Welcome to January on the farm! (yay! I've always wanted to say that!)
Its that time of year when all the flower farmers are putting the finishing touches on their plans and intentions for the upcoming year. 2020 will be our third year micro-farming. We're coming off of a monumentally successful second year, and I'm so eager to keep the momentum going! But also cautious to do anything too "new." We've just moved to a new farm, so while it is particularly tempting to rush into high expense endeavors (like major infrastructure or high start up new sales outlets) - we've ultimately decided to stick to what our motto has been from the beginning... slow, steady, market-driven growth.
Pop's is not my first business. Not by a long shot. I've had to fail so many times before arriving at a product and business model that actually WORKS. Honestly, it's still kind of surreal. But one of my biggest mistakes in the past was scaling too fast. Which is why I'm so excited to take our entire third year to perfect our existing systems w/o scaling or pursuing new markets. To work to simplify our procedures and make our production and sales workflows as efficient and profitable as possible. It is the prudent and diligent decision, before scaling up our growing operation. If you're wondering if we'll still be micro-farmers this year, the answer is YES! We bought our farm in December of 2019, but I'm in no rush to plow an acre and get in over my head. A lot of what is new for us this year is small things that fit into the motto of perfecting what we've already created. But that doesn't mean they won't have a big impact on customer (and farmer!) satisfaction.
So here's what IS new for Pop's in 2020:
Valentine's Day + Mother's Day It sounds crazy, but in 2019 we didn't do anything for Valentine's OR Mother's Day. It sounds crazy because it is crazy. haha. These are the biggest flower sales days of the year. But, at the time we were just starting our second year. We didn't have any flowers. It was still a one person operation and we'd never been to our amazing local flower co op (Seattle Wholesale Grower's Market). I still stand by the fact that we didn't offer anything, because flat out - we weren't ready. In 2020, however, I now have enough sales and growing experience under my belt that I feel more than comfortable (I feel excited!) to offer locally grown flowers on Valentine's and Mother's Day. This "new" for 2020 item is a perfect example of slow steady market-driven growth. Our customers have been asking for Valentine's and Mother's Day sales for awhile now! And this new thing isn't high risk or have a high start up expense.
More Grown by Us In 2018 I focused on learning to grow summer annuals from seed using small scale intensive farming techniques. The best decision of my life. In 2019 I focused on perfecting my dahlia growing methods. Growing mainly dahlias last year left us completely reliant on the amazing things that other local farmers were growing to fill out our mixed bouquets - particularly early in the summer season.
This year, I'm bringing both wheelhouses together. I'll finally be growing both a huge dahlia garden and a large summer annual bed. This is going to lessen our reliance on the co op, which will make a huge difference in our bottom line. It's a big positive impact to the customer too who will no doubt appreciate that our bouquets will once again feature the delicate things we wanted to buy from the co op but couldn't because they just didn't hold up well enough in transport. For instance cosmos and the smaller zinnias.
It's also a huge step toward our goal of one day growing EVERY stem that we sell throughout the year.
Variety In year two, we had two main color schemes that we grew. It gave our flowers a certain recognizably. which I highly attribute to the online virality we experienced among our local community in 2019. Now we have an established base of customers and a good idea of what they like! This year, we'll be growing a wider variety of colors and creating a larger number of potential bouquet color schemes. This is something our customers have specifically asked for. We also see it as an opportunity to explore what varieties of our customer's favorite flowers we want to commit to growing at scale in 2021 when we plant our first 1/4 of an acre field. Another example of a market demanded, small change to our business that means some really exciting new flowers and bouquet color schemes to choose from in 2020.
Content We're noticing a market for content created by flower farmers. Veteran flower farmers are getting tons of views on their IG stories and are selling workshops for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. I love learning from the experts, but in my first couple years micro farming often thought it would be nice to be able to watch someone just a couple years ahead of me. Because, lets be honest, a first or second year farm looks so much different than a ten or twenty year farm. That combined with the absolute influx of new farmers in online groups (such as FB Flower Farmers), has convinced me to start creating more content for beginner flower farmers. Documenting our experiences, what we try, what works for us, from planting to business models. Be sure to hop over to our youtube channel and like and subscribe!
What gives me so much confidence in this course of action for 2020 is that if there's one thing I've heard repeated upon experts in this industry over and over and over again... it's go slow. Perfecting what we've already created and preparing for scaling up production in this Fall is the most prudent course of action I can imagine for us this year. Stay focused, add efficiency, and increase profits. Stay committed to steady market-driven growth. I have a vision for how the farm looks and operates in 5 years and beyond, and utilizing this strategy in 2020 (our third year of sales) will ensure Pop's is still here to see its 5th year, 10th year, and beyond.