Valentine’s Day is not a relaxing day when you’re a flower shop owner.
It’s peak season: your earnings may double, triple, or more, but so does your workload. The fated day of hearts—whose origins trace back to the violent ancient Roman pastoral festival of Lupercalia and the bloody death of Saint Valentine—challenges florists to have enough inventory, the additional burden that flowers are perishable goods, there’s pressure from last-minute buyers, plus the ordeal of making sure all those deliveries are executed.
But millennials, being the disruptive generation, are now bringing into the flower shop business what they best know—online. Going against the traditional way flower shops are run and mixing it with social media know-how, the young entrepreneurs behind these online flower shops are showing that it can be done.
“Running a business online is easier than having your own physical store,” said Dawn Uy from The Glass House Flowers in an the interview at the Neighborhood Game Cafe in New Manila, their self-imposed workplace, one February morning.
She and her managing partner Kristine Almonte, both 26 years old, had their cell phones and laptops with them so that they can easily respond to customer inquiries during this hectic Valentine’s season. “There’s less overhead cost because you don’t have to pay rent, so there’s more budget for marketing and more ways to reach people in all areas.”
“There are pros and cons,” said Almonte. “People tend to go to physical stores for flowers. They want to see the flowers. They want to touch them. Working online requires gaining the client’s trust, so we really have to work more on communicating our product.”
Uy identified deliveries as the main challenge in running an online flower shop. “Deliveries are the number one challenge,” said Uy, who isn’t a stranger to one of the major business issues today, logistics. “Of course everyone wants their flowers on time, but then there’s traffic and time management. We want each and every delivery to be perfect.”
Almonte, meanwhile, identified flowers being perishable as another challenge.
“Normally you’d want an excess of inventory but there will be wastage, that’s a part of the business,” she said. The Glass House Flowers sources its roses from Ecuador, which is known for its high quality roses with large petal counts. On a normal month they order a weekly shipment of flowers, but for peak months like February (Valentine’s) and May (Mother’s Day) they order flowers twice a week.
The Glass House Flowers is known for the signature crystal box. Gorgeous roses are packed in a clear acrylic boxes, with water under the stems for the non-preserved floral arrangements, letting you see the flowers from all angles in all their majesty.
They also have the Little Belle: a single rose in a clear acrylic container that lets you live out your Beauty and the Beast fantasies without the debatable Stockholm Syndrome. They offer a dessert box arrangement which includes chocolates with your flowers, available all year long. They deliver nationwide, with Metro Manila customers buying mostly fresh floral arrangements while preserved floral arrangements are more popular outside the Metro. Floral arrangements from The Glass House Flowers range from approximately ₱1,800 to ₱10,300.
People tend to go to physical stores for flowers. They want to see the flowers. They want to touch them. Working online requires gaining the client’s trust, so we really have to work more on communicating our product.
Meanwhile, on the higher end of the price spectrum is Petalier, another millennial‑run online flower shop. Petalier is the brainchild of Diane Yap and Lauren Silverio, both in their mid‑twenties.
“Almost everything is online nowadays, everyone is on social media, so it will be a waste if you don’t capitalize on that,” said Silverio during an interview at their pop-up shop at Powerplant Mall, in the urbanite Rockwell, Makati one week before Valentines. Compared to running a physical store, running an online shop requires less capital and incurs less risk.
Petalier specializes in boxed bloom arrangements. Beautiful Ecuadorian roses are placed inside boxes that simulate those quaint garden boxes that you might find outside the windows of old European cities. Their largest arrangement, the Catherine, boasts 200 roses and claims to be the largest boxed bloom arrangement in the Philippines to date. One of their most popular arrangements for Valentine’s Day was the Fleur et Champagne, where a sparkling bottle of champagne is laid delicately over a bed of roses. Floral arrangements from Petalier ranges from approximately ₱4,500 to ₱40,500.
“Social media is so powerful,” Yap added. “The world became smaller all of the sudden. We would even get inquiries from Dubai and the United States before. You can use the internet absolutely for free, and people are getting more creative with their marketing strategies.” Note that Petalier only delivers flowers within the Philippines, unfortunately for those potential Dubai and United States customers.
Other than social media, Petalier also has a website. They used to have an app, too, although they had since after problems in the development side. A lot of work goes not just to their flowers but to their advertising, (they bought a billboard space along EDSA for Valentine’s). They have also been slowly branching out to other flowers like hydrangeas and sunflowers.
What keeps these young women going? “At the end of the day seeing people happy and being a part of their love story keeps us strong,” said The Glass House Flower’s Almonte.
For Silverio of Petalier, having a good business partner is something that keeps their business going. “It’s hard to go into a business alone,” Silverio said. “It’s good to experience new things with someone you can really trust so you can help each other out.”
Coincidentally, these businesses are built with strong friendships. The Glass House Flowers’s Uy and Almonte have been best friends since childhood. Petalier’s Yap and Silverio have been neighbors since they were twelve years old.
Thus, like a bouquet of flowers, their businesses keep on blooming.