How We Bloom

Locally Grown - Flower Farming with Lia Fleming

October 15, 2021 Sharon McGukin AIFD, AAF, PFCI Season 1 Episode 7
How We Bloom
Locally Grown - Flower Farming with Lia Fleming
Show Notes Transcript

When advertising exec, Lia Fleming, discovered her budding passion for flowers – she dug in deep. Lia and her family began selling locally-grown flowers from their Flora Fields Farms in New Franklin, Ohio.  Lia shares expert advice for getting your flower farm dream to take root. Branding. Marketing.  Social media positioning. Connecting with the customer. Finding joy in the journey. Lia guides us on 'How We Bloom.'

Lia Fleming (00:10):

You can get caught up in the beauty of flowers who wouldn't get caught up, but to be successful, you need to have a blueprint and a business plan that will work.

Sharon McGukin (00:26):

Welcome to How We Bloom a podcast, offering an oasis of flower ideas. I'm your host, Sharon McGukin AIFD, AAF, PFCI. And I believe that every great success story starts with one simple idea. That's why we interview guests who dare to do things differently. People who plant seeds, grow ideas and bloom to their full potential. We listen, learn, and that's how we bloom.

Sharon McGukin (01:03):

I first met today's guest, Lia Fleming, several years ago at a Smithers-Oasis North America photo shoot. For 27 years, Lia has been the full-time art director at Triad, a design and market firm in Akron, Ohio. Her Triad team worked closely with Kelly Mace and our Design Directors Team to create marketing materials for retail and wholesale customers. This included email marketing, social media print, trade show materials and overall creative solutions. One day after a shoot, Lia and I had a great conversation about floral marketing. It was obvious that Lia was a pro, loved her work, and in the process of working with flowers, she was developing a passion for them. On a farm located just outside the Akron city limits in New Franklin township, Lia's family established Flora Fields Farm in 2019. For the past three years, Lia's flower passion has taken root and the family farm is now growing a field of flowers. Adding local flower farmer to Lia's already impressive resume. I recently asked Lia how she was able to grow her dream into a reality in such a short space of time. She shared her story along with some practical marketing and branding tips that you can use to bring your flower business into full bloom. 

Welcome to How We Bloom, Lia.

Lia Fleming (02:37):

Hi Sharon. Thanks for having me.

Sharon McGukin (02:39):

We are so excited to have you share with us your journey into the flower fields. I know that you have tremendous experience with your ad agency. I see your work very often through Smithers- Oasis North America. So we're just really interested to hear the tips that you have to share with us.

Lia Fleming (03:01):

Thank you. Where to begin? So many tips!

Sharon McGukin (03:04):

Things that we're really interested to hear Lia is how you made the transition from advertising exec to flower farmer. And, I know a lot of it goes back to your basic expertise.

Lia Fleming (03:18):

Well, thank you. It was combination of things. I had definitely developed an understanding of the floral industry from the work I had done with Smithers-Oasis North America. Basically, when I have a client I kind of absorb myself into their industry because I want to learn everything about their industry. I want to know about what the viewers see. I want to know about local customers. So, I kind of absorbed myself. I followed different social media accounts. I did lots of web searches. I followed blogs, listened to podcasts, and I was a hundred percent … I really was intrigued. And, it was also helpful for the marketing that I did. I was able to really have a better understanding. Now that's one of the benefits of working for an ad agency. You get to really learn about different industries and it really kind of broadens your perspective.

Lia Fleming (04:11):

I was not really familiar with the floral industry. I obviously love flowers. Who doesn't? But for me, starting a flower farm, was a combination of things. We had access to land. That's probably one of the biggest barriers that people have, having access to grow. So, once I learned about this Slow Flower Movement, I was intrigued by it. I also had done some work for another client of ours who did nonprofit work and entrepreneurial education. And I was very intrigued also by this. They really put out lots of surveys and material about entrepreneurial education from every age group. From elementary to high school, to college level and really businesses to help them be more entrepreneurial. And what I realized is creativity and entrepreneurship really kind of go hand in hand. Because, I think to be creative, you have to not be fearful and to be entrepreneurial, you also have to not be fearful. So, I had that background, I had the land, and I also had a college age daughter who was a business major. I thought that opening a business and going through that process with her would be very educational. So lots of things kind of came together in my mind and they just sort of happened.

