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Black History Month

Celebrating African Americans in the Visual Arts: Kiara Hancock

For wedding planner and floral designer Kiara Hancock, 2024 is the year of saying YES. “This year is about connecting all the dots I have scattered all over the canvas of my business to create the bigger picture,” said Hancock. “I’m trying to say, ‘yes’ to more this year because it opens the doors to other avenues, lessons, and connections that I am trying to build both interpersonally and business-wise,” she added.

Hancock, the owner of Tacoma-based K. Hancock Design, has garnered rave reviews and a long list of loyal fans for her distinctive approach to weddings and floral design. Her considerable talents have put her in many high-profile spotlights: Hancock was a contestant on HBOs Full Bloom where she competed alongside 10 of the most creative floral talents in the country. Vogue featured one of her weddings in an article showcasing her amazing use of texture and color; and she was included in the prestigious 2023 Ones to Watch list by Knot.com, honoring emerging wedding professionals who are disrupting the status quo and making a notable impact on the industry.

Hancock’s passion for her work energizes her. “While rest is always good, my cup also gets filled by the fun, the process, and (yes sometimes) the stress of creativity,” she adds.



Here are selected highlights from our discussions with Hancock, delving into her process, her journey as a black entrepreneur, and her aspirations for the future.

Can you share with us the inspiration behind starting your own floral design business?
I started my floral business by accident. That seems so crazy to say now! In October of 2015, I had been married for a year, and had a 3-month-old baby. I decided to start a wedding planning business. That same month, I saw a local florist offering scholarships to their amazing floral design workshops, and I thought, “Why not?!” and applied. I won a scholarship and have never looked back when it comes to flowers.
 
As a Black entrepreneur, what unique challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?
As a Black business owner, I think there is always a struggle to feel seen. While I think most people mean well, I get the most momentum and recognition during holidays and current events focused on Black people. The good and beautiful work I do happens year-round, and it would be so great to have that same love shown to me and people like me all year.
 
Do you infuse elements of your cultural background into your floral designs?
I do! My personal experiences and upbringing shaped who I am. Who I am is always at the center of my business. My business is an extension of me and my lived experiences. Whether that is music that is impactful for me, things from my familial upbringing, or even the struggles I have experienced. I pour all of that into every single design. I once created a beautiful piece called “Breakout,” and it was all about the journey I had to break out of the molds the world put upon me and make my way.
 
What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs who aspire to enter the floral industry?
Less thinking and more doing. I mentor a few people hoping to enter the wedding business space, and the one thing I see repeatedly is a desire to have it all figured out before starting. While, yes, you should have everything that will help you build a storing foundation for your business in place…part of the learning journey comes from the doing. Sometimes you have to jump in the deep end and doggy paddle for a bit to get where you are going
 
Can you tell us about a memorable moment or milestone you've experienced since starting your business?
I have had a few amazing opportunities since starting my business, but my favorite was having one of my weddings featured in VOGUE Magazine. I played a part in every part of the wedding. The design of it, the execution, and the flowers as well. It felt really good to have all my hard work, and that of my team, pay off in such a big way!
 
How do you balance creativity and business acumen in your floral design process?
Floral Design and Wedding Planning are creative pursuits, but just wanting to do that alone will not get you far. It is important to have a learning and growth mindset. I do something every single day for my business, whether it’s practicing a new technique, figuring out the SEO of my website, planning future social media posts, or simply cleaning my studio space. Curiosity will get you far in business and lead you to paths of learning about finance, marketing, and sales that you never knew before!
 
Have you encountered any misconceptions or stereotypes in the floral industry, particularly as a Black entrepreneur? How do you address them?
I have encountered microaggressions or stereotypes while having this business. While I don’t want to air out any dirty laundry, I think the best way to deal with things like that is timely and direct. Addressing things at the moment with a firm yet kind approach has always been my favorite way to handle things! 
 
In what ways do you engage with your community through your floral business?
Flowers and celebrations I plan are joyous, and I always try to bring that same joy to the community I work in. I try to find moments, whether public or private, to add texture, color, and pure joy to the people of my community and its events.
 
Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of your floral enterprise, both personally and professionally?
My husband and I often discuss buying land and building a wedding venue. We could work on it together, which would be a moment of coming full circle in everything I do. We hope to grow flowers on our land that we could use at the weddings held there, and maybe even have our daughters and other family members get married there one day
 
Tell us a few things you’d want people to know about you that we haven’t asked.
I love sharing my knowledge about flowers, whether it's for enjoyment or if someone has a genuine interest in pursuing it as a vocation. Mentoring others in starting their own business or "side hustle" brings me immense happiness. If you want to learn and grow, I want to help you get there! 

To view more of Kiara's beautiful work, follow her on Instagram @k.hancock.

 


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