Understanding the Floral Industry with American Grown

Kelly Perry - 00:01 - You are listening to the Team Flower podcast where we talk about flowers with the people who've dedicated their lives to sharing them with the world. We believe that your work with flowers matters and we are cheering you on today. Hi, my name's Kelly and today we're talking with Kasey from American Grown. Kasey is the administrator of Certified American Grown Flowers, a diverse coalition of large and small flower farms united in promoting domestic flowers in assuring customers that the bouquets and bunches they purchase are grown on an American flower farm. His efforts have brought industry and consumer attention to the value and importance of domestically grown flowers and foliage, helping consumers connect the farm to fork trim with florals and driving home the message that bouquets at the center of the tables should be fresh, sustainable, and home grown just like the food on their plates. In this episode, Kasey is sharing the history of American grown and how the organization has grown over the years. He's chatting about the floral industry supply chain and why educating consumers and wholesalers alike is vital to the success in growth of promoting American grown flowers. 

Kelly Perry - 00:59 - We're talking about the exciting American grown fields base tour, American flowers week, and how to source American grown. This podcast is brought to you by Team Flower and online support community dedicated to educating, connecting, and empowering flower lovers worldwide. We provide online classes, in person events and free weekly resources designed to support you in your journey with flowers, whether you're professional florists, flower farmer, you just love flowers. There's a place for you here. Welcome. Come during the party at teamflower.org. Kasey, it's so great to have you here on the Team Flower podcast today. I'm really excited to share your story and the American Grown Council with our listeners. Thank you so much for being here. 

Kasey Cronquist - 01:44 - Hey Kelly. Thank you. We're happy to be here. So looking forward to it. 

Kelly Perry - 01:48 - Yeah. Well for us to get started, why don't you just give our listeners a little inside peek on the Certified American Grown and your role within the organization. 

Kasey Cronquist - 01:59 - Yeah, you bet. So Certified American Grown is a campaign, a program that launched in 2014 after a lot of discussion than certainly a, a coalition of farmers from across the country that came together originally at a conference in ASC EFG conference in Tacoma, Washington in 2012 and then over the course of many months at discussion and then eventually designing and launching the certified program. It's since become the program that everybody sees now in the marketplace and certainly available for farms to become a part of. So yeah, and I serve as the administrator and so I work with the farmers from across the country who are seeking certification. We work through a third party certifier known as where food comes from. So kind of playing into what really what was the impetus of of, of getting the program going, which was so many people looking at things more closely, paying attention to where their food came from. 

Kasey Cronquist - 02:55 - So now we've got a great company out of Colorado Springs, Colorado called where food comes from and they are a third party auditor who goes through and helps us with the certifying of every farm that becomes certified American grown. So it's been a great program. 

Kelly Perry - 03:09 - That's awesome. So would you say that the big, kind of the big picture goal of the organization is to organize farmers and kind of give them a little bit of a hub or could you elaborate a little bit more on other than the labeling or the branding, kind of like what you're hoping, hoping the outcome of that labeling or branding will result in for the marketplace? 

Kasey Cronquist - 03:35 - Yeah. So what we face in the market in the United States is that, you know, today I'm domestic farms represent, you know, just 20% if not less than 20% of all flowers sold in the United States. And, and yet 74% of consumers have no idea where flowers come from. And, and so often, especially in the 10 years I've been working in this industry, people are just shocked to find that flowers from other countries. You know, most notably, Colombia and Ecuador are flown in from such great distance to end up here in the United States and then be sold into retail and so it's an education issue and it's a consumer education issue and once consumers are presented and even in that same work we've done in surveying consumer research, when we ask them if they had a choice, if they, if they knew what they were doing before they did it, would they prefer to buy homegrown blooms over imports and the answer, the majority of the time, 58% of them said yes. 

Kasey Cronquist - 04:34 - And so you could see the gap, right? If we're less than 20% today and 58% of consumers would otherwise prefer to buy home grown flowers, then we have some work to do and that work comes by way of education, communication and giving consumers choice. And I think, you know, our supply chain in the United States is often filled with a number of middlemen who are making different choices for consumers that they would otherwise not prefer. And I think that's where. This is just a, this is just a really large scale education program for consumers and when we're successful we're giving them the choice and they are responding. 

