Donaldson is a self-proclaimed introvert and says she was initially terrified by the idea of standing in the middle of a crowded sidewalk and offering something she puts so much work into for other people to judge. She once struggled with this career choice — battling disapproving parents, hot Texas weather and disinterested customers — but says she believes in what she is doing and will continue to persevere through the challenges as her business grows. “When I first started doing the cart, I had to be really brave,” Donaldson says. When she sets up shop, Donaldson says she wants to present customers with an “experience,” so that customers feel like they’re shopping and not just stopped on the side of the street. Attached to the front of her bright purple bike is a white cart on which all of her succulents are displayed. This mobility has allowed Donaldson to seek out new spots and opportunities. Customers can stop and browse the selection she has already created but also have the option to order custom plants. If there is a container and a plant the customer particularly likes, Donaldson will put them together and arrange a pickup or delivery.
Donaldson typically rolls up to her locations during the weekends when there is more foot traffic. She spends her weekdays picking out containers at thrift stores and antique malls or restocking on succulent plants she picks out herself from a supplier in South Austin. To prepare for market, Donaldson chooses the containers, often modifies them by painting or sanding them and then chooses the succulent that goes inside. For Donaldson, rosettes are like the roses of the succulent world. These plants look a lot like a flower in bloom with their petal-like shape, but still maintain the vibrant green and rubbery texture of a succulent. She tends to give them center stage on her cart, but also likes to play around with unique plants and containers.
“Sometimes it looks really pretty when you just have one container and one plant as the focal point. Simple can be gorgeous,” Donaldson says. Although Donaldson typically sells out of her cart, Flowers on the Fly was showcased at the Langford Market store at the corner of Guadalupe Street and 32nd Street on Sunday, Nov. 2. Perhaps Donaldson’s dream of a storefront is not too far off. For more information on Flowers on the Fly, check out Donaldson’s Instagram: @flowersonthefly.