The Story of Bloom, Part 3: The Helpers

Three women pose for photo in garden.

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When I was starting this business there were some people who I already knew I’d be able to count on for support. Those people have been great — my rocks. On the other hand I’ve really been surprised by some of the places where I’ve found amazing supporters who have helped lift me up, given me a shoulder to lean on, offered advice or just been awesome. I want to tell you about some of these people and the ways they’ve helped keep this dream going, starting with my biggest supporter.

Grandma Rosy

When I told my grandma I wanted to quit my job to be a flower farmer, she was so excited. She lived in San Francisco and was in Sunset Magazine multiple times for her patio garden, which turned her townhome’s concrete entryway into a lush garden full of bamboo and things that felt so inviting. My Grandma Rosy lived an incredible, cosmopolitan life, and was always encouraging of new things. She was my first investor, and gave me $1,000 to help me get started. She was the first person to see it as a legit business idea, like, “Of course that’s something Amanda could do.”

She passed away a couple years later, but she was my biggest supporter and I was glad she was able to help me get started on this journey. There was nobody like her. 

My first customer

For my best friend’s birthday in March 2017 I brought her flowers all wrapped up. We went out to Rio City Cafe in Old Town Sacramento and the manager stopped and asked me where I got the flowers. I told her my whole spiel as my friends watched. Rio City ended up being my first customer, even though I hadn’t even planned on opening yet.

On April 1, I officially opened. Rio City was an awesome partner as I got my feet under me, figured out how to actually sell bouquets, worked out timing and so much more. They still refer customers to me when people want flowers for events at the restaurant.

On April 2, Good Day Sacramento emailed and asked if they could do a segment on me. I remember running into my boss’ office with my email open and shouting: “Look! Look!”

An early splash

To this day I’m not sure how they found me. Cody has a lot of friends who work in the media, but we sure didn’t pitch any of them on my new business the day it started.

On April 5 they came to my house and I was on Good Day at like 7 a.m. and then I went to work at my speech job. It was a whirlwind of emotions.

Family spaces

My family has been so important to my transition to flower farming, and when I was ready to really start growing more plants I was able to use their yards to augment mine. 

My mom’s house was an overgrown mess of bushes and things. Who even knew what they were. And she had three planter boxes my dad had built in the ’80s that didn’t have anything growing in them. I hired somebody to clear it all out for me, which was part of convincing my mom to let me use it. The reason I knew what to do was I had volunteered for a work party hosted by a local flower farmer. I had helped them set up new beds, add compost, see how they did things, see where to order supplies (I was so excited to help out on a farm, I went even though I had an ear infection).

I was so proud — after everything in my mom’s backyard was cleared out, I rototilled, put in compost, added amendments and planted my 20 plants and called myself a flower farmer. It was cute. Cody and I used to go back and forth about buying plugs (small plant starts) — what if we just bought 100 plants? That felt like so many, but it’s nothing compared to what I do now.

I would eventually add more plants at my dad’s house, but I wasn’t ready for that yet.

Joining a community

Amanda and Sammy at flower pop-up event
Me and Sammy at our very first pop-up together.

When I became a flower farmer and florist, I joined a sizable community of like-minded folks in Sacramento. In fact, someone I now consider a really close friend came from a random floral connection.

I met Sammy, a florist who also happened to live in the Pocket, via Instagram. We did a pop-up together and taught a workshop at West Elm together. I said yes to helping on all sorts of projects — anything where Sammy needed extra hands. Any time other farmers needed help I would jump at it. I would split trays of plugs with other farmers. 

I also took a flower design class at the Learning Annex and I made my mom take a flower design class with me at American River College. Since then I’ve also taken many different flower and farming classes (and read so many books!).

One of the more surprising and amazing things about the floral community in Sacramento has been that it truly is community over competition. Without the other farmers who I have grown relationships with, I would truly not have a business. Without the other florists, I would not have a business. We have created a community together, and even when it looks like we do exactly the same thing and should be competitors, sometimes those are the people cheering you on and wanting you to succeed the most. (Looking at you, Nicole and Ali!)

Coming next week: Part 4, The Lessons!

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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