Kelly Perry - 05:12 - Can you tell us a little bit about the actual labels in kind of like whenever we would see them as perhaps flourished showing up in our floral boxes, is there a way to like how detailed is the tracking on the labeling right now? Is it just back to country of origin obviously America for this piece or is it tracking to farms or what does that look like and then for me as somebody who's kind of catching them in the middle, communicating that and then labeling to an actual consumer, what does that look like in that transition or is there a way for me to be able to continue spreading that message and that label? 

Kasey Cronquist - 05:51 - Yeah, I think, well first just to address the traceability of it, that's one of the unique features of the program is the way we establish the certification by design of the farmers was that it needed to be third party verified and there needed to be some quote unquote teeth in the program because we didn't want it to be just a sticker. It couldn't be something that, you know, you could run off your printer and start slapping it on flowers sleeves because what you find today is that there's more money being invested in the labeling on sleeves and stickers and now we're wrapping trucks and all of this, you know, further promotion of the program, um, that, that needs to be protected. Meaning that, you know, it can't just be, you know, a sticker that anybody can have and, and, and be misused is really the concern the farmer had in. So bringing in that third party certifier, creating a unique id number for every single farm that helps us track trace back if there's ever any issues. 

Kasey Cronquist - 06:47 - If somebody is misusing the label number one or number two, if somebody misrepresenting the brand, meaning that they've, you know, taking it offline, there's no unique id number, you know, we're asking a retailer or a wholesaler or somebody where did you get this and they're having to go back and say this came from here and, and that's kind of a first in our industry relative to kind of how food works. But in the case of flowers, it's different food. It's generally done for safety, health and safety reasons for flowers. It's done because we're, we really see the advantage we have as domestic producers to produce and sell something that's grown here in the United States and then guarantee it to the customer and there's been a lot of kind of market infringement on that message or that by local or by American that we needed to protect against in this program does that very well. You know, I think it's put to rest. A lot of the frustrations farmers were having with imports were that we're starting to look like they were trying to be domestic and that still happens today. That hasn't gone away, but I think this is that program that gives you that guarantee that you otherwise couldn't have gotten before. 

Kelly Perry - 07:47 - I was um, I was in Delaware last weekend, visited DB Flora, which is an amazing wholesale company and that was the first time that I had walked in where I could actually see and trace country of origin knew exactly where these things were coming from because so often I hadn't really no idea unless it said on the outside of the box or something, what countries something was coming from. And so being able to see that and walk through that. I live in a pretty small town. I know many of our listeners don't maybe have direct access to a wholesaler, you know, that they can walk into or that they can see some of these pieces. And so I said that that was so interesting and I did see some American grown, some American grown flowers as I was walking through their cooler and seeing their inventory and I know that they're big supporters and big supporters of that, which I think is so fun. So that's really great. Well, tell us about when you were kind of making a choice about either buying local or buying American. 

Kelly Perry - 08:45 - Tell us how you guys kind of settled on the buy American piece of it and maybe some longterm goals that you might have. Like are you considering introducing American flyers into other countries or is it primarily something that you'd like to keep at home or. I don't know if that's something that you might like to talk about for a minute. 

Kasey Cronquist - 09:01 - Yeah. Well this was certainly a, a, a domestic venture meeting that, you know, we, this was launched to drive awareness with American consumers and it was at a time and it's still that time. I mean, it's seems seemingly just continuing to grow in both enthusiasm and interest for what we can produce here in the United States, what's made here in the United States. And uh, and so we found ourselves not having to bootstrap this concept alone. It was already happening and we just needed to create a, a vehicle for us to travel with it, to kind of ride this wave together. And that's really what we've seen in this program is that as more and more Americans are turning to buying American, that's where we saw great synergy for the flower industry. So it was focused on a domestic market and. And certainly yes, when, when we, when we first sat down it was spaghetti on the fridge, throw everything up there and I was mostly participating as a facilitator. 

Kasey Cronquist - 10:01 - So it was farmers discussing about how would we want this to go forward from here. I think the challenge by local movement, me being a former chamber of commerce executives are spending a lot of my early career on main street and that by local message was super important to the members of my chambers of commerce. It's a big deal and certainly exciting how we can now connect that dot with consumers. But when we launched certified, we had to look at definable terms in part because we'd be working with a third party certifier that was going to be having farmers signed contracts. It was going to be something that would need some legal definition. And what we found in the conversation around the word local was it was really hard, basically impossible without kind of starting to get into debates amongst ourselves about what local meant. And, um, and then when you started to extrapolate that conversation, not just about the definition of local, it became a conversation of seasonality. 

