The farm girl behind Farmgirl Flowers is Christina Stembel, who grew up on a farm in Northern Indiana. After settling in the Bay Area and working in hospitality and event planning, Christina eventually launched her own business, which provides locally-sourced, bicycle-delivered flowers. Today Farmgirl Flowers garners a 5-star rating on Yelp from over 250 reviews!

We built Gusto for customers like Christina, so we wanted to learn more about how she got started:

What inspired Farmgirl Flowers? We heard there was quite some research involved!

I was curious why flowers cost so much, so I started researching and came to some pretty startling conclusions:

1. 80% of flowers sold in the U.S. are shipped from abroad (predominantly South America), which didn’t make sense to me, when over 75% of the domestic supply is grown right here in California. I cringed thinking about the damaging effects on the environment — flying flowers across the globe and soaking them in chemicals just so they make it to your door. Not to mention the fact that we’re putting hundreds of farmers out of work right here in our state!

2. Up to 50% of flowers grown are never sold, which means the ones that are sold have to subsidize the ones that ended up in the compost bin. And, the labor standards in other countries are sorely lacking. For instance, many farm laborers make a mere $6 per day to pick flowers, likely far below their country’s minimum wage.

My mission with Farmgirl Flowers is to deliver beautiful flowers at a reasonable price, support Bay Area farmers and businesses, reduce our environmental impact, and save everyone time through a simple ordering process.

There are a ton of flower companies out there. What makes Farmgirl Flowers different?

Rather than offering hundreds of chemically-treated, imported options, we offer one daily flower arrangement custom-made from locally grown, seasonal flowers. That helps us reduce waste and keep our pricing simple. By supporting local growers, not only do we cut overhead, we also minimize our carbon footprint and avoid unethical trade practices.

Other ways we reduce waste include using recycled materials (our signature burlap-wrapped bouquets are made with donated coffee bags from local roasteries), and delivering via bike courier or scooter.

Which tools are the most useful in helping you run your business?

Social media has been a huge asset for us. We can’t express how much we appreciate our fans and followers. It truly feels as if they are with us on this journey.

Gusto has also been a huge help. We don’t have a designated team member to handle HR matters like payroll, so it can be quite intimidating to ensure you’re doing everything properly, especially given all the government payments and forms you have to manage. Gusto makes payroll extremely easy, and fast – which is what we need.

What advice would you give to aspiring business owners?

One word: perseverance. Entrepreneurship can be excruciatingly difficult and I want aspiring entrepreneurs to know that it will probably be the hardest thing you’ll ever do.

You have to be committed to working at least 16 hours a day, every day. And while you’re thinking about the business continuously, putting your family and friends on hold, and grappling with feelings of woe-is-me failure, you won’t receive the positive accolades that you’re used to.

But now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you, here’s the good part.

If you persevere through all of this, it can get so much better. You may finally see the fruits of your labor pay off. And, because of how tough it was to get there, when you finally do, it makes success feel even sweeter.

Cheesy question but we have to ask: what’s your favorite flower and why?

I can’t narrow it down to just one! My personal faves are peonies, lilacs, lilies of the valley, and garden roses. I love peonies and lilacs, not only for their beauty and scents, but also because their short growing seasons make me look forward to them even more.

Steffi Wu Steffi Wu, a contributing author on Gusto, provides actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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