Women In Business: Lori Hawkins – Hawkins Landscape Architecture

We continue our series on Women In Business where we highlight a wide variety of businesses that are owned and operated by women all around the country. Our goal is to learn from, inspire, motivate and celebrate this strong, unique, and diverse group of women.

Our spotlight today is on Lori Hawkins, owner of Hawkins Landscape Architecture. Here’s what she told us.

What is your company?

Hawkins Landscape Architecture – I offer landscape and hardscape site design for residential and commercial customers. I am based in the Greensboro, North Carolina Piedmont Triad Area. I also serve the Raleigh area and further out with remote designs.

When was your company founded?

2009

What inspired you to form your own company?

I had been working for a large design build firm in Greensboro, NC. The great recession hit and I was laid off. I decided to go off on my own and in hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

What is the best part of your job?

Oh wow, so many things. I love being creative, creating spaces that I can see people enjoy, making my own schedule, work/family balance and of course all of my hard work benefits me and my family, instead of someone else.

What is the hardest part of your job?

Time management and being able to give each project the time that I want to put into it. Also finding and keeping help.

Have you found that being a woman business owner has helped your business? 

Yes, a few years ago I applied to designate my business as a ‘HUB’ (Historically Underutilized Business) with the City of Greensboro. I recevied that because I am a woman owned business. I have been awarded several projects because of that designation.

What are some obstacles that you’ve encountered being a minority business owner?

I don’t fully understand the process and resources available to me. Because it is a government agency often the time and paperwork involved sometimes is too daunting for me.

What is one piece of advice that someone gave you early on that you found to be invaluable.

It is easier to keep an existing customer than it is to generate a new customer. Existing customers are already fans and can refer you, hire you again, etc. With a new customer you are starting from scratch.

What is one piece of advice that would you give to someone that is thinking of starting their own business?

Do what you love, but make sure that there is a market for it.

What is one mistake that you made early on that you would re-do if given the chance?

I would have gone off on my own sooner- I liked getting that regular paycheck and I was afraid.

What is one future goal that you have for the business?

To find someone that I could partner with so that I could reduce my workload as I near retirement.

Who has inspired you the most in your business?

Other female business owners in my industry- there aren’t many of us. 😦

How has the pandemic affected your business?

My work fell off briefly, but then came roaring back. I think because everyone is home looking out their window at their yard.

On days that are particularly hard with the business, what keeps you going?

In 2020 during the spring (when it is my busy season), my mother got sick and later died, the pandemic hit and my daughter gave birth to twins who were in the NICU. I was in a fog, working from my mother’s hospice room. My faith, my husband, family and kids and the love of my work is the only thing that kept me going. Those months are a blur.

If you were not a Landscape Architect, what would you be?

I always wanted to be a fine artist. 

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

Continuing to grow, but I may have another Landscape Architect working with me by then.

What would you like people to know about your business?

A landscape architect has to have an enormous amount of  schooling and training to get to the level that I am (after 35 years.) I  trained in college for 4 years and then had to work for another LA for 5 years before I could get my registration. I have met people who think  if you ‘like plants’ or  ‘like to draw’ or they ‘created a bed for their mom’ they can put out a shingle. Those things are of course great, but there is a lot more to it than that. I have had people ask me how they can become an LA- and I  tell them ‘Go back to school.’

What is something that everyone told you/warned you/shared with you about owning your own business that is not true?

 I cant think of anything, most of what people have shared with me about their business has turned out to be true for me as well.

Were people supportive of you when you went out on your own?

Yes, especially my husband. 🙂

What do you say to the naysayers if you’ve ever encountered any as related to your business?

I think the only thing I have gotten close to a naysayer is sometimes people think I dont ‘work’ because I work from home. You can ask my husband, I work ALL the time.

How would your clients describe you?

I think they would describe me as a good listener and easy to work with

What has been your most favorite project to date?

 I just designed a Zen garden with a meditation pergola, with a water feature emanating from under the raised hot tub. The owner wanted the inspiration to be the spa 10000 waves in Santa Fe, New Mexico, absolutely fabulous. I can’t wait for that one to start.

Where do you find inspiration to write a new scene, play, etc?

 I look through idea books on Houzz and other websites to try to get the creative juices flowing.

What is one random fact about you that you would like people to know?

I also love to write and would love to have a ‘side hustle’ in retirement writing for landscape journals.

You can find Lori and Hawkins Landscape Architecture here:

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