The Blossoming Entrepreneurial Journey of Lindsay Neely, founder of Pink Fern

Jun 12, 2024

The world of entrepreneurship is filled with stories of passion, perseverance, and a willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone. One such inspiring story comes from Lindsay Neely, founder of Pink Fern, a charming plant shop off College Avenue in Fayetteville, in a row of other woman-owned businesses. In this month’s Startup Stories, Lindsay shared her entrepreneurial journey from humble roots to a blossoming business—plant puns intended. 

Lindsay’s love for plants and vintage decor began at a young age, fostered by childhood memories of frequenting garage sales and estate sales with her parents. “I grew up going to second-hand sales with my mom and dad. We loved frequenting garage sales. We’d shop on the side of the road, at estate sales, thrifting… I love a good deal. And then I started incorporating my love for plants with some of those finds.”

Her passion for plants expanded during her college years when she transitioned from traditional gardening to nurturing houseplants. “I grew up gardening with my parents, but then in college, in between dorms and apartments, there’s not really a good place to garden. So I got more into houseplants at that point, and that was really where that hobby started.”

In 2021, Lindsay took the leap and launched Pink Fern as a part-time venture, initially selling vintage home decor through Instagram. As her business evolved, she began incorporating her love for plants, crafting unique planters and terrariums. “I started taking plant cuttings and putting them in brass vessels or vintage pottery, taking those to markets, and people really liked it.”

Participating in local events like First Thursday in downtown Fayetteville played a crucial role in Lindsay’s journey, helping her gain confidence and connect with the community. “Doing those events really helped build my confidence. It was a great way to earn a little side money to teaching, and really just bring me out of my shell because I used to be more introverted, and it really helped bring out a more extroverted side to me, which I think is easy when you get to talk about things you love.

From the outset, Lindsay recognized the importance of strong branding for her budding business. “One of my first tasks that I wanted to do was to really nail down some branding from the get-go, because I knew it was always at least going to be a side hustle. And I think for me, as a consumer, seeing a business that makes a statement with their branding and a consistent aesthetic really, really makes a statement.”

Lindsay also tapped into the wealth of resources available in Northwest Arkansas, including Kiva NWA, a microloan organization that provided her with valuable consulting and financial assistance. “I also got help from Kiva. They helped me. They have a lot of great free resources. And so I did a Zoom meeting with Martha Londagin, and she took a look at my business, heard my story, and had some great feedback on what I should be doing.

As the demands of her teaching career and Pink Fern grew, Lindsay found herself at a crossroads. “The more I thought about it, and knowing myself, I knew that if I didn’t at least try, I’d always play that What if… game, right? I’d always wonder, What if I had gone all in? What if I had tried harder? What if I hadn’t been so scared? So I went all in.”

In the following two years, Lindsay dedicated herself full-time to Pink Fern, participating in events and operating a shop space at The Shops at Brick City. This phase allowed her to build a solid customer base and gain invaluable experience. Fighting the temptation to rush into opening a brick-and-mortar store, Lindsay trusted her instincts and waited for the right opportunity. Her patience paid off when the perfect space became available, thanks to a fortuitous connection with the previous owner. “I think the stars just aligned. I’m really glad that I did it, that I didn’t ignore my gut and I didn’t act on impulse and just open up a shop to get it done.”

Reflecting on her journey, Lindsay acknowledged the importance of self-confidence and embracing resources. “I wish I had been able to enjoy the opening process more, instead of just being stressed out the whole time. Because after, I was like, why was I even worried? Like, of course it’s great. I’ve already got customers. People like it.”

Looking ahead, Lindsay plans to introduce terrarium workshops and plant care classes, further nurturing the plant community she has cultivated. 

The Pink Fern story is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and the nurturing entrepreneurial ecosystem of Northwest Arkansas. As Lindsay continues to cultivate her dream, her journey serves as an inspiration to other aspiring entrepreneurs, reminding them to trust their instincts, embrace community resources, and never underestimate the transformative power of pursuing one’s passions.

For those looking to follow in Lindsay’s footsteps and get connected to the startup community, we offer a variety of events, resources, and networking opportunities. Stay connected by following us on social media and signing up for our monthly newsletter to never miss out on events like Startup Stories, educational workshops, pitch competitions, and more.