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Winnipeg’s Callia Flowers won Pitch'Day by putting a new spin on a traditional business model.

Callia Flowers is one of Winnipeg’s hottest new start-ups that’s shaking up how we order and send fresh, beautiful and seasonal flowers.

Owner Catherine Metrycki didn’t initially plan to get into the flower delivery industry. Born and raised in Winnipeg, she earned a degree in Marketing from the Sauder School of Business in British Columbia, then moved to Toronto where she worked as a brand manager for Procter & Gamble.

“I worked in the ‘shave care’ industry,” she explains, “which meant that I acted as a spokesmodel and hub of sorts for…the marketing (of) brands like Gillette, Brawn and Venus.” However, after moving back home to Winnipeg and taking a full-time job as a marketing manager, she couldn’t stop thinking about ways that small businesses could revolutionize existing industries.

Shaking up the flower delivery industry

Her ‘aha’ moment came last year when a friend received a promotion at her job. Catherine realized that she didn’t have the option to send a meaningful, thoughtful gift to celebrate.

“I was at work and didn’t have the time to call around and price check with different florists, and what I could find was so expensive,” she recalls. “In the end, I just sent my friend a text message and that felt like such a cop-out.”

That experience got her thinking about ways to streamline the flower delivery business and how flower delivery services can create moments of real connection for their customers.

“Our value proposition is that we make ordering and delivering flowers cheap, easy and sexy,” she explains. “Ordering a bouquet of flowers often costs $80 to $100 per bouquet and often the quality is substandard and inconsistent. By contrast, our bouquets cost $49 each.”

Six clicks and a sexy statement

To keep costs low, Callia Flowers doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location. Instead, customers can order through their easy-to-navigate website. As Catherine likes to put it, her clients can “order flowers in six clicks.”

On the website, customers can choose from one of four seasonal bouquets, which are selected and packed by hand from a local wholesale retailer. Catherine explains that her decision to offer a limited selection of bouquets at any given time was two-fold, as it keeps costs low for consumers and ensures that the bouquets are fresh and in-season.

“Because we work with local wholesalers and only carry fresh, in-season flowers, our bouquets last anywhere from four to six weeks on average,” Catherine states.

Callia Flowers

Another benefit of offering a limited selection is that it’s easy for Catherine to control the quality of their deliveries. She explains, “Most brick-and-mortar flower shops have to keep a variety of in and out-of-season flowers in stock, just in case a customer comes in who wants something specific. (This) means if you want Calla Lilies and nobody has ordered them in a while, then you’re going to get old, wilted flowers that have been sitting as backstock somewhere. That’s not a great feeling; nobody wants to send old flowers to someone that they care about.”

Most florists use paper to wrap up and deliver bouquets, but when you order a bouquet from Callia Flowers, you can expect it to arrive in a sleek, beautiful horizontal box.

“I wanted to make flower delivery sexy,” Catherine states. “Getting a paper parcel is boring, and the flowers get jostled and start to leak. It can be messy and unpleasant. Our boxes, by contrast, make a statement.”

Making flower delivery “sticky”

Earlier this year, Callia Flowers placed first in Innovate Manitoba’s Pitch’Day competition, a Dragons’ Den-like event where entrepreneurs pitch to a panel of judges. She states that the most valuable piece of feedback from the day was that she needed to find a way to make her business “sticky.”

“One of the judges asked me how we were going to turn flower delivery from a once-in-a-while purchase into regular recurring revenue, which really resonated with me,” Catherine explains. “So I’ve been building a really robust email list and we reconnect with our customers on a regular basis.”

Callia Flowers

For instance, if you send your best friend flowers for her birthday, next year Callia Flowers will send you an email reminder a few weeks before the date to remind you to re-order. Customers can also pre-order recurring deliveries for friends and family members, taking the guesswork out of finding fresh and affordable ways to show they care.

“Our goal is to make flower delivery an affordable way to celebrate everyday life,” says Catherine. “Whether it’s congratulating your friend on a promotion, thanking your housekeeper, or signing up for an annual subscription to send your spouse a bouquet every month, there’s something for everyone.”

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Alyson Shane

Alyson Shane is a writer and business owner from Winnipeg, Manitoba who has been publishing content online for 16+ years. She runs Starling Social, an agency which develops digital marketing strategies that combine social media, paid advertising and content strategy to keep businesses growing and engaged with their customers. Outside the office, Alyson is a passionate urbanist who loves gardening, riding her bike and thinking about the public spaces that bring us together. She can be reached on social media at @alysonshane.

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