“Find out if there’s a market for your product, and if there is, just start trying.”
–Morgan Sharpe // Creekside Flower Farm
Supported by The Company Lab
Morgan Sharpe is tied to the land.
After living in three different countries and three different states, Morgan felt a deep sense of placelessness and a need for belonging. Following the advice of agrarian writer Wendell Berry, she decided to tie herself to the land and work the soil.
But not only did Morgan feel a need for place, she also desired beauty. And she’s convinced that everyone else does too.
“Everybody has an innate appetite for beautiful things in their lives,” Morgan said, “and natural beauty is the best way to meet that need.”
This realization led her to start Creekside Flower Farm in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Surrounded by the natural beauty of hills, trees, and rivers, Morgan had found the perfect place to cultivate beauty and share it with her community.
Morgan’s connection to the land and people of Chattanooga set her apart from other flower vendors. While 75 percent of the flowers sold in the U.S. are imported from other countries, Morgan grows all of her flowers minutes away from the florists that sell them. This proximity allows her to deliver fresh cut, long-lasting flowers to Chattanooga florists, something that other vendors simply can’t do.
“Everybody has an innate appetite for beautiful things in their lives, and natural beauty is the best way to meet that need.”
Although Morgan’s business is now thriving, it started like every other business—as just an idea. Despite an interest in growing flowers, Morgan knew almost nothing about running a business. But going through the CO.STARTERS Core program at CO.LAB changed that.
At first, Morgan didn’t know what questions to focus on—questions like who her customer was or which problems were actually important. “I was all over the place,” Morgan said, “but CO.STARTERS showed me that I only needed to solve one problem, not fifteen.”
Another benefit of CO.STARTERS was getting to know other local entrepreneurs. Not only was it encouraging to hear other people’s stories, but it was often their questions and feedback that pushed Morgan beyond herself to build a successful business model.
The entrepreneurial community that Morgan joined during her time with CO.STARTERS was indispensable as she moved forward in her business. Not only did she benefit from the expertise of local lawyers and accountants, she discovered something more important—that people in the community care about her and want to help. Just as she found a sense of belonging on the land that she works, she also found a sense of belonging within Chattanooga’s entrepreneurial community.
Morgan’s final advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs is simple: “Next time you meet a stranger, give your elevator pitch and ask them if they’d buy your product. Find out if there’s a market for your product, and if there is, just start trying.”
Know the place where you live. Get to know the people around you and what they want. If people want natural beauty, grow flowers. If they want something tasty, make them food. If they’re hungry for knowledge, open a bookstore. Find out what people in your community want and fill that gap.