Episode 73 - Building a supportive network for your paper flower business with Wendy Anderson

artist spotlight season 3 Dec 17, 2020

Our paper florist friend from New Zealand, Wendy Anderson, chats with us about building her business with a support network both in person and online.

How do you build a paper flower business all by yourself? 

The answer is, you don’t. Even if you’re the only paper florist in your entire country, you need a support network to help you grow as an artist and a business owner. That’s the entire purpose behind our work with Paper Talk: to share, connect, and grow our paper flower industry no matter where you may be.

Wendy Anderson of Just Imagine knows all about forging a paper flower business without a robust local industry to support her, as she lives in New Zealand without any other known paper florists in sight. But she still doesn’t go it alone! 

In our latest episode of Paper Talk we chatted about how she has built up her virtual, familial, and friend network to support her paper flower journey.

Finding an Online Community

We first met Wendy through our Facebook group, which brings together paper florists from all over the world. As mentioned, Wendy is currently unaware of any other paper florists in her area, so being able to ask questions and share techniques with other like minded artists is incredibly important for her. 

She was nervous the first time she joined our monthly Makers Meeting, but waking up incredibly early to connect with other paper florists has become a huge priority for her. “I’ve only missed three meetings in four years,” she told us. “Our paper flower community and those Makers Meetings [are] my most favorite online place to be, and it’s got to be something big for me to miss it.”

You can also join our meetings or post your questions in our group. We’ve built countless businesses and friendships there. In the episode, Wendy dove into more ways our online community has helped her. Now more than ever with so many of us stuck at home, take advantage of the amazing technology we have and find your virtual support group. 

Building a Varied Support Network

Wendy is very open about how much her success depends on her incredible family and friends. Even though they aren’t paper florists themselves, they’ve helped problem solve, set up events, and even answered questions about her work. 

One particularly touching story she shared on the episode was about her father, who is in his 80s, helping design the mechanics for an archway that spanned over a set of double doors. Then he did it again when she asked for help scaling it down for an art exhibition. Wendy shared even more stories about loved ones like her amazing husband stepping in to help, and we fully agree with her assessment of how crucial that kind of assistance is.

Getting outside perspectives to help us solve problems is so crucial. Sometimes you need to step back and get another opinion. Those people don’t have to be in our industry in order to help! 

“When we do our craft…the second [flower] is always better. The third, the fourth—as you get on, you get better and better at it. It’s practice and practice.” - Wendy

Promoting Our Industry

Wendy loves talking about our industry and her work. “I have such a passion for paper flower making, it’s hard to shut me up.” We know the feeling! 

If you’re not used to talking about your work, though, it may feel awkward. But it’s so important for us to educate the general population about paper flowers. 

One way Wendy has done this is through speaking engagements. Since quality crepe paper is difficult to find in New Zealand, she brings along imported paper to let the audience touch and stretch. She spoke about how she runs these events and other ways she promotes paper flowers in our episode.

Here’s what you’ll hear when you listen to our conversation:

  • Where Wendy finds recommendations for imported supplies.

  • How she sets up her exhibition table and speaking engagements.

  • Why surrounding yourself with supportive people is so crucial for success.

  • How to build paper flower awareness in your community.

  • Why being part of our online community can help you build your business, just like it’s helped Wendy. 

Start building your support network right now by joining our Facebook group, and listen now to the podcast to hear all about Wendy’s paper flower journey and how she’s built up her paper florist business.

Wendy Anderson has been making paper carnations from a box of tissues for 35 years: “In my first job (Pharmacy Assistant) when there was a special occasion where I would cover the shop in carnations. I met Jason & fell in love 14 years ago. My health went pear shaped & I found paper flower making distracted me from pain & unwellness. Jason would go to bed at night and by morning there would be a desk full of flowers. He would say "Oh no, you had a bad night!" My reply was, "It's morning already?" Then two girl friends separately told me to sell my paper flowers. I didn't think anyone would be interested in my flowers so just laughed about it. However I started to find YouTube tutorials on-line, then I found Quynh, then Jessie, then Lia Griffith. I won one of five annual passes to Lia's website on her 5th anniversary, and this changed the game 100%. I realised there was better crepe paper out there that we just did not have here in New Zealand, so I started importing my own. Then I found our paper flower community on Facebook & my journey really got going. I started my Facebook Shop and named it "Just Imagine - the NZ paper florist" 4 years ago and my crafting abilities grew from strength to strength. The most important part of the Facebook group has been the encouragement & the social gatherings at our monthly Makers Meetings. Now I am selling things in my Facebook shop, decorating events, birthdays, weddings, a memorial service, taking on speaking engagements at local community groups, and now, my latest Art Exhibition where I made a Grandiflora Magnolia Tree. I also need to add in here my amazing husband Jason. He wears lots of different hats everyday: Household Management, Chef, Gardener, Paper Florist Assistant, Master of the glue gun. Without his support & help, I could not do what I do every single day. I don't know where my Paper Flower Journey is taking me now, but I am excited to find out what adventures are ahead.” Check out more of Wendy’s work on her website, Instagram, and Facebook shop!


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