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VENTURA COUNTY REVIEW

Florist Says Academy Helped Business Blossom

August 20, 1996|LEO SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Dee Marchionna said she rarely thinks of her Camarillo floral business as being a minority-owned venture.

But as her Rosemar Flowers marks its 10th anniversary this month, the Oxnard resident said she had more than a few hills to climb related to her race and gender.

"Male florists outnumber female florists 3 to 1 in Ventura County and these businesses were pretty established when I started," Marchionna said. "From a female and an Hispanic standpoint, it was a drawback."

Marchionna opened her business in 1986 strictly as a wholesaler, purchasing flowers from local growers and selling them to local retail outlets.

"We began in a garage with one refrigerator and one delivery truck and zero accounts," Marchionna said. "We started pursuing mom and pop type stores and went from there."

After three years of selling strictly wholesale, Marchionna added a retail side to her business. Rosemar currently has about 175 retail clients between Santa Barbara and Glendale. Ventura County clients include Dahl's Market in Oak View and Jue's Market in Ventura.

"I think it was harder 10 years ago for minority businesses than it is now and I really feel it will continue to get better," Marchionna said. "But minority or not, I think all businesses have to pull together."

Marchionna credits much of her recent success to the Ventura County Entrepreneurial Academy) sponsored by the county's Personnel Department. She attended the academy two years ago in hopes of digging out of the recession of the early 1990s.

"The academy made me go back to the basics and come up with a business plan, look at the areas I was strong in and weak in. They made me focus," Marchionna said. "I learned that things are always changing and that we have to be able to change with them, always keeping a finger on the pulse, knowing what is going to come next."

One of the things coming up next for Marchionna is high-tech flower service.

"With the use of personal computers you can order flowers from your home seven days a week and we're glad to see it," she said.

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