Name: Gil Cartwright
Position: "Owner, manager, floor washer, window washer, deliverer, designer, bookkeeper, buyer, salesperson, loan officer, you name it."
Location: Flowers by Gil and Curt
First job: Sweeping the floors and making bows in a retail flower shop.
Best part of the job: "You don't ever do the same thing twice, because everybody wants something different, or they've got their own idea of some crazy stuff ... marry on the dock of the bay or in a plane or a Greyhound bus; everybody's got their own thing. I always love a challenge. Crazy wedding, crazy funeral, crazy party. I've done everything from a rehearsal dinner at a service station to a wedding on a yacht."
Worst part of the job: "Collecting money. After the flowers are dead, then they sort of forget you." He said customers who demand service immediately but languish at paying the bill can be frustrating. "If we do a wedding or big function, we get payment up front." Beware, he warns, of customers who say "Do whatever you want to do. Money's no object." It is, he's found. "Don't do that. I've got to know what you're thinking."
Best advice: "Do not own your own business. Between the local government and the IRS, if you've made 50 cents, they want a dollar and a half of it. It's about the time you think, 'OK, now I can do something ... they've either come up with another tax or they've raised or doubled it - whatever. They say everybody needs their own business. Oh no. You're out of your mind."
How to make a career of it: Floral design programs do exist, but Cartwright thinks learning on the job is the best way to go. "The first thing you need to do is work in a shop at least a year, to go through every holiday." Having an interest in flowers and learning design technique is vital. Then find a style. "Everybody's got their own niche."