In Kinship - A podcast for makers
who crave a vibrant life on their own terms

Show Notes

#16 - a farmer florist on adding things in as you can handle them

(want the transcripts? scroll to the bottom of the page)

(with guest Michaela Buhrman of Black Squirrel Flowers)

I am thrilled to share with you my friend Michaela Buhrman.
Michaela is a farmer florist and in our show, we go into why she did not just become a farmer who grows flowers, arguably her favorite thing to grow, but a farmer florist. A person who starts the seeds, grows the flowers in a way that is in alignment with her values, and then takes those flowers and creates beautiful bouquets to bring joy into our homes.

I can completely relate to her desire to be part of the entire process from start to finish. And I’ll bet you can too.

By having a hand in the entire process she has a deeper connection and knowledge of all the different flowers that she’s growing and selling. Getting to know each bloom and how it thrives, gives her more instinct when it comes to arranging flowers for sale…allowing for a bouquet that simply thrives.

And that just sounds like magic to me.

Michaela doesn’t just grow things…she sews her own clothes, cans her own food and has been known to pick up paper and pencil and draw enchanting things.

I’ve been watching Michaela grow her business in this really thoughtful way for a while and I wanted to share that with you. When there’s a new idea for her business or a new offering, she slowly brings that in to make sure that she’s not overwhelming what she’s capable of doing well or overwhelming her sense of balance in life.

A lesson, I love to be reminded of…often!

Have a listen! One of the joys of listening to other people’s stories is that we get to connect with another human and also pull little tidbits from their way of living into our lives that are going to help increase our vibrancy. How fun!

More about Michaela –

Michaela is a 5th generation farmer located in Cheboygan, MI. She is a Farmer Florist who owns and operates Black Squirrel Flowers, a fresh-cut flower farm that provides fresh bouquets and arrangements for both events and at-home enjoyment. In her spare time, Michaela enjoys crafting, painting, and sewing.

Links to her business

her website



Hey!  Do you know of someone who would make a great guest on the show?  (maybe you?)
Email me

Have you ever dreamed about coming to a sewing retreat?  Gathering with other women, talking, laughing, getting deep, and soaking in the spa pool…all while getting creative, learning a thing or two and working with your hands?

I have just the thing for you!  This October (2023) we’re meeting for our semi-annual clothing sewing retreat on Mackinac Island in Michigan, US.

The Knit Pants of Your Dreams – Sewing Retreat held Oct 15 – 19
Sometimes, we like to wear pants.  And by golly, if those pants fit us perfectly and look professional, have pockets and are comfortable! SOLD.  Jump on the link and check it out!

You can listen on this page or
subscribe with your favorite podcast app.

prefer to read the conversation?

Micheala Burhman – Black Squirrel Flowers

Tina: Hello there. Today. I am talking with Michaela Buhrman. Michaela has a flower business. 

Scratch that. Michaela has a farming business. No, not that either. She grows flowers and she sells them. On the farm and at farmer’s markets and delivers them as well. 

If you are local to Northern Michigan, you gonna want to check her out. Her farm is called black squirrel flowers. 

And we’re going to talk about how she became a farmer florist. Why it’s important to her to take care of the soil? And not use pesticides and chemicals on her flowers. We’re going to talk about how that fulfills her. She’s also a sewist. She makes her own clothing. And we talk about why it is that she makes her own clothing and what it brings into her life to do that. And so without further ado, Let’s get on with the show. 

You are listening to the In Kinship Podcast. 

A podcast for makers. Makers, who crave, a vibrant fun. Flower- filled life on their own terms. Okay. Maybe that’s just me, but maybe its you too. I am your host, Tina VanDenburg. 

Before we begin a quick word from our sponsor. Today’s podcast is sponsored by kinship handwork. Kinship Handwork offers sewing retreats on Mackinac island, courses online and live workshops, as soon as the sewing studio is finished. 

You can check out all of the offerings that kinship handwork offers on Today. I wanted to do a little plug. For the fall retreat on Mackinac island. We just finished up our spring retreat and it was such a lovely time. It always floors me how much bigger than the sum of the parts. 

The retreats are. We spend time getting intentional and spend time getting really mindful. We share from our hearts, we move our bodies. And we also learn a thing or two and create something, with our own two hands, the fall retreat, we’re going to work on knit pants. We’re going to sew a pattern together. 

Get the fit right for you. And then change it up into different versions of those pants. These pants already come with cutaway pockets and patch pockets on the back. And you can dress them up or dress them down. It could be office pants that could be joggers. You can do anything in between. You are the designer. Join us. 

This October. At the fall retreat. on Mackinac Island. And click on retreats. 

And now onto our show. 

Michaela, it’s great to have you here. Yeah, it’s great to be here. Thanks for coming and chatting with me. Michaela here in my, my little wee house and we’re having a conversation over tea, so you might hear the cups hit the table cuz you know it’s hard to leave your hot tea sitting there.

 But I asked Mikayla to come talk with me because, I’ve been watching her creating all sorts of amazing things in her studio and starting her own business. What do you call your business? It’s not a flower. It’s not a flower 

Michaela: business. My technical title, I guess is a farmer.

