Thursday, 15 Nov 2018

Farmgirl Flowers is Still Bootstrapped But Has a Billion Dollar Goal

Farmgirl Flowers is a seven-year-old bootstrapped internet startup that sales flowers direct to the consumer and simply does it better. It is growing at 50 percent year over year, projecting $21.5 million in revenue in 2018.

Founder and CEO Christina Stembel says that her “goal is to be a billion dollar company” and that they are on their way there. Interestingly, in 2016 Marcus Lemonis of The Profit was unable to agree on a price to invest. Lemonis offered $1 million for 20 percent and a $500,000 credit, which was refused:

Christina Stembel, founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers recently spoke about her amazing ecommerce startup on Bloomberg:

A Flower Company Started Out of Her Apartment

We are a direct-to-consumer ecommerce flower company similar to the big traditional guys that you think of, but we like to think that we do it better. When I came up with the idea of Farmgirl I was working at Standford University where I oversaw a department that did the events for the law school. I was really surprised at how much we were spending on flowers to decorate the tables for these events. I quit my job and took $49,000 from my savings account and I started Farmgirl Flowers from my apartment in San Fransisco.

What makes us different than our competitors is that instead of hundreds of options we only offer between 12 and 20 options at a given time on our website. We use higher quality flowers and make everything in house which is really different than all of our competitors. Then what’s delivered the next day to your recipient looks like what is ordered online and they love it.

Supporting America Flower Farmers Where Possible

My strongest mission for the company was to support American farmers and only buy domestic grown flowers. It was really sad when I learned that American flower farmers were going out of business at a very rapid pace.

I knew in 2016 that we were going to need to expand our store scene and I didn’t want to do it. I had to change our mission and that was very difficult to do. My choices were to stunt the growth of the company until the growers would decide to grow more or source further away. I chose to source further away and do it in the right way sourcing from people we want to support and that we know are treating their workers well.

I was really scared about what consumers would say and what our customers would say. It was the right decision to make even though it was really hard. How I communicated that was by writing a letter which is still on our website, it’s called Our Heart, and letting them know why we did that. We still buy from our local farms before the international farms if they have the product available, even if it costs more.

Farmgirl Flowers is Still Bootstrapped but has a Billion Dollar Goal

We are still bootstrapped to date. I know every dollar that we spend we reinvest every penny that we make back into the growth of the company. Just like we did in year one, we do that in year seven as well.

The first two years I did Farmgirl out of my apartment, the first year was $56,000 in sales and the second year I did $276,000. Then we went to $920,000, then $1.9 million, then $4.4 million, then $10.2 million, and then last year right under $15 million. This year we are on track to do about $21.5 million. We are at about a 50 percent year over year growth right now. I think we can keep that growth rate with being bootstrapped year over year.

My goal is to be a billion dollar company and we are on our way there. We are just going to keep plugging along until we get there.