Inspired Woman Magazine

Marilee Toman & Jane Grabs, Dutch Mill Florist Est. 1995

Jane & Marilee
Was this business your vision/passion, or did you kind of ‘fall’ into it?
Both Jane and Marilee love flowers and are very passionate about them. Jane loves both the creative and social aspect of it. She gets to know her customers personally – their flower preferences, color choices and design styles. Marilee grew up in the garden – her mother and both of her grandmothers were avid gardeners. Jane and Marilee can’t imagine doing anything else, it is just second nature to them.

How did you finance your business?
On a shoe string. They took out a small loan and worked hard to build upon that.

How many employees do you have?
They have six employees right now, but that swells considerably during major floral holidays such as Valentines Day and Mothers Day. We need to call in extra help – delivery drivers, in-store and phone salespeople during those times. Several people come back year after year to help at holiday times, as they enjoy the fun and fast pace as well as the flowers. The delivery drivers love to see the smiles on people’s faces when they receive flowers. It truly makes their day.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Jane: Being away from my family and the long hours we put in.
Marilee: Being a good boss. We have such great employees, I want to treat them with the same respect they give me. We are so lucky to have such a great crew!

When did you realize you had finally ‘made it’?
Marilee: Mmmmmm, made it? Things constantly change, nothing stays the same. We are just thankful for everything.

What is your vision for the future of your business?

Marilee: Continuing to grow the flower shop and serve our community.
Jane: Continuing to make people smile, though good times, bad, happy or sad.

What makes your business different/unique selling proposition?
Since we are a smaller flower shop, we tend to know our clients and customers personally. We have helped several girls with their prom flowers, then wedding flowers and then new baby flowers. We have shared life events with families – weddings, anniversaries and funerals – and share in the joys and sorrows with our whole hearts.
Marilee: It can be an emotional roller coaster somedays. I can book a wedding in the morning and be laughing with the bride, then help a family with the sorrow of a funeral in the afternoon. Regardless, I know I am helping someone with an important event in their life.


What is the most fun you have at work? What do you most enjoy….

Jane: I enjoy the satisfaction from helping customers, I am a people pleaser! I also enjoy being able to be creative on a daily basis. I love coming into the flower shop on a cold, winter day – it’s like a tropical paradise, so colorful and fresh.
Marilee: Even if I am feeling blue, I walk in the shop and it enlivens me. I breathe deep…I call it “Flower Therapy”. Plus, I get excited about the beauty of the flowers and plants. Even though I see them everyday, I am still in awe. When you see a tulip bulb pop up from the ground and then turn into a beautiful flower, you just know there is power much great than we are, and you believe.

What do you wish you had known before you opened the doors?

Jane: The hidden expenses and all of the paperwork involved.
Marilee: I am constantly learning and relearning everyday.

What is your proudest moment as a business owner?
Jane: Being able to purchase a building. We had expanded three times at our old locations and when the opportunity came up to buy our new store, it was just the right thing to do. I am also proud when I can add a new employee to the payroll, helping them as well.
Marilee: Knowing my life does have a purpose – helping people. Flowers can soften the hurt of a funeral, brighten the day of someone who is sad or enliven a celebration such as a wedding or birthday. I’m glad to be there for people when they need special flowers Also, I’m pretty proud that we are a woman-owned business. We can do it!!

What advice can you give to someone who wants to start a business?

Jane: Be prepared for long hours, hard work and lots of dedication. Always give back and support the community that supports you.
Marilee: Go the extra mile and truly care about what you do.

The Dutch Mill Florist is located at 1731 North 13th Street, Bismarck. Visit their facebook page for beautiful floral photos!
dutchmillflorist.com


Inspired Woman Magazine

1 comment

  • Wow!! Great article!! And so deserving of these two beautiful women. It’s the truth…I was just thinking the other day what a wonderful service they do for all of us. They do know their customers and they’ve personally been there for me for every single event in my life. What they deliver is so much more than beautiful flowers; every delivery is filled with the love, kindness and compassion.

    Wishing you both continued success in your business!!

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