In this episode, we had the pleasure of talking to Mandi Johnson, the incredible florist of Butterfly Petals based out of Tempe, AZ. Mandi has such great insights on life and we loved having the opportunity to see how she runs her successful business. She talks about living life in her weirdness and beautiful quirks while struggling with anxiety. We are so excited to share her relatable perspective!
We will be doing show notes a little differently today because Mandi actually wrote her own! It perfectly pairs with this podcast and allows each of us to pick her brain and understand what she is all about. We hope you enjoy all of her quirks and the things that set her apart like we do! Welcome, Mandi!
STARTING A CREATIVE HEART
Growing up, my grandma owned a craft shop in Globe–very similar to Michael’s. With it, she inherited a silk wedding flower and rentals business. I started “helping” as a kid. After graduating high school, I needed a part-time job and found a flower shop that was hiring and used my “experience” to land the job. I taught myself a lot and had a great manager who saw how I was itching to do something creative and so he started giving me all the work he hated–boutonnieres for prom, corsages and then that eventually transitioned into wedding bouquets.
Because I’m self-taught, I didn’t have the structure or design basics to guide me or maybe even restrict me so I just kind of roll with stuff. I am naturally attracted to textural floral with strange lines, I love high color contrast and unexpected combinations, so when left to my own devices, I do weird things. I’m very inspired by this great state of ours. I love to road trip and stare out the windows and daydream about covering dead desert stuff like burned trees, dead cactus, weird rocks with floral design. I try to bring those desert plants into my work whenever possible.
Probably the weirdest quirk of mine (and I have many). I grew up in Arizona and the men in my family hunt. I know it’s not everyone’s thing and I don’t debate people on it, but my grandpa had taxidermy and his wife wasn’t a big fan but they all lived in a single bedroom. As a kid, this is where I slept when I spent the night. To some kids, a room full of dead deer, bears, mountain lions, birds all starting at you might be a bit creepy, but not to me. I got to hang out with wild animals. I found them fascinating. I also loved natural history museums and as I got older I realized what I attracted me most was the dioramas. The detail is insane. It kind of ties into my artsy side. Talented taxidermists aren’t just trying to stuff a deer, they’re trying to recreate that specific deer with musculature and expression. Then the rest of the diorama–the way the light is positioned, the natural habitat.
I have this whole passion for the history of taxidermy. In its early heyday, they used to make wax casting of leaves in the place where they collected the animal so they could painstakingly recreate those plants. Hand carving all those details, fascinating to me.
I have learned though that you can’t necessarily gift taxidermy to people and expect them to love it.
NETWORKING AS AN INTROVERT
Recently I decided that I’m weird. I mean, I’ve always known I’m weird but it didn’t matter as much in the early days. I’m good with couples and I’m good one on one, but then the business grew and I had to put my weird self in front of a lot of people. It always feels like the first day of middle school, even 12 years into this. I don’t look like a lot of the people in this industry, I dress like a 70s throwback and I have a thyroid condition that makes my naturally large eyes super prominent so I feel like I just overall am a giant weirdo. Not to mention, I always feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I feel like everyone’s business is more put together than mine, they have social media game, their network game is on point, I feel like they’ve conquered the world and I’m just sort of wading and trying to keep my head above water. I am a single mom who has to put the most random reminders into her phone so I can keep track of buying dog food and various kid activities. I juggle the drama of a divorce and new relationship and family commitments and the business–I feel overwhelmed and frazzled and not at all polished and accomplished.
So putting myself out there and hoping everyone accepts that weirdness is very hard. I used to fight it–tried to be someone I wasn’t, and it just made me even more uncomfortable. So now I go to these things wearing my weird hippy finery and floppy hats. Floppy hats are my savior. I feel they hide my prominent facial features and they also block my peripheral vision. I’m like a horse with blinders on. I’m not seeing a room full of tons of beautiful people who always seem to have everything so much more put together than I do. I can only see a handful of people in front of my face.
I still bail networking events a lot which causes more anxiety because I feel like people must think I’m being rude or a bitch or just that I hate everyone there. Not true. If I could find a way to penetrate that inner circle and just be one of those ladies networking confidently in the Phoenix industry I would. I just can’t get my head out of my head enough to do so.
As far as finding a tribe goes–I just have to put my work out there and hope it’s appreciated, I’m never going to have the guts to ask anyone to lunch or for drinks and don’t expect to be invited given my desire to run and hide or find a corner at any of these things–and that’s ok. I just have to show up and show the universe and anyone else that I care about what I do enough to work hard to make connections.
I am obsessed with podcasts. When I want to feel like I’m indulging in self-care I listen to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. But 90% of the time I listen to The Nerdist Podcast with Chris Hardwick. I love him. We’re very similar–our anxieties manifest in the same way and he is just the nicest guy who wants to make people happy and feel listened to. I want that for my clients.
When I’m not feeling particularly self-indulgent I listen to any of the gazillion podcasts by Kevin Smith. I really like his SModcast because he gets into the more story side of things but I always like edumacation (yes that’s spelled awfully on purpose) because the man just gets stoned and goofs off while his straight man presents scientific facts. I learn something and I laugh. What could be better? Plus, I love Kevin Smith and I see him live whenever possible and made my boyfriend drive me past his comic book shop when we went to New Jersey.
HAPPINESS OVER ANXIETY
As I mentioned before–I feel like my life is a mess. It’s not really at the most fundamental level, it’s great. My kids are awesome and fairly well adjusted given their big life changes. I recently moved in with my boyfriend, kids, dogs, and all. The relationship is amazing, he’s amazing. He knows my foibles and even though he is a very rational, straight-laced guy, he puts up with my hippy dippy, flighty artist ways. I do have stress and worry and as mentioned, that constant ugly anxiety voice in my head telling me the world is going to come crashing down on me at any second.
I really try to just indulge in the “little things” that make me happy. Antiquing. Anything Deadpool related. Dog rescue. I am obsessed with worship, all things Stevie Nicks, burning some candles, and being a little hippy dippy. I listen to vinyl. I started meditating which is very helpful but anxiety is a very busy thing and keeps my brain busy.
I think a lot of us are able to relate to her inner self-doubt. But on the outside, we can see the beauty this human put into this world and are lucky to work with her and connect with her!