Enthusiastic florists across the country hit the streets Oct. 19 to surprise total strangers with bouquets of fresh flowers.
Combining the concepts of ‘random acts of kindness’ and ‘pay it forward’, these generous petalistas participated in Petal It Forward, a nationwide event coordinated by the Society of American Florists (SAF). Recipients were given two bouquets. They were asked to enjoy one and Petal It Forward by giving their second bouquet to someone else.
“Flowers make people happy,” says Kelly Mace, of Smithers-Oasis. “People love to get flowers and a great reason to give them is ‘just because’!”
‘Just because’ was sentiment enough to unleash pay it forward flower power 256 times in 227 cities in all 50 states in one day!
Petal It Forward
Kelly and the OASIS Floral team handed out 200 free bouquets to 100 people in Kent, Ohio. They were rewarded with instant smiles as recipient’s received the bundles of happiness on stems.
According to research, 80 percent of Americans say that receiving flowers makes them feel happy. Eighty-eight percent say that giving flowers makes them feel happy.
Petal It Forward offered the opportunity to experience both.
Suddenly, they got it!
"It was very interesting to watch their reactions,” says Smithers Oasis Design Director Frank Feysa AIFD. “You could see the same sequence of emotions play across the different faces as we explained the free flowers. Curious. Skeptical. Suddenly, they got it!”
“Once they understood the value of receiving flowers and the importance of sharing them with someone else, they were very appreciative.”
Team member Colleen Bowers of Smithers-Oasis posted that she “saw random people #petalitforward and give away their second bouquet… they were smiling… newest recipient was smiling… loved all the smiles in downtown Kent today!”
“A three year-old girl couldn’t wait to #petalitforward by giving away her second bouquet of flowers… she even tried to give it back to me … sweet thing.”
Smiles across the county
SAF focused their Petal It Forward effort on early morning commuters in New York City where they handed out 4,400 bouquets.
“It was an amazing example of the Rutgers University research that shows flowers create instant delight and happiness!” says Jennifer Sparks of SAF. “We witnessed every emotion from smiles to tears to hugs of joy and relief. People loved the concept of being asked to take a second bouquet and ‘petal it forward.’ There were a lot of smiles across the country.”
Meredith Bodgas, executive editor of FirstforWomen.com, was on hand in New York to video those smiles.
“It was incredible to see how receiving flowers was so transformative to unsuspecting passersby,” she says. “Many of their faces went from looking stressed to looking positively thrilled. I couldn't help smiling throughout the 20-minute-long video as I watched New Yorkers' days being made.”
Flower power and the second bouquet
“I enjoyed hearing how the recipients planned to Petal It Forward,” says Jenny Scala of SAF. “It was really amazing to see the power of flowers creating happiness and how much the recipients looked forward to giving flowers to someone else.”
“A lot of commuters mentioned their mother, a co-worker or boss. One lady mentioned that she wanted to give her bouquet to a co-worker who was getting a promotion that day.”
“One man said he had never been given flowers before. Most men said they would give the flowers to their wife. One man asked for a couple extra bouquets because he had four women to give flowers to!”
Volunteers enjoyed the day, too
"I had a really hard time sticking to the script,” Smithers-Oasis Colleen Bowers says. “Flowers were the perfect icebreaker to start positive conversations with people. I talked with people from out of town, heard about people’s jobs, relatives they were visiting, etc. I had comfortable conversations with people much older and much younger than me. Flowers and the #petalitforward gesture made that happen.”
“I received multiple hugs today as those receiving flowers were so excited.”
Julie Poeltler AIFD, PFCI of Julie's Fountain of Flowers in Lone Tree, Iowa, staggered her times of gifting flowers to reach more people. “I started early with the dog walkers, then caught people midday at the post office, and finished the day with people who were leaving work. I’ve gotten lots of thank you cards, including one from someone who didn’t even receive flowers but witnessed a second bouquet give-away and thanked me for such a beautiful gesture.”
“The most touching moment was when they realized they would be able to share. I saw several people with tears in their eyes.”
SAF recently conducted a study that reaffirmed - simply seeing or smelling flowers improves a person’s mood. The study also found receiving a gift of flowers makes an occasion more memorable. Without a doubt, happy bouquet recipients across the country will remember those feel-good moments of experiencing Petal It Forward.
Google #petalitforward or search the popular hashtag on social media to see more happy, smiling faces.
Using these Petal It Forward images as inspiration, what flower focused event can you create for your own floral business?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]