May 16, 2017
Flourish by adding farming to flowers? One florist is.
The floral industry is changing. Jeanne Ha AIFD of Park Florist in Maryland is meeting that challenge by transitioning her business back to traditional flower shop roots—in the garden. She and her husband Dennis bought a traditional floral business 16 years ago and focused on servicing events, weddings and corporate accounts. She added a floral school to the mix in 2010. “Our business is now 10 times bigger!” says Jeanne. She is currently partnering with another florist to grow local seasonal flowers, offer hands-on classes and host events in the natural setting of Rolling Ridge, a horse farm. Like many flower shop owners, this florist-turned-farmer recognized the need for a fresh business strategy to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing retail marketplace. Social media has profoundly affected the floral industry. A new generation of traditional florists and nontraditional designers are reaching out to a younger online audience, and they’re offering natural materials gathered fresh from the garden or woodlands. Her story may inspire you to transform your floral business as well.
Park Florist[rev_slider alias="farmer-to-flourish-1"] The small flower shop Jeanne and Dennis bought from her uncle and aunt is in an old section of Takoma Park. “It was very well appreciated by its customers and had been run as a true mom and pop shop for over 80 years,” Jeanne explains. Established in 1935 and with only four generations of owners, Park Florist grew during simpler times. “It was a very laid back and cozy shop,” says Jeanne. “My aunt's customers considered her their family friend. They used to come to the shop to have a cup of tea and snack every afternoon while my aunt waited on customers.”
Seeing the business with fresh eyes“In the beginning, I kept everything as my aunt and uncle had it for three whole years, wanting to keep all the good things they've done.” “I had never sold anything to anyone before I worked at my shop,” she says. “I learned everything, EVERYTHING, from scratch. It was hard, and I made mistakes in the beginning, but I think that helped me to see the business with fresh eyes.” As with all retail businesses, change can be difficult—but it can also be good when it inspires growth and offers customers a new motivation to buy. Jeanne realized she couldn’t keep going about business as usual. She could see the ‘reconnect with nature’ floral movement growing. She made changes in her shop’s products and services to bring the business up-to-date.
Growing with the changes[rev_slider alias="farmer-to-flourish-2"] “Now the business is quite contemporary, providing the services today’s customers are looking for,” Jeanne says. “We focus on weddings and events along with corporate work, which my aunt and uncle didn't do at all.” “In addition to the retail shop I also started a floral school, Washington Flower School, in 2010. I’ve been teaching classes in my tiny little shop, but as the business grew, I was finding it almost impossible to keep it as it was.” Jeanne began to search for an innovative way to expand the business.
Rolling Ridge[rev_slider alias="farmer-to-flourish-3"] “I am opening another shop at the Rolling Ridge farm with my friend, Emmi Bergmann CFD. The Bergmann family own a professional dressage horse boarding farm,” says Jeanne. “Emmi and I will be partners in a flower farm and florist located there.” “Rolling Ridge farm is the answer to my prayer,” she confides. “We have a beautifully equipped loft in the horse barn that accommodates more students for our classes.” Jeanne and Emmi plan to bring locally grown seasonal flowers to their customers. “We started our floral garden this spring. Our annuals are growing and getting ready for planting in our greenhouse. Our orchard and garden are settling in. We’ve just planted our peonies and waiting for the time to plant our dahlia tubers. Our plan is to grow some unique flowers for our wedding work.” “Along with farming the flowers, we also plan to open our studio to wedding planners and freelance designers who need shop and cooler space.” [rev_slider alias="farmer-to-flourish-4"]
Photo credits: Jeanne Ha AIFD, May Kane/Olivia Jacob Photography