Florist. Okay. Because I grow everything that I use. Yeah. But then I, I do the typical things that a florist would do. So arrangements. Yeah. Bouquets and, right. 

Tina: Yeah. So Mikayla has a business as a farmer. Florist, and I’ve been watching her build that business, and I thought it’d be really fun to talk to her about what that feels like and how that’s been going.

And her thought process as she’s in the process, as she’s in the middle of building it and growing it into the business, she wants it to be. Mm-hmm. . So Michaela, I like to start out with a question of who influenced you in your life. To be a maker. And I should ask, do you identify as a maker? 

Michaela: Um, I guess I’ve never really thought about myself as quote unquote maker.

It’s always been more of like artistic, creative, kind of, a feeling. My grandmother was a professional artist, I guess you could say. She went to university for art and oh, she had gallery showings and she did, um, mostly abstract painting. I don’t know if it was acrylic or oil based paints, but mostly abstract.

So art. always in my, in my life at growing up, she always had her art studio, like when we would go and visit them at their cottage on the lake. She had an art studio above the garage. And I remember like she would set up, you know, little easel or whatever so I could paint out there with her and.

Tina: Very nice. Did you learn from her 

Michaela: painting? Uh, no. I, I don’t remember like learning any technical mm-hmm. anything. She just kind of, you know, lets you do whatever. Right. Which I think is more how she did it herself. More organic, kind of just Yeah. Painted her feelings kinda 

Tina: even though she was, um, classically is probably not the right word, but classically trained at college.

Right. To 

Michaela: be an artist. Well, and she did that in the middle of her life, so it was, I don’t know. I think she was in her fifties when she went to school. Oh, very 

Tina: fun. Yeah. So once the children were grown 

Michaela: and Yeah. Yep. Found a new passion. 

Tina: Yeah, exactly. . That’s very cool. Yeah. Do you have paintings from her right now in your house?


Michaela: they’re all over . 

Tina: As we’re talking, it reminded me and I had almost forgotten this, which is funny cuz you’ve done some artwork for me. Mm-hmm. . Um, cuz I’m thinking about the fact that you have really taken off in sewing clothing and of course you’ve got the flower business.

Mm-hmm. , but I’ve forgotten that you also do drawings. 

Michaela: not as much anymore, but yeah. 

Tina: Did you ever have aspirations with the drawings to have that be your job? 

Michaela: No, cuz I never felt that. I was like really very good. I always like compared myself to other artists and you know, the, the people who like put themselves out there, they’re really talented and so it’s, you have to kind of come to a point where you realize that each artist has their own.

style, and it’s, it’s kind of like your, your handwriting essentially. Right? So everybody’s is 

Tina: unique. Do you miss drawing now that you’ve got other pursuits that are taking up your 

Michaela: creative time? No, because it’s, I only ever did it when it was, when I, like, felt drawn to it. If I had a, something I wanted to draw or create or something.

So it wasn’t something that I. was part of like my daily routine or anything like that. It was just kind of when it came 

Tina: to me. Right. Just as a dabble in, dabble out kind of thing. Yeah. Yeah. And I, as somebody who’s seen your drawings, I have to tell you like, you have this great style, like they have such, um, there’s such delight to the things that you draw and it definitely, the things I’ve seen mm-hmm.

anyway. Mm-hmm. definitely have. A signature to them, if you will. So, 

Michaela: like, just to say that. Yeah. Well those are more like the illustration kind of cartoony things and I, when I started doing those, I wanted to find what my style was so then I could reproduce it cuz it’s Right. You know, if you like try to copy someone else’s or, make something that’s really what you have pictured in your mind that’s really specific.

I could do it once, but then like, I. Do it again and again. So like the sheep illustration, like to do them in doing different things and Right. In, you know, keep their style the same. Yeah. To make them look the same. Recognizable. Yeah. Then I had to just figure out how I could myself design them so it was repeatable.

Tina: So you feel like you’re inspired by your grandma. Was there anybody else in your past that was an inspiration to you ? 

Michaela: There’s lots of people in my family that are creators. My dad creates stuff with wood and metal. Things that it takes way too much time. And like you have to know way too much, like specific. And I do not have the patience for carpentry or any of that stuff. Like cut the thing, put it together, wait three days for it to dry and then come back and do, no, I, no 

Tina: really, you’re taking this to me.

Even though with flowers you’ve gotta plant the seed. Yeah. But , 

Michaela: you get to like watch. Grow and develop and turn into something versus it’s sitting there drying, watching, not doing anything. Yeah, exactly. So . 

Tina: How do you create now, other than the flower business, I wanna get into that in a moment, but like, what is it that keeps your creative passions strong now?

Michaela: Like with the sewing, the creative part of the sewing is choosing the fabrics and the colors to go together and then, what fabric fits the design that you wanna make and, and that kind of stuff. I really like designing and doing the drafting part of the clothes making.

Because, uh, once you start sewing it together, you know, you come up with a, oh, why didn’t this work? And, you know, there’s all the geometry of it all and Right. Um, but the really fun creative part is picking out the colors and the fabrics. And the textures and planning 

Tina: it, so, you’ve been doing a lot of clothes sewing. Mm-hmm. . Are there any other reasons that you chose clothes over, I don’t know, say quilting or, and maybe you’re doing quilting as well, but any other of the million creative pursuits you could choose? Is there any reason that clothes sewing like came out. , 

Michaela: it’s the practicality of it.

