This year blew me away. I mean, utterly blew my mind. I knew there was a demand for local flowers, I knew that the methods I have studied for growing and selling are working all around us and across the country. But I wasn't prepared for it to actually be such a successful year. As a second year microfarm, I didn't have super high expectations, you see. But a few things aligned perfectly for us that I hadn't anticipated, and it turned out to be a wildly successful growing season and sales season. This year, my primary goal was to widen our client base. I knew that if I could simultaneously enlarge the number of people that know about us and invest in infrastructure, we would be in a great place year three to break even on our total investment and start making a ...dare I say profit? And the fact is, we did expand our customer base. Hugely. And its all thanks to a handful of local ladies that loved our flowers and shared them profusely with friends and on social media. We have the most amazing customers and such a supportive local group of female entrepreneurs. In short, 2019 went better than we ever could have dreamed. Here's the monthly break down. JANUARY 2019 In January we started the Floret online Workshop. What an amazingly beautiful course, and chalked full of practical resources. Being in the same zone and market as Erin made this material invaluable to us.
FEBRUARY 2019 We did not do any Valentine's day sales. We did finish the Floret course, and start our earliest of seeds.
MARCH 2019 We prepped the garden. APRIL 2019 The daffodils and tulips finally popped and we opened up for a 3 week Spring season. I had hoped to be open longer, but we did not have the ability to hold product. That said, the flowers were gorgeous and sold like hot cakes. Particularly the white double blooming tulips. I love it when my favorite flower is also our customers' fav.
We did not do any Mother's Day sales, but there was a huge demand. Something did happen in May however that did absolutely change the course of this business, bringing it from micro farm to potential full scale operation. My beloved partner of the last 5 years was offered a demotion at work due to downsizing. I encouraged him to quit the rat race and join me farming. We knew it would be hard, and success would take many years to build, but it had to be better than the typical 9-5 for the next 30 years. We haven't looked back, even for a second.
We watched and waited. We tended the gardens with anticipation. We promoted our opening weekend relentlessly. We gathered all of our sales materials and production/processing materials and got really well organized. We also contracted the help of a book keeper. We did battle some early pests in the garden. I ended up treating with neem oil, two applications, before anything was in bloom and pollinators had arrived in the garden for the year. The natural predators showed up in force shortly there after and managed everything satisfactorily the remainder of the year.
JULY 2019 Our Summer/Fall sales season opened July 19th. We had a record sales day on opening day, a sign of the many good things to come this season! Because we focused on growing dahlias and sunflowers this year, we needed to source from other local farmers for fillers and secondary blooms. We were able to make that happen in an expeditious manner because of the existence of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. This co-op became an absolutely essential component to our business model for the 2019 Summer/Fall season, and will be again in 2020.
AUGUST 2019 We bought a flower cooler! That was hard check to write. This was by far our biggest expense for the business to date, but WOW what a game changer. It has already saved us so so much on labor, completely revolutionized our weekly work flow, and will continue to enable us to process and sell a volume of product that actually makes this whole operation a profitable business model.
SEPTEMBER 2019 Oh my word, the dahlias. The dahlias showed up in force in September. Buckets and buckets and buckets. It was like a dream world. By far Cornel Bronze and Cafe Au Lait were our most popular, followed by Tiny Treasure and A La Mode.
Of course, with the dahlias, came the September brides. Ladies, I underestimated you! It blew my mind how many September brides there are that were looking for an affordable local product they didn't need to arrange 12-18 months in advance. We had such a fun time working with a bride or two every month. It was a great way to ease into weddings and get a feel for what real brides want!
**Genelyn Jaye Photography** Unfortunately, September held one of our greatest possible setbacks. We were forced by our HOA to close our front porch flower stand at our home in Fife. And to put salt in the wound, we were also asked to move our brand new cooler. We closed the stand, but fought our fight for the cooler. OCTOBER 2019 We continued with business as usual into October. The flowers and bouquets got darker and moodier, which I absolutely loved. We added more deliveries to make up for the lack of of a pick up location (since we had to close our flower stand.) As the season came to an end, we were working on launching a dahlia tuber sale when an unexpected development occurred. We stumbled upon and decided to purchase our dream home, a 2 acre rustic farm in Edgewood.
NOVEMBER 2019 Along with working on finalizing the purchase of the new farm, November held a lot of work to get done before the real freezing temperatures set in the for the year. We also took another online flower farming course - this one with Lisa Mason Ziegler. Lisa has 20+ years exerpience growing and selling cut flowers. I'd watch the videos on Monday mornings while packing everything we owned both personal and business related into boxes and totes. DECEMBER 2019
We moved to the new farm the first weekend in December. The rest of the month was a whirlwind. Moving, holidays, parties, adjusting to country life. We're continuing to get flower inquiries throughout the off season, which I take as a huge positive indicator for business in the Spring and throughout 2020.
One of the best things about 2019 was taking the time, and putting in all the extra effort, to explore a number of sales outlets. This year we did our first market/street fair, our first weddings, our first subscription service, our first online florist storefront, and continued the development of our farm stand until it was shut down by our former HOA. Doing so has given us insight into not only what there is a market for here in our area, but also, what we really want to spend our time doing - or rather what sales outlets work for our ideal lifestyle. In the coming weeks we'll be announcing some of our plans and intentions for 2020. Please keep an eye out on social media for announcements regarding our Valentine's offerings this February. And thank you again, to our customers and friends and family, for making it an unbelievable year of flowers. We are so eternally grateful for your support. - V and the Pop's Flowers Team