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July, 2011 | Laid Off Lounge

Jenifer Kaplan’s Flower Truck—The Blossoming of a Great Idea

By Diane Adams

“Lots of people have great ideas all the time, it’s having the wherewithal to move forward with an idea that matters,” said Jenifer Kaplan, owner and founder of The Flower Truck, a blooming new business that puts fresh bouquets on wheels all over L.A’s Westside.

For Kaplan, a single mom who works in retail, that wherewithal was sparked by a deep-rooted desire to create her own business. “I have wanted my own business since I was in my twenties”, Kaplan explained. “I just never had the money. I’ve written lots and lots of business plans, and I always had the drive.”

When she received some money from her grandfather, and her employer began downsizing, Kaplan decided the time was right for her own venture. Knowing that she would still need to continue working, and handle the huge workload of single motherhood as well, she still didn’t let the challenges dissuade her.

“A year ago at dinner I told Lisa (Kaplan’s boss, who is also a single mother) about the idea for a flower truck. Oddly enough, she encouraged me to move forward with it. We single moms have to stick together, help each other out. Lisa told me that if she can do it, I could as well. She was an incredible encouragement to me, even as her own business was struggling in the recession,” Kaplan said.

Even with some odds against her, Kaplan decided to scout around for an attractive, personable truck and move forward with the idea to create a mobile flower shop. After giving the chosen vehicle a striking paint job, and modifying it for her needs, she hit the streets with her new truck on Valentine’s Day, 2011. The truck was an immediate hit. “After I launched it was so well received I realized I should go into business fulltime. I knew it was time to move ahead and make it work,” she said.

The hardest part of starting the business, for Kaplan, has been the sheer amount of work involved. “Finding help has been the biggest obstacle,” she said. “I needed people who could help with the physical work. Working full time and being a single mom, I needed help with that.” With the stress of working another job and managing a new endeavor, Kaplan struggled to find the energy needed to get everything accomplished, but she was encouraged by people around her to keep at it. “People wanted to help,” she said.

Her experience in retail worked in her favor as well. Kaplan was able to bring her knowledge of branding to the table, along with a familiarity with operational issues in business management, which made handling things like licensing and permittingd easier.

Although she is still employed part-time in retail and accounting, Kaplan feels things are coming together quickly. She is preparing to launch The Flower Truck into a fulltime business soon. With her drive for independence, and an attractive, inventive idea, the alluring fragrance of success is surely in the air.

Jenifer Kaplan, single mom, entrepreneur and founder of The Flower Truck, lives in Los Angeles, CA with her thirteen year old son, Kyle, who loves helping out with the truck.


The World’s Worst Social Media Embarrassment

Yesterday we had a total social media mishap, and one of life’s more embarrassing moments occurred with a Laid Off Lounge post.

Our Mystery Manager (MM), unknown to us, sent out a request to her colleagues for ideas for the MM series.  She was thrilled when two of her colleagues sent back completed articles that were really interesting, especially to our visitors.  She sent them to me, and I thought they were great.  Little did either of us know they were copied right off of other sites!

As luck would have it, I posted to one of the LinkedIn groups where a lady who is the author of one of the articles was the moderator. I was called out in front of what I felt like was the whole world. She was very angry, and I could not understand why.

At first, I thought the lady was reacting to having her ideas rewritten, as I have in the past when I found articles on the internet that looked as if they had been taken from the book I published in 1998 and rewritten without my giving me an ounce of credit.   When I responded to her accusations by saying maybe the situation was a little like we reinvented the wheel, she became even angrier with me. I was confused, so I printed out her article and compared it to the LOL article, sentence by sentence.  At that point, I became almost ill; the articles were the same.

Talk about being blindsided.   I was horrified because my goal from the start was for the LOL site only to publish fresh, original content.    My editor and I were both shocked, so we checked out the other MM series to make sure those were not copied either.  We have pulled two articles that we found were mistakenly published as coming from our Mystery Manager. We want to give credit to the actual authors and apologize for this terrible blunder.

We had no idea that the articles were copied. We have been interviewing contributors, and we thought everyone would follow the guidelines.  Our MM had no idea the articles were copied either, she thought her friends had written the content.

We hope that the actual authors and our readers will forgive us.  We are a new site, and we made a mistake.  This will not happen again.  We want to be very clear that we don’t copy people’s ideas, and would never knowingly publish something that belongs to someone else.

I appreciate the lesson learned and from here on, we will thoroughly vet any content submitted to this site.

Below are links to both articles by the real authors. Once again, we apologize for this, and say upfront we learned a painful but valuable lesson.

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