The COVID-19 crisis has completely altered our way of life and has deeply affected all types of businesses. Across many industries, business owners are having to adapt to the current situation and pivot their focus in order to continue to meet their customers’ needs. I thought I would share a little insight into how COVID-19 has affected the floral industry, and how our business is shifting to ensure we can keep our doors open and continue to serve our clients well.
Here’s What Happened to the Floral Industry When Coronavirus Hit:
As stay-at-home orders were put into place last month, some of the first effects our business felt were the delays and cancellations of weddings and events. In Virginia, our first stay-at-home order lasted through April 23rd, so that affected weddings scheduled through April and May. Then the restrictions were extended through June 10th, which meant all of our second quarter weddings had to postpone as well. At this point, our cash flow essentially dried up.
The following week, the floral supply chain broke down. The wholesaler in Richmond where we source our flowers completely shut down. Something that those outside the floral industry might not realize is that most of the flowers we designers use for arrangements are not grown locally. If you bought a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day, chances are they came from another country, as they are not mass produced in the US. At Aleen Floral Design, the majority of our flowers come from around the world. So, when the supply chain breaks down, we have to figure out another way to source flowers to continue to creating arrangements.
The Obstacles Small Business Owners Face
Any small business owner will attest to the fact that things don’t always go as planned when you run a business. And while this situation is certainly different than anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, it is certainly not the first obstacle we’ve faced—nor will it be the last. I’ve been in business for 12 years now. In those 12 years, I’ve encountered tons of obstacles. My flowers have gotten lost at least 10 times. Yet, I’ve never had a bride go without flowers. I’ve always found a way to figure it out, make things happen, and keep the show going.
My guess is, if you’re a business owner who’s been at this for a while, you’re nodding along in agreement. This is just what we do. We fight to make it work, no matter the obstacle, because we simply love what we do. At the end of the day, we stick it out because it’s just who we are as entrepreneurs. We’re scrappy. We’re resilient. We exercise this muscle everyday during ordinary times—when something like this happens, we’re in shape to handle the challenge.
So… What Did We Do?
Since weddings and events were cancelled, the first thing we had to do was pivot our focus. I decided to offer handmade Easter arrangements to my community. People were interested, so I set to work finding flowers. Since our wholesaler had shut down, I had to turn elsewhere.
I found a local organization in Richmond called River City Flower Exchange, where you can order flowers from local farmers. I purchased flowers from there and Trader Joe’s, and spent several hours foraging for greenery. Miraculously, it all came together, and I was able to secure the flowers I needed to create 278 Easter arrangements for my customers. It was a great joy to see familiar faces during pickup as well as smiles when I personally made deliveries to Hampton, Newport News, Yorktown, and Williamsburg Thursday & Friday before Easter.
What We’ve Learned During the Coronavirus Crisis
Getting through the COVID-19 crisis has been a daily challenge for our business. I haven’t taken a day off since this whole thing began, which may be the new normal for the foreseeable future. But here are a few things I’ve learned since the coronavirus crisis struck:
- You—our customers and community—are amazing. You value the work we do and you’re supportive of our business, and that is the greatest blessing.
- Your response to the personal Easter arrangement offering astounded me. It made me realize that the Floral Society project I’ve been working on was ready to be fully implemented. I was worried that I hadn’t gotten everything perfect just yet. Turns out, no project is ever “perfect enough” to send out into the world. Sometimes, you just have to pull the trigger and hope for the best.
- Being willing to ask for help is always important—but especially so during a crisis. I’ve had to lean on people with different skill sets to help navigate obstacles over the past few weeks. We’re not meant to do this journey of life and entrepreneurship alone.
- I tend to devalue my own work. Fortunately, my customers see the value in what I bring to the table, and I’m so incredibly grateful for their reassurance and support.
- Flowers bring people joy. They just do. They bring cheer to our spaces and they offer a sense of calm during tumultuous times. Every time I’ve been discouraged over the past few weeks, I’ve been reminded that this is what I LOVE to do. I feel like I was born for this work. And I won’t give it up without a fight.
Here Are Some Ways You Can Support Aleen Floral Design During COVID-19
- Join us for an online Mother’s Day floral workshop. For this workshop, you’ll pick up a flower kit and vase from our studio, then login to live instruction via your computer or phone. The kids are welcome to join, and you’ll be able to create your own beautiful Mother’s Day arrangement from the safety of your home.
- Purchase a gift card for future use. Gift cards can be used for arrangements or workshops!
- Purchase an arrangement for an essential worker. We would be honored to deliver flowers to local healthcare workers and other personnel on the frontlines of the crisis. Contact us for details
- Write us a review. If you purchased an arrangement or have used Aleen Design for a wedding or event, we would love it if you would take a moment to leave us a Google review.
- Subscribe to our newsletter so you receive notification when Floral Society arrangements are available for purchase.
From the bottom of my heart, I’m so grateful to every one of you who are looking to support our business during this crisis! I believe we will get through this together, and we will be better for having gone through the fire.