From factory work to florist: Fort Wayne ‘flower girl’ shares her story

Samantha Cazares of Fort Wayne has had a lifelong love affair with flowers. As a child, one of her first Instagram handles was “flower girl,” and in junior high, she was known to sport a flower clip or accessory every day. 

So it may come as no surprise to her peers that today, at age 25, she owns a floral arrangement and pop-up picnic business called Simply Charming, which offers services in both English and Spanish. But Cazares didn’t always plan on pursuing her passion. A few years ago, while working a factory job, she decided it was time to give entrepreneurship a try.

Samantha Cazares of Simply Charming holds her Classic 50 Rose Bouquet.
“I just felt like I had so much more to offer,” says Cazares. “I wanted my own business, but I didn't know what, so I just decided on giving it a shot, throwing myself out there, because I felt like if I didn't start something, I was never going to start anything.”

Flowers quickly became the obvious choice for her first venture. But her passion for the product didn’t make up for her inexperience in the floral industry. So how did she go from consumer to entrepreneur?

It started with equipping herself with the knowledge to overcome early skepticism about her decision. She recalls her family wasn’t initially excited or supportive of her new venture. 

“My mom was like, ‘What are you thinking? You don’t have any knowledge of anything floral. You’re crazy,’” says Cazares. 

Samantha Cazares of Simply Charming works on arranging The Floral Purse. 
Determined to learn, she went to work gleaning information from others in the industry and practicing. She connected with two florists from Mexico online and took classes from them during the pandemic, which she says taught her a lot about caring for flowers and preparing arrangements. Cazares says she feels it makes sense for her to learn from those familiar with her heritage and roots. 

Now she reminisces and laughs about how some of her first floral arrangements are “embarrassing.” But everyone has to start somewhere.

Planning to continue her education around arrangements and floral care, Cazares is traveling to Mexico to learn from a florist in a personalized, one-on-one course in December. And she's no stranger to quick learning and adaptation to overcome obstacles.

Her first language is Spanish, and as a kindergartener, she attended an English-speaking school. She says she was quiet for most of the school year because she didn’t understand much, but eventually, she came home speaking a unique combination of Spanish and English, which eventually translated to learning both languages.

Now, as a Fort Wayne business owner, her bilingual background comes in handy. She posts everything about her work in both languages on social media, to make it more accessible to Fort Wayne’s Hispanic community.

Samantha Cazares of Simply Charming holds her Rose Box Arrangement. 
Much like she was able to pick up English as a second language in preschool, Cazares has been able to learn and refine herself as an entrepreneur, using her inexperience as a chance to dive in head first, with no hesitation. Unafraid to seek the help she needs to be self-sufficient, she attended SEED Fort Wayne’s Build Institute program for entrepreneurs. She says the nine-week basic business startup course helped her better understand how to budget her finances as a business owner. 

“SEED really helped me understand: This is your profit; this is how much material you can put in; this is what you’re gaining or losing,” Cazares says. “At that moment in my journey, I needed that because I was focusing more on the creative part of it, not really the financial part.”

A picnic set up by Samantha Cazares, owner of Simply Charming. 
Cazares is only offering floral services on the weekends right now. During the week, she helps her dad with his concrete business based in Anderson, Ind. While she and her father are different from one another, she says watching him run his business has been an inspiration to her and given her more entrepreneurial experience, as well.

“I think firsthand experience in business of any kind is a lot of gain for yourself,” says Cazares.

While Simply Charming is still a young business, she has her sights set on a big future. In addition to floral arrangements, Cazares recently added pop-up picnics, complete with themed decor and flowers, and hotel room decorating to her service list. Simply Charming also offers a floral subscription service, where customers can arrange for bouquets to be delivered weekly, biweekly, monthly, or on special occasions.

Samantha Cazares of Simply Charming works on arranging The Floral Purse. 
Down the road, Cazares hopes to have a storefront. Simply Charming now operates out of an office she set up in her spare bedroom. While she has a designated workspace, Cazares says flowers have overtaken other parts of her apartment, too. 

In the meantime, her biggest goal is to connect more with the Fort Wayne community. 

Samantha Cazares of Simply Charming holds her Classic 50 Rose Bouquet. 
Her journey as an entrepreneur hasn’t been easy, but the right mindset has helped her overcome challenges. Cazares says she views every success and roadblock as a learning experience and a chance to be better than before.

This story is made possible by underwriting from SEED Fort Wayne.

Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne’s Assistant Editor. She previously worked for Northeast Indiana Public Radio and participated in the College Input Program.