VOL. 37 | NO. 28 | Friday, July 12, 2013
50s: Rebel Hill owner follows mother’s lead
By Stephanie Toone
Anna Page, owner of the award-winning Rebel Hill Flortst, is a mix of her father’s entrepreneurial spirit and her mother’s creativity and business acumen. -- Leigh Singleton | Nashville Ledger
Anna Page’s first week as owner of Rebel Hill Florist was marked by the hustle and spontaneity that still excites the businesswoman 26 years later.
She bought the floral shop on a Thursday, and after three days had to pack up her store and move out. At the time of making her first big deal, the then 20-something had no idea her store’s building would be demolished for a gas station.
“I was young, and I didn’t find that to be an obstacle,” says Page, now 52. “That whole experience taught me that no obstacle was too big. I could always make something happen.”
From the rubble of her first storefront, Page has created a florist shop that Teleflora ranks as one of the top 250 florists in the nation. Rebel Hill Florist’s designers have been honored by the Tennessee State Florist Association.
The successful entrepreneur also served on the Metro Council for District 16 for five years. Sharing what she has learned along her path as a female entrepreneur has been as rewarding as her achievements.
4821 Trousdale Dr.
“If there [is a chance] to share knowledge with another woman, I always try to do that. That’s what I grew from,” Page says. “I think the thing I say to people most is – if it’s not broke, break it. If you’re rocking along and everything is great, how you do break from that and make it better?”
The St. Louis native gained that natural knack for taking risks from her dad, who was an educational consultant. He encouraged his daughter to be self-employed early on and enticed her with the glamorous aspects of the entrepreneur lifestyle.
“In retail, you work all the time. You work holidays. You sacrifice a lot,” Page explains. “I don’t think my father was talking about retail when he told me self-employment meant coming and going as you please.”
While her dad instilled the entrepreneurial spirit, her mom nurtured Page’s flower arranging talent. After graduating from Glencliff High School, Page got her first taste of what being a female entrepreneur would be like by working at a Nashville florist – for a woman.
“She was a businesswoman. She showed me how to handle things,” Page says. “She was a woman who had this great life with great things. I knew I wanted to do that.”
Page’s first step into entrepreneurship was with her mother. The mother-daughter team owned a flower shop in Hickory Hollow for about three years. That shop served as the temporary location for Rebel Hill Florist while Page scouted out the best location for her new business. It would take her six months to find the Crieve Hall location that has become a neighborhood landmark.
She negotiated an owner-financing deal to take over Rebel Hill. Once the financial and locale dealings were over, Page started putting her “break it” theory into action. She sought to change the dated look of Rebel Hill Florist. She added a wider variety of flowers. The changes did please some employees.
“It was a culture shock for the older ladies who had worked there,” she explains. “A couple of them worked for me for a while, but they decided to move on. Some people don’t like change, but I had to update things.”
Page admits her one flaw as a young business owner was letting go of employees that weren’t right for Rebel Hill.
“I was just not good at letting go of people, because I thought if they had the opportunity to correct things, they would,” Page adds. “Now, I feel like if you’re not a team player, I will cut the bait. I’m still not great at it though.”
She surrounded herself with like-minded business owners and spent time gleaming knowledge from industry experts in her field like the leaders of FTD, the global floral network.
In those networking and business-building sessions, Page learned the significance of branding and customer service. Business suggestions like offering her employees fruits instead of nutrition-deficient donuts at staff meetings are practices she uses today. Her employees have remained healthy and motivated due to that “business decision,” and most of her employees have stuck by her and Rebel Hill.
“I have a great team. Most of my team are my long-term employees. I have folks that have been here 20, 12 and seven years.”
With nearly 30-years behind her as a business owner, Page is finally starting to see life after Rebel Hill. Unlike when she first opened the shop, Page now places more value on her hours away. Spending time with friends and traveling are pleasures that were foreign to her when she worked 13-hour days.
She also wants more of the days that her dad once promised her would be commonplace as an entrepreneur.
“I want to come into work late. I want to spend much more time with my friends,” Page says. “I’m comfortable with who I am at this point in my life. I can see that I’ve conquered a lot. I want a lot more for Rebel Hill, but I’m also looking further down the road for me.”