The Story of Bloom, Part 5: The Growth

Amanda sitting in booth at festival

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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 flowers and business cards. A lot has changed since then, and today, in the final part of the story of Bloom, I’m going to focus on what has changed.

Pre-kids: A different time

When I think back on the early days of my business, it’s funny how different my day-to-day was.

I would get flowers and put them together and put my business card on them, then I would go and try to introduce myself to people. I had a hard time getting subscribers because I didn’t have a good reach and didn’t know what to do or how to do it. My neighbor would come with me sometimes when I would go to businesses because I was so nervous about it. I’m not very good about the whole “selling flowers” thing.

Getting cool

After a long time spent trying to grow my business, I eventually had expanded enough to need a small cooler for my flowers. Emphasis on “small.”

In 2018 I got an old drink fridge from somebody who had it at their office. It was $75 on Craigslist, and when we got it home I finally felt like a real, professional florist.

It wasn’t the best (it didn’t get as cold as it was supposed to, and a commercial fridge repair guy said the cost to fix it would be more than it was worth) but I was still able to shove so many flowers in that thing. Eventually it wasn’t big enough for me, so I sold it to a friend and I think she still has it. 

A tough pregnancy

Amanda standing in trash can of green waste
Pregnant and standing in a trash can.

When I had filled up all the growing space at our house, my mom’s house, and my dad’s house, I went looking for more beds: I built a bed in a neighbor’s backyard and met a woman at the farmers market who said I could use her house in Clarksburg to grow flowers. 

I would go between my house, my mom’s house, my dad’s house, my neighbor’s house, the house in Clarksburg… and then I got pregnant. And it was a really hard pregnancy. Since I was always sick and couldn’t spend as much time farming, I cut back to just the spaces where family members could help.

The tough pregnancy meant sometimes I would make flowers in bed, and when I was delivering Mother’s Day flowers I had to stop halfway through to throw up and lay down for a while.

But there will still some fun memories, like when I wound up in a trash can. I was at my dad’s house and had decided to pull out all of the dara that was growing there. Since my dad had just hurt his back, he couldn’t help — he just stood there with a walker, watching as I pulled out plants that were taller than me and shoved them into a green waste bin. Once it was full, I climbed into the bin to stomp down on the plants. Maybe not the best idea, but it worked out OK.

A new helper

Photo showing dog, Amanda's legs, Cody's legs, and tiny pair of baby shoes.
Our pregnancy announcement before Hallie came.

When Hallie was born, I figured I could keep going as normal — just with a newborn tagging along. This didn’t work out so well when I wound up doing things like lugging her (in her car seat) and a bouquet up and down various stairs around an apartment complex, looking for the right unit. And then there were times when I tried to entertain her while I was farming.

Eventually my dad started coming with me on deliveries and staying in the car with Hallie while I dropped off flowers.

Pandemic changes 

COVID-19 brought huge changes all over the world, and my little business was no exception. It was an incredibly hard time for everyone in many different ways. Surprisingly, COVID actually brought tons of new people to my business who were looking to connect with people who they couldn’t visit in person.

They wanted people to know they were thinking about them, and I’m grateful to have been able to do that by bringing flowers for them.

As scary as the pandemic was, especially in the beginning, I was very thankful that we were able to stay open and do deliveries because they brought so much joy to people. In a time when we were so isolated, delivering flowers felt like a source of connection and joy. We masked up, we did the doorbell-ditch style of deliveries, and I quickly expanded to a point where I was delivering flowers all day long. When I realized that I needed help, I asked my dad to help me deliver flowers. 

I had to adapt in lots of ways: In March of 2020 I had an incredible ranunculus crop that I had planned to use for events … which were all canceled. I wound up using them in flower crown kits, which were a fun way for adults and kids to have something to do at home.

53 square feet at 39 degrees

Later in 2020, I decided I needed a place to keep more of the flowers I was using before they were delivered. I was browsing Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for used flower coolers and saw one that looked good (it turns out it was owned by a friend in Sonoma).