Sharon McGukin (05:38):

Well, I think you had another advantage in addition to the land, you had a family that was interested. I love that your family works with you in the flower farm and that you were using it as a means of training for your daughter. I think that's a tremendous advantage that you have. Also, speak to us about how you use your expertise in branding to create this new brand with the right branding.

Lia Fleming (06:03):

Obviously when you do your own branding, it's not that it's more difficult, but you definitely have a kind of a fine eye on what it is that you want your image to be. Since I do that so often for so many other people. When it came down to doing mine I came to the conclusion, that it had to be clean and simple. The product had to speak for itself. After my first growing season, I realized that I had something really awesome. I had a really beautiful product and that it really spoke for itself. Flora Fields Farm, the naming in itself was not an easy process. Flora came from a children's book that my daughter had when she was young called Flora’s blanket. So, she had picked Flora. The Flora Fields Farm is a mouthful, but it really had to do with making sure that we could get the URL that was available. Making sure we could get the social handles to match. That's very important. A lot of times people pick the name of a business, and they're not really thinking about all the different pieces parts. So you can find a name that you really love, but it doesn't mean it's going to be available. So, you need to be kind of open and flexible. 

Sharon McGukin (07:16):

Sometimes, I think it's important too, that it's a name that can be shortened so that, it's like a nickname for a family member or something. That was one thing I noticed yours could easily be shortened to Flora, as in “I'm going to run over to Flora and get some flowers.”

Lia Fleming (07:34):

You caught onto that because that's exactly where we were going. So, my URL is long, the name is long, but I don't necessarily use it. In my logo, I emphasize Flora and I use typography and I created kind of a brand ID for myself. So, it's almost like the rules and guidelines that we need to follow to make sure my brand is consistent. We use similar colors, we use the same type of typography, but I don't have a per se logo or an icon. And that was intentional, at this time. Because, I just wasn't sure where I wanted the business to go.

Sharon McGukin (08:10):

So, do you feel that flexibility is an important part of establishing a new business?

Lia Fleming (08:15):

It's flexibility, especially in this day and age and the way things are changing. You need to be flexible. There weren't many years ago that we were creating marks and now that same mark needs to be applied to 10 different mediums. So, you really have to make sure. It's not that your mark is just flexible, but you have alternatives. Does it work horizontally, does it work vertical, does it work in a circle? 

Sharon McGukin (08:43):

For our listeners, when you say mark, you are referring to the logo, correct?

Lia Fleming (08:50):

Absolutely. Yes. Now

Sharon McGukin (08:52):

You have established what your brand is and you know your product, and I'm sure you've done your homework to figure out who your customer is. How did you begin to market that product in your local area?

Lia Fleming (09:08):

I can honestly say the first thing I did was then, obviously besides the farming part, I had to learn how to grow. I grew this product and once it grew, I had to sell it. So, I woke up one day and I had all these flowers and I had already established a website, and established social media. So really social media is where I started building my audience. So, what I did is really just share with people what we were doing. I was sharing kind of our journey and I didn't want to necessarily show them the hardships. I wanted to show them the pretty part. So we started branding to really highlight what we were selling, which was beautiful, fresh grown, farm flowers. We used our social stories to make more of a human connection about what we were doing. So sometimes people have this disconnect that, you know, in order to get fresh flowers - you need to actually get up in the morning and pick them. So, I might get up and show a picture on my story, which is not your Instagram posts. It's the behind the scenes of a beautiful sunset and getting up early and really, really sharing the joy that I had doing the work that we were doing.

Sharon McGukin (10:26):

So, in sharing your flower story, you were in essence sharing your personal story and people connect to other people emotionally, I think.

