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Harnessing creative energy

Entrepreneur handles events from flowers to marketing

Martin Desmarais
Harnessing creative energy
Gwendolyn McCoy of Make Scents Floral Design and MS Creative Group. (Photo: Photo courtesy of MS Creative Group)

Nearly 20 years ago, Gwendolyn McCoy started Make Scents Floral Design to harness some of her creative energy, but the home-based business has continued to grow into something more. Now, the lifelong Dorchester resident not only continues with her floral design, stationery and events management business, but has folded it into a larger MS Creative Group, which provides small business marketing, consulting and web design services.

Author: Photo courtesy of MS Creative GroupExample of a floral design by Make Scents Floral Design.

McCoy still works full time in the health-care industry — on diversity and inclusion programs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts — but she also keeps busy with MS Creative Group because she has a passion for everything she does. Floral design was the creative outlet that got McCoy going with Make Scents Floral Design 1997 and MS Creative Group a handful of years after that.

“When you are passionate about something, or it is something that is a part of you, it is easy to do,” McCoy said. “My creativity manifests itself in floral design and being able to do graphic design.”

When she started out, however, she wasn’t really thinking about a business, she said. She was just enjoying doing some flower arrangements for friends. The first real project she did was for a friend’s baby shower. She was planning the shower and ended up taking on the florist’s job as well. This led to more work with similar events. Even at that early stage she could see that the flower business was closely connected to the event management business, and it was a smart move to do it all.

Today, her flower work and event work ranges from simple bouquets to events such as birthdays and funerals to large functions, such as the recent NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner with 70 tables of attendees.

The MS Creative Group draws on the writing and marketing skills she developed in her professional work in health care, but also from her event-planning efforts.

“That was something that loomed in the background along with floral design,” McCoy said.

Author: Photo courtesy of MS Creative GroupExample of a floral design by Make Scents Floral Design.

She wanted a way to handle whatever a client’s needs might be, from event planning to marketing to content for promotional material.

She recently helped plan and organize a conference at UMass Boston called “Raising Our Voices.” This is the kind of work she envisions as the future of MS Creative Group and she expects to spend more time on planning conferences and events than on floral design.

“There will always be some love of flowers, so I will never give that up, but I think because of the different elements of MS Creative Group I can really focus my energies as the event demands,” said McCoy.

McCoy is a businesswoman who comes across as an inveterate multitasker. She even has represented musicians and actors, helping them with promotions, marketing and finding work. One such actor is Boston local Naheem Garcia, who has been in several movies, including “Black Mass” (2015), “Escapement” (2014) and “R.I.P.D” (2013).

While she calls the flower business consistent, she said she can’t live on that alone, but with larger MS Creative Group services she envisions a future that has enough work to focus exclusively on it.

“I definitely see a next iteration would be me doing this fulltime,” she added.

For now she continues to work out of her Dorchester home while continuing her career in health care.

Having grown up in Grove Hall, McCoy said she loves Dorchester and always wants to stay in her home area. She values the friendships and connections from the neighborhood.

Originally, McCoy thought she would become a doctor and started college at Boston University in 1983 with that in mind. However, she soon figured out the science required just wasn’t her thing and turned more toward work in communications.

She entered the health care industry with Blue Cross working in a number of capacities, including operations, claims and training. She then worked at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and several other companies before returning to Blue Cross. She says she really enjoys her work on diversity and inclusion, which she views as a very important component of human resources in the corporate world today.

McCoy has also furthered her business aspirations by returning to college — she graduated with a business degree from Northeastern University in 2008 and also received a MBA from Bentley College in 2010.

She calls doing it all a juggling act, but one she is more than happy to keep up.