today, i am honored to feature a SUPER AMAZING guest post from my friend beth stedman. i have known bethany since the good ol' high school days and she is, well, an incredible person. tender-hearted, fiercely strong, brave, creative, and giving. and honest and raw and real.
after being disconnected for a few years, i reconnected with her through the world of instagram and have been a bit of a stalker ever since. she is all about "rejoicing in the journey" and i think that is simply lovely. especially when you read more about her journey...
I am Bethany Anne Stedman.
I am the wife of a wonderful, devoted, and loving husband. A big part of our story right now is that my husband is currently fighting stage four melanoma. I am the mother of a wonderful little boy and an adorable baby girl. I am the mother of a special needs child. I am a homebirthing, babywearing, extended breastfeeding, herb loving, chicken tending, crunchy momma. Sometimes I make things with needles and thread or recycled materials. I am a homemaker.
I am a daughter and a sister and an aunt. My closest friends are spread all over the world. I am a former ex-pat who lived in Prague, in the Czech Republic, for 4 years. I am a wanderer, a traveler, and sometimes I feel a bit lost. I am a kindred-spirit to a few, a friend to some, an acquaintance of many. I am open, genuine and transparent, but not often vulnerable.
I am a want-to-be writer. I am an amateur cook and the daughter of a gourmet chef (not by profession). Trying new foods and making use of unique edibles excites me and I’ve been known to eat weeds.
I am a dancer in spirit. I am a dreamer and artist at heart. I am a frustrated artist, with little real skill. Yoga is my movement of choice and although I completed a teacher training program I have yet to make much use of my certification. I am a college graduate with a degree in History from Seattle Pacific University. I am an American currently living between Seattle, Washington and Scottsdale, Arizona.
I am a sinner, who often falls short. I am a believer, who often calls for grace. I am a doubter, who often needs reminders to faith.
I am sensitive. I am analytical. I am critical. I am a woman.
I am poor by many standards, but rich by others. I am a child of The King. I am loved by God. I am…me.
and did i mention that she is an exquisite writer? poetry and prose that will capture your heart and compel your mind to wrestle with complex thoughts. let me cordially invite you to follow her journey on her blog and her instagram. you will be encouraged and surprised and challenged and uplifted.
without further ado, let me get to sharing bethany's words about a new venture that is just the coolest and sweetest and dearest. and arizona folks, pay special attention to this one. coming to a street near you...
When my friend Jenna told me she was starting a mobile florist I instantly fell in love with the idea. A flower truck, a flower shop on wheels, a way to spread the beauty of flowers all over the valley of Phoenix - I knew right away this was something I wanted to be a part of bringing to life. Soon Jenna and I were on our way to a flower wholesaler to explore floral options and discuss her vision for The Florette, Arizona’s first mobile flower shop.
As we walked into the large warehouse I thought maybe we were in the wrong place. There were some tables with a few succulents on the far wall in front of me and some branches against the wall to my left. Other than that the room was spacious and empty. A young woman was moving and packing up branches near the entrance. Jenna and I halted our conversation as we timidly asked her if we were in the right place and if we could see some of their flowers. The woman stopped her work and led us to the refrigerated room near the back. That’s when we found the flowers. They were everywhere. Rows and rows of blossoming plants. Varieties I had never seen before.
Jenna pointed to a yellow ball of blossoms atop a long leafless green stem. “This is the kind of thing I want to carry at the Florette. I want to take the interesting flowers, the one’s you can’t find easily at your local grocery store or Trader Joe’s or anywhere really, I want to take those flowers, and make them accessible to everyone. Normally you have to go through a professional florist or come to a wholesaler like this to find this sort of thing. I want to bring these unique flowers out on the street.”
I could feel her eagerness and excitement as she caught sight of a flower she didn’t know they carried. She quickly bent down to softly touch the delicate stem and examine the blossoms more closely. I watched her face light up and I knew this is something I could get behind.
