Petoskey’s Flora Bae: One of thousands of new businesses registered post-pandemic | News
TRAVERSE CITY – It was a 20 year old dream that was put on hold.
Natalie Bae Lauzon was someone else’s right-hand man for years, but she always wanted to run her own business.
So in February Lauzon dusted off a 20-year business plan and flew from Colorado to Petoskey. In May, she cut the ribbon at Flora Bae’s home, a conceptual pharmacy, botany, and entertainment store inspired by and for the powerful women in her life.
“I was sick of talking about it,” said Lauzon. “I said enough talked. That’s it. It happens. The timing with COVID-19 made me realize that life is short. If I wanted to do it, I wanted to do it now. “
Lauzon describes her shop as “boho eclectic meets modern mid-century chic”.
It’s a conceptual bite, and admittedly a little inspired by a particular pharmacist on “Schitt’s Creek,” a show Lauzon took part in during the pandemic.
A dream has come true so far, especially given the pandemic has turned her old job as an event coordinator on its head. Lockdowns turned fundraisers into zoom calls, forcing parties into computer monitors. Her job turned into a technological nightmare.
“My life became a computer screen,” said Lauzon.
Since some lockdowns were eased, new company registrations have skyrocketed across the country. In July last year, Michigan state registrations tripled and haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. As of January this year, Flora Bae was one of over 14,000 companies filing for registration in the state of Michigan.
New entrepreneurs have proudly stepped out of the shadow of the pandemic to test ideas they had time to perfect in lockdown. In other cases, the pandemic changed her view of her old jobs – sometimes irrevocably.
“We saw that some really positive things came out of a negative situation,” said Joni Krolczyk, who consults with new entrepreneurs at the Northern Michigan Small Business Development Association.
“We’ve seen companies change, and we’ve seen people who had hobby businesses risk something that they ultimately wanted to pursue,” said Krolczyk. “They said if not now, then when.”
Krolczyk’s office has won a number of new clients, including Lauzon. Consultants like her have helped new entrepreneurs overcome the pitfalls of business ownership. Krolczyk has helped clients write business plans, apply for loans, and provide a sounding board while enthusiastic potential business owners come up with their ideas.
“Sometimes we are a listening ear, sometimes we are the guide who gives you an objective or unbiased opinion,” said Krolczyk. Some clients have called the Traverse City office a “best kept secret”.
And Flora Bae has written a success story in Petoskey. Locals raved about their shop, which brought life and a unique view to an empty shop front. At 45, Lauzon said she couldn’t be happier that she was finally going out on her own.
“It just felt right,” said Lauzon.