Lia Fleming (10:36):

Yeah, I would say that I would say probably what happened initially is I wasn't selling to retail. My initial aspect was to sell to florists and to wholesalers. And, my thought was to grow more of a high-quality product, more of an event product. So, I started with more specialty flowers, even my first season that I was learning. I kind of went in kind of excited and wanted the best, which is fine. What I realized, is for this adventure - due to my schedule and my family schedules, I really had to pick something that would work for our schedules. So, coordinating with wholesale and florists takes a lot of time and commitment. What I found is my followers wanted direct access to what I had. So, I didn't necessarily, I wasn't really open to having people come to the farm initially. It took a full year before I was open to that idea because I wanted maybe my space. And I just wanted to make sure where I knew where the business is falling. So, the first year we really didn't do any farm sales. The second year, once I built up this audience, I realized that they really demanded more direct access to things. Which was great because that's actually when COVID hit and the demand was overwhelming.

Sharon McGukin (12:05):

Well, I think you've mentioned to me in the past that there was a real pleasure. Once you did allow people to come to the farm and you saw their joy at being in the natural setting, that just really made it even more of a passion for you. 

Lia Fleming (12:21):

Yes, there's no doubt when somebody sees a farm, they're usually shocked. They usually come up the drive and they look, the farm stand is right next to the garden. And we did that intentionally. We thought about putting the stand down by the side of the road, but we want people to come up the drive. We want them to come now into our space. We want them to see what we're growing. And, people are usually surprised. In this area, it's not very common though there are other local growers. That's something else that I also encourage - for people to learn about all their local growers. It's not just about what we grow. If we don't have it, I encourage somebody to reach out to any farmer.

Sharon McGukin (13:03):

You have mentioned the word learn a number of times. ‘I had to learn how to farm the flowers. I had to learn how to reach out to the customers. Learn of my competitors. So let's take a step back and say in the beginning, how did you learn how to farm flowers? Did you read, study, take classes?

Lia Fleming (13:24):

No classes, reading. I did a lot of reading. I, I spent a whole winter absorbing myself and the internet and I didn't pay for any classes. I didn't take any workshops. There are plenty out there. There are plenty farming classes and I would probably recommend them. Um, I probably learned the hard way by doing and failing, but that's okay. That made me a better grower the next year. And honestly, this is my third growing season and I'm sure I will continue to learn in the next 10 years.

Sharon McGukin (13:56):

Oh, every day. Forever. 

Lia Fleming (13:58):

 Yeah. I agree with that. Absolutely. Yeah. So definitely it's not just learning about farming and growing. At one point, you just gotta get your feet wet. You actually have to do the hard work. You have to get out there and you have to plan. You have to amend the soil. You have to get a soil test. You have to have a crop plan. You have to … you've got to start the seeds. So really that year that we first started, in March we were starting seeds inside. So it's, it's a pretty crazy process, but it's, it's pretty, once you get started, you could get hooked real easily.

Sharon McGukin (14:34):

That's very cool. Now you alluded to the market that you had set up your little, um, stand at the edge of the flower farm. Tell us a little about it.

Lia Fleming (14:46):

Sure, sure. Initially I had in mind kind of a Chip and Joanna Gaines stand that somebody was going to build for me. But, I wasn't initially sure that the location I had selected was going to be the finite location. My husband had the idea to use the tractor. The tractor was a big investment for our farm and it’s a beautiful John Deere tractor. He said, let's just put that out there. Put the tractor with the flowers in the bucket. And boy, people loved it! They were thrilled. Something about that tractor or something about the kids … and all women, men, everyone was really intrigued by it.

Sharon McGukin (15:27):

Did that end up becoming a photo spot? I could see that happening.

Lia Fleming (15:31):

Yes. Yes, absolutely. Lots of kids and photo shoots on the tractor.

Sharon McGukin (15:37):

So, you've made this emotional connection again in several ways in telling the story and then giving them an experience and becoming a destination. I think that goes a long way in establishing something new. looking back, if there were one thing. If you had to drill down your best advice to one thing. And you thought, oh, I wish I had known this to start with. What would that be? What would you share with our audience?

Lia Fleming (16:04):

That's a tough one. It was a little bit different for me because we did kind of pivot because of COVID. I will say having started the farm stand, having people buy directly here, I started it really self-served. So initially people, the contact was really supposed to be minimal. I think that what I can tell someone is really, you can't always plan in your head. What is the best thing? You almost need to let others in your audience share what their needs are. Even as far as the stand hours goes. I feel like the flexibility that we offer is that we have a seasonal product and we tell people it's available when nature tells us it's available. People seem to be fine with that. I think they're kind of intrigued and they kind of get excited and are willing to wait. So I don't know if I have one piece of advice as far as farming goes, because I could stay on this podcast for another two hours.