“The idea is to let people chose their own flowers for a bouquet - like choosing off a menu. They can create their own floral piece of art with only the flowers they want. I know whenever I go get a bouquet from a grocery store there’s always some flower in there that I don’t really want and I’ve never been very interested in the bouquets that are just one single type of flower. What we will do is allow people to pick and chose their own bouquets.”
“So essentially you want to give everyone the opportunity to be a floral artist?” I ask.
“Yeah. I mean there are some really talented florists in the valley, and they create amazing pieces. We don’t want to compete with them - I don’t think I really could even. But, the truth is florists are expensive, I mean they are artists and they deserve to be paid for their craft, but, honestly many of us can’t afford an arrangement put together by a florist every week. But, we want flowers and we want something more unique than what we can find in the grocery store. There’s where The Florette comes in. My hope is that we can serve as a sort of half way ground. Something more accessible than a wholesaler and more affordable than a professional florist.”
I nodded my head in understanding, a big grin spreading across my face, this is definitely something I can get behind. Jenna smiled back at me and the conversation lagged as our attention turned to the flowers. We wandered the aisles slowly, stopping to admire specific blooms more closely, working our way to the back where tall flowering tree branches lean against the wall.
“So, how does this work?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” She tilted her head and wrinkled her brow. My question clearly wasn’t part of the conversation we had already been having and I quickly jumped in to clarify what I meant. “Oh, if I want to buy flowers, how do I go about doing that? Do I have to get a certain amount since it’s a wholesaler?”
Jenna nodded, “Well, you can’t buy individual stems… Everything is bundled up like this.” She lifts a bundle of pretty pink peonies out of the large bucket at our feet. “You have to buy the whole bundle. And you have to have an account set up with them. Actually I’m gonna go set one up now since this is my first time at this wholesaler.”
“Ok.” I replied and she turned and walked out of the refrigerated room and back into the wear house.
I wandered the isles, stopping now and then to take pictures. I picked up a bundle of beautifully unique blue thistles and held them in my hand. It was a large bundle and I had no idea how I would use something like that in a bouquet. That’s when it really hit me. I would be completely overwhelmed coming here alone, without the help of a florist or someone in the industry. There are no labels or names of flowers anywhere. There are no price tags clearly telling me how much each bundle will cost. If I want to buy flowers I have to sign up to be a member. I have to buy well over the amount necessary for one bouquet.
A smile deepened and spread across my lips. Jenna is absolutely right, there is a place in the market for something between a wholesaler and a florist. Something different and more individualized than a grocery store.
Once Jenna returned we filled our hands with a variety of flowers. A wispy pink branch of blossoms, deep purple lilacs, strong blue thistles, pretty pink peonies, and a pop of yellow hybrid peonies. We pay and again I am reminded that wholesalers are not set up for the general public. They serve a very particular audience and purpose.
In the car on the way home Jenna told me about how this idea came about and how she got into it.
“I sort of fell into it. I mean I was doing weddings and home decor and I really loved learning about flower arrangements. I know I need some sort of creative outlet. Not having that, well, it’s sort of,” she stops as she searches for the right word.
“Deadening.” I finish the thought for her. I know exactly what she means.
“Yeah, exactly. I know you understand. Anyway, somewhere along the line Scott and I started talking about opening a flower shop, but I really didn’t like the idea of being died down and having to be there at certain times. And then one night, I don’t know, I just sort of thought, what about a flower truck? So we started looking into it and it is something people have done and it’s worked out. There’s one in San Francisco and I think maybe one or two in LA. I think there might be one in New York too.”
“That makes sense. I could see this really taking off especially in cities like that.”
“Yeah, well, at first I was pretty hesitant honestly. I mean, I am fine to dream, but then I start getting realistic and thinking through all the things that could go wrong. But, Scott’s not like that. He found Ol’ Blue and was like, ‘We are doing this.’ He sold his car and drove out to CA with a friend to buy Ol’ Blue. So, yeah, everything happened really fast after that. We knew we had to get this thing off the ground.”
“Wow. So this all happened really quickly.”
