There are many ways to make an income from growing flowers.

CSA’S AND SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES

snaps.JPG

CSA’s and Subscription Services are some of the first streams of income many flower farmers start off with. Easy to advertise and start with, it’s not hard to see why they are so popular with flower farmers.

CSA’s (or Community Supported Agriculture programs) are a great way of getting customers to invest into your business prior to starting the growing season. It works by guaranteeing customers a certain quantity of pre-paid bouquets or arrangements that customers pick up on a weekly basis. This is nice, because a lot of times it comes at a time when you’re not selling a lot and helps you invest in infrastructure and supplies prior to the growing season. Subscription services work in the same way - just with other types of clients (such as corporate).

PROS:

  • Easy to start off

  • Can be relatively small scale - three customers or thirty, whatever you can manage

  • No major structural investments needed (like grower’s market, farm stand)

  • Excellent for newbies

CONS:

  • Limited income - you are only getting the profit off the share, no scaling.

  • Can cause issues if you have growing issues - crop failure can screw up your planning for shares

  • Can cause additional work if customers go on vacation, miss pick-ups etc.

FARMER’S MARKETS

Farmer’s Markets are readily available, and are some of the first income streams that most people generally think of when it comes to flower farming.

Happy, bustling, full of good food and people and music and local artisans, farmer’s markets (also known as grower’s markets) are this very utopian vision.

We started off at a farmer’s market ourselves. Although we’re no longer doing it, there are plenty of people who do very well selling their flowers there - and some who manage to make a decent living doing so.

PROS:

  • No need to drive customers - they come to you!

  • Lots of opportunities for sales

  • Customers are in the right mental frame - supportive of local businesses and farms, like the experience of interacting with the producers, interested in hand-made and artisan products

  • Lower overhead compared to a brick-and-mortar store

  • Great publicity and marketing, especially when starting out

  • Good source of leads for other opportunities - subscriptions, special occasion and wedding design, events

CONS:

  • Occupies a lot of time - harvesting, designing, transporting, setting up, selling, tearing down, putting things away and cleaning up will occupy your entire weekend

  • Can be frustrating due to factors outside your control - slow traffic, inclement weather, competition from other growers, weird market rules

  • Requires taking a lot of material - no guarantee that it will all sell

  • May take a long time to gain a following and have sizeable sales

  • Usually hot and sweaty and tiring work

  • Requires investment into infrastructure - tents, tables, buckets, signs etc.

  • Generally lower income compared to other streams - unless you have a large and loyal customer base, then it can be fantastic!

POP-UP SHOPS AND MARKETS

Pop-up shops and markets are a relatively new phenomenon we saw popping up (ha!) a couple years ago.

As the name would suggest, it is a temporary shop that is present for a one-time event. Usually in conjunction with a larger event that helps to bring in traffic, pop-up shops are held in already existing venues that want to partner with local vendors to create an enhanced experience for their customers (as well as to bring the pop-up vendors business too).

Frequently seen around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, there is a chance you may be asked to do a pop-up shop at some point.

PROS:

  • Excellent opportunity for sales, especially during some high sales events

  • Existing customers present for you to make sales to

  • One-time commitment - not extended like CSA’s or farmer’s markets

CONS:

  • Similar risks compare to farmer’s markets - no guarantee of selling all your materials, sales can be difficult, inclement weather can effect sales and so on.

  • One-time event nature can make sales difficult, since customer base doesn’t know you yet

  • May be required to share portion of profits with the venue

FARM STANDS

Farm stands are a surprisingly large income stream for a lot of flower farmers. It’s not one that we could do, given that we live in an urban area and a rather inaccessible farm, but I’ve heard that some of these farm stands have earned enough to pay for a new hoop house!

It’s usually based on an honor system - the customer puts money in a box to purchase a bouquet or arrangement. One of the best things is that it doesn’t require much input or time from you - just restocking bouquets and collecting the money.

PROS:

  • Low input - just making sure that it’s stocked and collecting the money

  • Passive-ish income!

  • Usually located on-site of your residence - no traveling

  • Can be a good source of income

CONS:

  • Some people have had issues with the honor system being broken - stolen arrangements, not paying enough, stealing the money box

  • Can be problematic if your stand is not located in a high-enough traffic area

  • Dependent upon other people coming to you - may be difficult to drive traffic and business to it.

BRICK AND MORTAR LOCATIONS

spurline.JPG

Brick and mortar locations are rather unusual - and usually not as a stand-alone retail location, but often in a shared space. For example, we have a spot in the gorgeous Spurline Supply Co in the Sawmill District where we retail our floral arrangements, wreaths, terrariums and other products.

Generally speaking, it is a great way to have the advantages of a retail location without the downsides of having the overhead of a solo stand-alone retail space.

PROS:

  • Existing customer base and traffic (from retail location)

  • Low maintenance - just ensuring stocking of arrangements and products

  • Great environment - attraction of customers in a good frame for supporting local vendors and creatives

CONS:

  • Dependent upon traffic from location - may be good or bad

  • May be restrictions or expectations from the retail space

WEDDING AND EVENT DESIGN

Weddings are a mainstay source of income for a lot of flower farmers, and it’s not hard to understand why. Weddings are a multibillion dollar industry, and in the hands of a good designer and grower can be an excellent source of income - one that can support a flower farmer easily.

PROS:

  • High margin of profit is very possible

  • Professional photographers present that showcase your work and flowers well

  • Excellent business network that can lead to business referrals

CONS

  • Requires good design skills, client management skills, budgeting skills, organizational skills

  • Can be very high stress

  • Can also have low margin of profit due to circumstances outside of your control (crop failure, substitutions etc)

  • Kiss your weekends goodbye

  • Can be very time-intensive as well

  • Less about growing and arranging, more about meeting client expectations

IMMERSION, INSTRUCTION AND EDUCATION

workshop 3.JPG

It’s said that people are starting to pay more for experiences, as opposed to things. I do think that more and more we are seeing people wanting to experience what we experience - cutting flowers from a field, arranging with those flowers and being a flower farmer florist for a day.

Design workshops are a great way to show off your flowers in a way that allows for people to interact with them more. As opposed to statically sitting in an arrangement, they are actually holding them by their stems, stripping leaves, smelling the freshly cut greenery, seeing the stems bob and weave as they arrange them.

PROS

  • Teaching - there’s something amazing about being able to help people create something beautiful!

  • Great use of your materials - fully appreciated by the participants

  • It’s a lot of fun!

CONS

  • Niche audience

  • Requires good design skill, teaching skills, communication skills

  • Large classes require a good space for them to be held