Sharon McGukin (17:04):

I think your number one advice - you just gave. And that was to go with the flow. Let your project evolve on its own. I think that's valuable advice. I think that what you're saying also is - you want to concentrate on service, not sales.

Lia Fleming (17:20):

Sure, sure. And I think that is really key because even though we did have a self-serve stand, we kind of, I feel like we kind of have like an oasis here where people … it was like almost like a respite. People were working from home. They wanted to get out, get fresh air. Our first season we had COVID. That was when we had in the fall planted our tulips and maybe we had 6,000 tulips in the ground. And of course you can imagine when I saw these pictures in the industry where people were throwing flowers away. Everywhere in the world. And I was going to have 6,000 tulips come up, you know, how was I going to sell them? So for people it really was a place for them to come. And the message -  that's what I would really say it was building.

Lia Fleming (18:01):

This was starting to build. The audience. When people would pick up flowers and even if we weren't around. You know? There were times we would check and go out. We were working from home, but I really felt like people would take the time to communicate with us. Tell us how it changed their day, or send us a picture of who they gave it to. There was a lot of gifting going on during COVID. I really felt happy to be part of that. And it was therapy for us, as well.

Sharon McGukin (18:28):

You mentioned it being self-service at the farm stand. Did they just leave money? Was there a price list? How do you orchestrate that? For those that might be considering doing the same thing.

Lia Fleming (18:39):

Because we had done the branding work ahead of time. We had a website set up and it is a commerce site. So, you can actually come to the stand and you could pay on our website. You can pay from your phone, or you could take the flowers, leave, go home and pay. We also set up a Venmo account, which is very popular. We set up a PayPal account and we also accept cash and check. And we're very lucky. We have not had any fact, I do have a cash box, but it's open, it's exposed. I do try to keep the price point so that it's easy and that they don't have to worry about change, that we try to keep it in like fives. So whether it be 25, 35, easy. 20. So it's pretty easy for people.

Sharon McGukin (19:25):

In my years with flowers, I have just found that people who love flowers are good people. You know, they love life also. It's a very trustworthy group of people.

Sharon McGukin (19:44):

Are you wondering, who's partnering with me and bringing practical solutions to you. This podcast is brought to you by Smithers-Oasis, North America. Why is Smithers-Oasis investing in your business, helping you to meet challenge with change? Smithers-Oasis North America understands that you need fresh ideas to inspire new growth. Oasis carefully plants the seeds of your success by offering a balance of traditional and on-trend products that enhance your designs. Simply visit your wholesale supplier for your favorite Oasis products or view the online selection of direct delivered to you products and seasonal inspiration. Now available from While you're on the website, check out our blog. Scroll down to the featured posts section and enjoy the collection of design tips and flower ideas for weddings holidays in store or online business, and lots more. after you enjoy each blog or podcast episode, please share them with your flower friends. 

I find it so interesting that you've added on as you go along in your growing seasons. I know you can't name all of the flowers that you have, but tell us a few examples of the things you're enjoying growing.

Lia Fleming (21:11):

Sure, sure. We grow snapdragons, dianthus, feverfew, bupleurum, peonies. Then we have a warm season, flowers, zinnias, amaranths, sunflowers, dahlias, and just a huge list of any more that we try every year. We eliminate some every year. I'm sure I'll add a few more every year.

Sharon McGukin (21:34):

Now you mentioned to me one time, the amount of space that you had. It's not that it's this huge farm. It's just that you're being very judicious with how you use the land. Do you offer that advice to others?

Lia Fleming (21:50):

I would say that nowadays in flower farming, there is a movement towards growing out back. You could grow in your backyard and call yourself a farm. Doesn't mean you have to have 10 acres, 30 acres. You can grow on an acre, a quarter acre. I mean, we're probably a little bit over a quarter acre. Now where we live, the farm that I grow on actually has 30 acres of property. We lease to a farmer who grows different crops. It's not about how large of an area you grow. It's really about getting the soil where you need it to be, to grow flowers. And I think a lot of people underestimate the work and effort that goes into getting the soil where it needs to be. So we're about growing that volume, and really the quality and keeping the soil where it needs to be.

