PHOTOS BY LUKE LAPORTA
Tell us about who Angel Bunce is, and how you started Flour City Insurance Company?
Growing up I was always told to plan for a successful life. Well, things didn’t always go as planned for me. I become a mother at 16 and growing into a successful business owner in my early thirties, didn’t come without challenges. Walking the stage to receive my diploma, with my two-year-old in the crowd cheering me on, set the foundation for my “I can achieve anything” attitude. Instead of college, I entered the workforce full-time in retail. I quickly gravitated to an office position which assisted in some much-needed financial freedom for my little family. I even held a few positions within the healthcare industry before finding my true calling in Insurance Sales. I began my career with a very large well established Insurance Agency founded here in Rochester, NY. Although I loved it deeply, I became aware of the void for personalized service that big box organizations always struggled with. Not to mention, I’ve always pondered doing it myself on my own, so I put a plan together.
Walking away from my career in the spring of 2015, I used the skills and experience I’ve acquired over the years with local providers and in 2016, Flour City Insurance was born! It was a huge leap and I was terrified. Looking back at it all, my fear guided me to play it smart. I even decided to work part-time for a small used car dealership, which allowed me to see yet another angle of the necessity for better insurance services. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it distracted me from my overall goal and I decided to focus 100% of my time and effort on growing my new business.
As you can imagine, many doubted me. Heck, sometimes I doubted myself. I had people I expected to help push me forward, do nothing but drag me down to stifle my growth, purely for their gain. Trust me, I have seen it all. Beyond my sacrifices and hard work, I owe a great deal of my success to a select few that kept me afloat by reminding me that I’m capable of anything I put my mind to. I worked from home for a year but had a satellite office I could use to meet clients in the heart of downtown Rochester. In March of 2018, I signed an extended lease at 1260 Scottsville Rd Suite 202A. Although I still had a few financial fears, I have committed to not looking back. And a few months later I hired my first employee who worked tirelessly to help me sell insurance and expand my book of business. I strive every day to be better than yesterday! Keeping the mindset that I will do this!
What types of services do you specialize in?
Flour City Insurance Agency specializes in both personal and commercial insurance. Teaching people about insurance and making sure their needs are met is very important to me and the main reason I do what I do! We offer Auto, Life, Home, and Business insurance.
What makes Flour City different from other insurance agencies?
We treat our clients like our friends and family. We pride ourselves in providing top customer service.
What makes you hustle?
My kids are what makes me hustle. I want to leave them a legacy and to know you can do whatever you dream of regardless of what others say or think of them.
What has been the most challenging being a minority-owned woman’s business?
As a woman, we are stereotyped to be the one that has to put ourselves last. Especially being a mother where the expectations are we have to be available for school events, doctor appointments, socializing, etc. when comes to the kids. Having a work-life balance was the most challenging when I first started the business. The expectation of not only being a mother but a wife as well. Trying to maintain a two-income household as a new business owner and trying to get the business off the ground. I had to take on a full-time job for a year and so just to have a consistent income and sadly my business suffered.
How do you set yourself apart from your competition?
Flour City Insurance is a boutique insurance agency, I can shop around for the best prices for my clients. We treat our clients like our friends and family. You don’t have to call a 1-800 number to try and reach someone.
Why did you choose the name Flour City?
Before Rochester was known and Flower City, we were known as Flour City (in the 1800s Rochester NY became known as the Flour City, based on the numerous flour mills which were located along waterfalls on the Genesee)
What challenges do you feel minority businesses face?
I feel minority businesses don’t get the same opportunities at times. I feel like we have to work extra harder just to prove ourselves in a male-dominated industry.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of being a woman-owned business?
Advantage as a women-owned business we are now getting recognition in today’s modern world. More opportunities are opening up for us. I would say a disadvantage is harassment I get from men that’s acting as though they are shopping around for insurance quotes but awhile they are just using it as a way to ask out me on a date. Although I am flattered I take my business seriously. And it’s extremely inappropriate.
Have you found that clients are bothered, or that you have lost clients by you having tattoos?
My sleeve tattoo was something I pondered for a long time before starting. I originally stated it as a half sleeve because I was worried others would view it as unprofessional and not want to do business with me. After completing the half sleeve I decided that if others wanted to judge me for my very personal tattoo, I didn’t want to do business with them anyway. So I went ahead and finished my entire arm! The meaning behind my sleeve tattoo is a reflection of each of my children. Their birth month flowers and times of birth is displayed along with the senentiy prayer to remind me of strength.
What are the secrets to your success?
I’m not sure there are any secrets to success, you wake up and give your best each day. You have to want it and you have to take the steps needed to get there. It’s not going to fall in your lap.
What do you want to achieve next both personally and professionally?
I would say I would love to retire by age 45. I would love for my business to be able to continue generating revenue without me being present. I want to grow my business to an enterprise level, so I can enjoy the fruits of my labor and enjoy life. I would love to move my family into our dream home!
How do you manage a family and being a lady boss?
The balance of family and being the boss lady I am is one I think I still struggle with, my brain never wants to shut off. But I make the most of it and do what I can.
What do you think helped you the most to make a career as a woman? What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
What has helped me the most would be the support of my friends. There were a few that supported my decision in starting a new business. Some of them started a business around the same time as me which was inspiring.
What is one piece of advice you have received in your life that you want to pass on to our readers?
Life and business are not always what you know, it is who you know!
As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? Have you been confronted with gender-related roadblocks in your career?
The most significant barrier in my industry is getting insurance carriers to work with small independent agencies. It’s not about what you know it’s about who you know in the industry. To acquire more resources and to be an added value to my customers.
What has been one mistake as a business owner that you have made along the way and what did you learn from it?
I stopped attending networking events (due to covid shutdowns) and it took me a long time to regain my confidence to step back into them.
Do or did you have a woman leader as a mentor or are there specific women who inspired you and why?
I didn’t have any specific mentors but I was surrounded by several friends in the beginning that was also on the path to entrepreneurship and they provided guidance,
What plans do you have for Flour City Insurance Company?
My next goal for my business is to hire another producer within the next six months. My goal is to be semi-retired by the time I am 45. I would love to step away from my business and still make money for myself.
You are undoubtedly busy, how do you take care of yourself and maintain good mental health?
I go to the gym, get my hair and nails take time for myself to get pampered, treat myself to facials, manicures, and pedicures, and just have some R&R when I can.
What is one thing people don’t know about you?
I want to learn to fly a plane! I always stop over at Paul Rd and watch the planes come in and out. I love watching the choppers land. It makes me wonder how did we figure out how to make a machine fly. It’s so fascinating to me.