From age twelve through thirty, Jai was an internationally competitive athlete and champion who performed on the international stage. He’s a world medalist and two-time Pan American Games medalist in Artistic Roller Skating. It was during that time of intense training that Jai built up the foundation of his work ethic. That hard work and meeting people from around the world has made him who he is today. In 2015, he opened Splash Floral and Event Design, eager to serve his community and spread happiness and joy through flowers.
I know from skating, you can be the champion, but you’re only as good as your last performance and you’ve got to get back on the skates and work on your new routine… Jai Crouch
Jai Crouch 0:00
I know from skating, you can be the champion, but you’re only as good as your last performance and you’ve got to get back on the skates and work on your new routine.
Joe Vega 0:09
So the big question is this. How can small business owners like us in the flow industry, overcome the greed of order gathers and bypass the deceitful games played by wire services? How do we market sell and deliver flowers online? So we may break free from these antiquated practices and earn our freedom? Those are some of the questions we will answer on this podcast. I’m Joe Vega. Welcome to flower shop secrets streaming now on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google and more.
What’s up everybody? This is Joe Vega, and welcome to another flower shop secret podcast. And today, we have a wonderful guest. His name is Jay crouch from splash floral and event design in Midland, Ontario. How you doing Jai?
I’m doing great. Joe, good to be here.
Joe Vega 1:00
We’ve learned so much from you thus far in the pre interview. So I’m glad I’m glad you’re on board. Just right off the board, I would like to ask you how much revenue your shop generate last year.
Jai Crouch 1:08
Last year, our shop during COVID. During COVID open for eight months, we generated 140,000. We were closed for four solid months. And we opened back up in August. And it’s been a steady climb we’ve been operating skeleton. So to reach those numbers during COVID is huge. I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful. And Valentine’s Day was was absolutely fabulous. We always can sell more. But we were operating with just three people at the shop. And it was pretty hectic, pretty crazy. But we made it and there was no major major glitches. So we’re happy with those numbers. However, with the event division, we had a half a million on our books before for the for the 2020 year. And we lost almost all of it due to COVID. So
Jai Crouch 1:58
but we’re you know what, our government here in Canada is just been phenomenal. We have rent subsidy, we have wage subsidies we had with a call to Seba loan that was offered to Canadians who want to apply. It’s an interest free loan that you don’t have to start paying it back until January 1 2023. And they’re forgiving $20,000 of that loan. So our government has made it possible for us to flourish because florists were allowed to be open in Canada, but there’s a lot of businesses that haven’t been open and they just started opening up on this past Tuesday. Unfortunately, I feel that it’s going to be a lockdown again, coming very shortly because the spread the COVID is just spreading.
Jai Crouch 2:45
It’s just rampid. And we’re prepared for that as well. So our numbers, although we’d like them back up to where we were before. But we did that well during COVID. So we’re barely happy. We didn’t incur any more debt. We paid off debt, actually. And we’re in a really good position as we begin to celebrate our fifth anniversary. So we have a lot of hope, a lot of optimism and we have so much to look forward to.
Joe Vega 3:12
It sounds like you adapted pretty nicely.
