Flowerbx, one of London’s most prestigious florists, is a leading example when it comes to ‘less is more’. Engineering their products with single-varietal bunches, Flowerbx’s aesthetic is as refined as it is fresh. Sourced directly from international auctions after each individual order, Flowerbx’s flowers are famed for their supreme and long-lasting quality. The care for excellence is obviously to be expected from the likes of its founder.
In 2016, Whitney Bromberg Hawkings left her esteemed position as Senior VP of Communications at TOM FORD and took her career in a different direction. During her tenure as one of the most powerful press officers in the world, Hawkings was accustomed to detail and luxury, and soon drew her attention to the floral industry and founded Flowerbx. In the early stages of the start-up business, investors took notice of her business model and flocked to give support. Within a year, Flowerbx raised $1.25 million in seed funding thanks to the removal of the ‘middleman’ and its streamlined retail pricing. We were honoured to chat with Whitney in an exclusive interview to discover more about her career and Flowerbx's impact in the luxury world.
Tell us more about your journey from Public Relations to Peonies. What inspired you to shift your professional direction?
After working for TOM FORD for 19 years and feeling frustrated with the cost and inconsistency of the flowers I was buying and sending, I wanted to create a branded floral offering. Also, as a working Mom, I was buying everything online. I was buying my groceries from Ocado, my clothes from Net-a-Porter or MATCHESFASHION.COM and everything else from Amazon. Flowers were the one thing I couldn't buy in a simple, chic way, online. I started FLOWERBX a little over two years ago and am happy that it has resonated with so many people so quickly and that the growth has been so significant.
Having worked closely with Tom Ford for many years, did his aesthetic influence your perception of luxury, and how has that formed your mission with Flowerbx?
I couldn’t have learned from a better teacher how to build a successful, recognisable and powerful brand – but this was just one of the many lessons I learned during my time working for Tom. He taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance but also about the art of creating desire, and I have applied all of these learnings to FLOWERBX. The team and I are working tirelessly on creating what I know will be the first global flower BRAND.
Flowers can be both mesmerising and intoxicatingly beautiful, but they are also ephemeral. What are some of the challenges, both artistically and ecologically, that working with botanicals present?
If anyone reminded me about the perishability of flowers before I started FLOWERBX, I might have though twice! Ha. Working with perishable goods definitely presents its challenges, but the fact that flowers are ephemeral just adds to their magnificence. We have an incredible team of florists who are magicians in confronting the challenges inherent in working with flowers.
In fashion there seems to be a constant battle between maximalism and minimalism. As Flowerbx is famous for its ‘less is more’ aesthetic, do you think this is a growing trend amongst luxury consumers?
After 19 years in the high end fashion industry, I was constantly asking the florists to send single stem bunches and would incessantly repeat – no filler, no mixed bunches, no baby’s breath, just SINGLE STEM BUNCHES. In the fashion world, flowers are currency, and sending the “right” flowers is seen as an extension of the brand’s image. Especially with the emergence of Instagram and social media, the bunch of flowers that you send WILL get seen by potentially thousands and WILL be a reflection of you and your brand. I noticed that everyone who was sending flowers to the office, from Karl and Anna to Calvin and Miuccia, were sending single stem bunches….and the seeds of FLOWERBX were planted.
In terms of rarity and exclusivity, what are some of the most prized floral varieties that are currently in demand?
The beauty of working in flowers is the seasonality of the offering that generates constant excitement and delight. In December, our warehouse is filled with delicate and dreamy ranunculus. After Valentines Day, we will start seeing the reemergence of peonies which constitute almost every other order during the Spring months. Peonies give way to Dahlia which, in turn, make way for hydrangea, so there is is a prized variety for every month of the year.
With the rules of modern etiquette constantly evolving, do you have any floral do’s and don’t that you can share with us?
I think that one of our biggest challenges is to re-educate the customer and to demonstrate that less is actually more with flowers. There are few things more beautiful than a bunch of any single type of flower in a vase. Creating single-stem arrangements is always powerful, regardless of the variety, and an easy and sure-fire way to make a floral statement.
Being relatively new in the market, but already experiencing great success, do you have any advise for new businesses looking to make their mark in the luxury industry?
I don’t feel like I’m yet in a position to advise others yet, as we have such a far way to go! But thank you for your kind words.