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Small Business Interviews

WTFinance with Dandy Farmer

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

WTFinance with Dandy Farmer

Paul Kierulf & Matt PuntigamCO-FOUNDERS

Paul Kierulf and Matthew Puntigam are the co-founders of Dandy Farmer, a Brooklyn-based modern bonsai studio.

Employees

2

Founded

2016

LOCATION

New York, NY

Industry

Bonsai Studio

Social

For our inaugural issue of WTFinance, vendors at Canal Street Market share their two cents on money-saving strategies, professional rituals, and what freaks them out most about small business finances.

MONEY TALKS

Funding Circle

What’s one thing you’ve done in your career that helped you succeed, and that very few other people do?

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

We stay focused and hone in on what we do well and make sure every move we make is thoughtful to our brand DNA. We also believe that a firm vision anchors our decisions and better shapes how we grow.

Funding Circle

What’s a mistake you see get made all the time, even by very smart people? What have you learned from that to handle that thing the right way?

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

You have to keep evolving to respond to your customer’s needs while staying true to your goals. Striking the right balance is not always easy to do, but key to this is listening and responding in a genuine way. Whatever you do, do it with intention.

Funding Circle

Is there–or has there been–expenses you now see as big wastes in the rearview?

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

We’ve had people suggest hiring PR but after doing our research from other friends with their own businesses, it’s not really a great strategy from a small business standpoint. There’s nothing better and more lasting than the power of word of mouth.

Funding Circle

If you had an extra $___, what would you do?

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

We would love to open a brick and mortar studio in the city.

Funding Circle

What are some money-saving strategies you’ve used as a growing business?

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

Nurture relationships with your suppliers and you may just get a great deal in the long run.

Funding Circle

What business expense–if any—have you most underestimated?

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

We work with living things and sometimes the weather can be very unpredictable – be it a heat wave or a freeze snap that can kill some of our plants. That’s lost time and money right there.

Funding Circle

As a creative, is there anything about finance (or a financial concept) that still totally freaks you out (or you just can’t seem to get the hang of)?

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

Number crunching and bookkeeping.

MISCELLANEOUS MUSINGS

Funding Circle

Best summer job:

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam


Paul: I was an advisor for rising high school students at SCAD’s summer arts program.
Matt: Getting to apprentice under Japanese gardeners in Tokyo.

Funding Circle

Worst summer job:

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam


Paul: I was hauling manure all day at a farm in the french countryside one summer. I was covered in it by the end of the day.
Matt: Butchering chickens.

Funding Circle

What professional rituals do you have?

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

We give our bonsais the spa treatment from the time we wake to when we go to bed.

Funding Circle

Finish this sentence. Money is _________.

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

Money is not as fulfilling as having family and a sense of community.

Funding Circle

If you had to do another job, what would it be?

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

Paul: I would hands down open up a bakery.
Matt: Become an artist/activist.

Funding Circle

3 favorite local independent businesses in NYC (and why):

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

  1. Nalata Nalata – We admire their beautiful shop and how much thought they give to everything they put out.
  2. CW Pencil Store – We love Caroline’s tenaciousness and how she shoots for the stars.
  3. Keap – Not only do we love all their candles but we admire their social entrepreneurship.

Funding Circle

Why is it important to support local independent businesses?

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

Supporting local independent businesses instills a sense of community and encourages choice and innovation.

Funding Circle

Must-have item at Canal Street Market (that isn’t yours):

Paul Kierulf & Matt Puntigam

We’re currently on an eating spree at CSM so for breakfast we’ll have Lulu’s Tallulah bowl, for lunch Samurice’s Bento and a treat from Boba Guys with their Hongkong Style Boba.

Samantha Novick

Samantha Novick is a senior editor at Funding Circle, specializing in small business financing. She has a bachelor's degree from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. Prior to Funding Circle, Samantha was a community manager at Marcus by Goldman Sachs. Her work has been featured in a number of top small business resource sites and publications.

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