Sharon McGukin (22:42):

Do you do all of the cutting of the flowers or do you allow the customers to cut any of the flowers?

Lia Fleming (22:50):

We do not currently do a ‘you-pick’. It’s something I have considered. And as the business model changes, I do have lots of people inquiring about that. I have had events where people have come out and cut or I’ve had individual sessions. And it really does change. The experience really does change people's ideas of flower farming. There's times where people will come to the stand and we'll bring them out to the garden and cut a few more flowers. And they think that's the most amazing thing in the whole world. Which it is, it really is. It's really cool. And I think people are surprised. I think even driving by and seeing what we grow. There's something different about walking in the rows and seeing the wildlife, seeing the butterflies, seeing all the different … my science, my husband's a science teacher and he can name all these insects and animals. I don't know all the names, but I think it's intriguing.

Sharon McGukin (23:50):

I think that is excellent. I know that you use a lot of Smithers-Oasis products in your process, do you have a couple of those to mention?

Lia Fleming (24:02):

Yeah, definitely. I think one thing to talk about is because we are locally grown and we're cutting something that's completely fresh. It already has … it's going to have a great baseline, but I want to ensure that my customers really can extend that. So, we use all the Floralife products. We use Quick Dip, we use Hydration Solutions, Floralife 300.

Sharon McGukin (24:24):

Just a lot of the different things. That's interesting. Now, one day when you and I were having a conversation - this is jumping back to the social media aspect, but you mentioned geo-fencing. And, I thought that would be something that was interesting for our audience if they were not accustom to that.

Lia Fleming (24:42):

Sure, one of the things we did when we first started out was collaborating with the different boutiques and different markets. I had already developed a following on my social media. If I had an event where I was going to be showcasing flowers at a boutique in a different town, it wouldn't really make sense to just post and assume my followers are going to drive out to this boutique to buy my flowers. So, what I would do is I would target a Facebook post or an Instagram post, and I would create a radius around the location where I was selling the flowers. By creating this radius, anyone who drives into that area would be fed this ad. At this point, I'm really just targeting based off location. A lot of my followers do tend to be, you know, more around my region though. I do have people who drive from all different communities to come to the farm. I really just, especially when there's a day that we're promoting a certain product, I really want people to be aware when you're driving, in that radius that product is available and where.

Sharon McGukin (25:53):

I think that's very interesting, as well. Now, you do so many things that it's amazing to think how you can get it all accomplished. So I'm sure that a lot of people want to ask this question that we always ask. And it's interesting to find the answers. What is your super power?

Lia Fleming (26:14):

I think my superpower would be - just not being afraid to try something. And, I really do believe that is really the most important superpower to have. Because, there are times when I've had to learn how to do irrigation, or I've had to learn how to read a soil test or there's so many things that I'm not familiar with that I have to ask for help and kind of put myself out there and kind of sometimes feel pretty vulnerable. Sometimes, maybe, I don't really sound - I don't want to say sound smart, but I just, I'm not familiar. It's like everything's new to me. But, I think people in this industry, whether it be farming, whether it be flowers, the flora-culture industry, everybody has been really open and sharing. It's a pretty awesome community to be into. We are members of a different, a couple different, floral associations. Especially one association. There are times when I have had posted maybe a ‘behind the scenes’ of me trying to do some irrigation. And another farmer had messaged me and reached out and said, “Hey, if you need help, I had a similar situation. Have you tried this?” I mean, isn't that fantastic? So, my superpower is not feeling … being vulnerable is okay. And being open to try new things.

Sharon McGukin (27:40):

I think creative communities are more likely to share. I think there, there's a part of the creative personality that wants to share with other people information they've learned because creatives have a tendency to really enjoy learning, but there's another enjoyment and passing that along.

Sharon McGukin (28:09):

One of the many things Leah experienced on her flower farming journey is how generously people in the floral industry invest in others. This community of creatives actively offer support by sharing ideas, tips, and techniques. Today, Sharon’s Shout Out goes to two flower farming associations Lia mentioned as valuable resources for her on-the-job training when she had so much to learn. The association of Cut Flower Growers, whose mantra is Growing. Sharing. Learning. Their website can be found at Lia also mentioned the Slow Flowers Society found at with a focus on Connecting. Celebrating. Empowering. Check out these sites for more information, you can find their links in the show notes. 

