Entrepreneur Spotlight: Betsey Kiehl

Owner of Alpen Flora

Alpen Flora, which translates to mountain flower, was created by Betsey Kiehl in Vail, Colorado after one of her off-season jobs turned into a passion she couldn’t let go.  Betsey and her husband moved to the Vail Valley in 1991 the day after their wedding. They had both been ski instructors in Vermont and decided Vail was a great place to continue their careers.  During the off season, gardening became a favorite job for Betsey, so she decided to take a master gardening course through a CSU land grant opportunity, then furthered her craft by taking a course at the Denver Botanical Gardens.  

While these opportunities helped refine her skillset around gardening, a few setbacks relating to the operational side of her business prevented Alpen Flora from growing. “I knew how to dig in the dirt; I didn’t know how to do anything else.”  Betsey went from having eight employees and a plethora of clients to getting sued. Then there was Covid.  While trying to procure a PPP loan and being denied, the bank offered Betsey a list of alternate resources, RMMFI being one of them. “In a lot of ways, this form of adversity was a great reset for me. I learned the peaks and valleys of the business world and wanted an opportunity to do things right.” 

Betsey completed RMMFI’s Business Idea Lab in spring 2022 then went on to enroll in Business Launch Boot Camp during her busiest time of year.  Alpen Flora had been incorporated in 2004, and Betsey had the big task of having to undo and redo a lot of the methods she had developed in nearly 20 years of being in business. She credits her boot camp mentors for holding her accountable and breaking habits that weren’t serving her.  “This was literally the best experience of my life. When we graduated, I was a little sad but felt happy to know that the community continues.”  Betsey says the boost of confidence and the empowerment of the class helped her with public speaking, and she was happy to see her peers in the class grow, as well. “The funniest thing is, the reason I got into this was because I wanted to get a loan to boost my credit, but the knowledge far exceeded the need for the loan. The lottery I won was knowledge.” 

These days, Betsey’s biggest adversity is keeping the deer from eating her beautiful gardens, which she’s able to manage with a few tricks that maintain the safety of the animals.  You can contact Alpen Flora by phone at 970 904 6287 or email Betsey at alpe[email protected].