A little about what's happening in our big flower world...

Being an Island.

“Feel your emotions, Live true your passions, Keep still your mind.”― Geoffrey M. Gluckman

This week I was able to spend a few hours with some of my dearest lady friends. Strangely, these are people I've only known for the last year or two since starting The Pollen Mill. Each of them own a small business as well. All completely different fields of work, but self-employed none the less, and all have been in business for much, much longer than I.

Over wine we talked shop (taxes, payments, paperwork, and all the crap), life (kids, friends, husbands, girlfriends/boyfriends, sickness, travel, parents, death), and moving forward (with our businesses, with people we love, with plans), and just that urge to take the next step & keep going.

One of the hardest parts about working alone is feeling like you are an island. Don't get me wrong, standing in my studio in elastic waist pants and smelling glorious flowers isn't really something to complain about... But, that feeling of being alone so often that you forget how to have an adult conversation, it's just the weirdest thing. Sometimes it feels like I can take on the world without a question. While other times I feel like the world just has it out for me. You know, it's just kind of how it goes; feast & famine all at the same time. One thing stands out from my visits with theses ladies... true passion, a kind of passion that words don't really explain. The kind of passion where you wake up at any hour to do the silliest tasks like make that one little edit to a photo, search and pull the tiniest of weeds, or just checking in on a client to make sure they are feeling ok. Meanwhile, forgetting to eat meals, working so much you have to call your mom and say "Yes, I'm still alive." Those things that make us real people, fighting our own fights, with relationships of all levels. True passion and in exchange, real customer service. It's not something you can put a price on.

You've heard me tout over and over again about strong, successful women who have my back. They're real. They inspire, they teach, they support, they bounce ideas back to me. Real, no bullshit, friends who when they say "you're doing such an good job," I actually believe them. Because they know what it's like to be an island. They know how much bills, taxes and paychecks come and go. But more than anything, they hug you after a glass of wine and say "thank you, I needed this."
So, I guess my entire post today is a quick thank you to those people who are full of passion, share their passion, and keep this little machine going. You are appreciated.

PS- I feel I should come clean... 76% of the plants in my yard are dead, like crispy and brown. I can claim that it's because we are in a drought and I'm conserving water. But in real life, it's simply because of neglect. So don't feel bad. Even the floral designer's yard looks like royal shit. And I can't lie, it's pretty embarrassing.

Goal Digger

We've been hitting the ground running, filling our fire with forks, and jumping off cliffs hoping for nets. It's the only way to take the world by the horns...Right? Maybe?

If you asked me six months ago where we would be today, I would have never said here. It's hard to believe it has been six months since officially opening our doors...I mean mind-blowning. I didn't have many expectations for what would happen with this little flower biz. I was just fine with throwing sand into the wind and holding my eyes closed really, really tight. But what happened was nothing like anticipated.

I met so many new faces. Many which immediately became friends, mentors, muses, angel-sweet-magician-helpers who are steering me along this journey to build and establish my little business. They are true motivators who keep me up into the wee hours of night, thinking, planning, glowing with excitement. It seems impossible that one, simple conversation can have such an impact on life...but it can. You bet your booty it can! And I've watched it happen over and over.

Last month marked a few photo shoot adventures, weddings, rehearsal dinners, fundraisers, anniversaries, baby showers, and more. And as we come to the end of summer and start of autumn, it's Groundhog's Day. Feeling more and more the same with continued requests for pastel centerpieces made with peonies that are long gone. That's not a complaint, it is a treasure. I see it as still getting to be a teacher of sorts. I teach my clients about the seasonality of flowers and how our dry winter and summer impacts availability as well as cost. Days filled with meeting new people, brainstorming ideas, creating inspiration boards, and designing flowers...shoot, it all makes me smile.

Now six months later, with a collection of forks, nets, and tired toes, we are embarking on exciting new realms and peeking out of those squinted closed eyes to see a glimmer of what is about to happen...

First, we are going to put our green thumb to the test and start planting. I mean, actually planting, like on acreage. We were offered a sweet space to put down some roots and pray that we actually get SOME rain this fall. With plants going into the soil in the next few weeks, we will be watching, waiting, learning, no doubt failing, and trying to figure out how the heck to grow mass quantities of dreamy blooms for our designs. It's going to be a real experience being a Goal Digger. If you'd like to take your hand in planting, feel free to shoot me a message. We are going to need all the help we can get to plant, weed, seed, till.