Jai Crouch 3:15
I did, and I don’t I follow my heart, Joe. I’ve done this all my life and in the industry. Even before I got into retail flowers, I follow my heart I just believe in what I what I’m doing. Sometimes I’ve made mistakes. I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I’ve grown stronger from them. But I have adopted I’ve evolved and I’m going to toot myself here for a little second. There is an online platform that brings business people together called alignable. And I believe they’re based out of Boston, and I was voted business Person of the Year for 2021 and how I evolved during the pandemic and it’s voted by our peers. And our in our chapter there’s 86,000 members across USA and Canada. And our chapter for lack of better words. Our chapter here has approximately 400 members and the members voted me as business person of the year I’m gobsmacked. Wow, well, congratulations. Thank you. Thank you. I’ve evolved adapted and also outside of the floral business with the event division. We did some some events in the summertime at the drive in theaters. And that was something that was great. And we donated a portion of the proceeds to the hospital, different hospitals in Ontario, three hospitals we donated to because we traveled to three different drive ins so yes, we’re still adapting and evolving and we have so much more to share. I think your personality has a lot to do with it. Can you tell everyone what you a little bit of your backstory? I have a really interesting life a really interesting journey. I was a competitive roller skater a roller dancer from the age of 12 to 30 and figure roller skating is the same
Jai Crouch 5:00
As ice skating, which is huge in the Northern Hemisphere, whereas roller skating artistic roller skating is huge in the southern hemisphere. This skating for me was where my foundation started, my work ethic started, I didn’t realize that when I was going through it, I shared this a lot with how I got to where I am today. It was the years of skating and the incredible training and the hard work, and the opportunity to travel the world and compete around the world and cultures and meeting people from around the world. It’s just it’s been so beneficial. And I really feel that it is who I am today is because I had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people. I didn’t have a family support system. I didn’t have I went through that all that bad stuff growing up because I’m openly gay. And back in the day, it was not cool. You know, it’s gotten so much better. But I had a father who I was the youngest of five children, and he just wasn’t having it with me, rest in peace. And I did it on my own. I did it on my own. I had my coaches with me, and I’m so grateful for it. And moving forward to where we are today. With the industry, the event industry and the floral industry. I’m I conquered this with my my own money. I conquered it with my own vision, and asked a lot of questions along the way. So post skating, getting out of skating, it was within two to three years that I was starting to do events. And that was 25 years ago, and I took a break from events after winning Best fundraising event of the year for Canada. That was an event in Toronto Bloor Street entertains which is a very high profile event. And I was the artistic director for three years. And in 2004, we won Best fundraising event of the year. And that’s when I started dabbling in flowers. And after I won the award, I did a television show rich by poor brought I did one episode but I just I was I wasn’t interested because I need to take a time out. So I took a timeout in 2006. I moved from Toronto back to where I am now. middlin. I’m not originally from here. I’m originally from Toronto. But I did move here at one point, and then move back and I moved back to Toronto to get my event business off the ground. When I got off the ground and came back to Midland. I didn’t think I was going to stay here that was 2006. And I heard rumblings of a cultural center being built that had an event center in it. And long story short, in 2012. I launched splash events. And then in 2015, I incorporated splash events incorporated and opened up the flower shop at the end of 2015. I had a lot of people asking to open up a flower shop because they loved my event flowers. And I said okay, and I had someone that I was opening up the event shop that has years of experience in the floral industry. Her family had a florist here in Midland. And just before I was about to open it all fell apart and I didn’t have her. So I was hurrying to lease I already had a contract and about to open up a flower shop. Not I was green. I was green, I guess the right word. I’m not sure I was blind to what was going on. And my dear, dear, dear friend who has been working with me on event business, her name is Carol. And she was working at a flower shop just in the town next to us. And Carol was also working with me setting up events and you know, doing the grunt work and cleaning vessels and votives and learning the biz. Well, Carol came to work with me at splash and she’s been with me ever since. And when she came to me I’ll never forget it. It was like a deer in the headlight when I said to her, I don’t want to cry when I say it. But we were in the studio. And an order came in and I handed the order to her and I said here you’re going to do this, Carol. And she’s like, why? I’m going to design and I said yes, you’re going to design because I know you you’ve got it, you can do it. And she said I was never allowed to design me for it. I said well with me, you’re going to design
Jai Crouch 9:03
Joe Carroll has excelled so much in the industry. She is instrumental in the development of splash floral. She has been nominated for awards. She’s nominated right now for another award. She hasn’t had any formal training and she has taught me and my partner will that things that we didn’t know and vice versa we’ve shared and taught Carol the things that she didn’t know about the events side of the business. However, we’re growing even more and and it’s just exploded. So I could go on about the journey. But I think that like the just of it, Joe is is as I hope you and our viewers capture it. It’s believing it’s believing and making it happen and just respect and treat people and and don’t be bitter. Don’t be nasty. get through it. And that’s how I’ve gotten through it because we’ve been a team and we’ve worked together
Jai Crouch 10:00
Now we’re just on borderlining of being the best floral design company and all of our region, we’ve got a ways to go. But we’re getting really close and we hear it, we hear it. And what we hear often is my gosh, you’ve got, you have the most beautiful floral designs, your flowers are less than two to three weeks.
