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Black History Month Feature: M&F Floral and Décor

I recently had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Fanny Müller, the mastermind behind M&F Floral and Décor. Let me tell you, her story is as vibrant as her stunning floral arrangements! Fanny's passion for connection shines through every word she speaks, and I feel incredibly lucky to have heard her story firsthand. Now I'm thrilled to pass it on to all of you amazing Miss Ruby Brides!

Fanny's journey began when she immigrated to Milwaukee from Cameroon, West Africa at just 16 years old. It wasn't easy, but it sparked something incredible within her – the spirit of entrepreneurship. Definitely learning the new language, speaking French and having to go to a new school. That was something that was a big cultural shock for me because the system is completely different than where I was coming from. My sister and I were the only Africans from Africa that had ever attended that school and there’s a lot of stereotypes about Africans, so there were a lot of things like that that I had to deal with. But I guess it helped that I didn’t understand English!” Fanny shared. 

Her story is a testament to her resilience and unwavering determination to forge her own path. “I always say that I grew up in Cameroon, but Milwaukee made me the woman that I was meant to be. It has been just a blessing because I’m able to thrive in a different environment, and that’s probably one of my favorite skills about me – that I’m so adaptable and I can find my way.”

That brings us to M&F Floral and Décor! Fanny brings a fresh perspective to the world of florals, aiming to weave each bride's unique story into her arrangements. "I always tell my brides, we're gonna be besties!" Fanny exclaimed. Whether it's in person or over Zoom, she makes sure to soak up her clients' vibes and energy. It's clear that she genuinely cares about forming connections with her clients, using those connections to inspire her creations for each and every one of them.

Learn more about Fanny with the full interview below!

Q: Tell us about M&F Floral and Décor!

“I do bespoke florals, so everything is custom made and personalized to your vibe and aesthetics. I also do styling with very curated pieces all picked out to match your vibe and give you that sense of je ne sais quoi! I’m all about little details and personalization because I believe that your wedding should be about telling your story.” 

Fanny totally gets that her brides are the experts on their own stories. By teaming up with her, she can sprinkle that extra magic on them, with the power of flowers! Her goal? To stir up feelings with her floral masterpieces and keep her brides focused on what truly matters: their love story and celebration!

Q: What inspired you to start M&F Floral?

“My mother actually inspired me. French is my first language. M&F stands for mère et fille which means mother and daughter in French. When I was a kid one of my fondest memories with my mom was just following her to decorate places. She was just doing this for fun because she loved it so much and back then people didn’t really believe it was a real job. She instilled in me at a very young age a sense of curiosity about creating things as far as fashion, art, all those things in me. She is the one who is always showing me you can go out there and just make the way for yourself.”

“My mom’s dream was to become a nurse. When we moved to America she went back to school to pursue her dream, and I saw you could do this no matter what age you are. She didn’t know English. She had to learn about computers, and through it all she preserved. The day that I decided that I was going to start M&F was the day that she told me she passed her boards to become a nurse. I was like, "If my mom is 65 and she just realized her dreams, what am I doing?” I need to get on and do this. So that day I was like, you know what? I’m going to start my business. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m just going to go for it.”

Q: Tell me about your journey to M&F Floral and Décor.

“I started actually doing fashion styling, and flowers kind of just fell into my lap through another friend. She needed someone with a good eye to work at a floral shop, and I fell in love with it. I remember when I left that job I was so sad. I was like I never felt like this before, and it was like a piece of me was missing. I was just always curious watching videos, reading books and practicing. After that, I worked for a big wedding and event company. That’s when I actually realized okay this is something that I can do at a higher level, because you know doing weddings is a big deal! That’s someone’s very special life moment and it’s a huge day. Going on my own was really scary, but I knew what I could offer. I didn’t have a voice where I was working. I just wanted things differently. Things were too traditional for my taste. I just got to a point where I felt stuck. People would always tell me ‘Why don’t you start on your own?’ I just didn’t think I could do it by myself.”

Fanny then shared an inspiring story about her mother's determination which shaped her mindset and business today. Back in Cameroon, both her parents were teachers. “My mom thought that it was important to be teaching things like art in school. We didn’t have that back then when I was living in Cameroon.” Her mom took matters into her own hands and approached the mayor with a successful persuasion to include art classes in the schools. “It was always in her. She always wanted to do it and she created the opportunity for herself. She is the one who is always showing me you can go out there and just make the way for yourself. So that’s where my business is based.” 

