Farmgirl Flowers Knows that 92% of Women Don’t Want Red Roses
BY CJ HIMBERG // PHOTOS BY SEES THE DAY PHOTOGRAPHY
Ever wonder why bouquets are so darn expensive? Would it surprise you to learn that 70% of flowers are imported from other countries and the majority end up in the trash before they even reach their blushing recipients? The more Christina Strembel, the founder of Farmgirl Flowers, learned about the floral industry, the more she realized it needed a sustainability makeover to bring the industry back to its roots.
Christina and her crew maximize the flower power and minimize the amount of packaging by shipping their locally-grown, seasonal bouquets in eco-friendly boxes.
Zipcar: What drew you to the flower industry?
Christina: I saw a very large industry with very little innovation. I started researching the floral industry and one of the biggest issues was imports, which is near and dear to my heart because I grew up on a farm. Today, with all of the imported flowers, large percentages of local flower farms have shut down - 58% domestic flower farmers have gone out of business since 1992!
There’s also a huge amount of waste in the industry, average studies say about 30-50% of all flowers that are grown are never sold. Therefore, the flowers that are sold have to subsidize the ones that aren’t. As I started to dig deeper I also learned about the corrupt labor practices and chemicals that are associated with imported flowers.
That’s when I started to wonder if I could come up with a model to solve all these problems - I came up with Farmgirl Flowers.
How is Farmgirl Flowers different from other floral companies?
When we started out, it was just me and the biggest thing was finding out what was really important to people about the flowers they were buying. Across the board no one knew where their flowers were coming from or about the waste in the flower industry. 82% of people didn’t care what the bouquet looked like as long as it was beautiful.
What Farmgirl Flowers does is provide one daily flower arrangement made of locally grown, beautiful, seasonal flowers. By doing this, we drastically reduce the amount of flower waste, high costs, and wasted time that is encountered when getting flowers from our competitors.
The Farmgirl Flowers space houses everything from the trimming to the packaging.
What’s your take on the trend of businesses capitalizing on local?
People care where their products are coming from; we’ve seen it in the food, textile and tech industries. We’re right at the cusp of the flower industry following suit and it’s really exciting to be a part of that education process. Consumers are demanding more information so I don’t think it’s a fad; it’s definitely here to stay. I’m really encouraged and excited that people care more about the environment and supporting local by supporting their neighbors.
What types of sustainable transportation do you use to get your flowers to customers?
Whenever possible we deliver via bicycle or scooter, which is about 98% of the time. Peak times like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day we do vehicle deliveries as well, so we’ll use Zipcars. It’s much more efficient for us as a business and better than owning a big sprint van. We’ll also use Zipcar throughout the week for bigger event jobs or if we have to deliver outside San Francisco. Depending on the job, we try and get the smallest car possible; which for some jobs is a Prius, for others we’ll opt for a Zipvan. We love that it’s much more socially conscious to reserve a car just when we need it.
While almost all Farmgirl Flowers’ deliveries go by bike or scooter, they count on Zipvans for the bigger hauls.
What industry is next up for a sharing economy makeover? What about bouquet sharing?
Bouquet sharing is a good idea! Food sharing would be great if there’s a way to get around liability and laws of serving leftovers from catering events.
How do you retain the farm fresh and local feel of your bouquets, especially as you start to look to expand?
There will definitely be a shift to domestic as opposed to directly local. I’m from Indiana and I want to support the farmers there as well. When thinking of our national roll-out plan, we’ve run the numbers on every possible scenario to find the wisest course of action. I want to help solve a problem I run into which is how do I send flowers to my mom in Indiana without a local florist, let alone one that supports this effort? We will ship in a box that is eco-friendly that uses less packaging. We’ll still use our signature burlap wrap made from donated bags from coffee shops and grocery stores. Our bouquets feature heartier flowers or sturdier edibles like kale or kumquats, and that will be a continued focus to ensure our farm fresh aesthetic that will travel well.
Our hope is that in the month of May we’ll be California-wide and then eventually West Coast then to National. Our goal is to have someone open the box and have an already arranged, beautiful bouquet that feels like it has heart put into it. We want every arrangement to feel like it has heart.
As final touches, the bouquets get adorned with burlap sacks (donated by coffee shops) and pink buttons to hold everything together.
What’s your favorite flower?
My favorite flower depends on the season; I think a lot of people’s do. Something surprising that we found from our research is that 92% of women do not want red roses! For me, I get so excited for peony and lilac season. I always love peonies!