Jai Crouch 10:21
And you’re the kindest people, some of our reviews on lovingly that they’re the kindest people. And that just brings me joy. Because all the hurdles that I’ve gotten over, I’ve always stayed true to myself and been kind and never hurt anybody because I was hurt so much growing up and being bullied. I never want to be like that. And it’s all coming home now. And we’re so grateful. We’re so grateful. And today, we received our 100th order from lovingly. And I said last night to my partner. Well, wouldn’t it be great if we got our 100th order on the day that we’re doing the podcast with Joe. And sure enough, it came in about a half an hour ago, and I said I can’t wait for it to be our 1000 that I can’t wait for 10,000. And I can’t wait for the future and what it holds for us. It’s going to be spectacular. That sounds great. What a coincidence, right? What a coincidence. Exactly. Exactly. Wow, what an amazing, amazing story. You know, it seems like your high intense training has a lot to do with your work ethic. Absolutely. Absolutely. I am a big part of who I am today is because of working with Mary Jane strong for five years, and the sports psychologists and the ballet teachers at the ballroom dance teachers and the network of people that just gave me the attention and the nourishment that I needed. And this is what’s rolled over into the success of my career as being a creator of moments. Because I’m a moment maker. That’s right. I love that I absolutely love that. Proud to be proud to be. And Joe, I want to share something else with you on our last zoom meeting that we had the very first time that we met.
Jai Crouch 12:02
And and you said to me, they’re not your competition. The flower shop down the street is not your competition. that resonated with me. But on Tuesday, I reached out and I did a social post. And it was just thanking the community at large and all the people for the support. And I gave a shout out to all the floors and the floral shops in our region. I said I wanted to let the florists know that we’re stronger together. And we need to work together. And I was very proud of that moment. because nobody’s ever done that nobody’s ever given a shout out to the other floor shops in your town that I know of. Right. And I want to make sure that I am the person that did that. And it stems from you, Joe, from from our first time together is you gave me that that little kick in the ass to work together. And I truly believe that because when I was training, we you work together, we’re stronger together, we’re stronger together to beat down the order gatherers or the grocery store flowers that die in a day like we need to take control of our industry. And I want to be a part of that. And thank you, thank you
oh, no, no, thank you for actually, you know, putting us to that advice. Because we are stronger together.
I’m really hoping that the other flower shops, realize that, wow, we have a good thing going on here. And we can make it even better. And we’re working together. And that goes with all businesses, though. I feel it’s our time. It’s our moment, we’re now recognized and connected with everyone who we need to be. And it’s not just about building our floral industry up. It’s about building our community up and having the best darn downtown vibrant business that we could possibly have. If I’m going to work with our community, I’m going to start by reaching out to the florist and letting them know that we’re all in this together. And we’re not each other’s competitor. We’re each other’s partner.
Joe Vega 13:58
That’s right, you know, florists, full florist started this entire industry, you know, and is definitely your industry. It’s not the wire service industry is not the technology companies industry is definitely not the auto gathers industry. It is the local florists industry.
Jai Crouch 14:18
And I think the thing that would help the most is if florists stick together. A lot of this is stemmed from the pandemic and joining lovingly, to be honest with you, Joe, because I was a couple of times, a couple of times over the past five years. I like I can’t do this. This is like not working for me. These order gatherers are crushing it, and they’re killing me. And then when I was introduced to lovingly things just started changing and it’s not just because of leveling the I know that but it’s a big part and a key instrument a key tool in the floral division of my company that we’re moving forward and it’s endless what’s going on Joe, so I’m a big voice for lovingly and I’m just so proud and all the all the cards are all lining up. And I know from skating, you can be the champion but you’re only as good as your last performance and you’ve got to get back on the skates and work on your new routine. So for us, we’re starting now on our
Jai Crouch 15:00
Mother’s Day designs. We’re getting ready. were preparing. So I’m going on what I’m sharing I’m, I’m, I want you to know my story. And I want our listeners and our viewers to hear my story because I know I’m not the only one. We all have our struggles. And I want to be, I want to be that voice that inspires and encourages our other fellow florists to, to dig deep and we can get through this mean, right, we can get through it.
