How this ‘accidental entrepreneur’ is taking on old flower businesses and disrupting the industry
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My mother loves flowers. For every occasion and important moment in our lives, I always remember bringing home a bouquet of flowers for her. Now that I live several hours away from her, it’s not as easy to regularly give her fresh and beautiful flowers.
I tried unsuccessfully to find local florists in her town who offered monthly flower delivery subscriptions. I’ve ordered from some of the bigger players, only to be overcharged for a very small vase of flowers that didn’t arrive in time. When I visit her, I’ve been disappointed with the deals from the grocery store, which always seem to wilt when I get home.
“We’re on a mission to help people see the everyday joy and beauty of flowers,” says Juan Palacio, Founder and CEO of BloomsyBox. “Flowers aren’t just for special occasions, but something we can enjoy all year round. A bouquet of flowers can bring so much happiness and brighten up someone’s day.
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The global cut flower market in 2020 was approximately $30.7 billion, and it is expected to reach $43.8 billion by 2027. Many industries have been impacted by the pandemic, and the floral industry n was no exception.
Judie Hoopai, co-owner of Higdon Florist, says everything, including the supply of real flowers, has been affected. “That’s because it takes about a year, a year and a half for the planting season to produce the quality and appearance that our suppliers are looking for, and when Covid first hit, farmers didn’t have couldn’t get out into their fields and plant,” says Hoopa.
Although BloomsyBox experienced supply chain issues and flower shortages as farms closed, the company still persevered. While many small and medium-sized flower shops have closed, Palacio and his team have filled a void in the market and helped customers get into the habit of buying flowers online. “We had record growth in 2020,” says Palacio. “People were sending love and comfort through flower deliveries because they couldn’t be together in person.”
Palacio is right – my mom loves her BloomsyBox subscription. It was an easy gift for me to give her, and she loves that she gets a bouquet on her doorstep every month. Subscription options include Farm Favorites, Bloomsy Roses, and Pet-Safe Blooms. “I think the trend of buying flowers online will continue in our post-pandemic world,” Palacio says. “The benefits of buying flowers online aren’t going away even as retail flower shops continue to open.”
As Palacio continues to build his floral empire, here are three lessons he learned along the way:
Stick to what you know
Palacio is a self-proclaimed “accidental entrepreneur”. He went from creating a football news site, to launching a pool cleaning service, to creating a group hotel booking search engine. As he launched new projects, he always wondered if he knew the industry before he started – and how much he was willing to learn along the way. “Stick to what you know and what you can build your expertise on,” he says. “I learned from my failures to stick to my areas of expertise; it saves you a lot of time and money.
Image Credit: Juan Vasquez | W.G. Studios
Palacio grew up in Colombia, which is the second largest flower producer in the world. “I knew everything about flowers. I grew up with them all around me,” he says. “I knew that in the end, everyone would always welcome a bouquet of flowers into their home.” He also saw the market opportunity, as e-commerce floral businesses have generally focused heavily on gift-giving occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries. “These big companies also expect consumers to be flower experts and choose between dozens of overpriced options. We want consumers to develop an appreciation and love for flowers.
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Remember what your first mentors taught you
Palacio’s father died two months before he was born. From the beginning of his life, his career was marked by the absence of his father. He was lucky to be very close to his grandparents, who were part of the community that raised him. Palacio was particularly close to his grandfather, who was a coffee producer and distributor in Colombia.
“At the age of 10, I remember spending days with my grandfather in his coffee plantations,” Palacio recalls. “Those early years of watching and learning from my grandfather really instilled in me an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for business.” Palacio remembers how his grandfather ran his business, being very involved with the product, the farm workers and all the little details. His grandfather treated everyone with dignity and kindness, making them feel like they were building the business together.
Build sustainability into your model
Although many companies are trying to modernize sustainability, Palacio and his team have made sustainability a core part of BloomsyBox. “A lot of people think the farm-to-table trend is all about food,” Palacio says. This is equally applicable to flowers. Our flowers are arranged right on the farm where they are grown, cut two to four days before being shipped to your door. His team partners with more than 40 family farms that make incredible contributions to the floral industry, whether it’s revolutionizing the way flowers are cared for after harvest or creating new varieties of flowers that the world has never seen before.
Palacio’s love for flowers has also led him to care deeply about how they are grown and who grows them. BloomsyBox only partners with Rainforest Alliance certified farms. This means that no toxic chemicals are involved in fertilization and farm workers are treated fairly. “Because we work directly with farms, they are able to enjoy much better profit margins, which translates into better working conditions for their employees and more opportunities for growth,” says Palacio. “That’s my vision with BloomsyBox, to create economic opportunity for as many people as possible and to give back to my home country of Colombia.”
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