Growing from a passion to a business
Lana Elie, Floom
Why flowers as gifts? What motivated you to launch Floom?
I grew up in Bali so I know quite a lot about different or unique flowers and plants. Growing up I spent a lot of time outside and as an only child I kept myself busy with them. I love the uniqueness of plants and flowers such as the Putri Malu, or shy plant, because when you touch it, the millions of little leaves shut right in front of your eyes – they were magical. What I found later on in life is that it was hard to find unique ones online. There are so many roses or lilies or gerberas out there, so whilst I was a PA at Burberry, I built a directory of florists that offered something unique.
How do you choose the florists you work with? What are the criteria?
I’ve known most of them throughout my career, and my knowledge of which florists exist has grown over time. We use a lot of florists who don’t necessarily have a storefront or are well known but style flowers for events for the likes of Dior. There is a certain style that we go for and I like a style that isn’t mainstream.
How important is locality to Floom?
We definitely support local businesses that are small and entrepreneurial. We can’t control where they find their products but all of our florist source seasonal flowers.
Floom is both a store and a magazine; does offering a multi-use online platform add value?
I think we live in a time where people are much more interested in being educated. It has come at quite a good time really because people are interested in not only taking care of their urban gardens but in what they can do with the little things that they grow. For instance, growing a mint plant so you can make fresh mint tea. We have a nutritionist and a naturopath who write bi-weekly pieces on things like immunity bombs that you can make yourself, or garlic and lemon health tonics. It is more than just buying green things for your home; it is realising that we are returning to the reality that we depend on the earth. We feature amazing flowers each week too, we discuss their meanings, or what their names represent, and go into great detail with them. We’re not just another flower company; we want to put emphasis on the story behind the flower or plant.
So do flowers and plants create an emotion?
Choosing flowers is very personal. You can pick a bouquet based on what the flower represents instead of just trying to be romantic with a dozen red roses. Most flowers represent either kindness or love or long lasting fondness.
Do you think flowers and plants can improve life in the city?
Of course I do! If we can make everything a lot greener, everyone would be a lot happier. We couldn’t live without plants could we? We’d have no oxygen. That fact in itself some people sometimes forget. My mum used to encourage me to talk to plants in the garden; she would say that you should nurture them. I don’t really do it anymore even though I encourage the team to do it, especially if the plants aren’t looking very happy. When you actually look at a flower, let’s say a ranunculus, it has all these layers and layers of petals and it is amazing that nature created that. Just walking down the street in spring, looking at the cloud-like cherry blossom is incredible.
In which cities do you plan to launch Floom in and will the model change accordingly?
We can launch anywhere quite simply based on finding the right partners in a city. The growth plan is to launch in Paris and Milan. We also see the fashion and luxury industry in New York or LA already using our website so we’ll probably follow other cities that have a thriving industry.
What trends do you see developing in your industry?
In fashion, there is a huge floral renaissance evolving. Just about every campaign or editorial is showing the integration of flowers. Poppies are everywhere; even men’s fashion is embracing flowers. The latest Comme des Garçons menswear show featured floral headwear.
Do you have any advice for someone who has a fantastic idea but doesn’t know where to start?
Talking to people about your idea is really important. At the beginning I was worried that someone was going to take my idea so I didn’t talk to anyone about it. As soon as I did start talking about it, it became so much stronger as people gave their honest opinions. They were also surprisingly nice and helpful. Even people I didn’t know, I’d approach someone and they would be so supportive. It really strengthens how you talk about your idea which makes you much more confident with it.