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The Year of the Pivot

The Year of the Pivot

Four florists share how they have reinvented their businesses to survive the loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Design by Cloud 9 Blooms Photo by Kristen Marie Photography

Design by Cloud 9 Blooms Photo by Adventure and Vow Photography

Design by Cloud 9 Blooms Photo by MNY Photography

“Pivot” will be one of the words many of us will associate with the year 2020. As the world changed very quickly in March due to COVID-19, floral designers who specialize in weddings and special events were forced to pivot hurriedly in hopes of generating income and saving their small businesses. This is how a handful of wedding and event-focused floral designers swiftly adjusted their focuses to a new way of doing business

ELOPEMENT PACKAGES AND MICRO WEDDINGS

Michelle Kammer, of Cloud 9 Blooms in Gilbert, Ariz., has found that offering “elopement packages,” which include a bridal bouquet and boutonnière, is a good option for her wedding-focused business. The packages are sold as “designer’s choice”: The couple can select a color palette but not specific flowers (keeping to a strict budget and sourcing seasonal flowers is necessary for elopement packages to be profitable). She shares that couples will often add pieces such as a flower crown, a centerpiece for their sweetheart table, floral décor for an arch or simple cake flowers. Those add-ons increase revenues, and they also help with the ordering of flowers.

Designs by Kelly Shore Photos courtesy of American Grown at Home

Designs by Kelly Shore Photos courtesy of American Grown at Home

BLOOM BOXES AND ONLINE CLASSES

Kelly Shore, of Petals by the Shore in Maryland, used her platform, The Floral Source, to connect American floral designers with U.S.-based flower farmers. As COVID-19 threw a wrench into the floral supply chain, sending florists scrambling to find new sources, many florists nationwide reached out to Shore asking for local grower sources.

During week three of helping florists source flowers, it became clear to Shore that she needed to do more to connect florists and farmers. She partnered with farms and launched American Grown at Home, which offers a quarter box of flowers curated by Shore, a PDF that covers care and handling, and two videos that cover how to process the flowers and how to create an arrangement.

“These direct-to-your-door farm boxes feature a new American Grown flower farm every two weeks so that you have the opportunity to learn about each farm’s seasonal availability and to be able to create with those unique blooms and greens in your home with a virtual hands-on workshop with me, Kelly Shore, of Petals by the Shore.”

American Grown at Home is open to anyone who would like to work with flowers, Kelly shares. “People need to touch flowers to feel good.”

Photo courtesy of Passiflora

Photo courtesy of Passiflora

WEEKLY FLOWER BOUQUET SPECIALS

For wedding and event specialists to switch gears and begin daily flower arrangement deliveries is quite a learning curve, and it’s one that, if not done correctly, can lead to financial failures. A handful of wedding specialists and flower farmers have found one way that leads to excitement and sellouts: They offer bouquets on one selected day per week, with the idea that the bouquets being limited gives them the sense of urgency and the flowers must be “extra special.”

Caroline Waller, of Marietta, Ohio-based Passiflora, offers an adorable solution to marketing her weekly bouquets: “Flower Bike Friday.” Every Friday, the shop’s Instagram-worthy flower bicycle holds garden-style bouquets wrapped in brown kraft paper, and customers can pay and carry away the bouquets easily. The flowers are sourced from local flower farmers, which helps keep money in the local economy, as well as from Waller’s own cutting garden. Waller reminds her customers weekly via social media that she’ll have bouquets ready on Friday and that ordering in advance is highly encouraged because they sell out weekly.

GARDEN DESIGN AND MAINTENANCE

In addition to her weekly bouquet offerings, Waller reinstated a part of her original business offerings: garden design and maintenance. Waller studied to be a horticulturist, and when the cancellations and postponements of weddings began to roll in, in March, she promptly switched gears from designing wedding flowers to designing and maintaining gardens. In Waller’s community, there are only two other landscape firms, both of which are larger businesses specializing in commercial accounts. Waller and her team offer something more personal and feminine, and have created their own niche of garden design. Announcements on Facebook and Instagram and in her newsletter quickly grew the gardening accounts to more than 10 regular clients, with inquiries coming in weekly.

Photo by Kim Starr Wise

Photo by Kim Starr Wise

LAUNCH A BOUTIQUE FLOWER SHOP

Kim Starr Wise, based in New Orleans, La., is known for creating lavish and breathtaking environments for weddings and special events. As the severity of COVID-19 took hold and weddings were postponed, Wise quickly brainstormed and hustled into offering flower arrangements for delivery on Mother’s Day. She was reminded of her time 20 years ago in New York City when she worked at flower shops, and a desire to once again have a boutique was rekindled. Wise worked with a landlord offering a retail space in a desirable neighborhood with plenty of foot traffic; she signed a one-year lease, with the first three months being free. The landlord also offered to help with the build-out of the 600-square-foot storefront. In addition to being able to expand her offerings into daily deliveries, Wise feels that having a storefront will give her more opportunities to meet people, which, in turn, will lead to a greater presence for her event design business.

As we navigate the constant changes thrown our way by COVID-19, remaining positive and reinventing what our small businesses can offer will be imperative to survival.

Waller’s advice, as we weather this season of small- business hardship, is to stay positive and take any opportunity that presents itself. She shares that she begins each morning by saying, “I am going to make money today, and my small business will survive and provide.”

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