February 26, 2022
Hello. It's been a minute, hasn't it? Actually it's been way too long since I posted anything on the LORA Blog. Honestly, I just haven't felt like writing at all. So here's an update. Thanks for understanding.
Wow, the world has changed in two years time! It feels like decades have passed, but it's only been 24 months. One thing is for sure, I feel older (uggg) and like the world took a bite out of my LORA Bloom vision and spit it out. Though, I really can't blame it on the world entirely. Did a global pandemic that shut all commerce down and isolate millions upon millions of people for months at a time have a great impact on my success? Yes, perhaps. Of course, this played a part in what happened! Yet, there are other things at play which are on me.
From March 2020 until probably June 2021, I was still pressing hard on what I had built with LORA Bloom. Even in the months when business was at a standstill, my mind was spinning with how to keep pursuing this dream. I organized neighborhood popups, trying to generate what little cash could be made for the LORA florists. I reached out to other local businesses to collaborate on peak holidays and build out generalized floral products for all florists to use. I spent money on paid advertising, hosted zoom calls to help stir engagement and encouragement with LORA florists. I invested in several small campaigns like the LORA Carts and battled a snowstorm hitting overtop of Valentine's Day 2021 which destroyed any chance of profits. I sold flower bouquets out of the back of my car for Easter and more. I even continued to keep my commisions on florist orders as low as possible because it just didn't feel right to increase my earnings when I wasn't drawing enough sales. After Mother's Day 2021, while sales had been decent, I had to admit to myself that it wasn't enough. While LORA was trying to keep everyone else's lights on, I was struggling to keep mine on.
From this time of bitter struggle, I learned traction was actually still being made in my own floral sales and this helped pay my own business expenses. To survive, I'd have to step back into a designer role or my dream would be gone. I couldn't continue to hemorrhage money from a marketplace that wasn't generating enough in sales.
While I love flowers and a pretty good designer, I actually love ecommerce more. I truly love the behind-the-scenes of LORA Bloom. I love promoting great products and brands. I love telling a story on a website and sharing that social media. I love seeing that order come through. Every single time I get a small jolt of excitement. In my head I think, 'Someone found me! Someone chose and trusted my site over so many others on Google! I did something right!' This was very similar to my role at Expedia all those years before, minus several zeros behind the dollar signs! Except now I was selling flowers instead of room nights for hotels.
I've been in this business a long time and ecommerce even longer. Understanding the why behind what drives a customer to shop is very important. A creative leads with what is in their heart, but to be in this business one must find balance in their art and what the customer wants and thinks they need. This was sometimes a hard concept for florists to grasp. Ecommerce is fast-paced and changes multiple times throughout a calendar year. This means the products must change too. One must be constantly two steps ahead of the calendar. Not to mention, the competion of a retail florist is different than that of a wedding florist. Those florists that grasped this concept, successed as far as LORA could. From this experience, I learned not all florists feel comfortable in this fast-paced world and therefore not always the best fit for online retail.
Finally, in early July and after multiple conversations with my bookkeeper, I had to admit LORA Bloom wasn't cutting it. Now, to this day I will tell you, LORA Bloom worked, she just wasn't profitable. She had a clunky process for both myself and the florists, but her returning customer rate continued to climb.
I am continuously reminded why LORA Bloom is needed in this world and that's why I'm not letting go. She's just been put on the backburner for a bit.
So what now...
Since early July 2021, I turned my First & Bloom site back on for sales. Almost immediately orders started coming in. I also signed on with a third party retailer, called Lovingly.com, which launched in October. This has brought immense perspective.
Hesitant for a long time (like years), I decided to test shipping flowers in the fall. While I had some small success, this brought on a whole new kind of stress. With the supply chain limitations as they are now, I backed off and decided it wasn't the right time. However, some really good things came from this experience. While I had a TON of support from the floral industry, there were a few who opposed it, saying they didn't agree with my "Amazonian" ways. The finger pointing shows itself in the most interesting light at times. I have always remained true to my transparency and will continue to do so, but actions speak louder than words.
Now, I've experienced criticism. I guess this means I've reached a point of influence. So influence I must.
That's it for now, but stayed tuned for more updates. I'm working on three new eco-conscious campaigns separate from flower delivery: 1) a vase recycling program, 2) a plastic sleeve recycling program and 3) green funeral flowers.
March 21, 2021
March 08, 2021
There are always a few sure fire ways to tell if spring is on it's way when you live in the country. A couple sunny winter days in the Pacific Northwest can definitely lure spring bulbs to break through the surface of the ground. Even the tips of trees can develop buds and new growth. These are definitely signs of spring but neither convince me winter is ending and spring is near.