If there's one thing I've learned about business, it's everchanging. It's unpredictable no matter how much one tries to predict it. Even the weather can change everything!
I should probably mention, my name isn't Lora Bloom. I'm Tammy Myers. I've spent the last 10 years selling flowers for all of life's special occasions. From weddings to corporate accounts, pop-ups and local delivery, I've brought joy and comfort to my community on the first days of life to the last on this earth. It hasn't always been easy, but it's been some of the best days of my life.
Back in 2014, I started a local flower business called First & Bloom, right out of my little kitchen. It wasn't ideal, but over time I moved to a garage, humbly called my floral studio. The truth is florists don't necessarily need lots of space to work. Temperature control and accessibility to water is the most important. As long as the space is functional and can accommodate lots of shelving and a good working space with accessible tools and supplies, that's all that's really needed.
As the years passed, I started to see a gap in the online retail industry of flowers. I specialized in selling primarily USA grown flowers and practiced with only eco-friendly floral techniques. This means I don't use floral foams or chemicals of any kind. My main ingredients were flowers and water! Unfortunately, this isn't usually the case when ordering flowers online or with most local florists. Most arrangements are "locally" marketed but are far from local. 80% of flowers sold in the US are imported from foreign countries, even though some of the best flowers in the industry are grown in local farming communities all across the country. Another dirty culprit is floral foam. The majority of all florist shops across the nation use that nasty green brick every single day. That's floral foam. It's highly toxic and literally NEVER decomposes!
Being in the industry for many years, I had developed many friendships with other local florists who had similar earth conscious beliefs. Together, we felt very underrepresented and wanted consumers to see the variety of sustainable options actually available, if they only knew about them!
Here, the idea of LORA Bloom came about.
In early 2019, I worked to create a mobile app called LORA Bloom. I definitely was walking into unknown territory! On this app, consumers could order flowers from trusted local florists who also sold domestically grown flowers and created unique, floral foam-free designs. By the end of the year, my 15k investment was going to cost another 50-75k just to build the app. Realizing this wasn't going to start as an app, I pivoted and built a rough, proof-of-concept website. This too was not smooth. Built on Shopify, I somehow pieced together a clunky marketplace site that sold arrangements for several florists in the Seattle area. Then, I launched LORA just before Valentine's Day in 2020, and right before Covid.
2020 was a struggle! I tried holding on as long as possible. However, the marketplace needed so much more financially and technically, it just wasn't feasible anymore. I had countless issues with taxes and it was very manual on the backend. By the end of 2021, I shut her down. While it was seemingly a small failure after launch, I don't see it as a failure whatsoever. I learned SO much and very proud of my accomplishments! LORA Bloom generated a decent chunk of sales, but eventually I went back to operating First & Bloom, which proved more profitable.
2022 became a profit-setting year for First & Bloom, as support for local businesses was wonderfully strong following the downturn of Covid. While 2023 still finished profitable, last year was life-altering. Experiencing a horrific personal tragedy in early January, I had no other choice but to hold strong for the rest of the year. By mid-summer, I'd realized my aspirations were shifting again.
This brings us to today.
In fall of 2023, I began soul-searching. While I absolutely love local delivery, I couldn't envision myself running the same business for another 10-15 years. Local delivery didn't offer the challenge it once did. By happenstance, I began consulting a fellow colleague on ecommerce and LOVED it! Soon enough, a few more florist friends wanted help. And this is again where LORA Bloom changes.
You see, LORA stands for Local Flora, which is far more than just a marketplace that stopped operating in 2021. LORA is really a mindset build around a community of sustainably committed business owners. It's a network dedicated to building up like-minded individuals and businesses for the benefit of all. While I set out to build a marketplace selling local flowers, I've partnered with local organizations like Slowflowers.com, Ridwell.com, and more to broaden the awareness of sustainability within commerce.
What I've learned about myself is that I LOVE ecommerce! I love creating brands, grinding out strategies, connecting with customers, collaborations, and building sites that sell and influence. I have 7+ years' experience on Shopify but have worked on Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, WordPress Elementor, Go Daddy and more. Each platform is very similar once the nuances are figured out, but some are more superior than others. Shopify, in my opinion, tops them all.
For 2024, I have two major objectives.
One, I hope to help many entrepreneurs launch their sites while coaching them through the early stages of business and beyond. In my time as a business owner, I've made many mistakes along the way. I hope to share these experiences. Perhaps, new business owners can skip a few of my missteps on their road to profitability.
Two, I want to launch a product on Amazon. In recent years, I've dabbled with shipping flowers. I attempted Amazon in the past but was not confident enough to follow through. It's a whole new ballgame! At this stage of my life, I'm ready to commit to what's necessary to sell on Amazon. This is very exciting, and I can't wait to get going!
I've spent the last few months trying to figure out how this was all going to make sense. Should I build a new site for my newfound love of consulting? Should I launch a new brand or rebrand? Ultimately, I decided against it. The brands will stay as intended from inception. First & Bloom will be on the retail driver, and LORA Bloom will be the network and about building up businesses for the good of all.