We rented a U-Haul and drove to Sonoma to pick it up, then took the U-Haul (full of cooler walls) to a winery in Napa where we were wine club members and did some wine tasting. Totally normal trip, right?

I was hoping we could have it assembled in time for wreath season, but that didn’t happen. We had to pour concrete to have a place to put it, build a frame, seal the gaps, add a roof (the cooler had only ever been used indoors) and paint the whole thing. Phew!

We were still learning a lot around this time: Earlier that year we had redone the rest of the backyard as an early COVID project. We added three large, raised beds, which I quickly filled. But nothing grew. When a friend came over and looked at it all, she confirmed the soil I had bought was no good. I ended up having to dig it all out and put in new soil, which was no fun.

Three wood flower beds
New flower beds added in March 2020.

Collaboration

This business has introduced me to so many amazing people, and one of the big ways I’ve met other business owners in Sacramento has been through partnerships that we created for pop-ups and special occasions like Mother’s Day. For that holiday, I’ve done flowers and donuts, flowers and custom jewelry, flowers and cocktail/soda syrup and more.

I also love doing workshops at businesses around town — that’s another great way to collaborate and get involved in our community.

I’ve also been able to do big events like the Farm to Fork Street Festival. In 2018 our booth had a DIY flower crown station and a flower wall where people could take selfies. Our line was down the street because the flower wall was so popular.

The next year, I and a couple other local florists helped our friend Lisa, who was doing the Tower Bridge Dinner. It was really fun and so cool, and not just because we got to ride around on a golf cart and feel important. (Although we did think that was really cool — it’s funny the things that impress you…)

In 2021, I did flowers for the Farm to Fork Legends of Wine Festival for the first time. Again I was doing questionable things while pregnant — this time, climbing a ladder to set up flowers in 105-degree heat.

We’ve met great people through these events, like Gabe from Burly Beverages and so many more.

Setting my sights on small weddings

Me, do flowers for a wedding? No way! Too stressful! At least that’s what I thought when I first started this business.

Then one day I helped Sammy do a wedding and I fell in love with making bridal bouquets. I helped her with more events and it was surprisingly fun!

I did some big weddings for a while, and while they were fun and so beautiful, they took up a lot of time on weekends. That’s one of the few times when we can all be together as a family, and I didn’t want to give that up.

During COVID I had also discovered how wonderful and intimate smaller weddings could be.

So in 2021 I decided to go from doing big, full-service weddings to just elopements and micro-weddings on weekdays

I am so glad that I made that decision — it’s been so lovely, and I still get to be really creative with flowers for elopements and micro-weddings.

I ended up partnering with a great photographer who I’d done a lot of work with (Christina). She and I created a whole elopement / micro-wedding package for couples who wanted things to be easy. Our packages make things simple for couples who don’t want to have to stress over things like which specific kinds of flowers should be in their bouquet (I wish someone had offered that service to me when I got married!).

The future

I’m really happy with where we are now, but if I were to put on some magic “if I won the lottery” glasses, I would love to have one property where we could live and farm.

It would be great to spend more time farming instead of driving from my mom’s house to my dad’s house to my house to my in-law’s house. And less driving would be more sustainable!

The only issue is the one I found originally: Land is expensive here. That’s nothing new, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone reading this, especially people who have spent any amount of time in California. But I love this area and want to stay here and build a community.

I would love to have a large flower farm space that I could also use for other things, like as a place to hold workshops and a place for community to grow alongside the plants. I would love to have a place for people to learn, to get their produce from (as a CSA pickup point for other local farmers).

I want to provide workshops or other fun activities to those who might not be able to afford them in their daily lives. I want to bring people joy and be able to go and give flowers away to people. I want the business to be able to support that.

How you can help

First, THANK YOU for all of your support! You can help keep this dream going by following me on Instagram, recommending Bloom to friends, and keeping Bloom in mind when you have flowers to send. Being a part of the community’s celebrations is what keeps Bloom going!

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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