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Florist Profile: Stems Brooklyn founder Suzanna Cameron

Florist Profile: Stems Brooklyn founder Suzanna Cameron

Suzanna Cameron with a Stems Brooklyn flower arrangement

 

Seeking a locally-sourcing florist who could deliver in Brooklyn, NY a few weeks ago, I queried the 25,000+ member hive mind better known as the Flower Farmers Facebook group. In the many helpful replies, one name came up over and over: Stems Brooklyn.

The Stems website instantly impressed with colorful designs and well-th­ought out offerings­–particularly the à la carte wedding menu.

Bouquets, centerpieces, bud vases, boutonnieres, corsages, and cake flowers (plus chic dried versions) are sold as individual items, each with a set price. The à la carte wedding page and product descriptions set expectations immediately, appealing to clients who value a stress-free experience and seasonal blooms.

“Welcome to our no fuss wedding flower page! We are excited to create beautiful, one of a kind seasonal arrangements for you. All of our designs are florist choice as we work with market fresh florals. We take light design notes such as “prefers warm tones!” or “they love weird flowers!” 

For clients with certain flowers and colors in mind, the minimum threshold for full-service design is $7,500. This minimum amount accommodates the time needed to successfully collaborate with a client, as well as the specific flowers needed to create the designs.

Stems also operates a local daily delivery service and retail flower shop in the Bushwick neighborhood of Northeast Brooklyn. Owner Suzanna Cameron took the time to chat with me about knowing your clients, streamlining offerings, and her path to floral design.

Stems Brooklyn example wedding bouquet

 

Farmer Bailey: What are Stems’ à la carte wedding clients looking for?

Suzanna Cameron: We are responding to the need for smaller services, people who want nice design but don't need ALL the things. Intimate ceremonies, they want flowers to make the day feel special. Flowers set the tone for the day. They want something but aren't trying to spend thousands of dollars. Nontraditional containers, things that don't look super wedding-y. Relaxed flower feel for a more relaxed event. Our clients love eco-conscious, and the idea of seasonal flowers, something new every time. 

FB: Why do you think the à la carte wedding menu has been a success?

SC: We've been around for ten years, and we have a signature style. People know we are a seasonal, sustainable, eco-minded business, and that sets a foundation for expectations. All of the content that is put out is reflective of that. People understand that we pay a living wage, that they are getting farm cuts, that it's gonna be seasonal. This is a huge part of why à la cartes work.  If you're not yet established, it might not work.

Also, I never post images on Instagram unless they are orders that people can order. I only post actual things that we make. People aren't ever seeing an image that isn't realistic to what they would get. If you really want to ensure your clients are happy with what they get… I want people to be happy, so we are really transparent.  

FB: How did you handle wedding work before creating the current offerings?  

SC: We previously had two tiers of full service for weddings: a signature à la carte menu, then a full-service menu. We found that à la cartes under our minimum weren't very profitable because we were treating them as full service. We were putting so much energy into them that didn't support the business. We took that away so we could grow full service in our wedding department. I took the à la carte concept, reimagined it, and put it on our website so people could click and buy–which is very terrifying. We get lots of questions from other designers who want to try it.

Some of the designs are retail stuff we were already making, so we just remarketed them and put them together on a separate page and added a few things. It went through a bit of experimentation. What we saw last year was that without much marketing, we got so busy we had to turn people away because there is so much demand for it.  

FB: You mentioned that many of these wedding designs were already being made as retail offerings, can you expand on that? 

SC: Everyone knows how to design these designs already. Same for retail, everyone gets the training and that helps us streamline. Our retail designers can take on these orders. Because I have a store, we have systems in place for delivery. It might not work for a shop with just one employee. I have a very willing, capable team and we put tons of energy into training. This is where you save time­­–prophylactically to make sure your team is really well trained in your design perspective and where you will find success.  

FB: What’s your experience been like working with local flower farmers?

SC: We built a lot of relationships with our farmers, and they are so thirsty to understand what their designers need. It’s kind of a new thing, but it takes a lot of resources and time. You have to be flexible, willing to make compromises.  

FB: How did you get your start as a floral designer?

SC: I took a job filling in at a flower shop 12 years ago when I was freelancing and working doing completely different things. They just needed someone to clean buckets and things, and I kind of fell in love from my first day working. I had never thought of being a florist before then. I started my business two years later, as a pop-up shop inside of a bar.  I spent four years doing walk-in bouquets, and then weddings.  I grew the biz very intentionally, to be something that could support me and my family as my life changed.  I have my own shop in Bushwick and have been there for five years and employ ten people.

FB: I have to ask–why did you come to New York City?

SC: I moved to Brooklyn in 2011. Lost love. I went through a breakup, and my sister was here, and she said come to New York! I was a dental assistant, worked in TV and film production for a few years.  It wasn't for me.  I was being open, trying out different jobs, I've had a lot of oddball jobs. Once I had my first flower shop job, I just got really attracted to creating designs that were really fun and colorful. I had not seen a lot of designers doing that work. I keep learning better and better ways to do it.

Follow along with Stems Brooklyn on their Instagram page, and check out the growing offerings on the Stems website. What do you think about this kind of wedding menu? We’d love to hear your perspectives in Comments, below.

Stems Brooklyn bud vases

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