I’m Kati Mayfield, the founder of FloweRescue ry. FloweRescue collects surplus flowers from wholesalers, florists and events; and then repurposes them into beautiful bouquets which are donated to elderly homes and community organizations. FloweRescue’s mission is to address and spark dialogue about flower waste, and other sustainability challenges in the floral industry, and to connect people through the beauty and joy of flowers.
I had long admired the entrepreneurs I knew for the way they saw a gap or a need and decided that they had a unique solution to fill it. My journey started similarly: I wanted to become an entrepreneur because I learned how truly unsustainable the global floral industry is, and as a lover of flowers, I wanted to fix it. As with other perishable products, waste is a huge challenge in the flower industry as well. It is estimated that up to 40% of the cut flowers produced are discarded before they reach consumers.
One of the toughest lessons about entrepreneurship is that sales can make it or break it.
My biggest obstacle so far has been fundraising and sales. I’m currently elbows-deep in trying to secure funding right now, which is difficult for a new nonprofit In Finland. Many foundation grants require a long financial and service track record, while securing a permit to ask for individual donations is another fuss itself.
So far we have been scrappy and working on the principle of mutual exchange; our generous partners have provided us with in-kind goods and services because they want to support our mission. And our members have helped us to cover the small overhead costs.
One of the toughest lessons about entrepreneurship is that sales can make it or break it. I am not a natural salesperson, and sales always seemed a bit slimy to me – picture the oily American car seller here. On the surface, doing good with flowers is an easy concept to pitch. Most people light up when I talk to them about FloweRescue. But, unfortunately, enthusiasm does not always translate to buy-in, and I have a really tough time nudging people from interest to commitment.
On the other side, the most rewarding part of entrepreneurship for me is to see people getting as excited as me about our mission. Be it one of our volunteers who comes for the first time to sort the flowers or an elderly person who receives the bouquet. Often these encounters go much deeper than just distributing flowers; the recipients sometimes start telling stories from their childhood where they were gathering wildflowers in a meadow. This creates meaning. Flowers are one of the most beautiful symbols of human connection – they can express love, gratitude, comfort, friendship and celebration.
I think I am still very much on the journey of becoming an entrepreneur.
The entrepreneurial tales often focus on the “lone wolf” founder. For me, entrepreneurship has been very different, especially during the pandemic. FloweRescue has been built by not only me, but over 200 other people who have volunteered to rescue flowers. 50 of those people have joined as association members to support the mission long term.
Over the past year and a half, I have seen how very important our work is – for both our volunteers and the people who receive the flowers – in helping retain a connection to other people and to beautiful things during a dark time.
I think I am still very much on the journey of becoming an entrepreneur. I am looking forward to a few upcoming phases this year: paying myself a salary through FloweRescue and hiring our first employee – exciting! Things progress always in small steps and it takes time to reach the bigger goals. But as I’ve been told: progress is always better than perfection.
An entrepreneurial dream can start small. Even if the dream is big, start small – or start somewhere.
Follow FlowerRescue on Instagram @flower_rescue.