Joe Vega 15:21
Absolutely. And you know, I love it. I love I can’t get enough, you got it. The more you talk, the better it is. Don’t worry about it. Like I just love hearing these stories. They’re amazing. I do have to ask you though, what part of your work brings you the most joy? Meaning like what gets you out of bed every single morning? What’s the one thing that you like? You get out of bed? And you’re like, let’s do this?
Jai Crouch 15:33
That’s a loaded question. Because it’s it’s there’s so many reasons I love I love making people smile. I think that’s why I get out of bed because I know that what the brand that I have created I’ve developed with with my team.
Jai Crouch 15:59
We’re putting smile on people’s faces I love to entertain right. I’ve been an entertainer all my life and entertaining through a floral design or entertaining through a backdrop or entertaining, you know, it’s it. That’s what gets me out of bed every day to know that. I’m so very grateful. I’m so very grateful. And I wear my heart on my sleeve. And I want to hear people call I want to see those reviews. We got a four star review on lovingly, oh my god, I was devastated.
Jai Crouch 16:28
I was devastated. And we what happened is the order came in and we couldn’t do the order that day. So what I do, I just don’t ignore it. Like, I’m not going to ignore it. I telephoned the customer. And I said I’m sorry, we won’t be able to deliver today. But we will be able to deliver it on Monday. You know if there’s any problem please let us know. We had already delivered to this address it was a sympathy sympathy flowers. And I thought everything was good. And then she wrote down and she hit it the customer headed she’s she’s hid it from everyone to see. But she said all the flowers were beautiful, but I ordered them to be delivered on Friday and they weren’t delivered until Monday.
Jai Crouch 17:10
Like when I called you to let you know that I wasn’t able to do that and and
Jai Crouch 17:16
all respect she doesn’t understand how a small business relies on review. It’s not rely on review. But we reviews are big right reviews are big and and I know that a 4.9 out of five isn’t anything to boohoo about. But at the end of the day I I loved I guess getting out of bed because I want to be better than I was the day before. Right? You’re all you’re only as good as your last floral arrangement and getting out of bed to design and be alive and grateful and flowers and
Jai Crouch 17:47
hope that answers your question.
Joe Vega 17:50
It does. It totally does. Okay. You know, one of the ways I you know you should think about it this way to actually an average review rating. Oh 4.74 point A 4.9 is actually better than a 5.0 rating. The world knows people No, no one’s perfect. If you have a 5.0 rating average rating. It just screams fake reviews or that’s untrustworthy. Because it’s like, Wait, you’re perfect. Like people sort of like raise their eyebrows. So a four point anything between a 4.5 and a 4.9 is where you want to be. Okay. Okay, I wouldn’t worry about it. I would.
Jai Crouch 18:25
It’s all good. It’s it’s years of skating, though. Because when they hold up, you know, the old days 5.0 point 05. point zero is like, Oh, my God.
Jai Crouch 18:38
All the time. So you’ve put it into perspective for me, Joe, that were I’ve heard what you said, Okay.
Jai Crouch 18:45
I could see that, you know, with the with the flashcards Right, right. Yeah.
Joe Vega 18:50
Totally. So how do you keep it all together? I mean, you have a million things going on, you know, like, how do you keep it all together and flowing while operating your business? I get that question a lot. And I have all through my career, how do you keep it together? And I think it’s what I experienced growing up, and the bullying. It was profound. I mean, I was bullied.
