About five years ago, Natalie Gill found herself sitting at her corporate job in Human Resources. She recalls the moment vividly: “I was like, I can not take one more day of doing this,” she tells us. “I need to figure out something else for my life.”
So she wrote herself a list.
I want to:
- Work with my hands
- Be creative
- Be connected to nature
- Have a job that’s always changing
- Set my own hours
Then she stumbled upon a photo of florist on Pinterest and was like, “That’s a job, cool. I’m going to do that.”
“I quit my job that day,” she laughs. “And I started my company, Native Poppy.” So she taught herself the ropes, going slowly, teaching yoga on the side to make ends meet for a while.
About a year in, the flowers were paying the bills. “We booked a bunch of weddings for the following year. The second year, I opened the retail shop. It’s unique because we share space with a coffee shop, so there are two companies under one roof. It’s going really well now, I have nine employees and we’re pretty happy!”
“Our flower sales are doing great, we do lots of events and weddings and we have a garden where we’re growing our own flowers. I’m looking to open another shop in the near future,” tells Natalie.
In regard to growing their own flowers, Natalie admits that, while they do buy a lot of our flowers wholesale, Native Poppy is striving to use less fossil fuels and become more sustainable. Their tiny garden is in the experimental stage right now of figuring out what works. They’re growing some specialty garden roses, irises, cosmos, and a handful of other varieties.
Additionally, Natalie and her staff are starting an urban garden about a half hour away from her shop on an old tennis court at her boyfriend’s parents house. “They haven’t played tennis in fifteen years, so we’re adding a bunch of planter boxes. We’re trying to figure out how to be more vertically integrated and environmentally friendly,” she says.
In regard to her cooling needs, Natalie lives in San Diego, where it’s quite hot year round. She moved there for college twelve years ago from San Francisco and never left. “Most houses and places don’t have A/C here, and I don’t know why,” she says.
“When I started with flowers, I was fine working super long hours the night before, because you buy your flowers and have a short amount of time to work with them. But as business grew and I took on more and more projects, it became unrealistic to keep working so crazily. If you’ve got a walk in cooler, flowers last longer and you can really spread out your work and time. I needed a bigger cooling solution.”
It’s no secret that lots of florists use the CoolBot. Natalie’s friend had one, and Natalie thought it was amazing. “She converted a large closet in her warehouse. I’ve seen a lot of people hack a room and add insulation, since the CoolBot is so inexpensive. Then I saw you guys were manufacturing the whole kit, and I loved that it pulled apart and could be reassembled in case we had to move. It’s affordable and reasonable,” she says. So she bought herself one.
“We’ve had it for about two months now. It’s a pretty big game changer,” Natalie tells us. Natalie’s 10’ x 14’ CoolBot WIC allows her and her staff more time to work on projects than they had before. They no longer have to pull all-nighters before events and weddings.
“Our flowers are lasting longer and there’s less waste. Plus profit margins are higher because we can keep our flowers fresher longer,” she says.
Natalie will be speaking at the Team Flower Conference in Waco, TX from March 4-6. She’ll be discussing how she opened her own retail shop and specifically how to brand the modern-day flower shop from the business side to the design aspect. All florists are welcome to join and participate, using Natalie’s discount code “NATALIE” to purchase tickets.