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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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July, 04 2018

Meet Stacy Update: SBJ

Tags: Meet a LoCoFloer, Hilarious

Sweet Baby James is here! He was born among the hydrangeas.

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May, 22 2018

Meet a LoCoFloer: Stacy Yeager

Tags: Meet a LoCoFloer, Hilarious

First question, elephant in the room, any big news?

Did you call me an elephant? Iím 8 months pregnant!

Whenís the big day?

June 15. Hopefully sooner!

Ooh! Weíre getting close. Boy or Girl?

Boy. And youíre not involved.

Name?

James

So cute! Does Forrest know?

(giggling) Of course, I see him every day.

Gotcha. How did you get started at LoCoFlo?

When I was a junior in college, I was looking into summer programs for agricultural volunteers. I really wanted to go abroad and live on an organic farm. I wanted to be a Wwoofer.

What? A Wookie?

(giggling again) No. WWOOF. Itís World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming. During my research, I found Laura Beth who was a Wwoofer. Now she owns Butterbee Farm. She introduced me to Ellen.

So, you were looking for an idyllic summer on a organic farm in a foreign land, and you became a flower designer in Waverly?

(more giggling) Yes. That is how I met Ellen.

Those are totally different things. What did Ellen say?

She invited me for an interview for an internship.

And you you nailed it?

I guess so! I started learning in the winter of 2014 and you hired me for the summer.

Now you are our lead designer!

If you say so.

Yes, you are our number one! (Until James messes that up.) What do you do at LoCoFlo?

Mostly design arrangements. Whatever needs to be done. Make garland, wedding consultations, styling, wreathsÖ

Wait. Whatís styling. Like me - high styliní?

(pity giggle) Playing with dead flowers.

Oh right, I remember. Your viral post?

(lots of giggling) I guess so?

Tell us something we donít know about you.

Oh my. Iím kind of an open book. I donít know. I like scary movies and shows. Turkey Hill is my favorite ice cream.

I already know that. What is your favorite LoCoFlo memory?

I think the beards was really fun. Our first nacho party at Carlingís house. There are lots of good ones. The best was making a mock up of my own bridal bouquet.

What about the time we brought the compost to Real Food and drove up on the man whoÖ

GROSS! NO!

What about the time you were introduced to the Saddleback caterpillar hidden on the back of a leaf?

No! That hurt a lot. It felt like my hand was on fire!

What about the time...

These are not good memories.

What is your theme song?

ďItís A Good Day to AliveĒ by Travis Tritt or ďChicken FriedĒ by Zach Brown Band.

What about ďDrunk on a PlaneĒ?

(exasperated giggling) No. I wasnít drunk on the plane. I spilled some wine,.and I shouldnít have told you about it.

Maybe if you took it easy on the sauce you wouldnít haveÖ

(not giggling) I WASNíT drunk! And it WASNíT fun flying to South Africa with wine-soaked pants.

I know the answer to this one: WTMD or WPOC?

I like gravel in my travel. (Editorís note: Local Color Flowers is a proud sustaining monthly donor to WTMD.)

Why is your alias Princess Peach?

I donít know, you gave it to me.

Yeah, I donít know either.

Who is your favorite co-worker at the shop?

Iím not answering that.

Is it me?

No.These questions are weird. I have a question for you - Are you using my baby to promote LoCoFlo?

Maybe. Also, I thought I might get a jump on recruiting Sweet Baby James to replace me as delivery boy. I ainít getting any younger.

Letís wrap it up. Thanks for talking with me.

Rude!

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October, 30 2017

Meet a LoCoFloer: Eric Moller

Tags: Hilarious, Meet a LoCoFloer

What do you do at LoCoFlo?

What donít I do!?! I truly think LoCoFlo would be out of business within a week without me. I am totally indispensable and irreplaceable.

My primary responsibility is expert delivery of flowers to customers, but that hardly scratches the surface. I wash buckets. I clean the shop. I take out the compost. Iím also the tallest, and we have some very high shelves.

Wow. It sounds like you have your hands full. What value do you contribute to the company?

My most valuable contribution is cultivating the atmosphere and guiding culture at the shop. Iím really good with jokes. The designers and customers love me. They are particularly riveted by my stories from the road. Plus Iím easy on the eyes.

Right. How did you get started at LoCoFlo?

Iím married to Ellen. When she started the business she had two business partners. After Jen had twins, she just dropped out - totally flaked. Then, when Marina moved to the Eastern Shore, I swooped in. That is when LoCoFlo really started to cook with gas!

Oh, I see. The picture is getting clearer. What is your experience with flowers?

None! I can honestly say that after 10 years I still donít know very much. And I havenít developed any design skills. But I love working at LoCoFlo. Iíve worked in support roles at companies with great missions in the past: a homeless social service agency, an international health care NGO, and now LoCoFlo which advocates for local farmers.

Whatís a typical day like for you?

It depends. During the week, the designers get in early to meet the farmers. Then they make the orders. I roll in late morning and Iím off slinging flowers to offices, hospitals and homes. Sometimes we will have a corporate event during the week.

Every Wednesday night we have Open Studio. It is a drop-in, self-directed floral design event. But it gives our customers a chance to spend some quality time with me. I think of it like office hours with a professor.

On the weekends we have Sat@LoCoFlo which is the bomb, and weddings. Delivering weddings can be intense. A typical wedding delivery includes personal flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages), ceremony arrangements, and table centerpieces. Often we will also set up and decorate an arch or chuppah. We will stick around until the ceremony is over to break down the arch. Occasionally, I will go back at the end of the night to retrieve rentals.

Why do you say the wedding deliveries are intense?

A wedding is one of the most important days in our customersí life. Plus, it is so meaningful for the families. Although the flowers only last a short time, the pictures and memories last a lifetime. The floral products, my customer service, the experience we help to provide must be the highest quality. The customer put their trust in us for this day. It is a simple job, but it can be a high pressure situation. I take the deliveries very seriously, and it is a joy to be part of the wedding.

Whatís your favorite LoCoFlo memory?

We have a lot of fun. nacho parties, flower beards, photo shoots, awards. Last fall two of our designers and one of our farmers got married (not to each other). We designed the florals and attended all three weddings. We had a party before all of the weddings at the shop featuring our neighborhood Hip Hop Chicken.

Thanks for talking with me

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