by Kasey Caminiti | September 26, 2018 11:00 am
As a little girl growing up on a farm in Bremen, Ind., Christina Stembel, CEO and founder of Farmgirl Flowers in San Francisco, initially dreamed of becoming an actress. “We had this little TV that had like five channels, and it came in fuzzy, but it was my only real window that there was something else out there off the farm,” says Stembel, who packed up and moved to New York City two weeks after graduating from high school. “I loved theater and was in Drama Club in high school, but I realized I wasn’t very good at acting, and it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. I knew at some point I wanted to start my own company.”
After a stint in Chicago working in hospitality, Stembel moved to San Francisco, where she ultimately landed at Stanford University as the Head of Catering and Events and Director of Alumni Relations and Campaign Outreach at Stanford Law School, where she worked for seven and a half years. “That’s actually where I came up with the idea for Farmgirl,” says Stembel, who launched her business in 2010. “I kept talking about it, and I thought, ‘If I don’t do it now, I’m never going to do it and going to be in my rocking chair when I’m old.’ Everyone thought I was crazy to quit my stable job. But I felt like the timing was right.”
Stembel, a self-taught floral designer, spent the next several months building her business from scratch, setting her alarm for 3:00 every morning to hand-pick fresh flowers at the flower mart and assemble them in her living room. “When I started, it was really challenging to try and educate the consumers that they couldn’t call and pick red roses or calla lilies, and they didn’t get any choice. Back then no one was doing it,” says Stembel of the “you order, we pick” delivery model. “I wanted to be truly innovative.”
The just-plucked-from-the-wildflower field-style bouquets, based on a few select curated designs conceived by Stembel and her team, are hand-tied in upcycled, biodegradable burlap coffee sacks from local roasters. This summer, the company added a comprehensive floral program for weddings and family reunions, and fully-designed, 360-degree arrangements in vases. “I love that we are able to bring love to so many people’s lives, and when I meet people they will tell me everything about the moment of when they received their Farmgirl Flowers,” says Stembel. “I love that we are creating something that people that care about what they are sending can be proud of and that’s representative of them.” farmgirlflowers.com
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