Lia, If you were going to give best advice at this point, I'd asked you earlier in the farming section of it. But, now that you kind of figured out the farming and you have your stand, what would you suggest to someone else who this might be their only livelihood - whereas you have a full-time job also. What would you suggest to them in terms of growing the business? Would suggest they go after wholesale markets? Farmer's markets? What kind of things would you suggest?

Lia Fleming (29:47):

That's a good question. And I'm going to share an example with you. I didn't mention this earlier, but when I started my farm, I have a sister who lives in Missouri, who also started a flower farm. She was a school teacher who had summers off. She was intrigued by this movement. She also grew, but what she found was that her market was completely different than mine, just based on geographics. What I found that what worked for me absolutely did not work for her. So in her example she would say, I'm too far out. People don't want to drive this far to come out to my stand. I’ve tried ‘you-pick’, I've tried this, I've tried that. It can be discouraging, but she did learn that. She would take her flowers to the school and she would do some school projects with her kids.

Lia Fleming (30:42):

And one of those was like a fundraiser. She had purchased an old vintage truck and she would take pictures of the kids. She would donate the money to the school. Well, lo and behold, people saw these photos and they wanted her to start shooting photography. Her flower farm really became more of a backdrop for her photography business. And the actual selling of flowers was not as big of an emphasis as the photography. I guess my advice to somebody is, you’ve really got to know your market. You really need to know what's out there and what your time is. Obviously if you're going to sell to a wholesaler or sell to a florist, they're going to want an availability list. You're going to need to go out and you're going to need to give an idea of how many flowers you're going to be able to sell.

Lia Fleming (31:32):

And you can't tell them you have 10, you kind of need to have a few of them. Make a list and put it together for them to really feel open to use you. Because, I think the thing is with local florists - they're kind of learning about local farmers. It's … we're kind of educating each other as we go. I recently just had a florist reach out to me. I have them reach out to me all the time. But, this one messaged me on social media to say, “Hey, do you have any purple dahlias?” Or do you have any this, or do you have any of that? And I have other flower farmer florists do the same thing. At the same time, I think if you're working with a traditional florist who is used to ordering from a wholesaler, you better have a good list together, and you'd better be able to email it to them, and communicate with them, and have a good price list together.

Sharon McGukin (32:22):

I think that this advice brings us full circle to what you said in the beginning. Go with the flow and let your business evolve to what adapts to your schedule, your customer's needs, and how it all blends together. And, I think that's excellent advice. You mentioned at one point that sometimes people will reach out to you for wedding flowers and you have to be sure they understand that you cannot promise certain numbers or amounts. How do they typically react to that?

Lia Fleming (32:57):

I think people are pretty excited about what we're growing. I think they're intrigued. What I found is a lot of people have not, are not, really familiar with some of the flowers that we grow. And I was quite surprised by that. I think they're … they don't know the names of the flowers. But, they like the look or the feel and they liked the gardeny-feel of the big dinner plate dahlias and the lisianthus. Some think it's a rose. They're not quite sure what it is. I have kind of curated a list of products that I grow really, that I like, and I know that they would like. So, I've kind of done the work ahead of time to make it appealing. Then they basically are okay with that because they, they see that I kind of curated a look together. If I'm selling a florist for a do-it-yourself bride who wants a floral bucket, I tell them they'll get a mix. And sometimes they don't understand, they might just want all one flower. And I have to kind of educate them as you know, you're going to want some focal flowers. You're going to want some filler. You're going to want, you know, different types of products. So I tell them there'll be a mix. I've never had anyone complain about that. 

Sharon McGukin (34:13):

So, they're very happy with that. Actually, they're probably very happy that someone is picking it out for them since they don't really know exactly what they're asking for. 