You make something and then you use it. I did actually just recently get into quilting, so , but what I’m creating with the quilting is a duvet cover. I like to sleep with a, uh, comforter. And I’ve never really liked quilts. They’ve never been, Comfy kind of snugly, warm enough.

They’re never warm enough for a small, they’re not big and fluffy like I think. Yeah. Yes. I prefer comforters. So, but there’s fabric panels that I’ve found that are very like my art style. Yeah. And so to create the duvet cover with that, with, you know, the different fabric that’s been.

Really fun and just a different creative outlet. Mm-hmm. . But it’s practical. It’s something I’m gonna use. A lot of quilters make a bunch of quilts and then there they sit in the corner because how do you use 40 flipping quilts in a day? Right, right. So I, I like the, the clothes making.

it’s something that I’m gonna use, you know, on a daily basis. 

Tina: Right. I can relate to that completely. I don’t know that I would call myself an artist. I think I would call myself more of an artisan. Mm-hmm. . Um, but I do love to create things of utility. Mm-hmm. things that, so I know that you like to, can as well, but I like to can, I like to.

I like to do woodworking. Mm-hmm. , I like to make clothing. I like to make bags and leather things and things like that. All things that I can use. Mm-hmm. in some way so I can relate to that completely. 

Michaela: Yeah. I mean the bags, the bags is a hard one for me cuz it’s like I’m not a big bag person. Mm-hmm. . So I’ve made a bag and it’s like an overnight bag.

I don’t really have the desire to make more because it’s like I’m not gonna use it. Right. So it just feels sort of wasteful. Yeah. Because it’s like I wanna make stuff with fabric that I love, that I wanna keep in my daily life and see and use and Right. So like making it to give away or to sell it would have to be fabric that I chose specifically for that purpose.

Mm-hmm. . So then, feel like I could let go of it, I guess. 

Tina: Do you ever have any desire to make things sew things to sell? 

Michaela: Occasionally. Like the, the idea of it is interesting, I suppose, or , I don’t know what the right word is. I have such a long list of things that I still am in the process of creating for myself, right?

So I’m transitioning my wardrobe to be all natural fibers. So it takes a lot of time to make, a couple pairs of pants and some shirts and trying to find in the midst of that what my style is. So then I can, dress the way that I wanna dress to present myself the way I want people to see me and how I wanna feel and Yeah.

Tina: Have my Out to your own side. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Yeah, I can understand that. And so I’ve never had a desire, you know, bring a garment sews for a long time. Mm-hmm. . And I’ve never had a desire to make things for production. Like I think that would just. , um, just stab me in the eye 

Michaela: right now. Oh, I don’t wanna make clothes.

The, I no that people are just too differently shaped and so to, to make something that’s flattering on multiple different people. I, I’m not interested in getting in all the, I mean, it’s hard enough figuring out the math for myself Right. A let alone other people. So Yeah. If it was something that was like one size fits all kind of Yeah.

Deal. Yep. I could do that. . Yeah. Beyond that, no, no, no interest . No. 

Tina: And the only thing I could even possibly consider, cuz everyone when they hear that I’m a garment sewist, they think, oh, you should go to this fair and sell clothing at this fair. Mm-hmm. , you should go here. Or can you make me something custom?

And I, I could possibly get behind making something custom for somebody. I could see the joy in that. Mm-hmm. , measuring somebody specifically like that could work for me, but doing things under production. I’m meant to do things fresh. Yeah. All the time. So that would not work for me. I have a brain personally that is both really analytical and creative at the same time. Mm-hmm. , right? So pattern drafting and designing clothing is like the perfect mix for me. Mm-hmm. , because I get to get into the math side of things, which I absolutely adore.

Yeah. And I like to plot out things onto the paper and all of that. And it also gets me creative. And decide what fabrics are gonna work, how do I make this design element work, which is more of the analytical side. Mm-hmm. . . It’s a great marriage for me. You were talking earlier about how you’ve been designing patterns for your own body.

Yeah. Which is a lot of sewists never go to that point. Right? Right. So I’m wondering what the draw is for doing that, and do you like that process? 

Michaela: I do like that process. I feel like when I draft something specifically for me, then it’s, it’s.

Mine. Mm-hmm. versus using someone else’s pattern. It feels like you’re making someone else’s something for yourself. 

I have a very strange body shape, pear shape. So it’s hard. It was always hard to like buy clothes, right? That actually fit, finding a pair of commercial jeans that fit in the hips and fit in the waist is impossible, right?

So that’s another thing. When I buy a pattern, I almost always have to modify it anyway, to make it fit. If it’s a pattern that I really like. Yeah. I like being able to start with something that’s at least halfway there. Right. And that’s easier sometimes than starting from total scratch.

Tina: And it at least gives you the impression that it’s quicker, but I don’t know if it is. . 

Michaela: I, yeah. I don’t know. Yeah. But it’s fun, so it doesn’t matter. 

