When the floral industry standard is the telegraph, is it any wonder Millennials can’t relate?
Have you ever given flowers, only to feel guilty that you didn’t have a more thoughtful gift? If so, you are like millions of Millennials who feel disconnected from one of humanity’s oldest (and most deeply appreciated) gestures.
US floral industry sales are slumping amongst the generation that has recently overtaken the Baby Boomers as the most important segment of the consuming population.
But the solution may be just around the corner. Chicago area startup Mott & Spry is announcing a closed beta test of the first in a long line of products to put personalized floral design at the fingertips of anyone with a computer. They’re starting with the Mott & Spry Cascade Bouquet Design Toolkit, a collection of tools, facts, and resources for a bride to design her bouquet in her style.
Mott & Spry founder, Sarah-Eva Marchese, ran square into the void of floral personalization options when planning her wedding. “Language was so important to me and my husband. When we were dating, we exchanged notes and poems all the time,” recalls Marchese. “I wanted to carry a bouquet personalized using the Victorian language of flowers. But I couldn’t find any convenient resources to do it.”
She isn’t alone. A 2009 study by the Society of American Florists suggested that Millennials want to use flowers to express their personal aesthetic, but they don’t feel that giving flowers is personal. Raised in an era of social networks, they are accustomed to having greater control over their modes of expression. “Flowers have been used as a means of expression in cultures throughout recorded history,” says Marchese. “It’s ironic that the Millennial generation, with more communication tools than any other culture in history, lacks the resources to communicate through flowers.”
The floral industry has struggled to keep up. “A major portion of the floral orders are processed through wire companies like FTD, Teleflora, and 1-800-flowers,” Marchese says, “the term ‘wire companies’ being a nod to their technological origins in the telegraph. They’ve done amazing things in terms of efficiency and convenience. But Millennials want personalization and involvement.”
In fact, Mott & Spry is not the only company that sees room to advance the state of technology in the floral industry. Companies like BloomNation and Flowers for Dreams are introducing new methods to help people access flowers. “A number of companies are developing technologies that will help bring the floral industry into the Twenty-First Century. Mott & Spry is unique in empowering people who want to develop their own style and designs in flowers, instead of relying on arrangements designed by someone else,” explains Marchese.
Despite a well-defined niche to fill, getting started hasn’t been all daisies and sunshine. “My background is in war studies,” Marchese says, “which was the problem in the first place. Not only did I not know flowers, I’d never started a business and didn’t have any programming skills. And we had no starting capital. I just approached the problem asking, ‘what does someone who knows as little as I do need to make floral design personal, easy, and fun?’”
“I worked with friends in San Diego, doing sales, marketing, and business development for them in exchange for our initial tech development. It’s taken three years to get to this point, but we have something that I’m sure will help a lot of brides. And we’re developing new products to address just about any floral personalization need our customers might have.”
For every Toolkit sold, a flowering fruit tree is planted in a Haitian village to support those impacted by the 2010 earthquake. “This is the most exciting part for me,” says Marchese whose graduate work in peace building through narrative at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland got her shortlisted for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship at the University of Cambridge. “Studies suggest flowers make people more connected and bring them together. We are excited to explore new ways flowers can connect people across seemingly intractable barriers. This is just the beginning.”
If you are engaged, recently married, or work in the wedding industry, you are invited to apply for a closed beta test of the Cascade Bouquet Design Toolkit. Only 50 individuals will be selected. Invited participants will be able to access and experience the Toolkit from Saturday, November 21, 09:00 Central Time until Friday, December 4, 23:59 Central Time. Special gifts will be given for valuable customer experience feedback. Applications can be submitted from Tuesday, November 17, 00:01 Central Time until Saturday, November 21, 23:59 Central Time at https://www.mottandspry.com/beta-testing-application/. Though this beta test is free, a tree will still be planted in honor of each participant.
ABOUT MOTT & SPRY
Mott & Spry is a Chicago based startup, founded in 2015 to teach millions who know less about flowers than they’d like to find and explain their floral style. They use technology to make best floral design practices and patterns found in nature accessible to the average person with a keyboard and a desire to design with flowers. Their first product is a Cascade Bouquet Design Toolkit, a suite of tools that help a bride get a unique and personalized bouquet by understanding and articulating her style in flowers. For every Toolkit sold, a flowering fruit tree is planted in Haiti.