This story was originally published on tmccommunitycapital.org.
Inspired by her grandfather’s love of gardening, Ariana Marbley decided to open her florist shop, Esscents of Flowers, in Oakland, California in 2016. As an East Oakland native, she is proud to own a business in a community that is rich in culture and political awareness.
Ariana Marbley’s florist shop relied on in-person events, including weddings, to stay in business. When the pandemic hit, people canceled gatherings en-masse. Ariana didn’t have a choice but to look for resources that could help her pivot her business and provide her with some financial relief.
She learned about TMC Community Capital’s Small Business Big Heart Grant Program through Uptima Boot Camp. The organization helped her with the application process. The grant program’s lottery selected her business and she received a $2,000 grant. She was able to receive her grant within 3 business days and began putting the funds to use. People use her flower arrangements to help celebrate life’s joyous moments, big and small. This grant helped Ariana continue to provide flowers for life’s events, even if their events look different right now.
Facing the crisis head on
Ariana used the grant funds she received to expand the business’s home delivery service in response to COVID. This allowed her to purchase inventory for these deliveries.
Esscents of Flowers created a yellow rose campaign for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has boosted their sales. They’ve also partnered with local coffee shops and bakeries to expand their home delivery service.
TMC Community Capital’s grant program provided publicity for the business. This has allowed Ariana to reach new clients and expand her business. She plans to partner with West Oakland women small business owners to create marketing campaigns that reach a large audience. She is excited to continue to provide floral arrangements that encourage community members to celebrate all successes, big or small.