Tina: Yeah. Very true. I also feel like I have a very weird body, right? Mm-hmm. , I have, um, dimensions that don’t fit into typical ready to wear clothing.

Right. And I’ve been sewing my own clothing for a long time because it just like took away all of that shame, all that, all the feelings that are associated with trying on something that doesn’t fit you. Mm-hmm. , even though logically we understand, but we don’t really 

Michaela: you. I mean, they don’t, nobody teaches you the ins and outs of the fashion industry.

 So the more that I have, you know, learned about pattern drafting and the whole making of it, , you understand that like industry standards are ridiculous, but they are the way they are because then they can mass produce stuff, right? But that’s why I don’t wanna mass produce stuff because we already know that doing it that way, it doesn’t fit half the people.

Tina: And then we put so much value on the fact that something is not fitting us right. 

Michaela: Once you learn how the fashion. Has set those standards and like what they are Yeah. And why they don’t fit you, then that, I think that takes away a lot of the shame of it because it’s like, who is that made for a plank of wood there?

People don’t look that way. Right. So. 

Tina: Right. Or it’s made for a, a very average body size that 

Michaela: it’s not even average. Very few. It’s yeah. What actually fit into you. It’s a very slim category of people that 

Tina: it is fit. That it is. So one of the things that I’ve noticed when I sew. my body. If you look at it, you can, you can tell that I probably have trouble fitting into clothing, right?

Mm-hmm. , but I get students in my class that before I, especially when I was a newer teacher, I would assume that they would have no trouble finding clothing for themselves. Mm-hmm. in the store, because they have what looked like a very average, typical kind of body, or what I assume that the fashion industry is making for.

Mm. and everyone has something, right? Everyone was like, I can never find sleeves that are long enough for my arms. I have these ape arms, right? Like they have this, they have this judgment around themselves. Cause I can’t find what they’re looking for for their body. Mm-hmm. . And I think you’re absolutely right.

That sewing allows you a little more self-love. Mm-hmm. and a lot more grace. And to be like, but this is all arbitrary, right? And ridiculous. Like, this should not be what we put ourselves up. 

Michaela: ever. And once you, it doesn’t matter what your body type is, once you make something and it fits you properly. Yeah.

And you see what that looks like there, there, you know, there’s no comparison. Absolutely. 

Tina: Absolutely. And I have to think about like, what would it have felt like, I don’t know, a hundred years ago before we were mouse producing clothing. Mm-hmm. , when all of the clothing was made for your. , 

Michaela: right? Because you either made it yourself or you had a personal dress maker that made it, that made it to your 

Tina: body, right?

Like they never would’ve had. And granted as I’m saying this, they had other things. , . I mean, you know, we don’t have the corsets and we’re not like trying to make our bo our waist 17 inches around or whatever. But the average person would have clothing that just fit them. Right. They wouldn’t have all this judgment around their body. Mm-hmm. generally, right? Yeah, I know. I think What would that be like? That would be so intriguing. And also I sometimes think about the fact that back then there also wasn’t.

television or magazines necessarily, there was not this vision of what everybody else looked like or there wasn’t this ability to like define what was um, acceptable to be body-wise. So I do wonder too, like if all of that was broken free what would that feel like?

And again, there were lots of other issues then, like, you know, voting, things like 

Michaela: that. Well, I mean, if you go back even farther, I mean, you wouldn’t know anything but what the other people in your village looked like, right? You’d have no concept of no anything. No. At all. And then it, it had to have progressed to like the only time you saw, Fashion from Paris or Milan was you went to one of those big fashion shows, if you were wealthy enough to go right. And then you could see all these, the outlandish, outrageous styles. 

Tina: Right? It is intriguing. I do like to think about that sometimes, what that would feel like to have mm-hmm. that removed from our society, but when we bring it down, sewing inherently does it for us, right. It allows you to just make whatever you want.

Not only size-wise, but style-wise too. . It’s really very empowering that way.


Tina: A quick word from our sponsor. Today’s podcast is sponsored by kinship handwork. Yes. Can Japan work? You’re going to hear a lot about them on this. Because, you know, it’s my business and I love sharing with you. So I know the podcast is really about makers and humans who love to be creative. Right. 

My business, Kinship Handwork? It’s really a specific to sewing clothing. As I like to share with you, all the things I have going in case sewing clothing is of interest to you. You can check out the different things that I offer on the website. At You can see the different online courses I have, the retreats that I do. on Mackinac island every spring and fall. And you can also see. The live workshops that we’re going to be coming up. As soon as the studio is done and there is electricity to the building. So stay tuned for that. Specifically today. I want to talk about the fall retreat. 

on Mackinac Island. So, let me paint this picture. You load your sewing machine, your fabric. clothing you want to wear. Maybe a bathing suit into your car. And drive to Mackinac island. Just kidding. You drive to Mackinac Island or St Ignace, you park at the ferry. And then the attendance of the ferry com to get your bags and your 

suitcases and you’re sewing machines out of your vehicle. They place them a trolley. They labeled them for the hotel. And you go park your car and you waltz onto the ferry. 

