If God told you to open a flower shop, even if you knew nothing about flowers, would you have the courage to follow through? That is what happened to Brandon Lunsford, who completely changed his family’s life by opening Garden Of Eden Floral and Tea Room in La Porte, Texas.
Back in 2012, Brandon helped his parents run a trucking brokerage company, but the industry was struggling, and large companies that owed his family money were not paying their bills, effectively shutting down the family operation. Brandon instantly started thinking about what to do next. “I’ve always had this entrepreneur in me since I was 8 years old, trying to sell a drawing I did door-to-door, always the top fundraiser in class at school fundraisers, that was always my thing. I always wanted to have my own business,” Brandon says.
Brandon, who was 25 at the time, went to church with his parents one Sunday. The sermon was all about trusting God and being very specific in your prayers. After the sermon, he drove past his parents’ business, and something told him to turn around. “I went to my desk and I laid flat on my face and I prayed to God and said, ‘Okay, God. What do we do now? What is my next step?’ And I heard so clearly to open a flower shop,” Brandon says.
Brandon was stunned, especially considering he knew nothing about flowers. “I knew what a rose was, but if you threw any other flower at me, I would’ve had no clue in the world,” he says.
The next morning, he told his parents about his experience, and they were just as stunned as he was, but Brandon convinced them it was worth trying. “I said, ‘Mom, you taught me my whole life to have faith and trust God, and that’s what I am doing.'”
Brandon spent the next three weeks learning everything he could about opening a flower shop. He used online resources, books, and friends and family that had experience in the industry. He then put every penny he owned and put it into buying flowers that would die in 10 days if they didn’t sell.
Brandon officially opened the shop on February first, just two weeks before Valentine’s Day. “I didn’t know the magnitude of Valentine’s Day in the floral world. I’ll tell you, it was maybe the hardest work I had done in my entire life,” he says. They ended up doing over 100 orders that day, launching them into a new world they had just started learning about. “We were just mind blown,” Brandon says. “I remember laying on the floor at three in the morning just staring at the ceiling thinking, ‘How do I even do this?'”
One thing Brandon quickly realized was that he needed to learn every aspect of the business. “If that one designer doesn’t show up, or something happens, I can’t just close the doors,” he says. Brandon took the time and energy to learn how to do every aspect of the business himself. This helped him understand the industry and have more confidence in running the shop the right way.
One of the keys to Brandon’s success was his ability to evolve. “We always strive for more and never settle. We live by the motto here now, and no matter what obstacle we are faced with, we know we will overcome it,” he says. What started as a small flower shop working out of a tiny former convenience store has turned into much more, thanks to Brandon’s ability to find new ways to grow and keep evolving. “We had to think outside the box,” he says. “We would meet regularly and think, ‘What can we do differently? What can we do that is unique?’ We never really settled and that’s been such a motto here.”
One of the first changes the business made adding doing fruit boutiques. Brandon then started adding additional items to the storefront, including candles, small treats, and sympathy cards. Brandon knew there was still more they could be doing to attract customers, so Garden of Eden Floral started offering coffee and lattes. About his new clients, Brandon says, “They became long-term customers coming in and buying coffee, and now, they always order flowers from us.”
Instead of focusing on getting every dollar out of every customer that comes in, Brandon focuses on offering an experience and building brand loyalty, so when people are ready to buy flowers, customers will think of Garden Of Eden Floral first.
When asked about what keeps him going, Brandon had three things that quickly came to mind: “My staff, my customers, and God. My customers are so valued and we could never be in business without them. My staff is so dependable and they are always there no matter what, and God, because I don’t know what’s next. This won’t be it. I know we won’t stop where we are. Me and my mom will come up with something to even further grow Garden of Eden.”