Hustling, Bustling and Blooming

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Petals, Ink. Founder Gretchen O’Neil reflects on her life’s work.

Before founding floral-design business Petals, Ink. in 2009, Gretchen O’Neil experienced many twists and turns on her life’s path.

In 2000, she experienced a real taste of entrepreneurship while working with AmeriCorps. For two years, she involved herself with a variety of projects. Whether it was tutoring inner-city children or farming in Vermont, those times unlocked an array of interests.

Shortly after leaving AmeriCorps, O’Neil got married and relocated to Austin, where she took a job in Montessori education. After giving birth to her daughter in 2005, she enjoyed life as a stay-at-home mom, but all the while, she continued to rack her brain with potential career opportunities. While she held an English degree, O’Neil felt she had many ideas that remained untouched.

Through those times, O’Neil realized she had always had an interest in creating. As a devoted mom, she made her daughter’s food and blankets from scratch. She also grew her own flowers for her wedding and put together bouquets for her sister’s wedding.  

“What’s been the common theme this whole time?” she questions. “What’s been the one thing [that’s resonated] through dabbling in education or doing service projects with AmeriCorps? It always came back to working in the dirt and creating things with flowers.”

Starting Petals, Ink. was a natural fit.

“Growing up, my grandfather and mother were big gardeners,” O’Neil says. “We had peonies in the yard and giant and shaggy bushes of yellow forsythia down the driveway. Flowers were always there, and I always loved them.”

After nearly a decade in the industry, O’Neil feels her creative mind is finally being utilized.

“I very rarely will say I’m a florist or a farmer,” O’Neil says. “I’ll say I’m an entrepreneur. The ideas never stop.”

O’Neil works with a small team and days are quite busy. Mondays and Tuesdays are for client consultations, while parts of Mondays and Wednesdays are spent harvesting. The rest of the week is devoted to creating bouquets and centerpieces for local events. Many Saturday mornings, O’Neil works with volunteers for event setup. With just one day of rest per week, Sunday, the team is always on their toes, moving between the Bouldin Creek studio and the seven-acre ranch in Manor, Texas.

Through the weekly hustle and bustle, O’Neil and her all-female team are continuously reminded their work is rooted in creating memories.

“We’re flower-crazy people, so everything’s all about the flowers,” O’Neil says. “Our biggest joy is sharing it with other people.”

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