The floral industry is changing. Jeanne Ha AIFD of Park Florist in Maryland is meeting that challenge by transitioning her business back to traditional flower shop roots—in the garden.
She and her husband Dennis bought a traditional floral business 16 years ago and focused on servicing events, weddings, and corporate accounts. She added a floral school to the mix in 2010. “Our business is now 10 times bigger!” says Jeanne.
She is currently partnering with another florist to grow local seasonal flowers, offer hands-on classes and host events in the natural setting of Rolling Ridge, a horse farm.
Like many flower shop owners, this florist-turned-farmer recognized the need for a fresh business strategy to stay relevant in today’s ever-changing retail marketplace. Social media has profoundly affected the floral industry. A new generation of traditional florists and nontraditional designers are reaching out to a younger online audience, and they’re offering natural materials gathered fresh from the garden or woodlands.
Her story may inspire you to transform your floral business as well.
Established in 1935 and with only four generations of owners, Park Florist grew during simpler times.
“It was a very laid back and cozy shop,” says Jeanne. “My aunt’s customers considered her their family friend. They used to come to the shop to have a cup of tea and snack every afternoon while my aunt waited on customers.”
Seeing the business with fresh eyes
“In the beginning, I kept everything as my aunt and uncle had it for three whole years, wanting to keep all the good things they’ve done.”
“I had never sold anything to anyone before I worked at my shop,” she says. “I learned everything, EVERYTHING, from scratch. It was hard, and I made mistakes in the beginning, but I think that helped me to see the business with fresh eyes.”
As with all retail businesses, change can be difficult—but it can also be good when it inspires growth and offers customers a new motivation to buy.
Jeanne realized she couldn’t keep going about business as usual. She could see the ‘reconnect with nature’ floral movement growing. She made changes in her shop’s products and services to bring the business up-to-date.
Growing with the changes
“In addition to the retail shop, I also started a floral school, Washington Flower School, in 2010. I’ve been teaching classes in my tiny little shop, but as the business grew, I was finding it almost impossible to keep it as it was.”
Jeanne began to search for an innovative way to expand the business.
“I am opening another shop at the Rolling Ridge farm with my friend, Emmi Bergmann CFD. The Bergmann family own a professional dressage horse boarding farm,” says Jeanne. “Emmi and I will be partners in a flower farm and florist located there.”
“Rolling Ridge farm is the answer to my prayer,” she confides. “We have a beautifully equipped loft in the horse barn that accommodates more students for our classes.”
Jeanne and Emmi plan to bring locally grown seasonal flowers to their customers.
“We started our floral garden this spring. Our annuals are growing and getting ready for planting in our greenhouse. Our orchard and garden are settling in. We’ve just planted our peonies and waiting for the time to plant our dahlia tubers. Our plan is to grow some unique flowers for our wedding work.”
“Along with farming the flowers, we also plan to open our studio to wedding planners and freelance designers who need shop and cooler space.”
Getting the job done
With a growing team of eight employees, Jeanne and her co-workers work hard to meet the daily needs of a thriving business and continue their plans for expansion. She is careful to choose design products she can depend on to get the job done.
“We use OASIS® Instant Floral Foam, OASIS® Floral Adhesive, containers and caged foam daily. In a busy shop like mine, reliable, efficient and profitable product that I can get daily is important. Oasis Floral Products is that company that I trust.”
Social media changed everything
The floral industry operated much the same for generations. With the growth of social media, the opportunity to access consumers directly, build networks with designers across the country and share innovative ideas is taking the industry back to its roots in the garden. These new concepts are changing the industry seemingly overnight.
Jeanne is one of many traditional florists successfully changing with the times to keep from becoming obsolete. The key is to provide unique experiences and promote flowers as a lifestyle.
Incorporating natural materials, growing garden flowers, offering new products and adding services helps her businesses connect with younger customers. With the strong history of the established business and a hands-on approach to reaching new customers, Jeanne is on track for continued growth.