“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” 
― Sheryl Sandberg

BABE #31: ZOE GALLINA,<BR>Creative Director @ Botanica International

Creative Director @ Botanica International

Zoë is just so lovely. She was referred to me by her 'right-hand woman' and a very important lady in my life, Kellie Hughes. As I know Kellie surrounds herself with good company in and out of the workplace, I can only imagine how wonderful Zoë is in person. Her passionate (and meticulous) approach to her career leaves a lasting and memorable effect on one of the most special days in the lives of her clients. Thanks for being here, Zoë!

Engaged friends who are in the beginning stages of wedding planning and decorating: this interview is for you. You're welcome.

The Basics:

Hometown: Born in Rutherglan, Scotland & Raised in Tampa, FL
Current city: Tampa, FL
Alma mater: University of North Florida
Degree: B.S. in Communications
Hustle: Creative Director, Botanica International Design and Decor Studio

The Interests:

Babe you admire and why?
I admire all women, but specifically moms. Obviously it’s most likely because I’m a semi-new (3 years into the gig) Mom myself. Motherhood is the most amazing, challenging, wonderful, hard and awesome job all at the same time. To think we’re able help grow and take care of a little human being all the while taking care of ourselves is pretty incredible. We're all pretty awesome, and I don’t think we appreciate ourselves enough for what we do.

What have you been listening to lately?
JohnnySwim! We had the honor (and pleasure) of providing the florals and décor for this AMAZING duo several years ago for their wedding. When I learned the bride’s mother was Donna Summer and she and her husband were a talented singing duo, I was HOOKED!

Go-to adult beverage?
Red or white wine. I don’t discriminate. ;)

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
This answer would certainly be different 4 years ago, but right now, it would be on a Disney Cruise with my husband and 3-year-old daughter. I’ve heard nothing about rave reviews about Disney Cruises, and my daughter is Disney/Disney princess obsessed - I know she would die! 

The Hustle:

Photo by Justin DeMutiis.

Photo by Justin DeMutiis.

Tell us about your hustle:
I am currently the Creative Director at Botanica International Design and Décor Studio, my family’s business (Est. 1989). As Creative Director, I interact with each client that walks through our door. We discuss their event and help to create the design and décor concept. Sometimes clients come in with an exact vision and others come in and trust us to create it for them. After I create all of our concepts and proposals, the rest of our crew brings them to life. I also oversee our social media, various personnel items and rental items, work with a graphic artists for various marketing materials, and when necessary, clean/tidy up around the office. In a family business, you wear many hats!



What does your typical workday look like?
When I’m able to, I love getting into the office earlier than everyone else to leisurely check emails and review my to-do list for the day. A lot of my job takes place behind a computer, sending and answering client and planner emails and creating our design concept proposals. Tuesdays and Thursdays are client meeting days (and normally my busiest,) with meetings ranging from 4-6 hours. After that, creating each client proposal can take approximately 2-3 hours. The client experience is THE most important thing to me, so I have a rule that every phone call and email must be responded to by the end of every day, (even if it’s saying I’ll get back to them within 24 hours). The rest of my day is spent collaborating with my Dad and our designers on the current week’s events, then I'll write out my to-do list for the following day. It helps me relax and ‘check-out’ from the office (although I never stop checking my emails – but I'm working on it.) Lastly, I make sure my files/desk are organized and clean –  I'm all about the details, and cannot STAND an unorganized desk.

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When and why did you decide on your career?
Although I always swore I'd never work for my family after college, I grew up working here on the weekends and helping set up for weddings. One month after my college graduation, I got a job working for a small marketing agency - where I quickly realized that I was investing so much time into a company that wasn’t mine, when I had a business available to me that I was literally born into. After making the switch back, I took working for our company very seriously. My dad will still tell the story of the time I ‘set an appointment’ to meet and pitch to him on why I should work for his company and what I could do for it. I dressed up, complete with a portfolio and all. Obviously my presentation went well, and the rest is history. 

