"It gives you hope. I saw my dream come true."
Success Stories: Tammey Faford
A Blossoming Business
Hard work, and a love of flowers, kept Tammey Faford's florist business going—barely. The ALU LIKE matching savings program, "Kahiku," helped it flourish. That's where she learned to do a business plan and invest in her business.
For 16 years, Tammey had worked for another florist before she and her husband Carl began growing and selling their own plants. The work was arduous and yielded little money. "My husband and I would work for two or three days for each farmer's market, but the most we would ever make was $100," Tammey said. Even an invitation to sell her flowers and leis at the local K-Mart did not bring in enough to meet the needs of three children tackling college and the daily expenses. The small jobs kept coming for weddings and other events, but lack of space, refrigeration, and a suitable delivery van stunted the business.
From ALU LIKE—a nonprofit offering AFI-supported matched savings since 1999—she learned that IDAs could be used for expenses to grow her business. And ALU LIKE could help her learn more about running the business. Tammey said, "I had no idea how to write a business plan." Annette Creamer, Kahiku representative on the island of K'aui, helped her analyze costs and potential income, product pricing, equipment needs, and marketing. Annette also helped Tammey think through how to build the capacity to take on larger jobs. Even before completing the IDA program, Tammey was able to secure the space, by setting up a trailer, and the refrigeration, by repairing a cooler discarded by another florist.
Although the family had always been careful with money, especially while Carl was injured and out of work, Tammy still benefited from financial education, an IDA requirement. She learned about budgeting, using income wisely, and avoiding debt. She had no difficulty making her savings goal each month. By the time she enrolled in the IDA program, Carl was working again. They just set aside the money from his paycheck. They also cut back on buying things they didn't need.
By 2001, Tammey's Flowers and Gifts was blossoming. With more room to work and more refrigeration space, she was able to take advantage of membership in the Kaua'i Wedding Professionals Association. Tammey said, "Another wedding coordinator met me and tried me out. She let everyone know how pleased she was with my flowers. Before you know it, word of mouth spread. I now have about 10 wedding coordinators that I work with. I have found my niche."
Lack of an adequate delivery van was still holding Tammey back, however. Using her husband's small truck meant she sometimes had to make more than one trip for a delivery and couldn't leave the arrangements intact during transit, risking damage and lost profits.
In 2003, Tammey put into action the last part of her business plan, using her IDA funds to purchase a delivery van. She said, "Having the van has allowed me to take on more business. Otherwise, I would have to limit the amount of weddings I could do." The van is tall enough so that large arrangements fit inside, and many arrangements can be delivered at once.
Although there were losses in the early years, Tammey reports that by 2004 the business had taken off. She said, "Annette told me that the business might experience losses at first, but it will get on its feet. She told me not to give up, to hold on and stick with it." Now, Tammey has cornered the wedding market in her area: she is the only florist within 20 miles.
With their mother's success before them, Tammey's three children have dreams of owning their own businesses some day and have used IDAs for education or training. She said, "They feel that if mom can do it, they can too."
Looking back on the growth of her business, Tammey said, "Sometimes I would wonder if things would come together. But then you see it happen, and you know it is possible to be successful. It gives you hope. I saw my dream come true."