We’ve all been there: we have an idea that we just know will make the best business; yet very few of us ever actually do anything about it. Lana Elie is one of those exceptions. As founder of online floristry site Floom, Lana has filled a gap in the market for interesting bouquets (and plants) that don’t break the bank. We found out how she did it.
Considering the variety available on Floom, it comes as something of a surprise when Lana Elie claims that the best bouquet she has ever received was a bunch of three-dozen red roses, yet for Lana, this ‘boring’ gesture – along with the fact that this lacklustre approach to floristry was the norm rather than the exception – acted as something of a clarion call. ‘It made me realise people really needed a better place to find incredible flowers.’ This helped spur her on to develop the idea of Floom. Drawing on her past experience (more of that later), Lana dove straight in at the deep end and started the process of raising funds for her vision of a floral marketplace. ‘It was a huge learning process. It’s definitely still not something I feel I’ve cracked, but it does give me a bit of a rush now, whereas initially it was a lot more daunting.’ Despite her worries, Lana secured enough funding to ensure Floom went live in February 2016.
Floom – an amalgamation of ‘flower’ and ‘bloom’ – is something of a horticultural paradise. Based around the simple concept of matching shoppers with florists, customers input the delivery postcode and are presented with all the individual bouquets and plants that can be delivered to that address. Eagle-eyed flower aficionados will be sure to spot how unique Floom’s products look compared to big companies’. ‘We want all of our florists to showcase their individuality as much as possible,’ explains Lana. Every aspect of their flowers is scrutinised by the Floom team to ensure everything they sell stays true to the brand’s identity. ‘We look for all sorts of things: flower-arranging skills of course, a unique flair and style but also passion for their craft, how much pride they take in their work. We check pretty much everything, not just the bouquets themselves but the packaging as well.’
Born in Paris, raised in Bali and now based in London (not to mention a Melbourne resident for a few years), Lana has had something of a global upbringing which, she says, gave her a strong understanding and acceptance of different cultures. ‘It’s taught me to be independent, and maybe not so attached. I’m used to having to start somewhere new from scratch, and then having to just pick up and leave. I get restless easy, so I welcome change. If it’s not happening around me naturally, I’m able to go find it.’ It has also resulted in an accent no one can quite pin down. ‘People always misplace me as Scottish!’
A succession of roles at some of the most respected names in fashion and media – including Burberry, i-D and Meri Media – helped Lana hone her skills. ‘Burberry is where I learnt the most in a way, because I was still quite young and there was so much going on there at the time.’ Initially an Executive Assistant at the British powerhouse before going on to become Junior Digital Project Manager, Burberry also instilled in Lana the importance of organisation and dedication, as well as an openness to do small tasks for everyone. ‘It definitely taught me a lot about not having too much pride.’
Working for herself has, Lana says, given her a lot more freedom than previous roles. ‘It’s also a more reactive environment. We screw up loads but it’s fast, it happens, we learn something and we move on.’ With only six employees (including Lana), it is vital that everyone works well together. ‘Having a few people with many skills instead of many people with defined skills is what makes Floom possible with the limited funds we have. It’s incredible to watch the team learning, and see what they teach me in return.’ One of the biggest culture shocks came when Lana realised how much she wanted to work on Floom. ‘I love my friends and my boyfriend, but (at the risk of jeopardizing all my important relationships) when I’m away from the business I miss it more than anything else.’
Another effect of this dedication was the lack of flowers Lana received when she first launched the site. ‘I think people knew I was watching the orders come in during the early days and they didn’t want the surprise ruined, but they also knew I would not be impressed if they bought me flowers from anywhere else! My boyfriend is pretty successful at sneaking them through, plus as our orders have increased, I’ve found my order-checking days are thankfully over.’ Instead, Lana is now focusing on growing the business; as well as trying to resist the temptation to do everything at once. ‘It takes a lot of strength not to just launch it in different countries now.’ Considering how quickly Floom is growing – and the fact that Lana has ‘world domination’ firmly in her sights – we predict that it won’t be long until those ‘boring’ red roses are a thing of the past.