7 months, 4 weeks ago
The flower industry is an exceptional collaborative workspace. Breeders, growers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, and florists are all cogs in the machine that work together to provide the world with beautiful blooms and greens.
No one knows that better than Brenda Chappelear, the founder, and owner of Etowah Florist located in Etowah, North Carolina, which is why we sat down to connect with her. Here at Fresh-o-Fair, we believe florists are our eyes and ears. They know exactly what customers are shopping for and provide valuable insight. Read on to learn more about her business and her advice for floriculturists.
About the Business
Etowah Florist opened in 1988 and has been in business for over three decades. Here they provide designer floral arrangements and a variety of ready-to-buy options for every occasion. A local favorite, Etowah delivers locally and to other parts of the country. Some of her top sellers are 50 - 60 cm roses, although she does work with the 40 cm ones during the holidays.
Every Monday, the delivery truck comes in, and she gets straight to work, cutting the florals and placing them in special solutions that rehydrate them and open the blooms. Some flowers come through couriers like UPS, which also need to be taken care of. Then when the doors close for the night, everything goes straight to the cooler to help extend their life.
As mentioned before, Brenda is no stranger to the world of floriculture. She was raised on a gladioli farm and has seen her grandfather grow and sell flowers since she was a little girl. With years of experience behind her, Brenda knows that growing flowers is no gamble. She has witnessed the struggle firsthand and declares it takes faith and hard work to produce and sell flowers.
Wholesales vs. Direct From Farm
Brenda works with both wholesalers and flower farms but is very particular with who she does business. Freshness is the first quality she looks for, and she avoids buying flowers that have been in cold storage for too long. Flowers like that don’t last long, so if they are not alive for her customers to enjoy, there is no point.
Brenda notes that there is a big difference between buying wholesale and direct-from-farm. With wholesale, she knows that the flowers have been cut for at least a week before shipping, but when she buys directly from the flower farm, the supply chain is much shorter. The stems have not been cut that long ago.
Looking to the Future of Flowers
The customers who come to Etowah Florist are very important to Brenda. They are the ones who inspire the flowers she stocks. But flower farming can be a fickle business, and many quit growing, which is why Brenda is always on the lookout for a new supplier or farm.
Knowing where and who is growing her flowers is always helpful to Brenda. She loves to pass that information on to her customers, who welcome the knowledge. But she feels there is still a gap in communication between producers and florists, stating that there are some colors florists can get by without. The focus should be on what is trending in places like Europe or color institutes like Pantone that announce colors for each year.
She goes on to say there is always a demand for brighter, vibrant florals and that even the red ones have become duller. Brenda’s dream flower would be a yellow rose that could survive for over a week. Luckily for Brenda, such a dream is closer to reality than she thinks. One of the most significant advantages of buying directly from a flower farm is that the blooms last longer. As a matter of fact, there are certain varieties of roses here at Fresh-o-Fair that last up to a week!
In the End
We enjoyed conversing with Brenda about the different aspects of floriculture. It was a truly informative discussion. Not only did we have the opportunity to learn about her business, but we also had the chance to share information about ours, especially our sustainable farming practices. We are proud of our eco-friendly focus and always take the time to educate florists about the benefits of buying directly from farms. Contact us today to learn more about partner farms and the latest sustainability efforts, or visit our website for more information.