Second, I have been asked to be the curator of a museum exhibit for next spring. Our exhibit will feature floral and botanical designs in their natural form. I am in the process of pulling together potential exhibitors, so if you know someone who is a local florist or floral designer in Solano County or the surrounding area, please shoot me an email with their contact information. The exhibit will launch next spring with many special activities and events. Please keep your eyes peeled for what happens next.

With that said, I am still trying to take it all in. I told my husband and brother-in law the other day, that sometimes when I talk to people about how work/the business is going, I feel like I am talking about someone else who I happen to know a lot about. Because it really hasn't hit me yet that so much that has happened, is happening, and is about to happen. So, HEEHAW cowgirl! I better get a saddle (and a helmet)!

Oh and one last thing, we have a few more spots left for our DIY Floral Fun Workshop~Flower Crowns on 8.27.14 at Pietro's #1 from 6:00-8:00pm. Please email if you are interested in signing up. Details are under the "Events & Workshops" tab of our website.

As always, thank you for believing in me and my little floral dream. It's people like you who are making it all come true. Love Locally!


We've had a lot of inquiries lately about the ins-and-outs of our business. So, we figured we would put together a little Q&A session for you.

Question: Where do you get your flowers?  I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. JUST KIDDING! We source our flowers from growers right here in Solano County, some reach further north into Capay Valley and Roseville and as south as Half Moon Bay and Watsonville. We also work with wholesale markets in Davis, Sacramento, and San Francisco. We do grow some of our blooms right here in our home. Mostly greenery and vines but also some specialty accent flowers. My mom grows gorgeous flowers and I try to steal from her garden as often as possible but she's got a pretty tight eye on those gorgeous prize possessions. If you know of anyone with a garden or just some beautiful homegrown flowers in the area, please let them know I am always looking to source local blooms. I will gladly pay top dollar to cut fresh stems from their fields or garden!

Question: Do you use Floral Foam? Why not?  We do not use Floral Foam. Haven't touched the stuff in years. Floral foam is chalked full of chemicals that are known to harm humans, animals, and the environment. Some of these chemicals include: formaldehyde, carbon black, and barium sulfate. Side effects from exposure to these can include: liver and bladder changes/abnormalities, lung damage, skin and eye irritation, muscle incoordination, central nervous system depression, narcosis, reproductive disease and disorders, cancer, and death. Pretty g-r-o-s-s. All of these chemicals are listed as acute and chronic hazardous materials under their Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Floral foam is not biodegradable as it is a plastic and most often must be disposed of just after one use. Instead, we use other materials (for example: moss, vines, chicken wire, flower frogs) and techniques to hold our blooms in place and ensure they are well watered and fed. While some believe floral foam extends the life of the flowers, the best care for prolonging flowers and plants is simply, fresh water. 

Question: How did you get your client(s)?  Long legs and low blouses...duh. Yeah, right! Word of mouth and reputation. We have done minimal advertising and believe in building relationships with our clients through our flowers and our customer service. We like to think of our clients as our dearest friends and in effect we have many repeat loyal customers. We always appreciate when our clients write us reviews on Yelp, Wedding Wire, and Facebook. We also love the shout outs on Instagram and Pinterest. Social networking has been extremely beneficial for our business and the feedback is warmly appreciated. We receive calls and orders several times a week that are referrals from online reviews and "likes." So, thank you our sweet fiends and clients for spreading the love!

Question: Can you get any flower even if it isn't grown locally? Any flower that is available during the season we can order from a wholesale market. We encourage all of our clients to purchase flowers grown here in California and if not, at least inside of the U.S. However, if you need a specific flower or plant that is grown only in Ecuador or Argentina, we can get it for you. We limit the amount of orders we take with these requests and at some point we hope that we can function as a business that only uses local flowers. But, yes we can get the tropical flowers for your luau themed event, no problem (smiley face).

Question: Why do flowers cost so much when they just die? Great question! I encourage everyone to take their hand in planting flowers or a garden from seed. It's not as simple as you  think. Plants (especially from seed) need specific care: water, nutrients, sunlight, proper environment for homeostasis, and space. Other factors such as insects, animals and fungi impact a plants ability to survive. Even in greenhouses, there are many facets that make growing plants a tedious job. So, the flowers alone are not cheap, even at wholesale costs and particularly now in a time of drought here in California.