Lia Fleming (34:23):

Yeah. It takes a lot of time to educate. I give a lot of credit to event designers or floral designers who specialize in events. It's really, I've found them. Probably the biggest part is all the communication that you have going into it. The creativity that's just one aspect, but I think that's it. When you think of flower farming and you think of floristry. There's all this kind of smoke and allure, but you really have to have a good, strong business sense. I think that's real important. You don't want to get caught up. You can't get caught up in the beauty of flowers who wouldn't get caught up, but yet to be successful, you need to have a blueprint in a, in a business plan that will work.

Sharon McGukin (35:10):

Now that you've built your flower collection. Do you have a favorite flower?

Lia Fleming (35:16):

You know what I do have. My favorite flower changes seasonally, and sometimes it's not the big showy one. It isn't always the big dinner plate Dahlia. Sometimes, it's like the little sparkle one like a false Queen Anne's lace that just kind of speaks me, for some reason. And I think I like a flower that has an earthy feel to it. That kind of has a wave to it. And it has kind of a natural feeling to it.

Sharon McGukin (35:51):

I find it so interesting that when we work with flowers, there's an experience that you feel. When it's just you working with the flowers, that it's hard to describe to other people. But I do think that there is that positive energy there with the flowers. Because if you think about it, flowers are medications, flowers are the ingredients to make-up. Fragrance. Aromatherapy. There, there's so many ways that flowers and herbs are used in healing ways in our daily life. And I just think we're very blessed when we get to handle those flowers every day and call it work.

Lia Fleming (36:30):

Yes, I would agree with that.

Sharon McGukin (36:32):

So, it's very good. Well Lia, we thank you so much. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Lia Fleming (36:40):

I guess the only thing I would like to add is that really what I have learned about this industry about this business is that really, I've gotten so much back from my clients and customers. Because what I realized is what I'm selling is an experience that they get to share with others. And those experiences are really about life. And I think we tend to focus flowers on just events, but I think the daily aspects of having flowers in our lives are so important. And I see every day, people sharing and caring for other people through flowers. Um, and it's touching, it's very touching.

Sharon McGukin (37:18):

I always suggest to people that we always celebrate life with flowers. They are our voices sometimes. Flowers speak when there are no words, flowers are uplifting, they're comforting, they create excitement when you get them as a gift unexpectedly. It's about the only time you can give life to someone because it's kind of hard to give people a puppy they're not expecting!

Lia Fleming (37:43):

Great, I guess I was surprised by this. I mean, obviously I work in an industry where I'm always, you know, being creative and giving people creative products and people are really, always excited about it. But, flowers really kind of threw me a curve ball. I just wasn't expecting all this feedback and just how people share every daily life moments with me or how flowers have changed their lives. And so, it's pretty, it's pretty exciting. A funny story that we had recently was when we tried to record this podcast. I had come home knowing that we were going to schedule this and I was prepared. Laptop up, had everything ready. I went out to check on the flower stand and a really torrential rain and storm was coming. Things were blowing all over the place. The flowers were falling over. It was a pretty, pretty crazy moment. And I just had to kind of get things cleaned up and get my composure and get back in here. And, of course, the internet was out. So, you know, like these are your curve balls. I'm glad we were able to reschedule it, but it was  nature for sure.

Sharon McGukin (38:58):

And that was a perfect example of the challenges of flower farming. Well, Lia, we thank you so much for being with us and sharing your story. I know that it's going to be inspiring to other people who are thinking that might be something I would like to try. So thanks for sharing your advice. And we're also going to share some of her photos and information in a blog. If you're listening to this podcast, be sure to go to and check out the blog as well.

Lia Fleming (39:29):

Thanks, Sharon and Smithers-Oasis North America for taking the time to share my story.

Sharon McGukin (39:34):

Thank you.

Lia Fleming (39:36):

Thank you. I'm sure How We Bloom podcast is sure to be a success.

Sharon McGukin (39:40):

Thank you so much. In closing, Smithers-Oasis North America and I want to thank you for joining us today. If you've enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend and be sure to hit subscribe. You don't want to miss the inspired solutions our upcoming guests will share for your personal or business growth. Until next time, I'm Sharon McGukin, reminding you that like the unfurling pedals of a flower, we grow by changing form. Soaking up inspiration like raindrops. Absorbing energy from others like warmth from the sun. This growth opens us up to new ideas. And, that's How We Bloom.