Small Business Owner, The Boho Vase’s Maria Wagoner, Shares Her Story

Last Updated: November 24, 2023By 5.3 min readCategories: Talking to the Boss

Introduce yourself! 

Hi I’m Maria! I own The Boho Vase here in Ankeny, Iowa. I am 26. I’m from a small town here in Iowa. I am so passionate about small business and I like to create and come up with new ideas all day long. I absolutely love what I do!

Tell me a little bit about your journey to opening a store.

I always knew I wanted to be a business owner, but I was never sure what my niche was. I tried to open a clothing store in college and quickly found out that was not my passion. I did not like working in soft lines. So I went to work at Bath & Body works and worked my way up to management and did a lot of visual displays there. COVID hit & I found myself scrolling through TikTok–like everyone else at the time–and found a video of a girl that was painting vases. She was using the trash-to-terracotta method of upcycling them. I just on whim tried it and I posted my creation on Facebook. Our wedding photographer said I should sell them to brides to use at their weddings. I then posted them on Facebook Marketplace just to see if I was able to sell them. I got a TON of hits! I then opened my own Etsy shop just selling the vases. From there customers wanted the dried florals too that I was staging them with. I wasn’t a florist and I can’t keep any real flowers or plants alive, so I taught myself how to build with dried florals & create arrangements. I would watch YouTube videos & get help from other creators. After everything started to pick back up, I decided to leave Bath & Body Works and put all my energy into my small business. I then picked up a job at a local stationery store and learned the ins and outs of running a business & then jumped into doing my own. I would start out at local markets to help grow my business and eventually ended up with the storefront! :)

Why did you create The Boho Vase? Where does its name come from?

I created it as a place to bring happiness, but also a place where I could help other small business owners. I love having the creativity to do what I want with the store and bring exposure to other smaller businesses to do pop-ups with. The name comes from the style–Boho–and then I started out with vases so, Vase. We also carry home & gift items, so a Boho Vase is a great gift item. I just thought it all flowed together well!

When do you create? 

I create all day long. My mind never stops going. I will create at the store when I’m here & make the arrangements or redo store displays. I also have my painting area at home, so in my free time I will paint vases there too!

Do you have a specific daily routine?

I really don’t. I try to get up early. I’m a lot more productive in the morning I’ve found. One thing I don’t like is routine. I like every day to be different. When the clock hits 5 I’m either still working on things for the store or if my friends call, I will go out for dinner etc. with them. I like to have a good work/life balance. 

What is your relationship with a higher power?

My relationship with God has forever been a grateful one. I’ve had a lot of struggles in my life and He has always (I’ve felt) saved me from a lot of things in a way. I always strive to do my best and be my best. I believe God has always had a great plan for me & the future. I’ve always leaned to Him when I’m struggling and I lean to Him when I’m thankful and happy with life and all of the above. I believe there’s no other timing than God’s timing. So as much as I would love to control the direction of anything I know life will play out how it’s meant to. 

What do you like to do for fun? 

I like to shop. Especially small businesses! In a new city I want to find the oldest main street with the quirky shops and meet the owners & see their displays and what they’re selling. I love going out for coffee with friends as well! 

What’s the best thrifted/second-hand find you’ve ever found?

My coolest find recently was a San Francisco style condo vase that I made an arrangement out of! I loved that one! Otherwise I always get excited when I find a good rattan piece of furniture.

Favorite MUST READ authors?

I will be honest, I do not read much, but one of my favorite authors has to be Mitch Albom. He wrote Tuesdays with Morrie–my favorite book ever. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, but I think every time I read that I just want to take on the world. 

3 items you cannot live without are…

My dogs, music, caffeine!

Coffee or tea?

Coffee 100%!!! But not too strong :)

What would you tell yourself 5 years ago? 10? 

You’ll get there–just be patient! You’ll be so proud of who you become!

What does living your capital T Truth mean to you?

 I have my truth – you have yours. Living your best life true to who YOU are.

Favorite quote?

“Your entire life really can change in a year. Love yourself enough to know you deserve more. Be Brave enough to demand more and disciplined enough to work for more.”

Pick 3 of your favorite items currently in-store.

XL Wall Calendars! So cute and hand painted by an artist. 

Floral Stanley Cups

Sherpa pumpkins for fall!

What’s your favorite season at The Boho Vase?

My favorite season is Christmas! It’s so fun to decorate the shop and there’s so many fun events going on. 

You can follow The Boho Vase on Facebook and Instagram as well as shop their website.

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