Jai Crouch 19:16
I was bullied into my 30s. I still get bullied every now and then. But in my developing years, in my teen years, in my early 20s, I was bullied a lot and I never cried. I never went home and cried to my mother. I was in high school and grade seven. And that’s when the bullying really got bad. And I would I would sneak in at five to nine because I didn’t want to see anybody because they push me into the lockers. So I think that all that bullying is what gave me the strength to be where I am now. So what keeps me going and what keeps driving me is
Jai Crouch 20:00
I never want anyone to feel the way I felt I want to bring joy and happiness every time every day out. That is what I am here on this earth to do. And the recognition in the past couple years, it’s a testament of
Jai Crouch 20:18
I’m doing the right thing. Nobody told me how to do it. I didn’t have a manual. And I was asked a question. Back in nine in the 90s. When I was working out west, I did a big charity event, one of my big first charity events, and I was being interviewed on the national television network. And they said, How are you making this happen? And I didn’t know how to answer I said, I follow my heart. And really, that’s what I did. I was always creating Joe I be I be creating at home. I was I was building homes, I want to be an architect. So I was building little model homes and always creating and that was my safe place. Whenever I was in my creative mode, I was at my safe place because nobody’s around and nobody’s going to smack me upside the head. And I was creating. And that’s what’s stemmed with splash is, it’s been my outlet to create now I make money at it.
Jai Crouch 21:07
Wow. I don’t take that for granted. That is a gift. And I’m cherishing it. And trust me, Joe, I’ve been through the past five years have been I’ve been emotionally, a really rough patch. But I’ve made it through I lost my mom three years ago, February 11. And I posted on social media for the first time ever about losing my mom and what it meant. And my mum was my biggest fan. But she didn’t become my biggest fan until after my dad died. And when my dad died, my mom and I became very close. And I had her for 10 years of my life. And she used to come to Midland all the time. And she came to events and she’s was a great supporter. But after my dad died, I never saw my dad for five years before he died. Because I was like, out of there is like if you’re not going to love me, I’m going on. I don’t need this, right. And my mom said to me too much my dad died. She said, Can I talk to you for a second? I said Yes, mom. She said, I want to apologize. And I said for what she said I wasn’t there for you.
Jai Crouch 22:08
And just her saying that.
The acknowledgement that oh my god, I’m okay. There’s a reason why I didn’t have my mom at World Championships. There’s a reason why I didn’t have any family members. There’s a reason for it. That was a real turning point. I shared that story on social media. And it gives me strength to keep on going every day. Just keep on going. So what gets me motivated. It’s my, my experiences in life, that I’m a creator, I’m a designer, and I bring joy and happiness to people because I don’t want anybody ever to be sad. We I know we get sad. I know we have down days. But I’ve made it through and I’m going to get a little bit more personal right now. But I really want my message to get out there. A year after my mother passed away. I was loading up the vehicles to deliver some flowers and my lovely neighbor, she’s a therapist, and she said, Hey, Jay, how you doing? And I broke down. I broke down. I don’t know where it came from. I have no idea where it came from. I just broke down and Chantel just grabbed me and she said okay, we need to talk. She couldn’t work with me professionally because we had a personal relationship. So she was being a friend. And she said I’m going to get you some help. I’m going to get you what you what you need. And she got me into speak with a psychiatrist. Within a few weeks of Toronto psychiatrists, which is really difficult. It’s a waitlist is incredible. She got me in and I was diagnosed with PTSD.
