of her drive and talent is Montreal-based Atelier Flora, one of Canada’s leading florists for all occasions…


Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I spend my days finding ways to create art with flowers, to set new trendsl and re-invent the wheel when it comes to standard floral design.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I was working for almost a decade for a major Canadian bank. The leap of faith from banking to doing flowers full-time came when, after a few months of managing both jobs, I noticed that I was not able to give 100% to both and ultimately needed to make a choice. While banking had been my home, a safe haven with job security, the idea of working for myself and setting my own goals, developing my own business strategies, and managing my own brand, were inspiration to take the plunge.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of my day is seeing my clients’ vision come to life when they see their arrangements, as well as when I receive my orders from all over the world and get to arrange flowers of unique varieties, shapes and colours.

While I am still new in this business and industry, I can imagine that the most challenging part of my job will always be working with and against mother nature. Flowers and foliage are living, needing tender care and attention – not always easy with the unpredictability of our Canadian seasons!

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
When tasks, appointments, attention to relationships all seem like they are managed, but not managed WELL – this to me is a telling sign that something has to give in order to regain that balance. Sometimes we try to manage so many things and relationships at once that the quality of that management is forfeited with a mere checkmark off our list that it’s been taken care of. Letting go slightly of one thing may seem like we’re allowing other things to fail, but really we are just trying to readjust that balance we need.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Having my own space where I can meet clients, create and manage an environment that is dedicated to producing my designs, concepts and ideas.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
My most crippling fear of leaving the only environment and workforce I had ever know was the first of many challenges, but one that also opened many doors going forward every day. I overcame this fear by listening to those that chose to support me, and tuning out anything else that would allow cast any shadow of a doubt on my capacity to make this work.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success is measured by how happy you are day in and day out by the work that you do and how proud you are of yourself and your choices. Do you wake up motivated by your projects? By your meetings? If so, keep going. If not, make a choice. I am not happy all day every day, but I am happy every day learning, meeting new people, and developing a brand for my company. I know for sure that money doesn’t equate happiness because behind every successful business is a lot unsuccessful years. It takes time to build a profitable business, but I am already very happy.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
My first booking that came from a complete stranger.

Atelier Flora would not have been given its wings if it wasn’t for the family and friends that support me. From holidays, to weddings and dinner parties, my florals have flooded the homes and parties of those I love since day one. But there was something about that first client I booked all on my own, by investing in marketing, taking the right photos and dedicating time to promoting my company through social media. This client liked my work; simple as that.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
It’s OK to be doing a job or working in an environment that may not have been your childhood dream. It’s alright to be a writer when you studied to be an engineer and definitely not a waste of time to work anywhere that challenges your mind and guides in the direction that you prefer to be. Every experience is for a reason, will mould you, and strengthen your professionalism and grow your network.

My advice is to just get there. Wherever you want to go.  Whatever you want to be. If there is something you would rather be doing, then do it. Life is too short to spend most of it doing something that doesn’t get you excited at the sound of your alarm clock.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
A shoutout to Stefano Faita and Michele Forgione for allowing me to feel like I am eating in Italy when I dine with my husband at Impasto; from a carefully selected wine list that all bottles pair beautifully with their more traditional dishes, to those specials that keep me always coming back excited to see what will be for dinner next time. If you haven’t tried it, reservations are a must.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
As an entrepreneur, it seems as though the business never closes or has a weekend (specifically in this industry). “Me” time can sneak in in between meetings and appointments. Lunch has become a rarity and dinner plans tend to fall through the cracks. But when there is “me” time, I can think of no better way than indulging in some good wine in the company of those I love. Especially Mia, my four-year-old pitbull mix we rescued from the Montreal SPCA.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I’ve travelled to beautiful cities in the US, with lots of culture, history and, let’s be honest, great dining and shopping. The same for Europe, from the beaches in Spain, to waving to the Queen from outside Buckingham palace. I love to travel. But my favourite trip of all was slightly cliché only in that it was my honeymoon. We started our journey through Paris as our hub from Montreal, then three flights later we arrived in Tanzania for a five-day game driving Safari through the Serengeti. The emotion and wonder you feel seeing these fascinating animals in their natural environment was beyond something I could ever describe here. I recommend this trip to anyone young or old, to experience nature in its truest form.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
I like music way too much to stick to one song. Does anyone really answer this question?

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I would probably be still be doing what I was doing before until I found the courage I needed to make the change.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I did previously through committees formed with my previous employer. I am currently working on a project in conjunction with a school’s extra curricular program hoping to bring flowers to long-term care facilities where patients can enjoy the gesture.

What to you is notable?
Something that stands out from the rest. And that’s what I hope to be.

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