Kasey Cronquist - 10:57 - You know, what happens when locals not available, what happens when winter hits and certain parts of the country aren't able to produce. And then you leave consumers wanting, right? You locals over, now what do we do? And therein lies another rub. And so, uh, you know, it was, it didn't take too long for people to start to galvanize around the idea that it really wasn't by American message that we needed in, in large part because it was a definable term that most, you know, as far as an umbrella term, most people could fall under really easy. They knew what it meant and there wasn't anybody who was going to be growing inside of the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii that couldn't be a part of this program. And so it created the biggest tent possible for participation. And everybody could fit under it. 

Kelly Perry - 11:48 - Right. And the great thing about that is that, like you were mentioning with the seasonality piece of it, with all of the different states included in that we do, I mean tell me a little bit more, but I feel like there really wouldn't be any major gaps and being able to now of course we've got to meet the demand which is already a little bit behind or whatever, but you would. There would be American flowers to meet consumers year round as we move forward and kind of build this out since we all have such different climates and growing seasons and all those kinds of things. 

Kasey Cronquist - 12:19 - Yeah. You know, I like to say that before there was imports, there weren't important and it wasn't because we didn't lose as much market share because we couldn't grow during all year round. I mean we, we've got great climates in the United States, plenty of regions that can produce flowers throughout the year and know, you know, if you've flipped a switch today, we couldn't meet consumer demand tomorrow. That's true. But I think. But this program, what we've seen is that, um, it, it really does set a course for increasing the consumption of American grown flowers. Well, our farms are able to meet demand as it's happening and, and that's a really good thing. Now there could be some big waterfall moment which would be awesome, where consumers really turn on towards American grown flowers in and we'd be in a situation where we really need to look towards where's this production gonna come from. Um, and, and, and that would be a great problem to have in some ways. 

Kasey Cronquist - 13:14 - We're starting to experience a little bit of that thanks to a program like this and a lot of the momentum that's out there for buying home grown flowers. So it's an exciting time in that way. I think we see a lot of blue sky forward here because a lot of ways after four years you're just getting started. I really think there's a lot more leg to this movement. 

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Kelly Perry - 14:29 - So do you feel like that the biggest, what might be education you feel like is probably the biggest obstacle on that consumer side, or do you feel like that the demand is kind of getting to the point where it's like, hey, we need more? We need more farmers waiting. We need more things growing? That's probably both kind of simultaneously, but I'm just curious what your thoughts are there and then would that education piece. We can talk about the field to grown dinners a little bit here in a minute too because I feel like that's a really important piece of that education and experience for people to know that that that's out there 

Kasey Cronquist - 15:03 - I think has been the dinner series of certainly our, our promotion vehicle with limited resources and having to kind of pick where you spend your time and money. The field to vase dinner tour has certainly been the most are the single best promotion program we've ever developed. You know, and I. I love what American flowers month is doing right now. We can talk more about that, but I think the tour is just really special because the American flowers month is certainly an awareness campaign that is designed to do the same thing, but it's transactional in many ways in meaning that right now we've got a lot of retailers who are are participating in that program and it's driving sales and that's great. The thing about the dinner tour is, is that it's really a conversation and invites people to sit down and connect the dots that they already have with what they're eating and, and the dinner and the farm to fork movement and translating that for flowers in a very, uh, conversational relational way. 

Kasey Cronquist - 16:02 - And I think that's what made it, you know, the award winning campaign that it is the attention that it's gotten by so many different media places that we all know and continues to be a very successful program for us in terms of promotion. And I think we still have a long ways to go with kind of mass communication. And I always like to say to my farms that it's mass market and that really does provide us with our television opportunity because we're not going to be the industry that starts to take out super bowl ads or even any television ads for that matter. Kind of the biggest we get in this industry is during Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, you start to hear some of the big online retailers take ads on those channels and radio. And so there's not a lot of that kind of heavy lifting promotion going on, but thanks to social media and thanks to, I think, you know, the tidal wave effect that is happening across the country about buy American and, and the farm to fork movement, people are paying attention to this right now. 