Then you add in the time and process to supply flowers to the customer in the form of an arrangement. This includes time to pick out flowers at the grower or market, bring them to our location, prep and condition each stem, arrange the design, package for delivery, schedule delivery, and finally deliver the flowers. It's quite a system. This doesn't include the time and effort spent on taking orders, writing proposals, editing proposals, stocking materials, sourcing flowers from growers and markets, and all the billing and paperwork poop. I'd say most of our time is spent preparing proposals, sending estimates, providing example and inspiration photos and conducting billing...all the super fun stuff! I can only wish I spent all day long just playing with flowers! All of these steps to provide a floral design to make someone's day a little brighter. It's all worth it! We cringe when we hear people say "no one is going to notice the flowers..." especially at a wedding or special event. They Absolutely Do! 70-80% of all of our business comes from customers who have seen our flowers, loved them, and then booked us for their next event. Flowers make impressions and make events pretty.

Thank you for your constant support and questions! We love to hear from you and tell you about our little business! Keep 'em coming. XO Kim

Just a post...

...not even a picture. Just stopping in to chat for a bit on, well, everything.

We have been kinda busy lately. Weddings are in full swing, summer events filling up, planning our workshops, continuing to take new classes on style and esthetic, meanwhile getting out our day-to-day designs. It's kind of magical really. Our house is submerged in flowers and greenery (that includes the little scraps I find in every nook and cranny). It is pretty darn glorious. With this heat, the air conditioning circulates the delicious smell of sweet peas and eucalyptus throughout every room, a real awful problem right? Things we refer to as FPP or "Florist People Problems" which are REAL problems I swear. 

I've heard from many florists that Mother's Day is one big freak-out session. After all, it is our busiest week of the year. But, I am pretty much just plugging along like its just any other week. Just with a lot more flowers & a workshop thrown in there too. Now, talk to me at the end of next Sunday & I may have pulled out most of my hair, dulled all my snips, and lost a few fingers in the thick of it all. 

But really this post is about our people. The feedback & support that continues to pour in is like eating an entire humble pie for every meal. It's just shocking & sweet how living in our home town and growing our little business has brought our support system out from every angle. I wish I could personally thank every single person who has ever mentioned our flowers to a friend, ordered one of our designs, liked or shared our social networking posts, passed along our business card, or even asked how "the flower thing" is going. So here it is...THANK YOU! We couldn't be happier. We are proud to have our little business in this community and love that we are able to give back. Even if it's just through making you smile. Because really, that is the whole reason we do this!

Really though, thanks.

It's That Simple.

The Pollen Mill team pretty much fell in love, all over again, yesterday. It was really easy to do with all these gorgeous spring blossoms and a few of my favorite things displayed all together. We staged a photoshoot in the studio for some of our new marketing materials. It wasn't the easiest feat... Ali nearly broke her neck standing on a bar stool while trying to shoot pictures and screw in a light bulb at the same time (insert appropriate blonde joke here). I'm sure I looked just as silly trying to follow shadows with a spotlight. Yep, I was even the gaffer.

Hard to believe, but we came out unscathed with one of the most beautiful shots I could have ever imagined. Thank you to my dear biz buddy, Ali (self titled: Intern 1), for always helping with a smile and contributing so many awesome, new creative visions. You sure are rad.

My little green vintage tool box (aka Earl) is one of my favorite belongings. It was given to me by my father-in-law and I immediately filled it with all my special florist tools and treats. I take Earl, the Toolbox, everywhere my flowers go. As you can imagine, I was so excited when Ali suggested adding him into our shoot. Doesn't he look so handsome?

Orchard Owls For Life

One of my fondest memories as a child was a week spent at 6th grade camp while attending Orchard Elementary School. I will never forget our night hike, wearing Paul Davis' sleek 49ers starter jacket all...week...long, making beaded friendship necklaces, and exploring the tide pools. Even now, I look back on this adventure as one of the most hilarious and memorable experiences. In fact, I loved it so much, I even returned as a 6th grade camp counselor my junior year at Vaca High.

In effort to help build these memories for the 6th graders at Orchard School now, I am offering a special Orchard Owl For Life donation. For each floral design ordered Sunday, March 30th through Friday, April 4th, The Pollen Mill will donate 25% of sales to Orchard Elementary 6th Grade Camp.  With the end of the school year coming quickly and camp fees due this week, the funds are still several thousands of dollars short to get these kiddos out to have the experience of a lifetime.

If you would like to make an additional donation, please make checks payable to Orchard Elementary PTC (mailing address 805 North Orchard Avenue, Vacaville, CA 95688).

Please call 415-710-3358 or email to order your designs today!

Our 6th Grade Camp spread in the Orchard School yearbook. Don't mind my lovely 6th grade penmanship.

Heading off to 6th grade camp with my favorite teacher ever, Mr. Loring Bloom.

OSG For Life.