My [abbreviated] story:
I grew up on a farm in Northern Indiana, although (unfortunately) it was corn and soybeans, not beautiful flowers. Growing up, I couldn't wait to leave the farm for big dreams in the city, however it's true how circular life is, as I now appreciate more than ever my farm upbringing. That is how Farmgirl got it's name though, although my Mom is the real farm girl.
Why I started Farmgirl Flowers:
Number one on my bucket list has always been to start a business doing something innovative and hopefully, at the same time, something that makes a positive impact in the world. Admittedly, many of my kooky ideas fulfilled one mission, but rarely both. When researching the flower industry, I found the perfect opportunity to create a new model that would provide a better alternative to what was currently available. I wanted to solve a real problem that I personaly experieinced every time I wanted to send flowers to my peeps - I didn't like the flowers. I wanted a designed bouquet instead of something I could have gotten from a grocery store for a fraction of the price. I wanted colors that complimented each other, and better flower varieties. And i wanted to be able to order easily and quickly instead of having to spend way too much time sorting through 100+ options. I sure didn't want much, huh?
How I came up with the Farmgirl model:
Figuring out the problems (or should I say opportunities for improvement) was the easy part. All it took was a little research to find that the floral industry was suffering and younger consumers were buying flowers less often for the same reasons I listed above. The industry itself is very large and yet there was very little innovation happening in it. After identifying what I thought to be the biggest issues – aesthetic, sourcing, waste, and customer experience, I just figured out ways to solve each problem, which is how our innovative model was born. Before launching – and investing every penny to my name – I did informal focus groups to see how the public responded, and after figuring out it was a good risk, I launched in SF to beta test the model.
How I came up with Farmgirl’s trademarked burlap wrapped bouquet:
After the unique model, creating a way to differentiate our flowers was extremely important to me. Similar to Levi’s red tab, Coke’s bottle shape, and Nike’s swoosh, I wanted to create a brand identity that would allow customers to easily identify our bouquets. Originally, I came up with a list of 14 ideas of materials to use in place of traditional cellophane (that's been used for ages). The first thing I did was research to see if anyone came up with the idea first – after all, I wanted to differentiate our product, not copy someone else’s. That research eliminated a few ideas. Then I tested my top three favorite’s and polled my friends – which is how our trademarked burlap wrap bouquet was born. I’m so happy our customers love it as much as I do!
What’s next for Farmgirl?
The goal has always been world domination. Ha, joking – kind of. We launched Farmgirl with a goal of creating a socially conscious, and all around better, alternative to traditional eCommerce flower companies. We’re super excited that we can now offer beautiful Farmgirl Flowers anywhere in the continental US. Now we're working on making it even better and would love to grow even bigger in the future!
Why our company values are so important to me:
I get asked all the time why I care so much about doing the right thing. I don't really know the answer to this other than I've always been a right fighter (many times to my detriment) and I always try to do my best. After all, why work so hard (like, 18 hour/day hard) to build something mediocre? So my goal isn't to just build a company - I want to build an amazing one. I want to build a company that I would want to buy from, sell to, and work for. That goal helps me make the right decision - whatever it may be. I guess you could say its a guiding principle for me. If I run it through those qualification, it should to lead me to the right answer. And that's why I choose to hire full time team members, pay above minimum wage, offer full medical benefits and 401k, make our arrangements in house, keep our customer service team in house, ensure we're sourcing from ethical farms and companies, pay our bills on time without terms, and so many other things. Because if I were the customer, team member, or vendor -- that's what I would want for myself. Kind of like the golden rule.
Advice for other makers & entrepreneurs:
I’m often asked for advice from others looking to start their own businesses – creative or not – on what the secret sauce is for success. I’m often stumped, searching the nooks and crannies of my brain trying to figure out what to say to seem really smart, where the requestor will walk away enlightened and thinking how brilliant I am. Well here it is. Sadly, there is no secret sauce (which means I probably don't sound too brilliant now :). Just like money doesn’t grow on trees – secret sauce isn’t packaged in a cute lil’ bottle. In my opinion, it mostly just boils down to perseverance, resilience, and good ol’ fashioned hard work. That’s it folks. Starting a company has been the hardest thing I've ever done. It's brutal, and I’m not exaggerating. You'll feel like a complete failure a lot - which is probably new for all those type A’s used to superstar status in previous careers. You'll probably shed some tears (no matter how tough you are) - especially given how sleep deprived you’ll be from the 20+ hour days you're working. But if you trudge through it all, and work really, really hard, it’ll all be worth it. Oh, and try not to worry about the people in the stands. Keep a copy of Theodore Roosevelt's "Man in the Arena" speech close. I hope it helps you as much as it's helped me.
I had to include this, since everyone asks! Like about 90% of women out there – one of my faves has to be a Peony. Specifically that rare perfect shade of peach Tree Peony, but I'll take 'em all. I also have a lovefest going with King Proteas right now. And Italian Ranunculus. And blush Anemones. Oh, and Jasmine, I cannot forget her...See, I really can't choose just one!
*Have additional questions? You can email me at email@example.com.