Kasey Cronquist - 17:00 - And, and we can continue to leverage our relationships and certainly our customers relationships with their consumers to identify with what we're saying, identify where the logo is and then encourage them to buy. And that's why I said by television, because every marketer talks about impressions, right? Everybody wants as many impressions as they can get. Well, currently certified American grown represents over half of the production grown in United States. So in 2000. And the last, uh, farm gate value report we have from USDA goes domestic production with cut flowers and Greens at about $428 million farm gate. And we represent probably north of $230 million of that farm gate inside this program. All the members who are certified American grown. So we really have a very prolific program out there and when our farmers are united, you know, kind of rowing the same direction together, 

Kasey Cronquist - 17:58 - especially when you get into that mass market area where those brands or those labels like you saw in the coolers of wholesalers can be together or waving the flag together. It really does leave those impressions that we otherwise can't afford to get by buying advertising or buying a, those types of marketing opportunities. So, so it's a grassroots deal. It's kind of a gorilla, if you will, but, but it's working and uh, and it continues to show a great value back to the farms who are participating. 

Kelly Perry - 18:28 - Oh, what I love so much about the whole organization is that it is something that cannot be accomplished apart from teamwork. And like that phrase that you used when all of our farmers are rowing in the same direction. It is amazing what you've been able to accomplish in such a short period of time and it's only going to continue to pick up and to get better and better. And what I love about those dinners too is that it provides a place where we're able to, as growers, florists, wholesalers, consumers, the whole piece of the puzzle come together and have discussions around the flowers and that's something that I think is so fun about that event that everybody's welcome at the table and I just expect like a lot of really positive change and I know that it already has come out of those events, but I expect a lot to continue coming out of those events. 

Kelly Perry - 19:25 - And I'm really, really excited that you guys asked me to be involved with the dinner that you have coming up in Nashville later this year and we're looking forward to getting all of our designers together so we can row in the same direction and continue to spread awareness and each of our individual parts of the parts of the chain so you guys can definitely count on us to be a part of that floral design piece. And of course team flower encompasses a whole bunch of different types of people, but definitely at workshops and things like that. It's something that we know about now. And so we can talk about it and we're excited to be a part of this goal and to provide something that consumers are hungry for. It's important. 

Kasey Cronquist - 20:16 - Yeah. It's interesting where things are headed and particularly with this Nashville, I should start there having you participate now as our lead designer for the national event. First of all, I'm excited to go to Nashville. I think it call it the third coast. Right? And it just has this strange way of having connections, you know, it seems like you're two people away from somebody that, you know, who knows, somebody that lives in Nashville, Andrea Philpot, my executive assistant, she lives just outside of Nashville. And so there's so much going on there that I think it would have been a mistake, not to include Nashville, um, uh, some part of our tour at one on one of the years. And so to me it's a, it's a, uh, it's definitely an exciting place for us to be headed and having you helping us, um, you know, create the magic there. It's going to make for a very, very memorable evening. So I'm excited about your participation and obviously you bring a whole team of people with you and I've been impressed by that since last year's conference and the introduction that's been made, um, you know, between our two programs 

Kasey Cronquist - 21:17 - and yeah, I guess Kelly, I'm just really impressed with, with what you've been able to do with Team Flower and your, your business in the flower industry. So congratulations. 

Kelly Perry - 21:31 - Thank you. That's really, really kind. Yeah, where does. We're excited and if you're listening and you happen to be near or you have some frequent flyer miles or even just got some time and you've always wanted to check out Nashville. I really hope that you'll consider coming out to see us in early October and um, the website is up and live and you can grab your tickets and I have a couple of spots if you want to design with me that day and I would love to have you be a part of that. And yeah, I'm excited to head to Nashville to have only been one other time before, but there's so much to do and so many things to check out and it's just like a city of dreams. And I love that kind of energy, I guess you could say it's just a place where we can come together and dream and I hope that we have somebody from every single branch of the floral industry there 

Kelly Perry - 22:25 - and if you're there, I want to make sure that I get to meet you and shake your hand and thank you for what you do because all of us working together is what keeps this moving forward and I just really believe that our industry is going to be known across the earth as one that is kind and that is collaborative and communicates well and that that will spread out into, you know, even though we're a considerably smaller industry in terms of all of the, some of these bigger things in the world, I think that we can definitely as we work together, leave a mark on the big picture world and create a different type of culture to live in. And so I'm really excited about that and just love teamwork and all that, all that kinda good stuff. But I digress. I digress. Okay. Tell us a little bit about how well how lake farmers can connect with wholesalers, how designers can connect with farmers. This whole piece, like if I'm wanting to. 

