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How Frustrated Wedding Planning And an Unexpected Death Led Me to Try to Transform an Industry

I can’t tell you how many people have told me no one reads anymore. So if you’re reading these words, then we’re already kindred spirits: a love of words brought me down this unexpected journey to found a company that many say is revolutionizing the floral industry.

 

This is all I’ve wanted since I started down this path seven years ago: I believed that we had lost a great and important gift, the experience of using florals as a form of self-expression. We buy flowers and we give them because society has long said that often that is the right thing to do. 

 

I yearned for something more: a return to the ancient language of flowers. To picking something from a field of many options because it spoke to your heart or personal sense of style. To walking by a bouquet and saying, that one is mine. It belongs here. It speaks to me. 

 

Like art or a wonderful piece of literature. 

 

The Strand Shape from our Bohemian Design Look.

The Strand Shape from our Bohemian Design Look. Learn more about the Boho Look here. 

 

I had no background in flowers, though I did spend most of my childhood on my grandparents’ farm where I had an herb garden. I went to graduate school at the University of St. Andrews to study terrorism and political violence. I wanted to start a peacebuilding nonprofit. I ended up using what I learned -- how to find patterns in a state of disorder and violence -- to build out the powerful algorithms that guide our software now. 

 

No learning is ever lost.

 

For me, it started when I was thirty years old, engaged, and living in San Diego where I was trying to start a career as a novelist. 

 

My grandmother got sick, and my family asked me to fly to Iowa to take care of her. It was the same week my florist needed the list of flowers I wanted to use for my wedding. All week, I dragged bridal magazines and books of flowers to the doctor’s office. At night, I’d email lists of flowers. In the morning, I’d have a reply saying that something was out of season or not available. 

 

One afternoon, I was sitting on my grandmother’s yellow, four-posted bed. My grandmother was in the living room sleeping in front of the television, and I needed to go get her ready for an appointment. I looked around the bed with stacks of books and magazines, thinking of the more important tasks that I should have been doing instead. And I thought, there has got to be a better way of doing this. 

 

I imagined the ability to click my heels and see exactly the flowers I wanted to come together before my very eyes. It seemed radical, impossible, and out of reach for someone with zero background in technology, flowers, or business. 

 

Bird of Paradise Sketch

 

Ten days later, my grandmother died, and I was back in Iowa for her funeral. My family decided to put on the top of her casket the bird of paradise because it was the flower that had been on the dinner plates we’d used every day for every meal at her home. As I watched her casket get lowered into the ground, I thought about how those flowers were the last thing present for us that marked the mountains of memories we shared with her. 

 

Her death had been sudden. One month before, she’d been on a cruise through Europe. 

 

By the time I got back to San Diego, I could not shake the weight of these two experiences from my heart. I started to read about flowers, and I discovered that they were instruments capable of producing the dramatic results that academics were trying to develop in the peacebuilding field. 

  • They were powerfully healing
  • Their presence made individuals more open to connecting with others (calling a friend or even accepting a date)
  • They helped with depression and loneliness
  • They made us smile in that way that babies smile at their mothers (a smile you don't see on the faces of most adults) 

What would happen, I wondered, if I created a product that let people experience florals as intimate events again, as ways of sharing their style and their stories. What if it became a language again? 

 

If florals became powerful voices. 

 

It’s time to find out. 

 

My company is imperfect, as am I. Doing what we’ve done was harder, took longer, and cost more than I ever imagined possible.

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