How Farmgirl Flowers Bootstrapped to $23M in Revenue

Christina Stembel entered the $3B online flower industry with no experience and very little money. With a dream to innovate on how business was done, she came up with a unique model that eventually led to Farmgirl Flowers’ $23.4M in revenue last year.

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Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • [01:48] What gave Christina the idea of going into the flower business
  • [03:37] Some of the things that Christina saw with the major players in the online flower market that made her think she could come in and stand out
  • [05:56] How Christina came up with Farmgirl Flowers’ unique business model
  • [06:49] How they tackled the problem of “waste” in the flower industry
  • [09:27] What they did to make their bouquet pieces different from the competition
  • [10:47] How Christina started Farmgirl Flowers with her personal savings and how she got it launched off the ground
  • [12:49] What their first year in business looked like
  • [14:24] How they started marketing in their first year
  • [16:25] How they built their customer base by utilizing customer feedback
  • [19:42] The different ways they get customer feedback
  • [20:57] How they started doing advertising in years three and four and their strategy of pushing it through Yelp
  • [23:30] Christina’s first hire and what she brought them in to do
  • [26:47] Farmgirl Flowers’ supply chain, how they decided to get their sourcing, and how it evolved over time
  • [30:39] The challenge of supporting American growers and why they eventually decided to get international sourcing
  • [35:06] How much people cared about the idea of supporting American growers
  • [36:38] The one thing that Christina did that had the biggest impact on Farmgirl Flowers’ growth
  • [38:24] How Christina made sure she hired the right person.
  • [39:05] The area that Christina personally had to grow in as a business owner to get to where she is today

Key Takeaways:

  • In previous generations, people would hide behind the fact that it’s the thought that counts, but it’s not the thought that counts with younger people. If they’re going to spend $80 to $100 of their hard-earned money on a bouquet of flowers, it better be worth that much.
  • Flowers have a very rough perishability time period, even more so than food. If you’re in the flower business, you can’t make a mistake. You have about three days to use those flowers before you have to dump them.
  • 79% of the people that buy flowers are women buying for women.
  • It’s the actual marketing spend that’s going to drive your growth. If you are spending on people managing that spend, that’s money you could be actually spending on the spend.
  • You need as much money to get in front of people as you can.
  • Parenting books are wonderful for managing people.

Action Steps:

  • Get customer feedback and use it to make the necessary changes to create the best product offering that would allow you to meet your business goals.
  • Find the platform that everybody else is using for advertising and put your money there.
  • Become a good leader and manage your people well.
  • Put a lot of emphasis on team culture early into your business.

Christina said:

“The industry is very old school. It’s ancient. Most of the American farmers are second or third generation and they’ve been doing things in certain ways. And getting them to break that, the system that they’ve been set up for and doing things for multiple generations is not easy.”

“Every dollar that I can spend, putting it back into marketing, is what’s going to help keep fueling our growth.”

More from Christina Stembel:

Farmgirl Flowers’ Website

Farmgirl Flowers’ Facebook

Farmgirl Flowers’ Instagram (@farmgirlflowers)

Christina’s LinkedIn

Tools and resources mentioned in this episode:

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