There are many ways to make an income from growing flowers.
CSA’S AND SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES
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).
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
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 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.
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
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.
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
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 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.
Low input - just making sure that it’s stocked and collecting the money
Usually located on-site of your residence - no traveling
Can be a good source of income
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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!
Requires good design skill, teaching skills, communication skills
Large classes require a good space for them to be held