Hopefully it’s a beautiful sunny day. And the sun is shining. The water is sparkling. You see Mackinac island in the distance, you see the Mackinaw bridge to your left. It’s a gorgeous day. Maybe you’re up top and the wind is blowing your hair into a frenzy. Maybe you’re down below because the wind’s a little too much. 

Whatever that might be. And then you’ll arrive at the island. The lovely people who staffed the boat have taken your bags and your sewing machine right off the boat. And it’s now being loaded right into the hotel. And you are walking around without a care in the world. You’re not schlepping anything. You’re not carrying all your stuff down a bunch of stairs or into a house you’re footloose and fancy free. 

You come into the hotel. 

You get your room.

Tina: You let me know. You’re here. We’re so excited. We meet for dinner. All of us. Get to know one another. We have laughter and fun. And then we have an opening ceremony where there’s a little gift for you that I made with my own two hands. And we have a little tiny bit of a icebreaker exercise. Don’t worry. It’s not like some awkward baby shower is just deep and beautiful and so much fun. 

The next day you come down for the morning circle. And then we begin class. You learn how to sew some pants. So knit pants, because we love to be comfortable, but these pants, they could be out of a really nice, heavy rayon. 

That makes them completely ready for the office. They could be out of some French terry that makes them completely ready for sitting down on the sofa and watching the office. Any of the above. So we worked through that together that first day. There’s a lot of conversation. There’s a lot of instruction. 

And then we take it hour and a half lunch where maybe you nap. Maybe you walk around the islands. Maybe you go bicycling, who knows? There are horses everywhere and bicycles everywhere, and no cars whatsoever. We come back, we have class. And just when you are sore and tired from hunching over your machine, we do Qoya. 

So qoya is a dance movement. Kind of activity. Where you stretch, you move how your body wants to. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but it feels really good. Then we have another break. Maybe you go outside, maybe you sit in the hot tub. And then we come together. If you’d like for dinner. 

And we do the same thing over the next day and the next day. And partially on the day after that. So join us. We have such a good time. It’s so beautiful. 

And fall in Northern Michigan is something to behold. the retreat is October. 15th through the 19th on Mackinac island. There are just a couple of spots left for the retreat. join us Click on Retreats. 

And now back to our show. 

So you are a farmer, florist? Mm-hmm. . Tell me about that. Tell me how that began, where the passion for being a florist, farmer florist came from and what that means exactly.

Michaela: What it means to be a farmer, florist is it means that you, you do all the things that, or most of the things that a traditional florist would do. Um, so wedding bouquets and funeral arrangements and, just little birthday gifts and that kind of stuff. Um, but you grow everything that you use.

I think it’s important to only use what I’m capable of growing because then it’s not coming from halfway around the world. Mm-hmm. , and it’s something that is local. I know what’s been done to it. Like a lot of the majority of flowers that you would get from like the grocery store. from a florist.

Obviously if they’re not local, some places get local sources, but a lot of them are sprayed with, um, glyphosates and different chemicals to make the flowers last through shipping. If you get a grocery store bouquet and you, what’s the first thing you do when you buy flowers? It smell it.

You stick that right in your face and smell it because flour should smell. The majority of flowers that come from the store don’t usually smell because flowers with the smell have a l a shorter base life, right? Typically. And so they can’t pick it, wrap it and ship it, and have it arrive in any sort of usable condition.

It’s usually right wilted. You’re breathing in those chemicals, you’re getting ’em on your skin, on your hands. A lot of florist will wear gloves and protective gear when they’re working with those products because otherwise, you get skin irritations and different stuff from have being exposed 

Tina: to that.

So I have to jump in here just for a second because as somebody who has been eating, um, or at the very least I’ve been waving in and out of eating fully organic for a long time. It never crossed my mind about flowers. . Yeah. From the floss. Like I, I definitely like to buy locally cuz I like to support loco, but I hadn’t considered the chemical aspect to flowers that you’re gonna get from halfway around the world, which of course makes tons of sense.


Michaela: But I never considered that. Yeah. And so, you know, a lot of flowers are edible and a lot of people buy flowers to decorate cakes. And so now you’re putting all those chemicals right on your food . Wow. So last year I started growing Eucalyptus and one of the things that you can do with Eucalyptus is make a little bundle and hang it in the shower and you get kind of like that.

Yeah, steam, you know, helps clear your sinuses and whatever. And so I’ve seen a lot of online people recommending that. Like, Hey, this is a great thing to do. If you got the flu, you’re, you know, stuff. , but then they’re buying that eucalyptus from the grocery store. Right. And so, along with all the benefits you’re getting from the eucalyps, you’re also getting all those chemicals

right. So it’s important for me to not support that kind of growing, you know, to be able to, to use what I have. I think is a healthier option. 

Tina: And I would guess too, just from what you said, right, you can use things that other florists can’t because they need something that has longevity to get them to the florists shop to begin 

Michaela: with. Right? They can’t even order that kind of stuff. Like there’s a variety of Zinnia that, um, a lot of designers really love to use cuz they’re, they’re really pretty. Yeah. Um, but they can’t ship them. to the florist. So florist can’t, right. In general, they can’t get them unless they can buy them locally. 

Tina: Wow. So, okay. So here’s a question for you.

