Marie Oyama…Retail Entrepreneur Award Winner…

MARIE OYAMA – Owner, Divine Vines (Modern Contemporary Flowers – Yaletown) …was recently featured in Business in Vancouver  Employment Paper in their “Success Stories”  featuring her presentation of the very prestigious honour of “Retail Entrepreneur Award Winner” this year for her outstanding achievements and entrepreneurship!

“It’s been a roller coaster ride that never ends,” Marie says of her journey in the floral industry. “As an entrepreneur, the challenge never stops. The challenges have been absolutely exciting and exhilarating as I continue to grow with Divine Vines Floral. The rewards are ever so fulfilling.”

Thank you to all of our fantastic customers for making us who and what we are today!!!

Feature Article:

As a little girl, Marie Oyama loved picking bluebells and lilies-of-the- valley from her family’s garden. “My mother would say, ‘Leave some for the garden, don’t pick all the flowers,’” she recalls. “But I loved bringing garden flowers into the house.”

In high school, Oyama worked part time at Dave’s Supermarket in Vancouver, where her passion for plants grew under the guidance of the market’s owners. Business courses taken in school also came easily to the budding entrepreneur.

“My interest in flowers and business led me to decide that I one day want- ed my own flower shop,” she says, adding that she went on to take small-business management courses at Langara College while working as a supervisor at GardenWorks.

In April 2009, Oyama was offered an opportunity to re-train through government-funded programs. That August, the self-employment program at the New Westminster campus of Douglas College accepted her application.

The program, she says, taught her to write “an excellent business plan out- lining my goals and financial plans. The intense pro- gram was challenging yet exhilarating, as it took me, step by step, closer to realizing my dream.”

Douglas’ professional business instructors and advisers, she adds, brought a plethora of experience and knowledge to class- es, affording her a “treasure chest” of the tools she’d need to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Soon, Oyama started to look at Lower Main- land flower shops that were up for sale, hoping to find a suitable location to start her own business, where she wanted to specialize in modern and contemporary floral design. Most, how- ever, were “carbon copies of the wire-service arrangements that are offered by FTD and Teleflora – not for me.”

She decided to consult with her mentor, Beverley Woodburn. “After reading my business plan, Beverley thought that Divine Vines would be the perfect shop,” Oyama says. The store, located in funky-yet-quaint Yaletown, was already well known for its original designs, and its owners had put it up for sale.

Business plan in hand, Oyama approached RBC for the capital she’d need to pursue her dream. “The loan manager at the bank was so impressed with the business plan I wrote for the self-employment program that my loan was approved in two weeks’ time,” she re- members. “I received the phone call minutes before my graduation ceremony at Douglas College.”

A year and half after embarking on her venture as an entrepreneur and small- business owner, Oyama still refers to the business plan and class notes she created during her time at Douglas College.

“It’s been a roller coast- er ride that never ends,” she says of her journey. “The self-employment program teaches that, as an entrepreneur, the challenge never stops. The challenges have been absolutely exciting and exhilarating as I continue to grow with my business. The rewards are ever so fulfilling.”

March 5-11, 2011 Employment Paper