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Alumni Spotlight: Katie Knapp

TMCC alumni Katie Knapp is owner of Bumblebee Blooms Floral Boutique in Reno.
Rebecca A. Eckland

For over a decade, Katie Knapp has been the owner of Bumblebee Blooms Flower Boutique. Although many local businesses struggled through the pandemic, her online following enabled her to continue a profitable business given that birthdays, anniversaries, and funerals continue regardless of worldwide pandemics.  

Her journey to business owner and floral designer began at TMCC when she decided she wanted to change the trajectory of her professional life. She had moved to the Reno area in 1992 and was working in the design industry, but it was a career that was no longer fulfilling to her. 

“I got tired of the corporate world. I was always more artistic, and all through [college] I had designed wedding cakes on the side, and I took a floral arranging class to learn how to design my cakes better. I really liked it, and then I got an internship at a local flower shop,” she said. 

As Knapp continued to work for the florist shop, she decided to take business and Culinary Arts classes at TMCC with the idea that she would one day own a floral shop of her own. “TMCC was a great option because I didn’t want to go into debt for a career, especially one that doesn’t pay very much. TMCC enabled me to have the option to pay as I went,” she said.

Thanks to the business classes she took, she crafted a viable business plan for her own floral shop. She also took Culinary Arts classes “for fun” but ended up having enough credits to earn associate degrees in both disciplines.  

“I got really into the culinary side of it,” she said. “It wasn’t really my ultimate goal, but I really loved [those classes.]” Knapp would end up starting her own business based on the business plan she crafted at TMCC, careful planning, and a passion for this particular career. That was ten years ago, and Bumblebee Blooms Floral Boutique is still going strong. 

“I really just wanted a place where I can just come and do my job, enjoy what I do,” she said. “I just wanted to make a decent living doing something that I love doing.” 

Considering the "R.O.I." of Your Education

A true businesswoman, Knapp has long recognized the value of “ROI” or a “return on investment” in education and in life. Too often, she said, students gravitate toward degrees they think they need, rather than the credentials and skills sets that are truly necessary to get the job done. 

“First, you have to have the inner passion for something that you’re dedicated to and that you want to do. I’ve never been a person to waste a lot of time with something that I’m not interested in,” Knapp said, explaining that the often one-size-fits-all role within a corporate environment didn’t correspond with how she wanted to live her professional life.  So too, a rigid degree program in an unrelated field wasn’t going to get her where she wanted—and needed—to go. 

“The fact that I could just go and take a couple of classes [at TMCC] that were related to my industry was something that I really admired about the college,” she said. “I didn’t have to take a bunch of unrelated classes that really had no impact on what I was actually going to do as a career.” Instead, the classes she took focused on what she needed to know as both a business owner and as a floral designer.

“There are so many people who need employees in the skilled trades, and those jobs don’t require an expensive education,” she said. “So if I invest in my education, I want to see that investment come back to me. Tailoring your education to what you want to do... that makes it more valuable.” 

Overcoming Challenges and Succeeding

Like many TMCC students, Knapp worked and attended classes at the same time. Luckily, she was able to build a class schedule that accommodated her job and her long-term goals. The experience of working and attending classes part-time made Knapp the successful business owner she is today by keeping the expense of higher education to a minimum while she continued to develop the hands-on skills of creating unique floral arrangements that remain a mainstay of her business.

To students just starting out, she said that in addition to being clear about your goals, planning and prudence are key. “Be prepared to plan and make sacrifices,” she said. “Also, getting out of your comfort zone is really important. Participating in skills competitions at TMCC helped me immensely. Some of the judges ended up becoming my mentors and helped me to write the business plan that I needed for the bank. It also gave me the opportunity to meet a ton of people in the community who are now my customers.” 

TMCC 50th Anniversary Celebration 

As a part of TMCC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration for the 2021-2022 academic year, we will be highlighting the success stories of our amazing alumni. Check back with our anniversary website for more details of the ongoing celebration or send your alumni success stories to our Marketing and Communications team.