Kelly Perry - 23:23 - We've had actually quite a few conversations going on in Team Flower lately about like how do I go American grown the whole way, like how can I have access to that product because that's a part of the communication barrier and it was a question for me for a while of of how can I request this, how can I know what's and who go to and all those kinds of things. Do you have any advice for somebody who is hoping to really create a business around that and jump on the train of educating the consumer and really creating unique arrangements and options for people? What would you recommend that they do if they are just not sure how to go about with the sourcing piece? 

Kasey Cronquist - 24:09 - You know there's a couple of things that are under way to help answer that question. We're about ready to launch a new flower directory on Certified American Grown. Well not. I do want to have flower directory for the first time and from there that'll help designers from across the country see the flowers they're looking for because that's usually what, you know, when you look at our web statistics, people are searching flowers first generally. So we put a big search bar right on the front of the page for people to look for flowers or look for farmers. That's then that connects together, right? Once they find the flower they're looking for, they there, now they're drilling down to how do I get it? And I think what we've, we've recognized this issue is that there are going to be farms who will ship direct that day, is here, been here for a long time. Um, and then there's farms who will say you got to run through a wholesaler because they don't want to cross that, uh, that relationship line. And, and that's something that I know can be difficult for folks to hear. 

Kasey Cronquist - 25:05 - And a challenge if you're trying to get something and keep your focus on staying American grown, especially when you find that your wholesaler locally is carrying and what you're looking for. But that is where I think the, the, the challenge has been and will remain, which is that designers, even though it makes it feel like it's one voice saying to one wholesaler accommodate me, they're not generally alone and what you found and what you're trying to do is probably something that somebody else is trying to do. And so I remember somebody telling me from a market in a marketing meeting, it was a seminar where grocery stores basically had it as a rule. They didn't put something on the shelf unless they were asked about it 12 times or something that, you know, I don't remember the number exactly, but it was something like that. Right? So there had to be so many repeats of the same request before the retailer would finally say, okay, go ahead and let's get that product and for so and so, um, or a number of people that doesn't need to be to be the 13 times from the same person. 

Kasey Cronquist - 26:02 - But it drives home the point that we have to ask for it if you want it, and, and you're not going to get it if you don't ask for it. And it does take a little bit of work, uh, you know, as you described. And I think other people are sharing a lot about it. It does take work to move people who are in a pattern of doing business a certain way to then accommodate what we're trying to encourage more people to do. And uh, and that was kinda when I go back to what I was saying earlier, there's been a lot of middlemen, there are a lot of middlemen in this business, whether it's the mass market retailer be between consumers and the farms or it's a importer or it's a, it's kind of that idea that consumers ever really make the choice in the flower, this business because the choices from the breeding to end product had been made before by somebody else. So, you know, it's tough to say that here, but you. But I think what you do is you act like a consumer. You just continue to make the request and you keep asking for, you know, to be accommodated 

Kasey Cronquist - 27:01 - and like I said, you're not going to be the only one that feels that way and I think increasingly more and more people are starting to see, uh, the opportunities that are there to deliver a different look. Different varieties. Obviously there's a correlation people feel between freshness and proximity to market and of course, you know, the nature of the kinds of varieties that we can grow that don't necessarily travel well. And so there's, there's, there's lots of reasons why people are buying American increasingly buying American in order to differentiate their look or differentiate their offerings to customers and consumers and clients. Brides for instance. Again, it's another example of it being a really good time for um, domestic producers. 

Kelly Perry - 27:45 - Just kind of circling back for a quick second, so let's just say that somebody goes to their wholesaler, they don't carry anything American grown, but they're wanting in the wholesaler doesn't even know that American grown exists. Where would be the connection point where they could get looped into American grown to get connected with all of your different farmers and start adding those products to their product line like that that those florists could say like, and here's how you can do it. 

Kasey Cronquist - 28:16 - Yeah. Yeah. The first resource we have is our website which gives the list of all the farms that are certified today. So, and the reason that's important is because it gives you a bit of a breadth on where in the country as well as the assurances that you can have that when you're offering it, one that it is American grown, but to that it'll be around, you know, these are the farms that are able to coordinate a, a year round supply. And I think that's just. I just think that's really important because again, you don't want to leave your customer wanting. And uh, you know, even for folks that are in the wedding business, you know, weddings aren't all just in the summer anymore and you've got these seasons in around the country where a weddings or are more prolific obviously. But, but I think businesses are dependent on your round supply. Consumers are expecting year round supply and so going to our website, you know, visiting the certified farm list and just getting a sense of who these farms are that can deliver on this promise. 

