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King of bling

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  • | 11:00 a.m. July 17, 2015
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Daniel Fisher is greeted like royalty when he attends flower shop industry confabs.

Affectionately known as the King of Bling, the mild-mannered Fisher owns a patented line of wearable designs that attach flowers to jewelry. Flower-shop owners love his products because they can sell jewelry for corsages and boutonnieres in addition to their floral arrangements.

Fisher runs his company, Floral Marketing, out of a nondescript building tucked away off U.S. 41 in Port Charlotte next to a cigar bar. Despite the modest space, it's a big operation, with $3 million in annual sales. “We sell on every continent except Antarctica,” Fisher says.

Floral Marketing, which does business as Fitz Design, sells 1,600 different jewelry pieces and other items to about 1,000 distributors who sell to flower shops. The market is huge: There are more than 17,000 flower shops in the Untied States alone.

But while the market is large, Fisher's success comes from targeting the specific opportunity his product brings.

The jewelry, for starters, adds a new source of sales for flower shops, which used to charge pennies for a simple rubber band that held a corsage. Instead, each Fitz jewelry piece retails at a florist from $3.50 to $45. “We've brought a lot of new dollars to the flower shops,” Fisher says.

Fisher educates distributors and florists on how to use the flower attachment, which is a clear plastic mount on the jewelry that can be removed after the flowers fade. Flowers can be easily glued or wired to the special attachment. “We have a boatload of webinars,” Fisher says.

In addition, Fisher helps flower shop owners promote their jewelry to teenagers who are big buyers of corsages for proms. Social media is a big part of that, says Fisher. “OMG, look what I'm wearing,” Fisher laughs, whipping out his smart phone and mimicking a 16-year-old girl.

Fisher constantly adds items to sell, depending on which way the fashion trends blow. Most flower shop customers are women, so Fisher is expanding his inventory to include other items that appeal to them and would bring in business at non-prom times of the year. That includes scarves, purses, baskets and jewelry that can be sold without a flower arrangement.
“We view ourselves as a fashion company,” he says.

In addition, Fisher targets other retailers that women frequent, including hair salons and gift shops. But he's careful not to get overextended. “We have to make sure we're managing capital,” he says.

Fisher travels to China four times a year, where he meets with each of the 35 different manufacturers who supply him with jewelry. Each one specializes in a certain kind of stone or metal. “I have a couple translators who travel with me,” Fisher says.

Fisher only works with small, family-owned enterprises in China. To earn their trust, he always gives them the first chance at producing an item, never pitting one against the other. With that trust, Fisher says the Chinese manufacturers respond quickly to his ideas for new designs. He and his team of designers create 300 to 500 new items a year. “I sketch them out and within 10 to 15 minutes I have a prototype in my hands,” he says.

Using bank financing, Fisher orders container loads of the jewelry and stores them in a warehouse in Port Charlotte. Agents he's hired in China take care of the shipping logistics.

A challenge for Fisher is to grow the business year-round. More than half of sales take place in the two months of March and April when teenagers get ready for proms. Fisher hires part-time help to fill orders during that rush. For the rest of the year the company has seven employees.

One thing Fisher doesn't worry about is anyone copying his designs. “I'm the only guy in the world who does this,” he says.

Follow Jean Gruss on Twitter @JeanGruss


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