Listen to Our Story on Botanical Brouhaha Podcast

I am so excited to share conversation about flowers, entrepreneurship and starting a business. I had great fun as a guest on the Botanical Brouhaha Podcast, hosted by my friend Natalie Gill and my new friend Amy McGee, who created Botanical Brouhaha as a very necessary and informative blog back in the day, and has since transformed it into a media brand!

Natalie has been hosting this podcast for awhile now, and I've tried to be cool about not hammering her to be on it. We're friends first and colleagues second, although it all gets mixed together. We made a vague plan that I'd go on later this year  — vague in part because the Carolina Flowers story is in the midst of some transformation at the moment!

So one day, Natalie called and said, "Can you do the show right now?!" Because of course she did. So I ran upstairs and breathlessly barricaded myself in the quiet office/dried flower room, and proceeded to speak in sort of a garbled and mixed up way for about an hour.

For awhile, there was a little clock in the corner of the video call software that helped me keep track of where we were, and after awhile, the clock went away, and I feel like I descended into a spiral of complicated thoughts and rememberings that didn't have a clear direction or resolution. Welcome to the inside of my head.

So, I wanted to provide the curious with some additional notes in case you have questions!

Hopefully Natalie and I will have a chance to regale you with our thoughts some other time. We really are kindred spirits in a totally bizarre way that you don't expect to encounter via adult friendships, and I think we get something out of talking to each other about business — I do, anyway.

Natalie is a great artist and business owner. Most people in our industry know this already, but in an era of “look at me, look at me,” and everybody’s got an online course, whether they know anything or not, I think it’s worth saying that she’s the real deal.

A few loose ends and things I wanted to say:

1. I had a list of topics I wanted to discuss with Natalie that I thought would be good for a Podcast, and in the rush of everything, I forgot them, but they are these: Why do florists run the gamut from blue collar, working class Teleflora all the way to super luxury high end Tulipina, and how does this help our hurt public perception of the industry? Since there’s no established gatekeeper (like a degree) in floristry, how does that help or hurt the industry? Floristry is a highly fragmented industry, meaning there’s no large brand dominating market share, and it can be hard to motivate people to work together versus building a million small brands — what’s at stake here? Why is there no national flower chain? How does the lack of a national chain change or determine the exit strategy? Who is the biggest florist in the US? These things are on my mind!

 2. Natalie asked me a question about how to know when to try something new, and how to know when to cut and run. I didn’t answer the question, but I think it’s a really good one! And you should know the answer: Everyone needs to measure exactly how various efforts are doing, and everyone needs to be brutally honest about whether performance is good enough. If it’s not good enough, what’s the time horizon for success? Are you willing and able to wait that long? For me, grocery delivery was a really necessary way to serve our community and fellow farmers during COVID. Making it viable after summer 2021 would have taken lots of time and money. We didn’t have many sunk costs. Easy decision, and one that was easy to explain to customers under the circumstances. Not everything we do is that simple. Each crop we grow — and we grow hundreds — needs to be evaluated in this way. A few years ago, dahlias weren’t yielding enough to justify their square footage on our farm. We reduced volume for a few years until we nailed the method. Now we’re growing more again. Not all crops make the cut! I also think it’s OK to have side hustles and back burner projects, like our storefront. You just need to remind yourself not to waste too much time and energy on so something that’s low priority! The store is often a little neglected, and that’s OK. We will activate that knowledge in a different way one day. In the meantime, it doesn’t cost us much. (But we know how much it does cost us!)

3. I love our farm and farming! I talked a lot about business, and I talked some about floral design, but I didn’t talk that much about how much I love farming and how a sustainable farm that sets an example for others is a big part of our mission! We are equal parts farm and florist, and I think that makes us unique on the business landscape. We do both, and our business model depends on both! I believe farms are a big part of the future of floristry!

I’m sure there are a few more loose ends! I’ll update this post once I hear the podcast, but in case it’s not abundantly clear, I am so grateful to our staff of 14 who make Carolina Flowers possible. And I am so grateful to Natalie for her friendship! And very happy to become acquainted with Amy. I’m also delighted to meet more flower friends and happy to answer questions if you want to leave comments here or with the podcast.






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