Stress relief through the letterbox
Aron Gelbard, Bloom & Wild
Why flowers as gifts? What motivated you to launch Bloom & Wild?
My co-founder Ben and I experienced a frustration in the process of gifting and receiving flowers and wondered if we could use technology to make it more joyous. I grew up as an only child often obsessed with pleasing people. That’s something that has stuck with me in the workplace and when I wanted to branch out and set up my own company, I guess that instinct to please remained. Flowers are a real way of transmitting positive emotion between people, it was a feel-good thing to do.
What makes you different to other flower gift services?
There are a few things that we do differently. On the sending side we are really committed to making it easy to order flowers on your mobile phone. We want to take the anxiety out of buying flowers. On the receiver side, we were the first to send flowers through the letterbox but we’re not just a company shaped by the box. We source flowers directly from growers, which means they typically arrive in bud, rather than full bloom, so the recipient gets to enjoy the flowers for much longer. We also have a very generous ‘customer comes first’ approach. Almost our entire team is an owner in Bloom & Wild, and that really makes a difference. Our team is very empowered to do things differently to constantly improve our service. We’re trying to mix floristry, technology, product and innovation and that’s how we are unique in the market.
How is Bloom & Wild helping city dwellers get more access to flowers and plants?
I think that the way we live, especially in cities, has evolved a lot over the past generation or so. We live in flats, we don’t have our own gardens or the ability to grow our own flowers. We also work increasingly longer hours, which means that we can’t often get to independent shops during regular opening hours or we can’t be at home to receive deliveries. A service that solves that problem, like Bloom & Wild, is really positive. Flowers, plants and greenery can dramatically improve our day-to-day life and make us feel more relaxed and happier. Horticultural products can bring balance back to life. And flowers are just a very positive gift. For the recipient, demanding creativity and dexterity, our flowers require you to slow down and arrange them. It’s quite relaxing to stand for ten minutes and prepare the flowers – a little bit like a mental detox.
By partnering with growers directly, you are increasing the lifespan of flowers, is this commonplace in the industry?
Our growers are located in several countries around the world. In the summer we try to source English flowers. We also source from continental Europe, from France early in the season and sometimes from the Netherlands for top ups. In the winter we look further afield to Kenya. A high percentage of flowers sold in the UK are sourced there, and we are very careful with our own practices. We will only source flowers from farms that are gold accredited by the Kenyan Flower Council. We’ve conducted some research into the environmental implications of sourcing that far afield, although we’re not experts, we understand that the cost of heating a greenhouse in the UK is actually similar to that of transporting by air on flights that are already scheduled. We also see the benefit of supporting the local economy of a developing agriculturally focused country like Kenya.
Can you tell us about the industry, are there any aspects that need to be improved?
Yes lots! Let’s start with delivery. We partner with a few delivery companies; unfortunately, there is no perfect nationwide delivery provider in the UK. This is a problem every ecommerce company faces. Next is vase life. The problem is that flowers often pass through several steps in their supply chain before reaching the end customer. We think it is very important to get flowers to customers as quickly as possible so they can enjoy them for longer, so we work with growers directly. The third thing that could be improved is technology. A lot of existing businesses in our industry haven’t adapted to new technology as quickly as other industries. As a result, the user experience can often be confusing, clunky, have a lot of steps and not be very user friendly.
How has the App made ordering fresh flowers easier for your customers?
We feel that our App offers a better user experience. For instance, there are native features, people with our iOS App can use ApplePay and the App integrates with the user’s’ native calendar and address book. The reason why we invested in an App in the first place is because we think flowers are a very mobile category. People send flowers as a response to an emotional trigger, which we receive on our mobiles daily. If it is possible to act there and then on that information and express your emotion through a gift of flowers, then we think that is very powerful.
How do some of your collaborations help people in the city see the benefits of fresh flowers?
The Peony Shop at TopShop was the first time that we had really experimented with selling Bloom & Wild flowers in the flesh. It exceeded our expectations and it was a huge privilege to partner with them. Peonies have got such an allure because they are the world’s most Instagrammed flowers, they appeal to the fashion community, and they are only in season five to six weeks. The collaboration allowed us to be more flexible and responsive to specific needs of our customers. We also collaborated with Refinery29 on flower crown workshops at The Hoxton Hotel, and we will definitely be working on other workshops in the future, allowing more people to enjoy flowers.