(Posted September 5th 2017 @ 11:15 AM by: Melody Reever)
by Rachael O’Neil
If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. That’s how the saying goes, at least. Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned where I am today. As a young girl, some of my big dreams involved getting married (to a preacher) and one day starting a family—three or four kids sounded nice. I’d dedicate my life to serving God and the church in any capacity I could—the basic essentials of every Christian girl’s heartbeat. Yet I truly had no clue where life would lead. It turns out that God’s plan for my life was less about an ending destination and more about open doors.
One open door began in my late teens while finishing high school and starting college. I was working as a cashier in a grocery store when a position came open in the floral shop. That sounded like something I’d love to do. The closest experience I had was being creative in arranging knee-length hair (which is truly a skill in itself). I applied and got the job!
When I married my husband, Ryan, I made the move from the state of Washington to Arkansas with only a couple years of college under my belt. It seemed like there was only one door open for me to find a job. Floristry was the trade I knew so I found a job at a fantastic flower shop in Pine Bluff. Having a dream to own a flower shop was only a glimmer in the back of my mind. How could that be possible since I’d married a preacher? For now though, I loved designing flowers, and it was a job that fulfilled our needs.
Circumstances changed, and God moved us to St. Louis, Missouri, where Ryan joined the wonderful team that works in Global Missions UPCI. And another door opened for me: a local flower shop with new, inexperienced ownership needed to hire someone who had worked with flowers. It turns out I was the most experienced person in the shop so I became the lead designer. Each door brought me closer to the experience I needed for that niggling dream in the back of my mind. However, I still didn’t see how it’d be possible with our lifestyle.
Sometimes people forget that open doors swing both ways. Sometimes God opens doors for you to enter a room. Other times He makes the room you’re in uncomfortable first, then He opens the door for you to leave. Four years ago, I had another big open door (that of the latter type). The flower shop where I was changed hands, and I couldn’t see myself working for the new owners.
By this time, I’d been working as a florist for nine years and was forced to make a choice. For the last year, Ryan and I had tossed around the idea of starting up a wedding and event floral studio. We wanted a way for everything to be scheduled in advance (goodbye nine-to-five!) leaving me free to travel some with him. Sure, as a dream it was great, but the idea of actually doing it scared me to death. Finally—a dream so big I was scared! I can’t tell you the amount of deliberation, tossing around options, and even tears that went into this decision. Finally, Ryan and I found the courage to launch Twisted Willow Design in June 2013.
Starting out, we turned our basement into my workspace, and we did over ninety weddings from there in just a few years. My mind was continually being blown at the opportunities I was receiving as a fledgling company, and I knew God had His hand in it.
In our first few years, we were featured in local and international magazines and blogs. I made an appearance on the local Fox news station to talk about wedding flower trends, and we became immersed in the wedding community. In addition, I was able to travel with Ryan like I hadn’t before since my schedule had more freedom, and on non-wedding weekends, I could take my work with me. I worked more than I ever had, but now I was in control of when that was, and everything I put into my business was an investment into its future.
This March, we started wedding season out in our new shop in Saint Louis south city. Our company now is officially an employer and we have a freelance crew that helps me design as well as set up weddings. We are preferred vendors at every nice venue in town, and the different vendors in the wedding community are constantly referring us. We are growing, and now have even more dreams. I still stand in amazement and awe; every small door God opened for me led to where I am today.
These doors led to several other new paths on which we’ve recently begun. Ryan started a floral software company that florists around the world now use. This allowed us to pursue another scary dream moment of starting a church in downtown St. Louis. Just one door, one step at a time. If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.
Rachael O’Neil has been the wife to one incredible man going on seven years, and mommy to one sweet boy for a little over a year. She is the owner and lead designer at Twisted Willow Design.