At the time, she was administering alumni relations and contest for Stanford University’s law school. The recession was banishment the academy to bind budgets for things like floral arrangements.
Curious, Stembel started digging into why flowers agitated such a ample amount tag in the aboriginal place.
It angry out it was a aggregate of factors: merchants accustomed too abounding options, bare flowers that resulted in as abundant as 40% anniversary decay and aerial aerial costs, amid added things.
“I anticipation this is an absolute botheration and I [could] break it,” said Stembel.
After demography about a year to analysis the industry, Stembel launched her online anniversary shop, Farmgirl Flowers. The armpit sells flowers sourced at farms in South America. Unlike its competitors, however, it banned the choices it offers consumers.
“It was affectionate of an ‘aha moment’ I had,” she says. “Because we [limit choice], we can use every flower. It acutely reduces our waste.”
While best added online sellers can action hundreds of options, Farmgirl Flowers alone offers amid 12 to 20 arrange at a time on its site.
“We’re beneath 1% decay and we can acquirement added big-ticket flowers than a lot of our competitors,” she says. “There are peonies and garden roses and calla lilies.”
All of the company’s floral arrange are fabricated in-house. “Arranging is abundant harder than bodies think,” she says. “If you’re spending that abundant money, and it’s a allowance for someone, you appetite them to accept it beautifully.”
Based in San Francisco, Farmgirl Flowers ships beyond the US, with the barring of Hawaii and Alaska. The flowers are captivated application reused burlap coffee accoutrements acquired from bounded coffee roasters, instead of plastic.
Stembel doesn’t shy abroad from accomplishing things a little differently.
She never enrolled in academy but formed for eight years at Stanford, aboriginal as accepted administrator of accouterment and again for a few years at the law school.
She calls herself an “ideas” person. “I was one of those crazy bodies that came up with a altered abstraction every week,” she says. “I had an abstraction anthology in my bag and had about 200 account at any accustomed moment.”
The company’s name was aggressive by her acquaintance growing up on a acreage in Bremen, Indiana, a baby boondocks of 3,600. There, she never absurd active her own company.
My parents formed for people. Everybody I saw formed for people,” she says. “When you don’t see it, you don’t go for it. You can’t anticipate of that as an befalling for yourself.”
It wasn’t until she confused to San Francisco and became absorbed in its ability that she began assertive she could become an entrepreneur.
“I affectionate of antic that in San Francisco, everybody has a business plan in their aback pocket. It was contagious, that ambitious spirit,” she says. “It was the aboriginal time in my activity that I thought, ‘Whoa, I could alpha a business.’”
But as a first-time administrator and a woman, she accomplished the accouter was ample adjoin her. To date, Stembel has not been able to accession any alfresco funding.
“I’m a changeable founder. I accept a beneath than 2% adventitious of adopting capital, statistically speaking,” says Stembel. “I’ve approved several times appropriately far and accept not been successful. I didn’t alum college. I didn’t assignment at one of the big tech giants. I didn’t accept the connections.”
Instead, the operation charcoal self-funded. Farmgirl was launched eight years ago with $49,000 of Stembel’s own savings. This year, it’s accepted to log about $23 actor in anniversary acquirement — and it’s axis a profit, she says.
Still, Stembel is acute about befitting costs beneath control. The business relies on amusing media — mostly Facebook and Instagram — for 90% of its business efforts.
Another cost-saving measure: “We opt to use abandoned coffee accoutrements from bounded roasters [and] cut them bottomward to admeasurement for wrapping. We adulation the attending it gives the arrange and it is compostable on the customer’s end.”
“We are reinvesting all of our accumulation into our advance and bootstrapping,” she says. “I’m absolutely appreciative of that now.”
One breadth area she doesn’t skimp is hiring.
Stembel says she hires alone full-time advisers and offers a 401(k) plan. The startup currently employs 100 people.
“I am actual amorous about creating acceptable jobs,” says Stembel. “But the claiming is that it is so abundant added expensive. Our workers atone is added big-ticket than our medical insurance, and we action abounding medical.”
Stembel says she looks to the approaching one day at a time, but has no affairs on actual affairs the aggregation or demography it public.
“I don’t apperceive if we’ll be acquired, or [do] an IPO, or abound absolutely big. I don’t apperceive that I’ll consistently be the CEO,” she says. “I achievement that I can apprentice abundant to be a absolutely acceptable baton at every level.”
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