Erica Jourdain had a big smile as she slid polyester rose after polyester rose into the holes of a 4-foot pegboard in her Tampa studio.
It took more than 11 hours to complete the design.
Jourdain is the founder and owner of Flower Me Tampa, which she started in November 2020 with her neighbor and senior executive creator Ecined Ramos. The two work as partners in daily operations and projects. Flower Me Tampa is technically an event-planning company, but that doesn’t capture the whole picture.
“I’m not quite sure what to even call me,” Jourdain said.
Clients can order flower arrangements, centerpieces, table setups and other items. The flowers are made of silk and polyester, something that Jourdain does to run an environmentally friendly company. The arrangements are for rent, and after the event, Jourdain and Ramos will come pick them up so they can reuse all the supplies for their next project.
They’ve planned four weddings and made several dozen flower arrangements, each with a promise of doing something special to make that event unique. They brought a live turtle to a graduation party they planned for Tampa Prep, which has a terrapin as the school mascot.
For the Tampa Bay Lightning championship parade, Jourdain handcrafted a Lightning logo out of navy and white roses and moved locations throughout the day to market her company.
Jourdain, 50, lives in Valrico with her husband, Marc, 51, and her sons, Marc Jose, 17, and Matthew, 15. The event company is a side project. She works full time for a financial tech company.
Prior to the pandemic, Jourdain traveled for work, and didn’t find herself with the amount of free time that she had after COVID-19 struck. She always had a knack for event planning, though it took some nudging from her husband and a moment of realization after planning a wedding to make her realize she could launch a business.
After her sister-in-law Jessica Cunningham’s wedding was canceled due to the pandemic, Jourdain sprung into action and put together a 63-person celebration at her own house in June 2020. She had light fixtures swapped out for chandeliers and placed giant wooden J and T letters behind her backyard pool, for Jessica and Tyrone.
“She’s definitely one of a kind and I’m thankful to have her in my life,” Cunningham said. The happy couple told Jourdain she should make a business out of this.
“It’s a euphoric feeling when you make someone happy,” Jourdain said.
That was the final kick into launching her business.
Jourdain is keen on growing her company. Her house has been transformed into a Flower Me Tampa operating center, with half of her home office devoted to her finance job and the other half to Flower Me Tampa. The garage that the Jourdains used as a game room is now her studio.
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Making one of the flower arrangements takes Jourdain and Ramos roughly 12 hours, though Jourdain will tinker with it up until the last minute. Every centimeter has to be perfect.
She places the flowers with surgical precision, squishing some together and spreading others out to best fit her design.
Jourdain looks at the first corner of the Northwestern Mutual logo she is working on. Her mental vision is coming to life.
“As silly as this sounds, this is when I’m at my happiest,” Jourdain said.
Jourdain is content with working two jobs for now, but if Flower Me Tampa picks up enough traction, she will pursue it full time. Twenty flower clients or 12 to 15 events a month would be enough, she estimates.
Flower Me Tampa is a member of Black and Brown Founders, an organization started in 2017 to aid Black and Latinx business founders in hopes of closing the gap between Black and Latinx households and the rest of the population in the United States.
Jourdain has learned many lessons running this business, and she knows there are more to come. The flower arrangement process is constantly being tweaked and she’s learning how to navigate the social media aspect of being a business owner in 2021. Her next step is to launch a TikTok account.
The pinnacle of success in Tampa Bay for Jourdain would be two things: doing an event for the Buccaneers and a flower arrangement for Miguel Fuller of 101.5′s Miguel and Holly, who is getting married.
She remembers the enjoyment her clients get when they see her finished products, like the time she made the number three out of pink roses for a little girl’s birthday. Jourdain’s face lit up when she spoke of how happy the 3-year-old was.
“That’s what drives me to continue to do this,” she said.