Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beyond Buying Local! Social Entrepreneurship the Local Color Flowers Way!

14312193607_61aa61ecbf_kFor those of you who don’t know us, I’ll tell you a little about Local Color Flowers.  We’re a floral design studio based in Baltimore Md. We’re in our 7th year of business and since we began the company, we’ve been sourcing flowers locally from farmers within 100 miles from Baltimore. We do mostly wedding work but also have a flower CSA, weekly orders and a subscription program.
While we’re in the business of being floral designers, we see ourselves as much more than that. We’re really social entrepreneurs and we take our job seriously. As leaders in the local flower movement, we believe that our little business has the ability to change the industry one order at a time. Wonder how we’re doing it? We’ll tell you because we think that this is a model that other florists can and should adopt.
First, we’re buying local. In 2013, we spent close to $100,000 on 14460432906_8be778dd9e_kflowers from our local growers. These are not just faceless suppliers. These are folks we know, and visit, and collaborate with, and commiserate with and do favors for, and are indebted to and love. Our growers live close by, support local businesses and eat at local restaurants. Our client’s money, which becomes their money gets recirculated making our community stronger.
In addition to buying from our local growers,  we have a Microfinance Lending Program. Farming is hard work. Many times it feels like it’s feast or famine.  We understand the challenge of seasonal work and are proud to offer small, short-term microfinance loans to our farmers. In 2013, the program's first year, we lent $5,00o to help our farmers buy seeds and plants in the winter before their farmer’s markets began.
We are also keenly aware that our success as a business is dependent on the success of our local farmers. We work hard to nurture, mentor and support new flower farmers in our region. Last year, we started the Flower Farmer Start-Up Buying Promise. New farmers have a lot to figure out. How to grow flowers is first. Then who to sell them too and how to market them. Last year,   we committed to buying the majority of the seasonal harvest from start-up farms including Butterbee Farm and The Hillen Homestead. This allowed them to focus on learning to be the best growers they can be. We continue to buy the majority of available flowers from these farms. We look forward to making this promise to other new start-up farms in the future.
Local Farm Promotion is an important way we let people know where their flowers are coming from. All of our wrapped bouquets are tagged with grower credits. Our farmers also participate in our classes and book club here at the studio. One of the things we love most introducing clients and growers. There is always mutual excitement at those meetings.
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Throughout the winter months, we meet with most of our growers to help with their Crop Planning.  For new growers, we help them choose colors and varieties that will be appealing to designers. For more experienced growers, we help fill them in on color and style trends in the event world.
You might be thinking, WHY go through all the trouble? Wouldn’t it just be easier to to order flowers from the wholesaler and move on? The truth is, of course it’s easier. But who cares about easy. We care about a lot of things, but not about what’s easy.
We care about giving our clients the prettiest, freshest flowers available.

We care about supporting our local economy in a meaningful way. We care about the success and sustainability of the growers in our community. We care about the earth and the natural resources that are used to grow and transport flowers.

For all of these reasons, and more we do what we do…and we LOVE it!

4 comments:

  1. And this is why I love you so very much!!!

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  2. Lynn Rapp/Cultivating JoyJuly 16, 2014 at 7:17 AM

    Completely blown away by you, Ellen Frost and Local Color Flowers! Your leadership, vision, commitment and enthusiasm for locally grown flowers and changing this industry is inspirational. Many, many thanks to you!

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  3. Wonderful! Just wonderful. And so inspiring! Our little flower farm (http://www.pistilandstamenflowers.com) is a part of a flower growers association here in New Orleans--I am excited to work together with them toward something like this down here!

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