There are lots of ways in which you could be a farmer florist, right? Like, you could grow flowers to sell to other florists mm-hmm. , but you’ve chosen to grow flowers and do your own bouquets mm-hmm. and your own selling to the public in whatever form that.

And I wanna talk about that in a minute. , why did you choose to do the whole process? 

Michaela: I enjoy taking a tiny little seed and watching it grow and develop and, you know, nurturing it and, and seeing the whole process. I think you learn a lot more about the flower itself by growing it and processing it yourself, right?

So, I don’t know. You have a deeper connection and a deeper understanding. of the individual flowers, 

Tina: and I can say without hesitation that you have such a knack for putting together bouquets. I’m gonna ask you to give you some pictures and we’ll put ’em in the show notes. 

Just speaking to the audience right now, Michaela does such a beautiful job of putting flowers together in this really interesting and layered and multi dynamic way.

Mm-hmm. that I wanna show you that. So check out the show notes and see those. So do you offer to the public that as far as flowers go, 

Michaela: I offer, um, New last year was the on-farm store, so you can come to the farm and pick out a bundle from the fridge and take it home.

 That’s the way to get something fresh that day. I also do subscriptions, you can sign up for a month at a time or multiple months, however much you love flowers. Right? And it, that’s the delivery based. So you can choose from a medium size bundle or a large size bouquet, and then, uh, it’s delivered to your house once a week for the month that you 

Tina: choose.

Yeah. And I do wanna say too, so Michaela’s located in northern lower Michigan, in the Cheboygan area, so you are listening and you’re in the tip of the mit. , you could be within her delivery 

Michaela: range. Yeah, so it’s about, it’s 30 miles from the farm, which is basically Cheboygan County. I don’t go to the islands at this time, I just don’t have the resources for it.

Tina: I didn’t even consider that. So Mackinac Island is not that far from where we are. And I would bet that would be an interesting market if you had the time and resources 

Michaela: to get over to that. I did have an inquiry for a wedding. , uh, on the island, but I’m a one woman show and there’s no cars on the island.

I just, the logistics of it, like how do you get them all there? How do you get, you know, a trailer and carload of pot potential? I don’t know how much she wanted, but any amount that’s more than you can carry was sounded like I just didn’t know how to even. Logically, how do you do that? 

Tina: I know. Now I wanna like brainstorm that with you cuz like how fun would that be?

Like to see you with pictures with you? You’d have to have a bike, I would guess. And a big trailer behind the bike, like biking your flowers. The wedding. That would be interesting. 

Michaela: I’m not a bike person, so that wouldn’t . She’s like, that’s not 

Tina: happening. No. Maybe a horse 

Michaela: then, I dunno. . Yeah. But then, but then you have like, that’s the whole added expense and Oh yeah.

I, I don’t know. Right. 

Tina: Bit much. I can see that. . So you do weddings as well then? 

Michaela: I do, I do small weddings cuz again, it’s just me 

Tina: and then you also go to the local Farmer’s market, right? Yes. . Yep. What do you think of that? Like how has that experience been? I know last year was your first year doing that and You’ve been organically growing your business by adding these elements in. So , what insights have you learned as you’re doing that? 

Michaela: The farmer’s market experience was all really positive. Um, it’s good to be able to interact with the customer and then, if they are real flower people, then you get to see ’em every week and you get their feedback on like, oh, how did that one last? And, you know, what was the base life of such and such flower?

And so then it helps me build my knowledge on different things, you know, speaking to the customer because not everybody is gonna be like the, the ultimate perfect flower parent where, you know, you give it fresh water every day. What? Every, every day. And you have to cut the, to cut the stems. You know, when you give it the fresh water to Yeah, I know , I don’t do it either because it’s like I put it in the vase.

One and done. And then it’s just there until it’s not two die. Yeah. Until it looks like goo. So , I thought I was a good flower parent. I’m not . I mean, I thought it was decent. I have customers who are like really good at it. Yeah. And you know, they, they’re like, I cut the stems every day and fresh water and flower food and blah blah.

And they last for like two weeks. I’m like, great. . I don’t have the patience for it, I guess. I don’t know. Right. So, 

Tina: oh wow. I just learned something today, . Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know if it’s gonna change my life, but. Now I’ll have something else 

Michaela: to feel guilty about. , I mean, it’s, it don’t feel guilty about it cuz it’s like the flowers are only gonna last however long they last anyway.

Right. Um, but if you wanna get the ultimate longest bang for your buck, you have to put in a little bit of work, so 

Tina: Wow. Isn’t that like true to life? Yeah. Okay. Yeah. All right. So tell us about the process as you’re building your business. , what has worked well for you so far? What you’re gonna keep hanging on to mm-hmm.

and what you want to introduce into the future. So I think a lot of people that listen to the podcast mm-hmm. are probably, they’re obviously makers, but also they may be entrepreneurs themselves. And so it’s always interesting to hear somebody else’s process and how they work.

 So you began with subscriptions. Mm-hmm. , and then you did weddings. Mm-hmm. , right? Then you added in the farmer’s market. Yep. Then you added in the farm store? Right. Are all of those going to continue?

as far as you can see right now, are all those gonna continue to be part of your business as you move forward? Yeah. . 

