Business Interview Notes with University of Albany Career & Professional Development Students
Welcome Liz and Thank you for joining us here today, as we interview other entrepreneurs and business owners in various industries to gather insight on business tactics.
Let's start by briefly telling us about your business..
Breezy Hill Blooms, LLC is a flower farm residing in Hoosick Falls, NY - Offering services in Floral Design.
We're well known for our Seasonal Flower CSA and Weekly Bouquet Subscription that we deliver to neighboring cities. We also specialize in event design for Weddings and DIY styles like workshops, build-your-own bouquet bars and a mobile Flower Truck. Our Flower Truck is actually the 1st in Rensselaer County!
That sounds so unique and perfect for a small town like Hoosick Falls
It really is! I know its most common in zones that can easily grow all year round, and more of an intimidating business model for business similar to us in Zone 5 with harsh winters, but there's just certain things that we can't grow profitably and others that just require more maintenance.
Exactly, and that's one of the reasons we're interviewing today - Is to discuss perseverance in the business industry!
Speaking of progress and adversity - Did you have anything newly added for your 2022 season?
This season we focused on narrowing down our niche market - When a company offers a wide variety of services it can often be perceived in a confusing way to the public. Last year we focused on local farmers markets and advertising, whereas in 2022 we increased our list of field-grown specialty cut flowers to 115 varieties. Doing so, allowed us to increase our subscription and CSA capacity. With increased outreach and floral varieties we were able to service more event designs.
That's awesome, Can you tell us more about your "farmer-florist" title and business model..
Most businesses in our industry either produce for a local florist or solely design as a florist from a wholesaler. Being a farmer-florist not only allows us to keep our costs lower and more environmentally friendly, but gives us the opportunity to design florals grown from seed to vase right off our farm. You wear a lot of "hats" as both a grower and designer, but it's well worth it in the end product!
I would imagine the event industry can have it's fair share of stress - Tell us about the struggles and joy of Event Design for your farm...
Designing events can be an overwhelming service if you're not equipped or prepared properly. We were sure to limit our services and quantity of weddings in 2021 until we felt prepared to fully dive into offering services most couples today request. It was a service that we had on our 7-10 year plan, but was heavily requested by local couples - So we were forced to progress quickly. With our communication and contract software - designing for our 2022 couples was easier, as we simply had to put our knowledge and experience into action. Making their unique floral vision come to life was consistently exciting from the start, all the way to seeing the photographers capture those special moments.
What is your favorite part about designing an event?
Discovering my client's flower vision is one of my favorite things.. being able to bring that vision to life is so satisfying.
I would imagine establishing their vision is more than just growing and arranging flowers...
Oh yes, from zoom meetings and calls to mock-up designs and variety selection. Everything from inspiration of a vision to actually agreeing upon services custom to their event takes daily and weekly commitment to the end result.
Speaking of events, What was the most popular design requested from your 2022 Couples?
I'd say whimsical, whispy bouquets and in-season flowers. Our floral design style is unique and flexible with the modern client. Creating more fluid designs in comparison to the years past. So I believe that's why whimsical bouquets were popular, as brides were interested in making a personality statement. In comparison to a compact and round bouquet. In-season flowers selection was a popular demand for us, given our farmer-florist business model. Especially with recent shipment backorders and transportation inflation, brides were interested in sourcing not only locally but more environmentally friendly varieties.
What Wedding design trends do you see becoming for 2023?
As we're already booking events into 2024, 2023 is full of new trends. "Wildflower" floral themes, including lots of texture, filler, accent flowers and lush greenery is becoming popular as it tends to be a more budget-friendly concept, as we grow these varieties. Eucalyptus greens have been an on-coming trend over the years, but now-a-days every bride or Pinterest photo contains 'Silver Dollar' or 'Baby Blue' Eucalyptus. Many years ago, it was Salal as more elegant and big leafed designs were popular. However, after 2020 Salal has been hard to source. Another heavily requested design is "mini-bud vase" centerpieces. Often desired as a DIY design, requiring less design maintenance to enhance the natural beauty of the venue with "minimalist vibes."
Speaking of the Wedding industry, Do you have any pet-peeve as a designer?
Ooh, definitely has to do with Boutonnieres.. Specifically when couples desire lush florals with lots of petals. Seeing photos come back and petals are falling off, drives me insane lol.. I wish I could just stay and fix it for them all day. I think because it's a tedious design with lots of detail, and after hours of hugging/dancing/posing those lush petals become smushed and tend to try and fall off. Having a bud Boutonniere or carefully pulling off that petal prevents this, but in the moment the couple is present (happily) and just becomes a minor fix in hind sight.
Circling back to your flower CSA product, can you ellaborate on the structure of the service?
Our bouquet subscription and seasonal CSA are similar to a farm share which is supported by our local community. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, as in our industry the previous season funds the next season. This product structure supports the farmer throughout their growing season, as all supplies and products are bought up to 10 months before the return of investment.
I feel like CSA products and farms have increased since the Covid-19 pandemic, can you agree and maybe discuss your opinion on that?
For sure, community supported agriculture has been a popular go-to for local producers finding sources of income. Like I said before, it's a project that requires future prediction and commitment, but does help support the farmer. During the pandemic, backyard farming increased as food prices increased and availability decreased. Events like that can make us desire to live sustainably with homegrown food. However, as a neighboring business - I would never discourage from producing vegetables, eggs and meat or flowers. There's room for all types of hobbyists and commercial farms - We just have to find our unique demand and niche!
Tell us about some exciting designs you have planned for 2023..
Lots of abstract Arbors and Chuppahs! Lush greens and florals encapsulating the space to provide a freeform design around the couple. These are one of my favorite designs to do, simply because it can be such a unique detail for their special day.
And how does one go about booking your design services?
For events we have an inquiry that basically gathers all the details needed for a quote .. For weddings, our inquiry turns a detailed planning process filled with vendor recommendations and designing a realistic flower vision. Our website has submission forms, as well as The Knot and Wedding Wire for couples.
Speaking of services and additions, Is there a flower shop or storefront in the near future?
Although we often gets requests for this, and intend on having additional employees for 2023 - We'd prefer to support other local business in our main town by directing our customers through their storefront. The idea of having buckets of flowers that may not get taken home or enjoyed that week is a sad thought lol.. Having limited items at nearby stores allows us to not only keep a fresh, high-quality products but eliminates waste. Our delivery service, pop-up events and workshops give us the satisfaction of an in-person relationship.
Alrighty Liz, I think that's everything for today - Thank you for making time to meet with us and sharing your exciting business Liz.. It was so nice learning about your industry and helping our focal group prepare for interviews with local businesswoman like you!
We wish you the best of luck in your entrepreneur journey.
Of course and Thank You all for inviting me, I wish you all luck as you choose career directions!
I truly believe insight into the next chapter is the one of the most rewarding advice one can give. At this stage of learning successful tips and tactics from other business owners is the only window of time it's as widely acceptable lol, so while your conducting research, take your time to soak it all in!