My decision to start this blog and share more of my life as a florist on social media was an intentional business decision. There is a plan. I’m making posts, recording videos, sending emails, and developing class curriculum. It’s official (we’ll see how it goes). Intentionality, however, has not been the genesis of many of my business products and services. In fact, most of the unplanned services have been our most successful and satisfying. Here is how I took advantage of opportunity, hired the right people, ran into good luck and made a few decisions to build the business I have today.

Getting Started

LoCoFlo started with my two friends as something fun to do together. We were just three basement Bettys (home-based florists) designing wedding flowers for friends, and then friends of friends. It was very informal, and we didn’t even really think about making money. We all had full time jobs and could offer just one full service wedding per weekend (which worked out great since nobody knew who we were and we only booked a few jobs). The occasional weekend wedding was all we could handle, and I loved the work. I guess that was sort of a plan.

We started to promote ourselves by going to wedding shows, posting on Facebook (this was before the gram) and publishing a website. As more requests came in, and my friends dropped out, I decided to be a wedding florist full time! How’s this for intentionality: since I went to business school, I researched and wrote an actual business plan for my new solo venture as an event florist. I rented a workspace (really it was one unit in a row of storage garages nicknamed “the shed”). I met brides for consultations at a coffee shop. I wrote proposals at the same coffee shop, I designed the products and delivered and installed the weddings. The plan was working.

A Van (and a Man)

When it made sense to buy a company van for wedding deliveries (weekly reservations and early morning trips to the UHaul were getting expensive and tedious), I inadvertently developed the capacity for weekday single order deliveries. I had been getting a few requests, but didn’t really offer the service. Now that I had a van sitting idle waiting for the weekend’s weddings, I put a form on my website and single order deliveries became a thing. As the orders grew, I recruited my chief bucket washer (also husband) to make deliveries. With no intention to expand services beyond weddings, single order revenue gradually eclipsed weddings.

Open Garage

After a couple of years working out of the storage unit, I was confident the business was viable and even profitable. We were ready for an upgrade. When I found a small warehouse that met all my needs as an event and delivery florist, I jumped. The new space completely changed my business. I could now do everything I wanted: indoor loading of the van, consultations at my business, and storing flowers in a proper walk-in cooler. It was much bigger too, so I had space for a new (planned) service: in person design classes. One thing I knew I didn’t want was retail, and the space isn’t really suited for it.

The location of my studio (warehouse) does not invite regular foot traffic, but it is just one block away from a year-round Saturday morning farmers market. (Bonus: one of my growers is a vendor at the market.) Easy access to that grower and weekly shopping were the only advantages I recognized at first. But, market shoppers started peeking into the shop on Saturday mornings as I wrapped bridesmaids bouquets and packed the van for wedding deliveries.

I had no desire to respond to the increasing interest from the market shoppers. I was swamped with over 100 weddings a year in addition to weekday deliveries plus classes. But, a friend (and former grower) had some part-time availability. Why not have Nancy sell flowers out of one side of the shop on Saturday mornings while I prepped and packed weddings on the other side? I made an offer and Nancy took over. Due to her vast network of friends, her off-the-chart social skills and floral expertise, she blew up Saturdays. It now has become our signature event.  

Sat@LoCoFlo, as we now call it (or “open garage” as my mother calls it), is a reliable source of revenue and the most fun thing we do. Friends and neighbors visit. We talk about flowers. Vendors from the market drop in. We meet new flower friends. We even added a mid-week retail event called flower happy hour. We design new products to sell. We partner with other businesses and host events. It is how we develop community and expand our mission as social entrepreneurs. It was never the plan, and now Saturdays at the shop is a part of my business identity and something I look forward to every week.

Pandemic Pivot

LIke many businesses, the pandemic changed our services, and nobody planned for that. Weddings were postponed and postponed again, and again. We had to shut down all in-person events at the shop. I did not want to lose my part-time workers, or stop ordering from the farmers, or close the business even temporarily, so we ramped up a subscription service called the bucket. We made some instructional videos and offered a delivery service of loose stems for DIY design at home. It was a success.

Years later the bucket is still going strong. It is a valuable and popular service, but loyal customers and another special worker, Jess, make it happen. I am grateful the bucket sustained our business during the pandemic, but I want to get back to doing the flower work that I enjoy most and best fits this stage of my life. I decided to make some changes to our wedding services and try something new. Which leads me to what I’m working on today. 

LoCoFlo as a Lifestyle Business

Does it seem crazy for a (almost) 50 year old to jump into the digital creator game? And I know “digital creator” is probably an old person’s way of describing what I’m doing. So, I’m changing the business (with a plan!) to better meet my later career needs – namely reducing risk and physical stress and building a community online. No more ladders and late night retrievals. More writing, recording, talking and online classes.  

I got a jump start into the creator economy with an invitation (fine, this wasn’t completely a plan of my own). Lisa Mason Ziegler, farmer, author and founder of The Gardener’s Workshop asked me to create a class for her online school. I was psyched! This was the big time in online flowers. I created a class called Growing Your Business with Local Flower Sourcing. It has been going so well I created a second on-demand class called Preparing to Sell To Florists on Lisa’s platform.

My new digital creator efforts are just the latest in my ever evolving business. I never think about the business as something that is changing all the time, intentional or not. Looking back, and forward, LoCoFlo has a life of its own.

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2 Comments

  1. Your shop is so cute! Did you paint the mural?

    1. Thanks! The mural was painted by our floral designer Jess Valmas. She’s a MICA grad with lots of skillz! (in addition to being an artist and floral designer, she also owns a flower farm called Bloomhouse!) She’s working on a new mural at our next door neighbor’s right now. Come by and check it out sometime!

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