Michaela: Yep. The, the subscription works well. I always have really positive feedback from mm-hmm. , people love getting, it’s like, you know, getting a gift in the mail. Yeah. Once a week, right?

So the subscriptions are really good. And then the, the farmer’s market has been really good. That’s a way to move more products, cuz. You know, a lot of people come to the market, which is great. 

Tina: And I know at the farm store you’re also gonna do, what would you call it, a bouquet 

Michaela: bar?

Yes. Yep. So tell us about that. That’ll be new this year. So the bouquet bar is set up where like the flowers are, separated into like variety or species or whatever word you wanna use. Yeah. And so it’s kinda like a pick and choose.

So the, the flowers have their individual prices like price per stem. Yeah. And so you can come, you can bring a vase or you can just make a bundle and take it and it’s a make your own. I’ve related it before as to like cooking. Whereas you can pick all your ingredients and make whatever you want, right?

Tina: Are you gonna have that open certain hours every week, or is it gonna be open and available all the time? How does that gonna work? 

Michaela: I don’t know for sure. This is gonna be like figuring out which days are more popular and it’ll probably be open for like two hours on a certain day. So like, I know the plan is, to do one for Mother’s Day. So people can come with their moms or aunts or grandmas or whatever, and you know, , make something fun.

Tina: Yeah. And I was just gonna say that I definitely hope that you do events like that. Mm-hmm. , like more concentrated events. You don’t know this because you don’t know Michaela, but she’s also an amazing cook. And so like I have this whole vision where I want you to cook people this amazing little picnic lunch and then they make a bouquet or they make, you know, at wintertime they’re making a wreath or whatever.

Like I could just, it’s very idyllic. I can just imagine it in my head. Mm-hmm. . And so like, I want that to happen. I just want you to know that , 

Michaela: well, I think the bouquet bar is definitely gonna be more event based because I would want it to be more concentrated so people come. At a certain time and do their thing and yeah, you have, you have flowers to grow.

You can’t be, I got shit to do. So , yes, 

Tina: absolutely. Yeah. . Well, that sounds really exciting and I, I have admired the way that you’re, like I said, kind of organically adding things in and trying to ensure that you can manage it yourself. Cuz I, I know that you’re not interested in bringing in a big team of people, right?

And so I think that’s really wise to say like, all right, I can handle this. Can I handle this as well? And having that be a slower process where you’re honoring what’s going to feel. life giving. Mm-hmm. rather than exhausting. Right. I think that’s really, that’s really wise.

Yeah. Michaela, it’s been fun to chat with you. It’s been fun to talk about, um, what you have going on, what you’re making, and why you’re making it. And you’re a very creative person and I’m grateful to have you. I have one last question for you. Mm-hmm. , that I’d like to ask all of my guests.

And my question is, cause you know, the point for me to do this podcast was to talk about making as a way to live a more vibrant life. So I’m actually gonna, I have two questions for you, , because I think that we have more control over our lives, and I think that you might have answered this even inherently when we talk about like adding in things organically that.

you sort of not drinking from the fire hose. Mm-hmm. , but like letting it trickle in to decide, all right. Yep. I can handle that. Yep. This can work in my life and my life feels like it has this balance and that feels good. And if it doesn’t, you like shift back. Mm-hmm. and I think that has the ability to like really give vibrancy to life.

Mm-hmm. . But part of what I wanna talk about in the podcast is how we specifically as makers, cuz we already have that inherent like I-can-do-that sense to us . I like to talk about how we have the ability to create a vibrant life just with our own thought process and with our own things that we can introduce into our lives.

And so I wonder what you might identify. This is the first question and I’ll just do it one at a time. Okay. Yeah. That’ll be a shock. Yeah. . Um, I wonder what you might identify as part of your daily life that you do, and it doesn’t have to be making something, it could be something different that helps your life to be more joyful, more vibrant, more in balance.

Michaela: I would say it’s probably something more that I don’t do. Yeah. Like I’ve, no, I’ve realized that when I was on Instagram a lot. , you know, just watching the journeys of other farmer florists and other people in the industry. And I would compare my business to theirs, right? And anytime you’re doing any sort of farming, you can’t do that because your microclimate where you live is very specific to you, right?

And it’s very specific to them. And you know, when I would see other people like, oh, today I started my Zinnias and it’s like, well, I’m not scheduled to do that for two more weeks. Am I doing something wrong? So to really get off of social media and stop comparing myself to mm-hmm

other people has been really helpful. Like, you don’t realize that how much you do damage subconsciously to like your own. Yeah. Creativity. 

Tina: And I love that answer. I absolutely can relate to that. Like even though I’m not a farmer mm-hmm. , right? There’s so much that you can, and I know that everybody listening can relate to this as well.


Michaela: sewing is just as bad cuz you watch like YouTube creators and like, yeah, I whip this out in an hour. It’s like, am I dumb? Like how can I not do that that fast? , 

Tina: right? Yeah. And it’s, so there’s, I follow a lot of business, mentors . One of the common, um, bits of advice that people always give is to just stay in your lane.

