Fatima Bazzi, founder and creative director of floral-design company Studio Terrain, on the challenges of running her business during Covid, her dream collaboration, and her favorite way to spend a rare weekend off
By Perry Haselden
Featured photo by @northernnativemi
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your professional background.
I’m the founder and creative director of Studio Terrain floral design. I started out working for digital media companies when I was about 18 years old, and I also worked at one of the Big Three automotive companies as a project manager. After years of working in corporate America, I reached my breaking point. I needed to find a creative outlet, so I ended up going to creative conferences all over the country to find what I was passionate about. I tried photography, then stationary, and then I attended a floral design workshop in Ann Arbor and I fell in love!
2. How did you get started in the industry?
I started Studio Terrain as a side thing while I was still working full-time. Then in January 2017 I was laid off, which was a big surprise. Thankfully, I was given a severance check, and my husband was the one who encouraged me to take that money and officially start my business. I was lucky to meet photographer Cassie Tackett, now a good friend of mine, around that same time and she really took a chance on me and helped me break into doing floral design for styled photo shoots. From there, through social media, word of mouth, and building relationships with vendors, my company really started to grow.
3. What do you enjoy most about floral design?
It’s always going to be the design aspect for me: coming up with the design, creating a masterpiece, making my clients happy. But as much as I enjoy the design process, it is extremely labor intensive — so as the business has grown and we have needed to bring more people on board, my passion has shifted more toward the business side of things. We just added Julie McCammon, our new lead designer. She is extremely talented and we work so well together. I run the business side of things and she executes the designs — it’s perfect!
4. What was it like running an event-dependent business in 2020, during a global pandemic?
My whole mantra with 2020 is if we got through that, we can get through anything! Two weeks before quarantine, I had just signed the lease for my new studio space [in Farmington Hills], with plans to renovate it that April. It felt like a major step backwards, but I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to spend some time with my family and take a break from working every weekend. We did execute a few small weddings last year, but on top of everything else, we were also faced with a flower shortage. Additionally, we had to navigate the constant changes in guidelines for what was allowed and what wasn’t for events, like capacity limits. It was a really big learning experience!
5. What other creatives/businesses would you like to collaborate with?
Anthropologie would be the ultimate collaboration! Like, my whole house is Anthropologie.
6. Can you share some of your career highlights or moments you are most proud of thus far?
I’d have to say, growing the business during a pandemic and opening our studio space. I still can’t believe we did that and that we actually have a space now. I was terrified — I had never gone to a bank and asked for a loan to do something crazy like that. Before that, I was working out of my house for four years, in my tiny basement.
7. What was your biggest mistake or failure and what did you learn from it?
Not growing my team before now. I’m a really good project manager. I am really good at managing the behind the scenes, and that makes it harder for me to relinquish control. It’s something I struggled with and I definitely regret not doing it sooner.
8. How do you find balance between work and your personal life?
In the five years that I’ve owned this business, I have just now in the past month felt like I have work life balance. Trusting my team to execute projects the best way possible and accepting that sometimes there will be mistakes has helped me relinquish control and find my balance.
9. If you didn’t get into floral design, what would you be doing instead?
Photography and photo styling! That’s always been a dream of mine.
Now onto some fun…
10. What was your first job growing up?
When I was like 8 years old, when my neighbor would go out of town she would ask me to water all of her plants and flowers outside and she would pay me, like, $10.
11. What’s currently on your playlist?
I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Right now I am listening to the Harry Potter soundtrack on Spotify.
12. What was your favorite TV show as a kid?
“Lizzie McGuire!” We actually had it on in the studio the other day.
13. Three things you can’t live without?
My laptop, Capri Blue volcano candles (they are all over the studio and my house), and of course, my family.
14. Dream vacation destination?
My husband and I have been wanting to go on a backpacking trip through Europe; Spain, France, Italy, Greece. We’d spend two weeks just hopping around and going everywhere. Maybe next year!
Local love questions…
15. Your current favorite local spots for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
For breakfast, Café Zola in Ann Arbor. Lunch, Rocco’s Deli. If I lived in Detroit, I would eat it every day! And for dinner, Leila in Detroit. My husband and I are Lebanese and it’s kind of like a modern take on Lebanese food, so we really enjoyed it.
16. Your favorite place to shop locally in Metro Detroit?
Thistle & Bess in Ann Arbor. It’s the cutest gift shop.
17. Your go-to for a good cup of coffee?
I am a big coffee fanatic and I love going to the cafe at Bea’s in Eastern Market. They always introduce the most amazing coffee drinks each month.
18. Favorite thing to do on a weekend in Metro Detroit?
When I am not doing weddings on the weekends, my husband and I like to take our son to more of the kid-friendly activities around the city and just get out of the house and explore. The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village are always top on our list.
19. What do you love about Detroit?
The way that the city has flourished and grown is just amazing. The local artistry, small businesses, the food — I mean, the food is amazing! It’s hard to explain, but I feel like that all-encompassing, diverse feeling of being in Detroit is what makes it so amazing.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by?
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Albus Dumbledore