Nov 03, 2022
I can hardly believe it’s that time again. Time to set aside a few minutes (or let’s be honest, maybe an hour to two!) to reflect on birthday number 12 for Farmgirl.
Twelve years. Woah. I’m not sure if I should end that with an exclamation point or an ellipsis. Maybe both? What I do know is that number brings up so many feelings. Some great, some not so great. But all of them make up this crazy journey of learning that I’ve (and we’ve) been on so I can honestly say that I’m grateful for almost all of them.
When thinking about what to write to you all in my few times a year LAE (long a** email), I didn’t really know where to start. What would you all want to hear? Probably not how challenging this year has been on top of the last two ridiculously challenging years. I’m even sounding like a broken record to myself, so you all must be really bored with that seemingly never-ending narrative.
So I thought about the most common questions I’m asked. One is if I ever dreamed Farmgirl would grow this big. And the answer to that is a resounding yes. Not because I’m narcissistic and think I’m the bomb businesswoman (proof to the contrary, I just used the word bomb in 2022). But to be honest, I thought it would be much bigger by now. Again, not to sound arrogant, but that was simply the goal I set out to accomplish - to scale a business that brought innovation to what I considered a stale industry that had the market potential to grow big. It was intentional, which I think is important for entrepreneurs who happen to be female to be able to say and own. After all, our male counterparts rarely have issues owning the same. Back then though I had entrepreneurial stars in my eyes, and I couldn’t have even imagined the myriad of challenges that would arise - some in our control and others far outside of what we could claim any responsibility for (hello pandemic followed by recession, we see you…) which prevented us from scaling to the size that I’d hoped, but I’m confident that we’ll get there - even if we’re taking the very windy scenic route.
Which leads me to the second question I’m frequently asked - what I’m most proud of. I’ve always thought this is an easy one, and I’ve always had the same answer, but this year I have a part 2 to the answer. I’ll start with the easy part though. First and foremost, I’m so incredibly proud and beyond grateful that we’re still here - in spite of everything that’s happened along the way. You can call us Danny Boy because we’ve been knocked down over and over again, but we get back up again, and again, and again. I can also say with complete honesty and transparency that there have been many, many moments along the way where I wasn’t sure we would make it - and some not so long ago (in case you were thinking it only happened in the early apartment days). But those moments have just reinforced what I know about us as a company, and of myself as a person - our secret sauce, or core competency if you will, truly is resilience.
Truth is, I haven’t always made the right decisions. And there have been many times when I’ve felt blindsided by people or circumstances that I once thought I could count on, or simply put, just aren’t fair or right. There have been missed opportunities that with a little hindsight, I wish I would have handled differently. AND - if there is one thing I know to be true - while all of these things have knocked me (and sometimes the people around me) down, we don’t stay down for long. I’ve had the wind knocked out of me way more times than I care to count, and I’ve also gotten really, REALLY good at getting back up, learning the lessons, and moving forward. Twelve years of getting up, dusting myself off (usually in the form of a beach walk after a really ugly shower cry), and moving forward is something I’m super proud of.
Those of you who have been here for a while know that I’m pretty transparent when it comes to the ups and downs of owning a business. It’s always a little easier (and way more fun) to share the ups - but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t also share some of the challenging sides of running a business. That’s the part I wish I could have seen or heard more of when I was starting out - people who were willing to share the un-instagrammable parts of the journey - the painful obstacles and pitfalls that undoubtedly occur. Because if you’re just going by social media feeds, you might understandably assume that some entrepreneurs who happen to be female always seem to be living their best life (and maybe a lot of them are) but the truth is that running a business is really, really hard work and the bigger you grow, the more complicated things become.
This past year my team and I have spent a lot of time and energy working through an incredible number of challenges - from major shipping and supply chain issues and exorbitant cost increases to new marketing challenges caused by impactful changes in internet privacy requirements, to changing consumer purchasing decisions based on challenging economic conditions, and many, many more in between. Our team has worked to develop strategies to combat soaring fuel costs and identify ways to reduce flower travel time and costs. We’ve expanded supply chain and distribution capabilities and reinforced a business model that gives us much more flexibility when we need to scale up (I’m looking at you Valentines and Mother’s Day) and when we need to scale down (hello pandemic, recession, and fill in the blank to whatever the future holds here). We’ve deployed new marketing strategies that support the needs of the business while also allowing us to maintain margins and profitability. And we’ve worked through these challenges by prioritizing having the right people in the right roles.
I think that last point brings me to my second proudest accomplishment of the year - which isn’t a broken record - it’s the first time in twelve years that I can say this. I’m proud that this year we were able to prioritize building the right team to navigate these challenges and get us to the next level. Don’t get me wrong, I know we are all still dealing with a lot of uncertainty and the same external factors listed above that are out of our control. And I also know that the Farmgirl team has the resilience to weather whatever comes our way.
There’s a lot more to say about this year that I am still processing (I have to save some things for the end-of-year wrap-up!). But for now, I just want to say thank you for being here and supporting Farmgirl. Because as many challenges there are to tackle, we wouldn’t have the privilege and opportunity to do that without all of you supporting us. I’m eternally grateful for these past 12 years and for all of you who trusted us enough to help make the special and ordinary occasions a little more beautiful.
With so much gratitude,