Kasey Cronquist - 29:15 - A retailer may or a designer maybe building their business on this. Like I said, we're in the process of updating what we have here on our website today. But as people continue to use this as a resource, you'll see how we're connecting, whether or not they're worth calling as a direct shipper, you know. So we've got farms like resent his brothers who are happy to direct ship their product and others who would prefer that, you know, they try to work it through a local wholesaler and the wholesaler are very important and it becomes this kind of conversational rob where yes, we want to get as many of our flowers in the hands of everybody we can. But wholesalers do provide a great value in consolidation and, and in many ways they're able, they're able to buy at prices that one person alone wouldn't be able to achieve. And so they're buying on behalf of a number of so many people and they're able to do things and so they, they provide a great value to our farms in the marketplace in Delaware Valley is a great example of that. You, you brought them up and, 

Kasey Cronquist - 30:13 - and uh, there are uh, a company that we've been working with a lot lately and they've been very supportive of our American grown flowers month right now and our first lady's luncheon work and they've been a long time sponsor of our field to vase dinner tour because, you know, they, they are connecting this dot within their business that really helping to get designers what they're looking for through a business process that they can build their business on and provide some assurances that it will be there for him. And Delaware Valley will be there for them. And I just think that's a neat connection. We can, you know, share as an example of how it's working. 

Kelly Perry - 30:50 - Yeah. They have an amazing system set up with, in terms of traceability that I was very, very impressed by. I couldn't, I mean everything you could scan and know where it was coming from and I was just like, oh my goodness, this is great. 

Kasey Cronquist - 31:08 - So I give them great kudos to, on sharing that information because it wasn't so long ago where, um, you know, wholesalers in. I used to hear stories when I first got started in this business where the idea of leaving labels on boxes or wholesalers sharing the source of where their flowers come from was just like, uh, you know, it was, it was proprietary. It was, it was how they found success. And so I remember talking to one guy who was telling me that this job was to cut the logos off all the boxes of flowers that they got before they went to the dumpster, just so that competitors at the flower market couldn't see where the flowers were coming from amongst themselves, you know, let alone letting a designer or a customer know that, you know, they got these from, from uh, so we've come a long way today. It's just very transparent. Social media helps for that. 

Kasey Cronquist - 32:01 - And what I would encourage a, and I said this in a presentation recently, there aren't so many farms a designer may be sourcing from, that they can't naturally have a online relationship with because of social media and most cases you're seeing, you know, a prolific use of social media by those farms to connect their flowers with an audience. And so therefore, you know, you can build a really neat network of storytelling with your customers about who your farm, who you're sourcing from. That was just not possible in the past. And uh, you know, obviously that's what's in vogue and that's something that I think our program delivers on. And, and you know, for our farms that do a great job of providing, you know, photos through Instagram and Pinterest and social media platforms. It's just very helpful for folks like you who are not just selling a commodity, but you're telling a story and you're living out a passion of yours and a passion of your client. And I just think that to me is where the market's been heading and we'll continue to go. 

Kelly Perry - 33:05 - Yeah. I just really feel like together is how we're going to grow and even just like you were saying about the proprietary information where things are coming from, if we continue to operate in that type of fearful mindset, I feel like it just sort of, it really dampens the whole thing where if we can all focus together on increasing the demand from consumers for more flowers in their life and making them more reasonably priced and attainable because there's whole markets of people who just are not being served because there's not something that's available or interesting to them or whatever at this price point. So if we start to think about are the way that we differentiate ourselves and our business model is more complex than this one source that I have is like the thing we start actually focusing more on the consumers and the way that we're speaking to them and the specific products that we're offering. I just feel like there's so much potential for growth that we haven't even, like we haven't even tapped into yet. 

Kasey Cronquist - 34:10 - Yeah, I think, um, yeah. I think it's the difference between that scarcity mentality and the abundance mentality, right? And there's so much abundance out there. There's so much more to go get and so many more people to serve that we can't spend time and I'm not, you know, I become just as much a victim of the scarcity mentality as I know others do, but, but really there is just a large unserved population of people who aren't experiencing flowers today that, uh, we can speak to through the methods that would, I think we're doing a good job of approaching them. And I think our dinner tour is one of those examples. But the other thing I'd say about price, and this was told to me by a rose grower in Santa Barbara that I found it kind of changed my perspective on advocating on price for consumers. 