Mm-hmm. and do your work. Right. And I think there’s so much value to that. And I think, I love that your answer was like, this is a thing that you don’t do cuz like, just the thought of not comparing yourself because it’s sort of similar to the thought

not buying clothing off the rack, that doesn’t fit your body. Right. Right. You’re just like removing these unnecessary bits of angst Yeah. In your life that don’t even have no reason to be there. Right. And you instead you get to just have the joy of growing flowers. Right. Making beautiful bouquets.

Yes. Gather inspiration. Cause I think that’s huge. I think having mentors is huge and I think gathering inspiration is huge, but that can be really intentional. Mm-hmm. and not so like mindless or, not so negative. Yeah. So I love that answer, and I think we can all relate to that. Yeah. That’s really beautiful.

So that’ll segue into my last question, which is the question I like to ask everybody. , what do you wish people knew that you think that a lot of people maybe don’t about themselves deepen their hearts?

Michaela: I guess like with the clothes making, what really drew me into it in the beginning was I liked drawing up little designs of, oh, I wanna make something that looks like this. And you know, when I started sewing, I didn’t have the skillset to do any of that . And it always turned out like, what the hell, this looks terrible.

This is not what I was envisioning. And still, I get that still sometimes, but it’s a whole process of all these foundational skills that you have to build before you can do a lot of. , I don’t wanna say advanced, it’s just, it’s just a journey and you have to get there and, and it just takes time.

So, yeah. Yeah. 

Tina: So stay with it. 

Michaela: Yeah. Yes. Just don’t give up because. it. It just takes time. 

Tina: Right, right. And it will get better. Yeah. Whatever it 

Michaela: is. Whatever it is. Yeah. With growing the plant, I mean there’s a whole learning process of, you know, with the plants learning how to start the seeds and you know, through each step there’s.

Yeah, there’s different things to learn, so give yourself some grace to not do it well. Right. Because nobody does it. I mean, social media is again, really bad at that. Just showing only the perfect things. And in reality, it’s not like that. And those people that have, that you see, that are doing those quote unquote perfect things are 10 years in or more.

Right? So they all started where you’re starting. 

Tina: and even, and I’m sure you can attest to this as well, even as somebody who’s been sewing clothing for 15 years mm-hmm. , sometimes I make something and I’m like, Ugh, what in the hell just happened to this ? Right? Yeah. And sometimes I need space from it.

Mm-hmm. and I come back to it. I’m like, all right, it’s not that bad. Yeah. I can change this and this, this is what’s going on with it. And I, I know enough cuz I’ve got 15 years into it mm-hmm. to be like, all right, this is what I need to shift and it will improve it or. . I don’t know what happened here, but we’re gonna start again.

Yep. Yep. And so I love that. That’s really beautiful. I’m grateful that you’ve been here for this. Yeah. Today. It’s been really fun to get to know you a little bit deeper. Mm-hmm. . If people wanna check out your flowers or see you on social media, , how do they find you online? 

Michaela: Um, I am on Facebook and Instagram at Black Squirrel Flowers, or my website is

 Or you can always stop by the farm store. 

Tina: And you know what, now I, I wanted to ask you one more thing. . Can you tell the story about why your businesses called black squirrel flowers. 

Michaela: Well, in our driveway, we used to have these really old, I believe they’re sugar maples.

And the trees were just, they were getting diseased. They were reaching the end of their lifespan. They’ve been there for forever. And so we were cutting down, um, a couple of these older trees and when they cut the one tree down there, A squirrel, a baby squirrel that got left behind that, you know, her mother was in the process of moving all the babies and didn’t make it back for that one.

Oh. So, uh, I was a little black squirrel and we named her walnut, and, I took care of her, raised her until she was old enough to go outside. It was fall time by then. Yeah. Because when we cut the tree down, I think it was early May. Yeah. And so by fall she was ready to go outside and Yeah.

Yeah. So she’s our little black squirrel. 

Tina: Do you think she’s still on the farm to 

Michaela: this day? She might be. Um, in the beginning she would still come to you and take nuts and different things, but, and then, you know, as time went on, she got more and more wild. Mm-hmm. , which is better for her anyway, to, yes. to protect herself, but there’s a couple squirrels out there that they don’t run away when you go to fill the feeders and stuff, so she might be, 

Tina: I like to think so.

Mikayla has this beautiful studio that she works from and I like to think that walnut sometimes peeks in the window and it’s like, nice. Well done. Yeah. All right. Thanks for being here. Yeah.

And there you have it. That’s the end of our show. Thank you again for listening. I am so honored that you choose to spend your time with me. And here. What I have to say as well as what my amazing guests have to say. 

We all have so much wisdom to share with one another. And everyone has a story that we can relate to on some level. And I am so glad that I get to share those stories with you. 

If you’d like to get email reminders when a new podcast goes live and also newsletters on the weeks that I don’t have a podcast that share my thoughts, links I’m really liking and other. Tidbits be sure to sign up for the newsletter at 

Okay. Have the best day. 

And a final word from our sponsor. I know I’ve talked enough about the retreat. Just get on the website and check it out. Click on retreats. This is a fall retreat of 2023. on Mackinac Island, you’re going to want to be there. 

Leave a Reply