Bringing you a guest post today from Mandy Hess of MJM Designs in Denver, Colorado. Mandy interviewed Stefanie Hofmeister, owner and founder of the Colorado Flower Collective in Denver, Colorado. The Collective brings together many flower farms throughout Colorado to one location for local floral designers to be able to source from without driving to each and every farm. Mandy notes “the Collective definitely saves time, mileage, and sanity for us designers”.
Mandy: Stefanie, can you tell us what is the Colorado Flower Collective?
Stefanie: We are a hub for locally grown flowers, which means that we bring together weekly availability from 15 or so different farms in one online shop, and then bring all of those flowers together to one convenient pickup location.
Mandy: What inspired you to create the CFC?
Stefanie: Working at CityGal Farms for a few years, and talking to florist friends, I realized how much work designers were putting in each week to source flowers from multiple farms and wholesalers. And I saw how much time and energy the growers were putting into sales and marketing efforts. I had heard about other regional hubs and co-ops throughout the country and thought that our local industry could really benefit from the Collective model.
Mandy: What are the biggest challenges you have found to be?
Stefanie: For me as a business owner, it’s been not having a good baseline of what a “normal” year is. I started the Collective with a basic framework of the weekly workflow which worked well our first year and I largely carried over to 2020. And then this year our sales skyrocketed to four times what they were in 2019. I had to add new team members and make sure that those little details I had been carrying around in my head became part of our regular process. We’ve been successful at streamlining our systems, but I still feel that fear of the unknown as I’m making decisions for our 2021 season.
On a practical level, we also face the challenge that every grower does in predicting availability. No one wants to come up short on an order. A huge perk of the Collective, however, is the ability to shuffle orders around from one grower to another if it turns out that someone didn’t end up with quite as many blooms in the field as they had originally predicted.
Mandy: What has been the best way to get the word out about CFC?
Stefanie: Word of mouth has done the most for us. I’ve been really encouraged by the designers who are tagging us on Instagram and telling their fellow designers about us. When I first started the Collective, I sent out a little info packet with a guest login to the online shop so florists could see what we were up to and our range of products. That was definitely useful, but nothing is better than florists seeing other designers who they know and trust giving us the stamp of approval.
Mandy: Are you a floral wholesale market only?
Stefanie: Only wholesale buyers can shop the market or access the online shop, but we do offer flowers to retail customers through our Box of Blooms program. These can be ordered through our website and include 5 bunches of seasonal flowers with overnight shipping.
Mandy: Do you have any suggestions on florists wanting to source local flowers from farms in their areas? Or any tips on floral farms wanting to reach out to their local floral designers?
Stefanie: Join the Collective! Our goal is to really facilitate on both ends, making it as simple as possible for florists to source local flowers from multiple farms in one place. And to provide farmers with a broad range of customers for their flowers so they can focus on the farm.
Mandy: What’s your favorite season?
Stefanie: Spring is always exciting, as everything starts to wake up from winter, but I can’t deny the beauty of a Colorado summer. The fields are in full bloom, the wedding season is underway, and the general hustle and bustle that fills those long summer days is part of what makes me love this industry.
Mandy: Anything else you would like to share with the readers of Flirty Fleurs?
Stefanie: In a twist of fate, I feel that I partly have Alicia to thank for the existence of the Colorado Flower Collective! She hosted a workshop here in Denver several years ago at Pink Posey Design, a florist I used to work for. Kim of CityGal Farms was providing some of the flowers for the workshop and happened to mention to Buffy, the owner of Pink Posey, that she was looking for some extra help on the farm. Buffy passed that info along to me and that’s how I ended up working at CityGal. An amazing connection that has really played a huge role in where I am today. Thanks, Alicia!
Contact Information for Colorado Flower Collective:
Stefanie Hofmeister, Market Manager
Bringing locally grown flowers from 15+ farms brought together in one weekly market on Wednesdays from 9am-1pm, May thru October.