We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Guingona and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
Perhaps it is a cliche, but deciding to believe in myself is the most important decision I have made in my entrepreneurial journey. My natural talents and creative abilities were attributes that I used to take for granted. I downplayed them thinking that everyone could do what I did because it came easy to me. I think when things come natural to us or seem easy, we tend to think that everyone must be able to do them when in reality, our natural talents are what we should share with the world. Believing in yourself is a decision we all must make before investing in our dreams. It’s a conscious decision to move from “I want” to “I am” especially as a creative. “Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it,” Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal while at Smith College. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
When the pandemic hit in 2020 I was let go from my marketing director position for a local plastic surgeon. I qualified for unemployment and decided to take that money and create a business in something I was passionate about, floral preservation. After preserving a few bouquets for my friends I fell in love with the process and medium. Starting a business in floral preservation was difficult but not because I didn’t know marketing or the mechanics of starting a business, but because I lacked confidence in myself. My self doubt was crippling and I had no idea how to overcome it. Entrepreneurship requires resilience, confidence, and thick skin all of which I lacked in the beginning. You know that saying “perfection is the enemy of progress”? That was where my headspace was, at that time. My thought process was that I needed a fancy office space, a huge instagram following, that I needed to look “put together” to start a business. But the truth was that I had everything I needed to start and once I realized that, I was able to start taking action. My confidence came from letting go of perfection, from gaining momentum, and honoring and being grateful for everything I had and everything I was in that moment. Once I got my first commission, that was and is truly one of the best feelings.
In the beginning, I was working at night because during the day I was helping my kids with virtual school. So I was also sacrificing sleep and my mental health. On my grumpiest days, when I slept two hours or less, my husband would ask, “Are you sure this is what you want to do?” I would consider the question seriously and reply “Yes!” I decided to believe in myself and my business. Intuitively, I knew this is what I meant to do and I have received so much confirmation since then that believing in myself and my business was the best decision.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Lily and Loam is my floral preservation business. I specialize in creating keepsakes with flowers from special life events in the form of decorative, wearable, or functional art. The lily represents growth, purity, freedom, progress, and development which are the core values of my business. My intention for creation is pure, meaning it isn’t just for money, the primary intention is to bring joy to people’s lives. By using my creative talents and expressing myself, I am raising my energetic vibration and thus lifting those around me. Loam is a type of soil that is good for growing which is really where my business started, from my own personal growth. I believe my success is due to this core belief that growth comes from the purity of intention. Creativity thrives without pressure so adapting this belief has really allowed my creative juices to flow because I am working from an authentic, truthful place.
Letting go of numbers can be hard. You have to focus on the bottom line and make sure that your expenditures are outweighed by profits. This is tricky when your work is your passion because if you get too hung up on the numbers then it starts to create stress around something you love. The trick is balance, pay attention to your accounting to be smart but do not be greedy. Pay attention to your marketing to make sure you’re reaching people and branding appropriately, but don’t get hung up on vanity metrics. Have a monetary goal in mind but be realistic, you might become a millionaire but is that really your sole why? If so, maybe revisit your priorities in life. Life is about more than money and your business should be too.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Atlanta offers so many cool things to do from outdoorsy to shopping, the sky is the limit. Actually Sky View is where I would start. The huge ferris wheel looks out over the city and offers some really spectacular views. Then, either a nice bike ride 0n the greenway or a hike on Arabia Mountain. I reside in Johns Creek which is a very diverse suburb of ATL and offers an impressive assortment of food. Jerusalem Bakery is an all time favorite, the falafel wrap is on point every time.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shout out to my old boss that fired me during a pandemic while I had no choice but to stay home with my three kids. Without that I may have never been forced to pivot. I would not be where I am today without my husband’s support. He adopted my dream as his own and has assisted me in my growth personally and in my business. Also, my kids, they inspire me to stay honest with myself to be the best role model for them.
Also, may be kind of random, but Jenna Kutcher who hosts the “Goal Digger” podcast without which I am fairly certain I would not be where I am today. The LONG nights of working and skipping sleep would not have been possible without her entertaining and educational interviews. There is nothing more inspiring than listening to insights from successful entrepreneurs while toiling away on your own dream in the wee hours of the morning.
Facebook: Lily and Loam
Other: TikTok – @LilyandLoam
Photographer – Katie Wood Photo Company @katiewoodphotoco