Member Spotlight - Fresh Urban Flowers/Brooke & Zac Harris
How have you seen downtown San Antonio evolve in the past few years?
Brooke & Zac: In our immediate vicinity we have seen incredible growth with more and more potential surfacing each day. Havana has taken on new life with the opening of Ocho; a particular favorite spot of ours. There has been great progress on the Performing Arts Center renovations and we can hardly wait for the finished product! We’ve seen the new 1221 apartments built and many great friends have moved in. The office space under their parking garage is getting lots of notice. And on the opposite side of Broadway, there are new restaurants and stores popping up from Houston Street to Jones.
As a whole, downtown has seen some great activity! Free parking Tuesdays were introduced and a great incentive for everyone to come downtown. Hemisphere Park is well underway with exciting plans to be THE hopping place to be soon and we’ve always loved the Movie Nights they put on. La Villita First Friday Art Walk was introduced not long ago on First Friday’s. It’s complete with live music and food vendors and wonderful arts and crafts to peruse. And we can’t forget about Alamo Eats that recently opened along with Friendly Spot which has become a much loved staple. The Cevallos Lofts are packed and there will be a New York style fine foods grocery moving in! There are plans brewing for the Lone Star Brewery. I’m sure it will be fabulous! And the most recent amazing news to revitalize downtown would be the Alamo Beer Brewery set to break ground in September! The east side is well underway with great places like Backstage Live, Boneshakers and Tucker’s Kozy Korner to travel to and its all just on the back side of Sunset Station with great music and food.
Why did you choose downtown San Antonio for your business location?
& Zac: Well, we can’t lie; we do
love to be in the middle of everything so where better to be in the mix? We have always been drawn to downtowns. Downtown is the heart and soul of it
all. It’s where the first people took
root; where the river was a natural catalyst for a city to be born; where the
World’s Fair made it’s mark and where so many people saw this beautiful land
for the first time. Now, there is so
much bubbling we feel like we are sitting on a volcano that’s fighting back
eruption. It’s wonderful to feel like we
are a small part of it all. We see astounding
potential from our beautiful river going right through our bustling downtown, to
our spectacular architecture of these wonderful, historic buildings that are
all just waiting to be something great again.
That paired with our history and culture is insurmountable in our
book. Who wouldn’t want to in the middle
of all that greatness?
What do you like best about having a business downtown?
· The history and character of downtown
· Opportunity to be on the forefront of revitalization efforts
· Close to our favorite hangouts
· Gives us a chance to show off downtown to our clients who come and visit us in the studio
You both are very involved in the community. How do you think this affects your business and why is it such an important part of your model?
Brooke & Zac: People like to do business with friends. We chose downtown as the home for Fresh Urban Flowers so our business could be a part of the downtown culture but also so WE could be a part of the downtown culture. By “walking the walk” and getting involved with the people who make up downtown organizations and businesses you naturally get to know them and create lasting friendships. And, who wouldn’t want to do business with a friend?
Why should a young professional consider investing in their communities by being an entrepreneur and starting their own company?
Brooke & Zac: What you put into anything is what you get out. A small business just magnifies it. There is nothing like the immediate gratification from the fruits of your labor. Communities thrive when there are many small businesses full of passionate owners. Customer service becomes a way of life as do quality products. By investing in your small business you are automatically investing in your community. It’s a symbiotic relationship full of self-gratification. A win-win if you ask me.
What other types of businesses do you think would complement downtown?
· Cafes, coffee shops and workable lounges. We need more comfortable places to be while working from our mobile technology. More places to be creative in.
· Co-working & entrepreneurship incubation space
· Artisanal restaurants; Ones who care about the delicious food and drink.
· Boutiques with niche themes
· Art Galleries
· Local gyms
· Home décor & furniture stores
· Corner stores for produce and pantry foods
· Local bars
· Local movie theatre that shows indie films
· More flower shops
· Walkable, browse-able stores where you can buy THINGS
· Chocolate stores
· Home Made Ice Cream
· Bike Rental Stores
· Linen Stores
What is next for you both and the business?
Brooke & Zac: We are actively looking for ways to accommodate our expanding business. We have been blessed with great clients over the past two years and are ready to roll out some new ideas for Fresh Urban Flowers. We have just re-branded as Fresh Urban Flowers by Brooke Harris as you can see in our new logo. You will also be seeing our mobile flower cart “Gypsy Blooms” by Fresh Urban Flowers around town to help bring a little color and happiness to everyone around downtown. Zac is actively growing his business “Core Continuum Group” which he co-founded this year. CCG works in community and real estate development and is focused on helping owners realize their vision of development by offering full representative services.
We are personally working to find even more ways to get involved in the community. Zac will be making a run for planning commissioner to fulfill a goal of helping our community through the built environment. Brooke has become very active in NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) and recently was elected to the board as the chair of the policy committee.
both have been excited to be a part of the founding of the Awesome Foundation
San Antonio Chapter. Awesome SA is a new way for everyone to give back to the
community in an easy and fun way to see how their donation is making an awesome
impact in San Antonio. Our mission is to become “A network of people devoted to
forwarding the interest of Awesome in San Antonio.”
LOOP (Leadership Organization Of Professionals) has been a great new group that we have been very involved in since the beginning. LOOP just accepted its first year of members and we look forward to exchanging ideas and advising our policy makers on what the young professionals of San Antonio want in a city for them to stay and build there personal and professional lives. LOOP’s mission is to attract and retain young professional to San Antonio and we will accomplish this by offering leadership development, education, and opportunities for community engagement. We will be the voice for our generation and will be a force in the future of shaping our city as we progress.
Do you have any advice for someone considering starting a business, or moving their business, downtown?
Zac: Focused intensity is important in getting your business off the ground. You must be fully dedicated to the vision. Do not spend way too much time creating elaborate businesses plans because it will change as you go through the ramp up time. Bootstrap as much as possible at the beginning so that you are not starting out with a bunch of debt on the business or yourself. Work to get your MVP (minimum viable product) out to those who understand what it means to start-up a new venture. You can work out the kinks in this scenario before spending way too much money up front on a product or service that may not work at all.
time to dream about your pie in the sky and then create steps to get
there. It’s fun to see your path change
along the way. Sometimes your pie gets
even bigger. If
you have the itch then don’t wait.
Things have a way of working out.
Always choose how you spend your time here, you don’t have much to
What prompted you to become a Downtown Alliance member?
· Advocacy for small businesses
· A network of business to business sales opportunities
· Want to put our money where our mouth is on downtown revitalization
· Knowledge of the downtown
· Relationships with the downtowners
Brooke & Zac: What could be better than a downtown alliance? As we have become more involved we’ve realized it’s the truth. The relationships made within the organization have been our best downtown alliances yet.