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Kasey Cronquist - 35:52 - Part of the reason domestic farms are in the situation they're in today is because we're just not going to ever be the low price price provider. It's just not. If you're looking for domestic farms to come in cheaper than imports, we're going to lose that battle. Generally speaking and have been over many, many years now. This farmer was explaining to me, particularly about roses to, comparing roses to um, what was happening in the marketplace. This was some years ago now, but you know, there used to be a lot of talk about a seven to a 14 day guarantee in the marketplace and a lot of people saying how important one of the characteristics for consumers would be to ensure the longevity of flowers because you know, they bring them home. They die. It's such a waste of time and money, etc, etc. But this farmer who was growing roses that weren't designed to last long at all and was driving a premium for them because they were so fragrant and beautiful and, and her point to me was, if that's the standard, then I think we've, we will lose the battle. 

Kasey Cronquist - 36:51 - Because what she was creating was something that was more like a bottle of fine wine. And she went on to explain to me that the consumer is willing to spend $90 at dinner and enjoy a bottle of wine and an hour. Why are we expecting somebody to enjoy a rose or a amazing Dahlia or a p or a, you know, just pick your incredible flower with fragrance and expect that thing to last two weeks and the only way it's going to get the last two weeks is through a lot of engineering to get there, which is why we lost so much. Sent out a roses. And um, 

Kelly Perry - 37:27 - I just don't. I wrote a whole thing about this exact topic. I got so fired up about it because I just wonder if there are things. It's like, oh, there's like these brain patterns that like, I don't know how they, we just, I guess say them. It's like when you walk in and people are like, oh, it smells so good with the flour actually smells like nothing. Like we're programmed to think that they smell nice but they actually don't smell nice. And then when you give somebody the experience of them smelling incredible like there, there, there are things that connect us to memories and flowers are so much more than a product that sits innovate for seven to 14 days. And I can understand if you were approaching it from that product sort of piece of it, but I actually think what people are truly hungry for like in their souls is that experience. Like when I see that yellow rose and I smell it, I'm like back with my grandpa who has since passed away in his garden and all is right in the world, you know, and it just, that's the, that's the piece with flowers that I'm so onboard with you on this. 

Kelly Perry - 38:31 - We spend money on other things that are temporal but are special and flowers are one of those things and kind of shifting that story and helping that they can't know what they don't know. And so all these beautiful flowers disappeared from the market and it kind of did become just sorta like this product. But I was in Holland, I'm a couple of years ago and I was just. Every piece of marketing material that I saw was all geared towards time and longevity. The whole piece of longevity. I'm like, do you really want the flowers to last a long time though? Or do we just think we want the flowers to last a long time because that's what we keep hearing and what we keep seeing marketed to us. So yeah, I don't know, it's a loaded question. 

Kasey Cronquist - 39:23 - It's fair to say, or you could study this for a long time, but I think we just all have to be very careful of assuming what other people want. And um, you know, another example of this recently was where we had been sponsoring flowers for a graduation ceremony, ceremony's across the country for this leadership group that has quarterly graduations around the country. The organization called and said, Hey, can we change this up? We feel really bad because you've sent us all these beautiful flowers and, you know, we give them away at the graduation ceremony and then we find that they're just kind of all over the place at the end of the night and you know, people are just wasting them. And uh, and that makes us feel bad. And we want to, we want to find another way to repurpose your contribution to our programs. So if you think about table arrangements that they listed off a few options and I gotta tell you it was in that moment where I kind of stood the ground and I said, 

Kasey Cronquist - 40:18 - you know, what I had known because I had attended at one of these graduations where, um, we were thanked for providing the flowers and uh, one of the ladies and these are all CEOs of industry around the country and one of the, one of the ladies had come up to me, uh, identifying me as the sponsor and thanked me. She said it had been, it has been years since I have received flowers from anybody. Thank you for providing these to us this evening. And uh, and it drives home that point that you're saying about just moments, flowers are created for moments. That was the moment. If they take them home, that's a bonus. But what we, these flowers were sent for and what they're for is that evening when somebody gets their graduation certificate, they're onstage, they're handed flowers and not everybody will be. Like the woman who I spoke to who had been a lot of times they see flowers, but everybody will appreciate that moment. They'll remember that certificate in part, the flowers they received and just how they were celebrated in that moment and so we kept it right there and I said if they don't take them home, the flowers have served their purpose for the evening and that's it. 

