A few months ago, I began reflecting on the smart and talented women who I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Some of these women have made huge leaps in their business progress over the last few months. I love reading success stories about women who’ve reached another level of success and I’ve had requests from readers about this as well.
Marianne Simon is an absolute delight and has the right seeds to grow as an entrepreneur. She is decisive and takes immediate action—two necessary ingredients for enterpreneurs. She is always open to new perspectives and new ways of thinking. Marianne, founder of Poetic Plantings – Sustainable Landscape Design, recently received an award for the garden design for the Santa Monica Airport. Local landscape designers were invited to submit designs for three unique sustainable demonstration gardens to be installed at the Santa Monica Airport. The winning designs will be installed at the Santa Monica Airport this coming Fall. You can see Marianne's design by clicking here.
1. Tell us about your work – what you do, where you do it and who you serve.
Marianne: “I am the founder of Poetic Plantings, a landscape design company started in 1999. The company is dedicated to creating sustainable gardens that not only delight the clients, but also contribute to the healing of the earth. My primary services are landscape design including plantings, irrigation, hardscape and lighting. Last year I began teaching courses to homeowners on sustainable garden design. I am also in the process of becoming licensed as a Landscape Architect. Living in Santa Monica, I serve the West Side, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Malibu, West Hollywood, the Palisades, as well as south to Torrance, and into the Valley. Currently I serve mostly mid to upper middle class, married couples. However, my target market is the high end homeowner. Often married, the stronger relationship is usually with the wife. The ideal age range is 35-50, and they are either stay-at-home or working, usually with children.”
2. What inspired you to start your business?
Marianne: “My business began in a rather unusual way. For years I’d been working in a position at an entertainment company that gave me little creative fulfillment, but I had not yet found something else to pursue. I’d begun writing with a friend as some sort of creative outlet. Over the course of our writings, I found that my most passionate pieces had to do with nature: stones, rivers, trees. One day, we used the phrase, ‘I eat dirt’ to kick off our writing session. When I was done, my friend turned to me and said, ‘Marianne, don’t you think you need to take a closer look at all this nature stuff?’ And that was the beginning.”
3. How do you define success?
Marianne: “Defining success – truly that can change depending on the day and the occasion. With regards to my business, obviously, I feel successful when I’ve created a beautiful garden and my client is happy. Often I feel successful when I’ve overcome an obstacle or risen to a new challenge. I also find a great sense of success when I’m teaching folks about sustainable gardens, and I know that I am helping make a difference. Finally, I feel successful when I feel whole – when I feel connected to my family, my friends, my community. When the work I do doesn’t make me feel split or torn from my life’s other passions.”
4. What have you taken away from your work with Joy?
Marianne: “Ah, so many things. I’ve been thrilled with the marketing campaign I’ve started with her support and encouragement. I’ve been able to integrate some of her suggestions on time management: simple little tips that have already helped me feel much more efficient. I’ve also gotten better at setting boundaries. Perhaps the biggest thing was my change in attitude: building my business could be approached as an exciting process rather than an arduous chore. Somehow, by sitting in her class and listening to her stories, I felt it was more than doable that I could grow my business in ways I had not believed possible. I’m amazed at how I went from cautious to embracing the opportunities – very, very exciting.”
5. What’s been your biggest challenge as a woman entrepreneur and how have you overcome this challenge?
Marianne: “MONEY – asking for it, making it, and feeling that I deserve it. This challenge is still a work in progress, though I have definitely make progress. I don’t think there has been any simple road to this. Rather my increased sense of value has come from many sources: readings, lectures, classes. And over time, as I looked at my credentials, what I accomplished, and what my clients said about me, my sense of self value has grown. I take steps forward, and still on occasion steps back. I pat myself on the back for my success, and forgive myself when I give way. But the trend is definitely up.”
6. What advice would you share with women who desire to have a successful business?
Marianne: “It’s not easy, but it is exhilarating. To take your life in your hands and build it just the way you want – there is nothing like that. That being it makes such a difference to have a support system that cheers your successes, and hugs you when things get tough. Take risks, it’s your business, your life, your right to do with it what you will. Do what you love, have faith, keep learning. Not a bad idea to have that safety net when things get tough. Finally, it’s all about relationships – your clients, your suppliers, your partners, your employees, your teachers. It’s really what makes it all go round. ”
7. What’s next for you?
Marianne: “There are things I’m certain of and things that are under consideration. I’m loving writing my newsletters and articles, so I plan on continuing that and perhaps at some point may expand it into a larger format – book, ezine, who knows. I’m also making my way thru the landscape architect licensing process: three exams passed, three to go. Finally, I have to decide if I want to become a contractor. From everything I’ve heard, there is an opportunity to significantly increase my income. I debate it though, because the responsibilities increase significantly as well. Finally, I love presenting information on landscaping and sustainability. It blends my previous love of acting with my passion for my work. There is tremendous satisfaction and joy as I share this knowledge with folks, and feel that I help contribute to the health of the planet and its occupants.”