Q: Tell me about the inspiration behind your art.

“Coming from fashion, Japanese street style has always been an inspiration for me. They just do things differently. They are so advanced. They have this beauty of simple things and imperfections.”

Fanny then enthusiastically shared with me the beautiful Japanese practices that deeply inspire her. “Wabi Sabi is making things beautiful just as they are and not trying too hard. In a humble way, in a modest way. Those are my values. I’m a very simple, humble person. I like to create with little. I don’t think you need a lot to make an impact. I’m also inspired by Ikebana which is another Japanese style of making flowers which focuses on using little. Here in North America, we’ll have 20 stems in an arrangement. Ikebana will have 2 or 3 but it will transport you and tell a story. It also shows the full beauty of the flowers because you can see them from the stem up to the leaves and the petal. It really puts them out there in a very simple, artful, beautiful way.

Fanny also shared that she finds immense inspiration in the natural beauty of nature. “Nature, just seeing how things grow naturally out in the wild. I don’t like when things really have shape because when you go outside things are just growing. We are the humans coming in and cutting things to make them into a shape. Just seeing that organic flow of things and it’s all about how I feel internally too. And I just translate it to my work.”

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

“I definitely had a transformative experience in believing in myself as an entrepreneur. I would say I didn’t always know. When I was young I wanted to be a pediatrician. And I actually did try to go into pre-med, but I just couldn’t stand it. Also, I’m a fashion girl. I just couldn’t see myself in scrubs! I noticed that I was never okay just being in one place, so I started to just think about all the things I could do and still be able to support myself. But again, I wouldn’t say that I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I kind of just found it along the way. I just created my own way.”

Q: If you could share one piece of advice to other entrepreneurs just starting a business, what would it be?

“Just do it! Honestly. Do it scared. Do it not ready. You will learn so much along the way, but you have to start. And that’s probably one of my regrets - not starting early enough. But you know everything happens for a reason, and I’m okay with my journey and I’m loving it. But just go for it! Because you already have it in you.” 

Q: What has been your favorite memory?

“I would say Art in Bloom. Last year I was part of Art in Bloom and it was my first year in business. I know I have talent, but then you have people there that have been doing it for years, and you have this little bit of imposter’s syndrome and you kind of doubt yourself. When I first started, I wasn’t as confident. I knew I could do it. I just wasn’t super confident in myself. Then I decided to sign up for Art and Bloom. The art museum is one of my favorite places, and I had attended Art in Bloom in the past. I always said it would be so cool to have my own piece there. I ended up meeting so many amazing people. It just gave me the reassurance that I needed. I got so many great compliments. So I would say that was probably one of my favorite memories. It gave me the boost that I needed to just go for it.” 

At her first ever Art in Bloom, Fanny ended up winning the People’s Choice Award 3 days in a row. “I didn’t move from my piece. I was there talking to the people, meeting them, and hearing all their stories. It was just great what everyone was saying - like the way my piece made me feel. I want my art to represent something for people – for them to feel something when they see it. And just to hear how people felt, I felt like okay I’m going to go for this, and that was amazing.”

Q: What change or impact do you hope your business brings to the community?

“When I started out I didn’t really have a community that I could go to and talk to or work with. I didn’t have a space. I was just doing it from home until I was able to get my studio. I hope to one day create a space where I can bring creatives or people who are just starting out to a place where they can come and all work together, connect, and bounce ideas off each other. Something for the community where those within the creative circle can all feel welcome no matter who they are. 

For now you can catch Fanny spreading joy through acts of kindness. You may see her on the bus or throughout Milwaukee handing out flowers in hopes of making people smile. “I just do little by little what I can for now until I’m able to be more established and I can create a bigger impact in my community.”

Fanny is passionate about serving her own community.

“Being in the wedding industry and the type of art that I bring, I would love to get more in touch with my own community. Because I feel like there’s a lack of brides who are exposed to what I offer, especially black and brown brides. So that’s another thing I’m taking on and just seeing what I can do with that because I would love to see black and brown brides. I would love to do more weddings for them. It’s just that they aren’t exposed to that. That’s something that’s still a work in progress. It’s been a challenge for me, but I’m very hopeful it will change and I’m hopeful I will be the one making that change.”

In need of a florist? Check out M&F Floral and Décor!

Interviewed and written by:

Anna Brown


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