Your future is never a clear path ahead. Often two roads converge, and you have to make a choice between them. Other times, you fall into a career that turns out to be more rewarding than you could have ever imagined.
Take Emily Dawson, for example, a businesswoman who studied psychology and criminal justice but is now the owner of All Grand Events in East Lansing, providing floral decorative services for weddings and corporate events.
“My journey is very unusual,” said Dawson.
After working as a probation officer for five years, she decided it wasn’t for her. A family friend recommended she talk to Rosemary Hospodar, the previous owner of All Grand Events, about a job.
Dawson thought to herself, “I just need to make some money, anything’ll do.”
After a year, Dawson explained that she “kind of took over a bit. Not in a necessarily dominant way, but in a ‘she [Rosemary] was kind of happy to hand the reins over’ way.” Dawson had fallen in love with the creative world and by January of the next year she was the new owner, diving head-first into an industry in which she didn’t have much experience.
Being a small-business owner in mid-Michigan has challenged Dawson. “When I first took over the business, I was 28. My youngness, I felt like that impacted how seriously someone took me.”
Over time, though, she’s made a name for herself in the industry through reputation and trust. She pointed out the difference between working a typical nine-to-five and being a small-business owner, saying, “if you aren’t constantly hustling, you don’t get paid.”
In terms of what Dawson’s day-to-day looks like, about half of the work comes from weddings and the rest from corporate events. Essentially a client comes in with some sort of inspiration – it could be a paint color or picture – and her team works to turn it into an event design. Dawson recalled one client who came in “with a throw-away napkin that had a really pretty print on it from Party City. We designed an entire event from the print that was on this napkin.”
If she could give prospective business owners one piece of advice, she’d tell them, “Don’t spread yourself too thin or try to be a jack-of-all-trades. Find one thing you’re really good at and go 100 percent in that direction.”