“Yeah, and to be honest, I’m still pretty new even to floral design and flower arranging. I’m a quick learner and I’ve been learning a lot and loving it, but I’m nervous. I mean it’s what we were talking about in email. I believe in a philosophy of abundance and collaboration. I believe there is more than enough room for everyone. I believe everyone brings something different and beautiful to the table that allows for growth and learning. But, there’s a part of me that’s still afraid - that I won’t be accepted in the floral community, that people will see right through me, that other florists won’t have the same philosophy and will think I’m just out to compete with them. I definitely carry around some insecurity along with my excitement about this project.” She looked out the window as she spoke and I felt what she said deep in my gut.
“Don’t we all? I mean, we all carry some insecurity and fear. I have this theory that we are all just faking it. We are all just trying to figure it out as we go. I think especially in creative industries we regularly have to step out before we are really fully developed. Creativity is always a process. And that means we are always not really where we want to be yet. I think generally it’s best when we can admit that and authentically recognize where we are.”
That’s when we really began to dream. We dreamt about the collaborations that could happen when we recognize our weaknesses and also our strengths and play to both.
Before I knew it we were saying goodbye, each needing to rush off to other appointments and plans. But, the conversations lingered in my mind. And I found myself wanting to share not just this idea with others, but also the conversations we had. I found myself wanting to show people Jenna’s heart, her heart that is so very relatable - so full of passion and creativity and ideas, and also shaky and unsure.
There’s a phrase that keeps popping up all around me and I was reminded of it as I dropped Jenna off at her house and drove away. “Do it afraid.” Do it afraid.
That dream that you fear you aren’t good enough for, maybe you are exactly the right person to make it happen. That idea, the one that you’ve been tossing around in your head, the one that gets your heart beating a little faster with excitement, but that you worry could never actually happen, DO that idea. Take just one step. Do it afraid. All that concern over failing, set it aside and take just one step afraid.
We at The Florette are still shaking in our boots a little. We are shaking a little with fear, a lot with excitement, and even more with wonder. Amazed that so many people would already step out, and through both their words and their actions, say, “We believe in you. And we believe in The Florette.”
This idea for a mobile flower truck could still fail. It’s new and young, and we aren’t fully funded yet. But, we have decided right here at the beginning that we aren’t going to let fear or competitiveness or insecurity have the final word. We aren’t going to make choices based on those things. Instead, we are going to make choices based on making unique beautiful blossoms available to more people. We are going to dream, and we are going to take steps towards our dreams, even if we shake a little as we do it.
And while we are taking our shaky steps we are going to do whatever we can to encourage others to take their shaky steps too. Because there’s always room for more makers.
So, what is it you want to make, create, start? What idea is hiding at the bottom of your heart? What dream makes your steps shaky? We’d love to hear about it.
thank you so much for sharing, beth! what a cool concept. if you want to read more about the dream and vision and amazing people who are taking beautiful blooms and happiness to the streets of phoenix, you can read more about that HERE.
it has been shown that flowers really do improve the emotional well-being of those that are around them and the florette wants to have a hand in sharing simple gestures of joy. who wouldn't want to make someone's day just a bit brighter? a great business mission, indeed.
We want to mobilize this simple luxury, bringing the joy that flowers spread to your workplaces, markets, events, and homes. We want this live giving beauty to be found in places other than big box stores, super markets, and national brick and mortar floral shops. Our menu selection will be unique, beautiful, and modern. Our bouquets will be created and selected per stem by YOU! Ranunculus, lilacs, garden roses, peonies, cosmos, astilbe, blue thistle and more...these are the flowers you will be able to hand select. And our packaging is streamlined and fully gift ready. Not only will we be selling in markets and local events, but The Florette will be available to come to your next party or gathering, walk you through floral workshops and allow your guests to bring something they've hand created home.
are you loving this yet? i hope so. i suppose i have a heightened interest because a) this is happening in my city and b) it is happening because of remarkable ladies that i know!
so, what can you do? visit their site and watch their video and read more and get inspired! small businesses are the best and we need support for these families and movers and shakers and creatives and makers. and speaking of support, please share the florette story on social media. get the word out so they can continue on and blossom. and if you want to join in the crowdfunding, you are more than welcome to do that too on their kickstarter page.