WHAT IS NONPER?

Hey there!

Non/Per? By Farmgirl? What’s that about? It’s a good question, with, per the usual, a good story behind it (I promise). But then again, if you’ve been hanging in there with us for a while you know there’s always a story, and that it’s usually a long one. And that’s very much the case here. So buckle up! Get your stretchy pants on. This is the story of how Non/Per began.

Non/Per stands for non-perishable. You're probably thinking - why in the world would I name this new venture a term that’s usually reserved for canned food that could outlast even twinkies in the apocalypse, squirreled away in an underground bunker? I hear you. But, twinkies or no twinkies (but if I have a choice, it’s always yes to twinkies), I have more than meets the eye in common with canned food. Back in 2010, when I started Farmgirl Flowers, I had no idea how hard running a perishable business would be. If I’m being really honest, I had no idea how hard everything would be. But growing a company as fast as I’m growing Farmgirl, all the while managing an inventory that expires in mere days can seem pretty impossible sometimes.

What’s so hard? Perishability means that my team and I have to order perfectly. If we overdo it, it’s an incredibly costly mistake that means we’re throwing dollars and cents into the compost bin a few days later {you see flowers, I see $1.80 in that stem, $1.00 in this one). I can get literally green with envy perusing a sale rack of last season’s clothes. If only tulips could be bought and sold, bought and sold, and bought and sold to end up at a discount store instead of in the dumpster. 

Perishability also means we need to ship each bouquet the fastest way possible to the recipient - for the majority of our customers this means overnight. And while highly successful, wonderfully convenient companies have taught all of us consumers to expect fast, great, and cheap (or even free!) shipping, the reality is that most companies without that same buying power don’t have access to the great deals on shipping rates that those companies have. Nor can they afford to absorb the shipping price into their product price. Because, contrary to what $5.00 or even free shipping may imply, it’s expensive to send a package overnight and across the country. It's actually quite expensive. Even with our multi-million dollars of spend each year with our shipping partners, our average cost to send a bouquet from our SF HQ to the east coast overnight is around $34. If we didn't have any buying power, the cost would be closer to $200. 

But really, shouldn't it cost something? Don’t get me wrong. Paying that multi-million dollar spend is painful. There are so many other wonderful things I’d rather put that money towards. But I, like so many others, believe that people should be paid fair wages for the work they do. So many of our packages have to travel on two planes, be trucked to and from both of those airports, and be sorted at multiple facilities. And that costs money. I mean, it's pretty incredible that you can order a bouquet at noon one day, have it made at a flower factory on the West Coast, and have it arrive in NYC by noon the next day. The logistics involved in the operation are insane, and I say that even with firsthand knowledge over nine years of seeing it done. That almost snap-your-fingers-and-it’s-done convenience should cost us something, but, as usual, I digress.

So that’s the perishability part. Our raw goods are perishable. Our finished goods are perishable. I built the entire company around perishability. And we have to ship it all. And fast. But what about the “non”?

My team and I are where the “non” part comes in. It might sound weird, but we are just that - non-perishable. The past nine years have been hard. Harder than hard really, but not just in obvious ways (like working 100+ hour weeks every single week), Growing this company has been difficult in ways I never could have imagined. Trying not to run out of money while bootstrapping a high growth company would be enough, but I’m also dealing with millions of dollars in unplanned expensive every. single. year. There’s always an audit, or new taxes, or some other measure or ordinance that someone’s dreaming up and putting into legislation that threatens to tank (or actually tanks) so many businesses each year. And, if it’s not one of those things, it’s competing with the giants in this industry, or, if not them, the newer companies who, in my opinion, have taken “inspiration” from our model and then turn around and raise significant amounts of funding pre-revenue.

Then there’s the fact that I’m running a manufacturing facility in the most expensive city in the country, trying to create good non-tech jobs in an environment where these types of jobs don't seem to be valued any longer. I’m also innovating in an industry that doesn't welcome the change. I often find myself having to fight back – both as a the founder of a scrappy, floral e-comm startup but also as a founder that happens to be female. And what am I fighting for? The ability to exercise basic business practices, like buying flowers. Farming, even farming flowers, is an old boys club. And it always feels like my invite to said club got lost in the mail. 

I could keep going on and on, but by now I hope you understand that it’s hard. But I also hope you understand that the fact that I’m here to write this letter and that Farmgirl continues to grow even as I write this is proof that we’re tougher. Sure – we get knocked down. Swept to the side. Overlooked. And under estimated. But no matter what we get back up. Every. single. time. I go back to that canned food. There may be a thousand miles of bad road between today and the future, but at the end of it all it’s going to be us and the twinkies, not perishing away on the shelves of a bunker somewhere.  

So long story not short at all – Non/Per is us. As my team and I have continued to grow Farmgirl, we found ourselves wanting an arm of this business that felt the same way. Because, face value, it’s nice to be able to sell a beautiful sweater or sweet pair of earrings that doesn’t need to land to our HQ, be made into an arrangement and shipped out to a recipient within 72 hours. Also, we’ve heard you with the shipping costs! While we don’t have a less expensive solution for flowers right now, Non/Per will offer you a way to buy some Farmgirl finds that don't need to be shipped so quickly and, accordingly, more affordably!

So get ready. This is just the beginning. Right now the site is a collection of some of our (and your!) favorite things but we encourage you to check back regularly (or join our mailing list). There are even more good things coming. And thank you, as always, for joining us for this amazing adventure. We couldn’t do it without you. 

xx,

Christina