The Story of Bloom, Part 1: The Dream

Amanda growing vegetables

Share This Post

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the day-to-day craziness of this business that I forget just how far we’ve come. After all, if past me had met someone who quit her steady job to become a flower farmer and florist, I would’ve thought, “Damn, that’s amazing, but I could never do that.”

But we are all capable of amazing things, and I want to honor that by taking you through the story of how Bloom went from a “silly little dream” inside my head to a flourishing business. It was an idea I shot down so many times for being too risky, impractical, and just not the kind of thing you were supposed to do. But here I am: And if I can make this dream happen, then you can too.

The beginning

As a kid I had no interest in being a gardener. I did grow a garden in my 7th grade science class with carrots and radishes, but when I tried to grow them at home, it didn’t work. When Cody and I moved into our current house in 2011, we tried our hand at growing some vegetables here and there, but didn’t do anything too serious. The next year, something happened that would force us to think a bit more about plants big and small.

Our cars are under there somewhere…

In June of 2012 (on my dad’s birthday) there was a huge wind storm and the tree in our front yard fell on both of our cars. Turns out it was a flowering pear tree and those are self-pruning … cool, right? Well we had one in the backyard as well and our arborist said we would need to prune it every 3 years for $1,500 each time or it would end up doing the same thing as the one in the front and drop branches — or we could take the tree down completely and not have to worry. It was an easy decision – take it down. We got two new trees from a SMUD program for free that would do well in our yard. Our front yard still has a huge dip in it from where the tree was. 

Cutting down that tree was probably the actual beginning of Bloom. Where that tree was we put in a stone planter and some new sod (because taking the tree down shocked the grass and it all died. Because a landscaper told us it would be $10,000 to put in sod, a planter and a small patio, we did it all ourselves. Note to self: If a tree comes down after 30 years, don’t put something in its place where you have to dig – there will be roots and it will suck to deal with.

The stone planter we built in our backyard — and probably the birthplace of Bloom.

Finally the backyard was done – time to put some plants in the planter. We went with tomatoes and zucchini, plus a few landscaping-style dahlias and some little flowers … and it went bonkers. Little did I know I’d soon be growing many more.

A growing interest

Amanda arranging flowers in her kitchen.
Putting together flowers in 2015.

The next year (2013) I put in dahlias (in January!) from a bag of dahlia tubers from Costco. Well, whatever I did worked because the dahlias went bananas that year. In June/July I wanted to hang out with my flowers, eat, drink, even sleep with them. It became an obsession. I started researching flower farms and going to the ones nearby that were open to the public. I took all the flower workshops I could and was giddy about it every time. I followed ALL the flower farmers on Instagram. 

When we got married in 2014 I asked our florist if I could be involved in any of the process, like going to the SF market with her to go see the process. Not to have control but to watch how it all worked. She was a good sport and said yes, but warned me that these trips started at like 3 a.m. Once the wedding week came, I realized how busy I was and had no time to do a 3 a.m. trip to SF. My florist was probably so relieved.

In 2015 I would go to the farmers market and buy armfuls of flowers. I’d put them in vases all over my house. It brought me so much joy.

Day (job) dreaming

During this time I was really questioning my job choice. I knew I didn’t want to be a speech language pathology assistant forever, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do instead. I would joke about wanting to be a flower farmer but knew it was silly and not practical and unsteady – especially for someone with no knowledge of farming or gardening and absolutely no experience and I didn’t have any natural talent for growing or arranging flowers. Talk about a pipe dream.

I went to see a career counselor and funny enough, after all her questions and testing, she also thought I should be a flower farmer. As awesome as that was, it was not an easy jump – I couldn’t just go get another degree and then apply somewhere. I would have to strike out on my own, but I had no land and no experience, just a crazy dream.

My school portrait for 2016-17. Very professional!

Diving in

I don’t know how I first learned about Floret, but it would eventually lead me to make a huge, life-changing decision.

Floret was a little flower farm in Washington state. Erin Benzakein started it and she became this really successful flower farmer on just 2 acres of land. If you’re into flowers, you know what Floret is because they’re such an integral part of flower farming. They’ve made flower farming accessible to so many people — not just people with tons of acreage. The idea of flower farming in a small space really resonated with me because I don’t have a ton of land. Very few people do. Erin followed a dream — she has two kids, and she and her husband put in the work at her farm. She’s aspirational. She grows incredible flowers. An insane amount of flowers in a small space. And today she has blown up so much she has her own TV show. She is the Joanna Gaines of the flower world, despite being a small local farmer. I’m not really into celebrities but I love people who do the work like her. I fangirl out over farmers who do super cool things, and Erin is one of those people. 

Erin hosted flower farming workshops at her farm, and I decided to go to one to learn from her and find out if this was something I wanted to do. But it wasn’t easy, even after I decided to go: Erin sells out in like three seconds for anything she does. I’m pretty sure she sold out of her workshops in a couple minutes — and they were not cheap. How cool is that? 

So I prepared with multiple alarms, and multiple computers, dropping everything to try to be one of the lucky ones to get a ticket. It’s like trying to get Taylor Swift tickets. It’s insane. I was also at work when it was time (sorry, Yolo County Office of Education). I’m pretty sure I cried when I got a ticket.

I booked my trip to Floret. It was a lot more money than I thought it would be, but we figured if we spent money on it and decided I didn’t want to do it it would be money well spent. If I did stick with it – it’s a writeoff. 

I’d never done solo travel before and I took a minute to explore Seattle. From there, I took a train to the Skagit Valley. I spent the next few days learning from Erin and falling in love with farming more than I thought I could. I was burning holes in fabric, bending pipes, making compost tea. I also got to meet people who I’d been following, who were successful flower farmers. I fangirled over them a little bit. 

Floret solidified everything. At Floret I learned how to make centerpieces and bridal bouquets. I definitely took my bridal bouquet home with me on the airplane.

Stay tuned for part 2, coming next week — sign up for our email list to be notified when it goes live!

Subscribe to the Bloom Newsletter

Be the first to hear updates from the farm, plus news about upcoming events and more

Read More

Amanda sitting in booth at festival
Bloom Blog

The Story of Bloom, Part 5: The Growth

It’s kind of amazing how much my business has changed since the early (pre-kid!) days, when I would go around to random businesses dropping off