Jai Crouch 23:38
And it was the bullying. And it started when I was five years of age. And it all makes sense. it all made sense. When I was diagnosed with PTSD, it was like, Oh, well, for Christ’s sakes. That’s what it’s all about. Okay, now I can heal. And But it wasn’t until after my mom died. And then my brother’s my older brother who’s always been supportive of me, but he lives on the other side of the country. And he’s 10 years older than me. We’ve really, we’ve we’ve had the opportunity to share our experiences growing up. And he said that, yeah, we didn’t know what to do with you. Because you were afraid. And that’s what I was called back then. It’s behind me now. And another reason why sharing the gift of flowers being able to hand someone a beautiful floral arrangement with great packaging and then receive a phone call that oh my god, the flowers are beautiful. I’ve never had anything like this before. And oh my gosh, it’s been two weeks the damn things are still alive. Right? And it’s like, what do you do? It’s like, I can’t tell you what we do to our flowers because that’ll be a secret, right? But we I nurture the flowers when they come into the shop. I’m diligent about it because it was it’s just one of the traits that I had to do growing up I didn’t know I was doing at the time but I had to make sure I was going to be okay because
Jai Crouch 25:00
I was alone for the most part of my life. And people are shocked when they hear those like, why you’re a champion. You’re going here, you’re going there. Like, yeah, even the Canadian team like, a couple times, I flew to royal championships overseas by myself. I didn’t even fly with the team because back in the 80s, they were like, embarrassed for me to be around. And I’m the national champion. So I’ve been through so much and never wind I never cried, I didn’t I’ve never whined. I’ve never cried. But the past three years since the diagnosis of PTSD, and I’m not on any medication, I didn’t take any medication I don’t need I tried, I tried it. I was like, I don’t want it. And I’m doing phenomenal. And since I started sharing my story, and I haven’t shared a lot of it, it’s the first time I’ve set it on a camera, okay, but I’ve shared it a few times in small group environments. And I receive a phone call a month later, or a week later, or a text message and just thanking me for the story, because it’s really helped them. And I think another reason why I get out of bed every day, what keeps me going, I have so much to get out of bed for it isn’t just one thing, Joe, I have so much to get out of bed for. And this moment here right now with you and sharing my story. It’s going to reach somebody, it’s going to help somebody, and we can’t be a victim, we have to be a survivor. And how we relate that with small business and being a flower shop owner. We need to communicate. We don’t need to share our deepest personal secrets. That’s not what I’m saying. If you feel like you want to great, but I think that we’re going to be a stronger world, a stronger community, a stronger industry, if we work together and don’t judge each other and get rid of the hatred. There is an ancient in flowers that at the end of the day with hatred. It’s all about sharing the love. And I’m grateful that I get to do that every day. And I’m grateful that I’m alive to share this story with you. And I feel like it’s only just begun. I’m going to be 60 years old in 10 months. Wow, you did not look
Jai Crouch 27:05
59 at all. I don’t feel it. I don’t feel it at all. I feel I have so much more to give right? so much more to give people like 60 they think oh my gosh, it’s time for you to move on. For me. Because I’ve had so much adversity, growing up and suffering and living in silence. I’ve come out on the other end, and I’ve survived it. And it’s only a number. It’s only a number. And I’m just so grateful that I get to share that because there’s a lot of people that ageism has affected them. And I don’t accept that age is only a number. And it’s what you feel inside. And I mean flowers, it can be designing flowers until, you know God says it’s time to go. Right? You can’t right. That’s for sure. What gets me moving every day, I think you’re beginning to understand. I’ve got a lot of reasons to get under bed every morning. Absolutely. I need to ask you this question. So what do you see splash floor design in three years. All over all over our region, we want to expand and we want to be sharing our love through flowers to the whole region, we want to have a few vehicles on the road. We want to be the go to we want to develop a big huge network where people buy flowers from a florist. And
Jai Crouch 28:21
in three years time we need to be prepared for when the pandemic is over. Because we have a lot of weddings and events that are going to be racking up. So where I see us I see us as being the best we can be and expanding our network. Fantastic. Jay, you are so inspirational. I got to tell you. Thank you, Joe. Thank you. Sorry, you. You are Well, listen, we could talk for hours and you know what, we should definitely do this again. Like we need a part to that. Okay.
Jai Crouch 28:55
Well, thank you so much for joining me Jay crouch from splash floral and event design in Midland, Ontario. Jay, where can people find you online, splash florals.com. And also splash events.ca or on Facebook, splash floral and event design on Instagram. And stay tuned because we have more platforms about to be released in the coming months as we grow and celebrate our fifth anniversary. Thank you so much for joining us and we look forward this is not the last week. Great definitely doing this again. Awesome. Awesome. Have a great day. Have a great day. Have a fabulous weekend and I’m enjoying getting to know the loving lead team. It’s been great. Really good so much. Have a great day. Take care. Bye bye. We want to help your business bloom. Follow for more episodes of flower shop secrets streaming now on Spotify, Apple podcast, Google and more.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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