How long did it take you to climb the ladder to being Creative Director?
Aside from the brief marketing detour, my entire career has been spent with Botanica. This past July, I celebrated 10 years. I guess you could say I spent my time being an apprentice to my Dad for the first 5 years – I can’t explain how much I learned from him during that time. I sat in on every single client meeting, gaining a true understanding of all that the industry has to offer. On the side, I also assisted wedding planners, learning the ins and outs of the industry from another perspective. From there, I grew a very successful wedding planning business completely independent from Botanica. 5 years in, both Botanica and my planning business were taking off. It got to the point where I was going to have to make a choice between the two, and for me, not working with my Dad wasn’t an option. We hired a business consultant to get an outside perspective, and through meetings, we all learned that if I was offered a more creative role at the company, it would fulfill the creative outlet I was seeking in planning weddings. From there, my role was born and I’ve loved it ever since.

How do you stay organized amongst all of the little details of your job?
Sometimes I ask myself the same question! Three things. 1. My right hand lady (our Account Coordinator) Kellie Hughes - I couldn’t function without her. 2. My calendar – if it’s not in my calendar, it’s not happening. 3. My to-do list – Without it, I'm lost.

Favorite part about your job?
Being a part of one of the most important days in a family’s life. Making things beautiful and seeing everything come together on the day of the event. It's truly the definition of seeing the fruits of your labor.

Hardest part?
Being a part of one of the most important days in a family’s life. Ha! This job has very high client expectations, as weddings of course require a lot of money. We only get one shot, a ton of details and a lot of clashing personalities for the day. Honestly, being the President of my sorority in college trained me for it. If I can manage and oversee over 90 sorority girls, I feel like frankly, I can handle anything!

Do you have any noteworthy (intense, funny, embarrassing, etc.) work moments?
I’ll never forget a wedding that I planned about 7 years ago in the summertime. The bride's family owned a local air conditioning company, and her father's top priority was keeping people cool. While waiting for the bride to walk down the aisle, the venue called to say that a generator had blown and the majority of the electricity had been lost. We still did our best to provide a wonderful wedding, the guests and vendors banded together to make sure it was still a success, and the couple was incredible. We fortunately had tons of candles, and the food was kept heated via chaffing dishes and fuel packs. We learned throughout the evening that the only way to fix the problem was cutting off all power (even the emergency lights we had throughout the venue), so we made the most of it - and it was a memorable evening for all. At the end of the day, we had a happy bride and groom and that's all that mattered. I’ve never been so sweaty in my entire life – I think I dry cleaned the dress I wore that night. Twice. 

How do you manage stress?
Working out, talking stressful things through with my husband (he can always help talk me off the ledge and/or be my voice of reason) and weirdly, strolling through stores like HomeGoods or Marshalls by myself with no agenda. Ha! I could be in the worst mood and after an hour of browsing, I’m a totally different person. My husband calls these stores my happy place. Not to mention, who doesn't love a good deal?

How do you keep a work/life balance?
I once reached a point where I didn't have balance and almost imploded. Don’t get me wrong, I still have those days, but it’s all about managing my schedule and making sure I don’t overload myself with too much to handle. Ex: limiting how many new client appointments I can set in a week, not over-scheduling and committing to too many extracurricular or social activities, etc. Most importantly, always making sure I can attend my daughter’s school events and having at least one day a week dedicated to my husband and daughter. Being the Creative Director is one of my top duties, but being a Wife and Mom are tied for #1! 

What do you hope for your future?
To continue to grow and challenge myself in my career. I hope to take risks and put myself out there in ways that create new opportunities. Recently, I pitched the Society of American Florists about presenting at their convention on a program that I thought our fellow florists from around the country could really learn and benefit from. This past September, I did just that, and the cherry on the sundae was that the convention was located in Maui. Knowing I had just pushed myself in a way I didn’t think I’d be able to was exhilarating, and I look forward to making similar opportunities happen. 

Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Just be kind. It’s beyond important to treat people the way we expect to be treated. You never know a persons story, so it’s imperative to be kind regardless of the situation. Kindness will always win.

Connect with Zoe!

IG | FB | Botanica IG | Botanica FB


This interview has been condensed and edited.

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