"I have had several careers in my life. None have captured my heart the way flowers have." -Tammy Myers
I will never forget the first time I discovered the difference between locally sourced and imported flowers.
It was very early in my first business, First & Bloom, that I explored wholesale options in Seattle. Visiting each wholesaler, I introduced myself and set up accounts. Here, I discovered how a real floral wholesaler operates. You see, imported flowers are packaged up in tightly wrapped boxes and cellophane. As standard procedure for imports, flowers remain tightly wrapped in packaging and held in giant coolers with temperatures between 38-42 degrees maintaining "freshness" to slow the ethylene process. Ethylene is the natural process of a living thing breaking down and decomposing.
At this point, each wholesaler began to look very similar. Big open warehouses, giant grey walk-in coolers, and employees and shoppers moving about.
And then, I walked into the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Located on the backside of a historical brick building in Georgetown, WA, next to the train tracks was this wholesaler that opened my eyes to what local really was.
Walking into this gorgeous old warehouse, I discovered baskets and branches and bulbs and greenery in all sorts of shapes and colors. There were mosses and lichens and chunks of bark and birch poles, and the list went on. And of course, there were buckets and buckets of freshly cut blooms in ever color and shape. Flowers grown by flower farmers and cut from the fields just hours before! All the textures, the rich colors and hues, the sweet fragrant smell of flowers, and the hardworking faces of the farmers themselves completely captured my heart. I do believe it was here in that moment, I fell in love with the floral industry. It was here I found my people. My tribe. It was incredible.
Over the course of a few months, it was here I learned the reason this beautiful wholesaler existed was because the floral industry had some really dark secrets.
(Tammy Myers, formerly First & Bloom, at an early Mother's Day Pop-Up Flower Shop in Issaquah, WA at Splendid Avenue.)
A great deal has happened since that day over seven years ago. If I'd had the ability to look forward to today and predict the existence of LORA Bloom, I never would have guessed this in a million years. Little ol' me from smalltown USA attempting to create a national online floral marketplace. What the heck! (I say this with a smile!)
2020 proved to be a year like no other before. The devastation of Coronavirus was, (still is) widespread. The global floral industry was hit hard. LORA Bloom launched in January and by the end of February E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. came to a screeching halt. Personally, I was just trying to keep it together for my family. Professionally, there was nothing to do. Business was at a total standstill.
In early May, florists were allowed to resume business in Washington State. Florists scrambled a week before Mother's Day to capture as much business as possible for the largest holiday of the year. LORA was ready, but sadly it was a loss. Consumers shopped super hyperlocal. LORA was considered third-party. Consumers went direct to florists. Another disappointment early on.
BUT..... If you know me..... Tammy doesn't go down without a fight. In the summer of 2020, I took several steps back to evaluate and observe what was happening in the local economy not just the floral industry. Normally, summer is peak wedding season. With no weddings, minimal local delivery, how could LORA find business? Dumping money into SEO wasn't an option simply because there weren't funds for it.
(At work in my home studio... a glorified garage! Photo @missy.palacol)
(Taken Fall of 2020 in the dahlia fields of Mossy Gate Flower Farm in Mt. Vernon, WA. Not sure I would get any work done if this was my actual office. Ha! Photo @missy.palacol)