When I began my floral journey a few years ago, I knew I wanted to begin with sustainability as one of the pillars of Middlemist. I started with mechanics and reduce, reuse, recycle, but not having access to local flowers was really hurting my messaging. I reached out to a handful of flower farmers who had minimums that I did not yet have the volume to fulfill. One finally referred me to Stefanie Hofmeister at the Colorado Flower Collective. I’ve been eternally grateful ever since. Stefanie is a conduit between florists and flower farmers across the state of Colorado. Check out this graphic to get a sense of all the flower farmers Stefanie has connected with that enables Middlemist and other florists to have access to local flowers with relative ease. Colorado Flower Collective has two locations, one in Denver Metro and the other in Colorado Springs. It is a win, win scenario thanks to Stefanie’s willingness and tenacity. Farmers can focus on farming and florists can focus on designing. As part of Middlemist’s Entrepreneur Spotlight, Stefanie was nice enough to share her experience with us. Thank you Stefanie!
Stefanie, Tell us about yourself.
I’m originally from north Florida but I high-tailed it out of that humidity as soon as possible. I’ve been in Colorado for about 10 years now and really appreciate living through the seasons. Though I am definitely partial to summer. I’m not great at sitting still so a perfect day for me is spent puttering around the garden, pulling weeds and letting my mind wander. I once read the quote “enough is as good as a feast” and I think that sums up my mindset pretty well. I’m a big fan of thrifting and living simply and I think working with what you’ve got inspires creativity. It also helps you appreciate the little things.
What was the driving force behind starting your business? What do you hope to achieve?
The driving force behind starting the Collective was really the flowers themselves. Having worked for various florists over the years, I thought I knew about cut flowers. But as soon as I started at a local flower farm, my whole outlook shifted. I had never really considered where all of those flowers were coming from, how they were grown, and what they may have been sprayed with. Seeing the process from start to finish–the amount of work and care that goes into the land, the plants, and ultimately the blooms, I simply fell in love with locally grown flowers. The quirks and unique beauty of these blooms put them on a whole different level than the mass produced, commercially grown flowers I was used to. Having tended them myself, I knew firsthand that they were free of pesticides and chemicals. There are so many flowers being grown in our area, it seemed crazy to me that they were not the go-to flowers for many designers. It was clear there were some roadblocks. Knowing what florists were going through each week to source their flowers from various farms and wholesalers, I started brainstorming how to make local flowers more easily accessible. The Collective was borne out of the idea that if we truly want more florists and designers to use more local flowers, we’ve got to make it easier for them to find what they’re looking for and spend less time doing it.
What is it about what you do that keeps you motivated and gets you going in the morning?
I am in a unique position connecting buyers and growers. It is the commitment to each side of the business that keeps me going. I have so much respect for the work that the growers are doing. I want to help take some of the sales pressure off of them so they can focus on farming. I want to help them sell as many of their flowers as possible so they can keep doing the work they love. Or maybe have a bit of free time during the season! On the florist side, I really relate to the challenges of being in a creative field. From the outside, it’s all fun and flowers, but florists spend a lot of time sourcing and running errands. I hope we can help reduce burnout and let them spend more time creating. I also really love to find new flowers and foliage to inspire them.
What advice do you have for other ambitious entrepreneurs?
Get ready to learn. A lot. In areas you may not have even thought of yet. Accounting, marketing, pricing strategy, web design, payment processing… this week I’m installing duct work! Sometimes you can find the right people to help you and sometimes you just have to figure it out for yourself. I know I have new challenges ahead of me in entirely different ways as our team continues to grow. I certainly look forward to the day when all our systems are running smoothly. But part of being a successful entrepreneur is knowing that there will always be unforeseen circumstances and being ready to embrace those opportunities to learn something new.
Middlemist is a boutique floral studio in Golden, CO focused on everyday luxury floral design.