Kelly Perry - 41:28 - Yeah, that's beautiful. It is said celebrate today kind of thing, which is philosophy, flowers. The wedding side of our business was really all created around that phrase that there's in there. Are there special things that are happening around us every day? Like when the forget me nots and Craig start blooming each year. It just, it takes you back and for these people who've received these flowers and your generous contributions at this moment in their life, like when they happened to see that flower again somewhere, it'll take them back. They'll take them back to that moment of just that moment of pride and moving forward and confidence and just even marking time like how much has changed and how much they've grown. Like in those two different blips of time, that's what I think is so fun about flowers, particularly ones that are seasonals that they do, they come back every year and they are just those markers of growth and change and time and yeah, that's, that's what I love about flowers. 

Kelly Perry - 42:29 - Love it so much. So it's been wonderful having you here today. Thank you so much for hopping on and just starting this conversation with maybe some people who didn't even know that this was something that existed yet. Perhaps there's some people who have seen it and would like to get involved and we are gonna put the link to the website and the dinner and all those kinds of things in the show notes on the website. But Kasey, why don't you just, is there anything, any connection points that you might like to leave listeners with today while we're on? 

Kasey Cronquist - 43:02 - You obviously are joining a, an amazing group of designers who have designed for us, uh, along the way over the last four years at the dinner to her. And likewise for the farms. This will be, I think we'll end the season here with 29 dinners and we're in the process of planning for 2019. So, um, yeah, I would just leave everybody with that same information to go to our website. If you're a designer who would like to be considered for one of our future dinners, um, you know, please fill out the application on our website. It's at the bottom of the page and you just have to scroll through the landing page. And if you're a farmer who would like to have the two are combined, um, we'd love to get to know you. Obviously as a certified farm, that's kind of a prerequisite, but you're not a certified farm today and you'd like to learn more our website, just click on get certified and it'll take you to it the initial inquiry page where we just get to know you a little bit before somebody like myself or, or Kelsey at where food comes from, would call you a or follow up with you and answer further questions. 

Kasey Cronquist - 44:03 - So if you'd like to become a part of the program, especially if the dinner appeals to you because we're in the process of planning for that for next year, visit our website. Otherwise I'd say come celebrate with us in October with Kelly at Nashville. 

Kelly Perry - 44:15 - Yes. Yes. I will meet all of you. It's going to be a lot of fun, but I think I just finished your sentence. Sorry. 

Kasey Cronquist - 44:23 - No, I think we got to figure out how we get some country music star to join us. That may sound cliche, but Nashville, 

Kelly Perry - 44:37 - that would be awesome. That would just be a cherry on top for sure. But so fun. Oh good. Well thanks again so much for coming. It's been a delight to have you here and I'll just close with big rousing like go team. This is, this is really special and we're so appreciative of what you have, what you offer to the industry and just that small group that came together and said, hey, we have identified a problem and we want to start working towards a solution. There is so much potential in team and I'm really excited to see just more and more of a, a shift away from, you know, individuality is an important piece and it's, it's certainly a piece, but coming together as a team is something that is really going to shift things and transformed the landscape of what we're going to see in the decades to come. So I'm excited that you guys are as passionate about that as well. Thanks again for joining us. 

Kasey Cronquist - 45:37 - Thanks Kelly. We, we, we love what you're doing and, uh, excited to be a part of your team as well. 

Kelly Perry - 45:42 - All right everybody. Thank you so much. As we sign off today, I want to remind you that your work with flowers matters. It's about more than the blooms here loving the world. You make magic happen. You're creating memories. You're following a dream, delivering light and grace here at Team Flower, cheering you on one bloom at a time. Thank you for listening to the podcast and until next time, remember that we're so thankful for each bucket that you wash in each bag of garbage that you take out of your studio that makes all of this possible. If you're looking for more floral education, that's free conversation or inspiration. Just visit teamflower.org/free to see the library of helpful videos and articles for florists, growers and flower business owners. You'll find helpful tips on everything from creating flower walls to hiring freelancers and much, much more.

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