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July, 01 2019

Meet a LoCoFloer: Ellen Frost

Tags: Meet a LoCoFloer, Hilarious

Ok. President Business. The Man. Allen Armitage Winner. MBA. Local only. Whatever. We are finally meeting Ellen Frost, LoCoFlo founder and owner, for the blog. You really think you are the shit, don't you?

Don't be weird.

Is it true that you are so flower famous that you were recognized, like you're frickin' Linsey Lohan, at a botanical garden in Florida?

Lindsey Lohan? Is this 2002! Yes, it happened. It was wicked weird. I was in line to enter the West Martello Tower garden in Key West and they ask you where you are visiting from. When I said Maryland, the woman in line behind me asked if I owned Local Color Flowers! She attended a talk I gave to her garden club. I would say it was more coincidental than fame.

"Wicked weird" - who says that? Where are you from?

Buffalo. You know that.

I'm asking for the reader. Why do you think you are so much better than everybody else in the flower industry?

Come on, I don't! I am sensitive to some people in the flower industry who think our model is a critique of their business. Our local-only approach works for us and gives our customers a choice if that is important to them. It is not possible to do this everywhere in the US. We are not the best climate in the country for flower growing, but we can get fantastic local flowers all year. It isn't easy, but local flowers are important to us and is what the business is based on.

That's where the Allen Armitage award comes in! Yeah, let's get after it Chris Cuomo! This how the BLOG BLOWS UP!

What are you talking about? And why are you yelling?

I get excited.

You know the staff doesn't like it when you come into the shop and start yelling.

I'm not yelling at them. Why can't I get excited about flowers? YEEHAW!

OK. That's enough.

Moving on... What is the nerdiest flower thing you do? It's gotta be that Darwin book club. Not only do you read books. The books are about flowers. Then you add Darwin on like homework.

Why don't you read a book and join us?

I like TV. And video games.

I know. Maybe you could just spend one night reading a book instead.

No. Isn't awesome to work with your husband?

Yes.

So, you have been doing this for like more than 10 years. You don't make any money. What are you doing? What are you doing?

It's fun. And we are making a little money.

Alright. Let's get into the story. How did all of this get started?

I finished business school and was inspired by an entrepreneur class. I knew I wanted to start my own small business but didn't know what the business would do.

MBA. We get it.

My friend Marina, who was in my Master Gardener class, had read the book "Flower Confidential" by Amy Stewart and suggested a local-only wedding flower business.

MBA and Master Gardner? You slipped that one in pretty easily.

So, I then read the book - it's all about the global flower industry. Most cut flowers sold in the US are grown overseas. It takes a lot of resources and chemicals to ship, store, and preserve foreign flowers for sale in the US.

So you're a flower protectionist. A Trumpian florist?

You're being weird again. We're a small business selling local products. Economic globalization is beneficial for many industries. Our local flowers are a cleaner, greener product that are grown by our friends who run small, family farms. Plus there are so many more interesting varieties with longer vase life.

BORING!

So, Marina and I joined with our friend Jen, who worked part-time with me at Bridenbaugh Farm to start the business.

OK. Marina - the ideas guy. Jen - the farm guy. Ellen - the business guy. What about the skills necessary to do the work. I guess it can't be that hard to put flowers in a vase. Did you just wing it?

No, we didn't just wing it!

Ow! No punching during the interview.

We took a design class at BCCC. We practiced. This was just on the weekends. And, we only designed flowers for friends at first.

OK. You have your little weekend wedding side-hustle going. How long before you dropped the dead weight and ramped up to be the floral juggernaut LoCoFlo is today.

Those are my friends! Marina moved to the Eastern Shore and Jen had twins, so they couldn't be in the business anymore. And that's not nice.

Whatever. I have done more for LoCoFlo than the two of them combined.

Yeah, whatever.

Double Whatever! So what happened next?

We rented a space to work and I eventually left my job to work on flowers full time.

That's it?

Well, I increased my design skills - took more classes. Joined the ASCFG. Built relationships with farmers and customers. Cultivated our social media. Established our brand. Received reviews and referrals. The business grew, we got some part-time help. We bought a van. And we were booking over 100 weddings year.

That's it? What about when I jumped on board?

What about it?

That was awesome.

Hello.

Ok. What about the building?

That changed our business. We were casually looking for a space for years. We were on the roof of a potential building and a man in the street below called to us. We went down and he said he owned the small warehouse across the street and was willing to sell!

Aw, that was so lit!

You sound so stupid when you talk that way.

It's what the kids are saying.

You're not a kid, and they're probably not saying that anymore.

But, I'm cool.

No, you're not.

I'm trying.

Stop trying.

Just keep going.

Well, we made a deal that night and after renovations, we moved in January 2013. We are doing so many more fun things at the shop like Open Studio, Sat@LoCoFlo, Classes, Book Club, private and community events. Plus some more exciting plans.

Oh, right, the thing?

Yeah, the thing.

Ok. Let's wrap this up. Is there anything else you want the readers to know?

I don't know if they got much out of this.

What do you mean. This was great!

I don't think so. I have to do my actual work.

Just finish this up with something schmaltzy.

I'm so grateful for what LoCoFlo has become. We are the largest buyer of flowers for several local farmers. We provide flexible employment for some of our Mom friends and flower growers. We have created a cool place in Baltimore where people can learn and be creative. I am especially proud of remarks by State Senator Mary Washington who recently visited our shop...

Ok hot shot. Cue music: I had the time of my life...

Don't be weird.


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