Here at The Grommet our mission is to put an end to nameless, faceless business and highlight the people and the stories behind the products we launch each day. And it's in that spirit that we're continuing this series to further share the stories of our Makers with you. Get to know them better, learn more about their journeys as Makers and entrepreneurs and learn how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.
In this installment we're catching up with Carmen Taylor Rogge, a Florida-based Maker who has changed the way we think about party decorations (for the better). Carmen is the Creative Director and Founder of The Flair Exchange which makes all products from scratch in their Maitland, FL studio, using locally sourced materials and American-made tissue paper and balloons. We recently caught up with Carmen to learn more about her view on being a Maker and turning her hobby into a fast-growing business.
What's the best creative advice that you ever received?
I've heard a lot of people say 'Just do you' and while that's great advice, sometimes we don't know what 'you' is. In discovering my creative style, I've come to realize that you just have to try a bunch of stuff until you feel really comfortable with one style. You aren't born with a creative style, it's something that takes time, nurturing and practice. If you don't know what 'you' is yet, just keep playing and one day you'll figure it out.
What has surprised you most about starting a business?
Starting a business has been an interesting journey, because it kind of happened by accident. The Flair Exchange was a hobby before it was ever a place for profit. I've definitely had to remind myself that what I'm doing now is in fact a business and I have to be pretty serious about that. I've been most surprised by all of the rules, regulations and bureaucracy that surrounds being a business.
In five words or less, tell us why you love to make.
It's about having a good time.
What words of wisdom or motivational thought do you have for other Makers?
In my experience, the bigger your business gets, the more it seems other business are copying your designs (including manufacturers in China!). So there are two quotes I replay often: Collaboration is the new competition and Either buy your competition or bury them.
What's up next for you and The Flair Exchange?
This year we're launching several products in collaboration with a few really great hand illustrators. These collaborations are incredibly exciting for us because we get to support the community that supports us!