When Kellie Jackstien was a student at the University of Utah, she paid her way through school by working three part-time jobs, one of which was designing arrangements in a local floral shop. “I liked flowers and I loved design, and the floral shop was a creative environment for me–I gravitated towards it,” she says. After graduating from the University of Utah with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Kellie was faced with choosing whether or not to pursue graduate school or follow her budding interest in design.

Choosing to pursue her passion for both flowers and design, Kellie applied for a business license, opening Artisan Bloom in October 2000. It wasn’t an easy start. “I began with nothing. No working capital. No investors. No staff. No formal office space and no real leads. Nine months after opening Artisan Bloom, the country was devastated by 9/11. While we were navigating through this new fear of ‘terror alerts’ and ‘travel advisories,’ the travel and tourism industry took a tremendous hit. For a company whose primary market is destination weddings and corporate events, that uphill climb became even more challenging,” says Jackstien. “However, through hard work, persistence and an amazing network of coordinators and venues who believed in me, Artisan Bloom not only survived, but has thrived.”

Q&A

Q. What makes your business unique and interesting?

“95% of our clients are not local; They’re coming here from other destinations to celebrate an incredibly important day with their friends and family. It’s an opportunity for us as designers to play to the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains, so it allows us to design and create events and florals that highlight the beauty of Utah.”

Q. Biggest challenge?

“Honestly, in my particular industry, I haven’t had to battle the wage gap, I haven’t had to fight discrimination beyond people thinking there must be ‘someone else’ behind the business side of things. But I’m very conscious that the opportunity to see the kind of success I’ve seen and own a company wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for women fighting this battle before me. It’s something I’m always grateful for and something I try to pay forward.”

Q. best advice for new business owners?

“You have to be able to work hard…all the time. It’s not an easy thing to do, and it can’t just be a hobby. Take it seriously. Be honorable. Be ethical. Create your own path, and don’t ride anyone’s coattails.