Liz Gillison and Jackie Gambill each took different routes to their new flower business, Freesia and Vine, but they’re hoping a somewhat unique approach to the floral trade will help their company take root and bloom. They spoke recently with The News-Post about their new business and some of the challenges facing florists today.
How did you get into
LG: I started working at a shop in Frederick, downtown. And I’d gotten a divorce, and I kind of needed to reinvent myself. And I started out as sort of a helper for a designer there, and I just sort of gradually started to make things on my own until I ended up becoming one of the lead designers there. And she stopped doing flowers, and ... we knew we worked well together and we thought that we could come up with a good concept that was unique and was different from everyone else in town.
JG: My mom loved to garden and [had] a love of flowers. She actually worked at a florist, so [she] always [had] an appreciation for flowers and the work behind them. I have a degree in finance, but after staying home with the kids and such, about 15 years ago I joined All Saints Flower Guild, and that really was like my first experience doing actual arrangements and such. And just learning and growing through that and then taking different courses and doing some weddings on the side and also working at the shop with Liz, I [gained] experience there with different styles and the care of flowers. We both really enjoy it, and I think we’re going to bring a new kind of idea about flower delivery to Frederick.
Do you have a location,
or are you online?
JG: We currently do not have a store location, but we were just looking at a property today. So we’re hopeful to be somewhere close to all the action downtown, but we don’t need to be right in the thick of things because we’re thinking a lot of our business still will be mainly online. But we will host workshops, and we’ll do weddings and such. But we’ll have a location that will be easily accessible to people if they want to pop in.
How has the internet changed the way florists do their jobs?
LG: For wire services like FTD or 1-800 Flowers, it’s been huge, to be able to deliver from faraway places to people. And they’re also very consistent with the way that they make things. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing, but I think for the wire services it’s been good. For us, I think we’ve been — in a very short amount of time — we’ve been able to reach a lot of people. We have a Facebook page, we have an Instagram page, and we have the website, and they all are sort of interactive. And we try to update everything pretty frequently so that we can reach as many people as we can. Like everything, there’s good and bad. And it’s so simple for someone to get online, no matter where they are, and get a bouquet to someone — that same day sometimes. But what’s great about Frederick in that we’re really concentrated with the Frederick area is that they really embrace [the idea of a business] being different or unique or kind of a custom or a small independent, when you look at all the great restaurants and microbreweries and such. I think the people of Frederick are really enthusiastic about independent, different kinds of businesses. And that’s what we’ve seen from the feedback from our customers: They really do appreciate the care and the thought and the uniqueness of our product.
You say on your website that you’re not a traditional florist. What do you mean by that?
JG: Basically, we offer one style [of] bouquet. Just as an example of how our week goes, Sunday and Monday, we’re supposed to be off, but we’re always kind of working on things in the background. We get our flowers on Tuesdays, and then sometimes we get another delivery later in the week, depending on the number of orders. But we offer one really unique style of bouquet that can be customized with additional roses or doubled in size, so that we can keep our costs down and then pass that savings onto the customer by not having to stock, you know, ‘OK, let’s stock some yellow lilies this week because someone might want those, and then we’ll have to stock some different roses’ — we have a smaller variety of things available. But if people give us a couple days’ notice, we’re happy to help customers out if they’re doing it themselves and order something special for them.
LG: Also, our pricing includes the cost of delivery. There’s no hidden fees. What you see is the cost of the flowers and the delivery together.
How much of what you stock is seasonal? We had Valentine’s Day, now we’ll have Easter coming up. How much do you look at the calendar for what you want to stock?
JG: We kind of plan it out about three weeks in advance in terms of what our color palette is going to be. This week, our color palette is more, we call it a fruit salad — bright yellows, peaches — trying to get away from Valentine’s Day, the pinks and the purples, from the past couple weeks. And we’re looking forward to Easter. We’re thinking of some contemporary takes on Easter centerpieces. And then Mother’s Day will be right around the corner. We do offer more kinds of different styles and palettes for those kinds of major floral holidays.
Your website says you deliver within a 10-mile radius of downtown Frederick. What are the limits of that range?
LG: That goes up to Middletown and down towards Ijamsville. We will deliver farther, but our software adds a $10 delivery charge if it’s beyond that 10-mile range. So we won’t tell you no, but we let people know that it will add a small fee onto it.