Mrs. Lilien Does it Right!

Just thought I’d share a great little blog post from Mrs. Lilien with y’all! I love how it showcases plants in a simple, but visually appealing way! The layout is different, the plants stand out, there’s a dash of humor sprinkled in, and I’m intrigued enough to want to read on…

“Recently, I’ve been filling my house with plants! It’s beginning to look like a jungle sans the monster ants! I’m loving all the life a little green can bring – why, a potted plant can really make a room sing! I’m particularly fascinated with flamboyant varieties – some of these species are known to increase oxygen and reduce anxieties!! I’ve highlighted a few of my faves – these particula indoor + outdoor plants are known to behave. I hope you look into adding some green – thus turning your casa into a living dream!”

Mrs. Lilien completes the lovely imagery with a catchy short summary and soon the reader is turned into a plant fan too!

It’s a great example of how to showcase plants in a different yet interesting way! Kudos to the Mrs! 🙂


The New Social Media

The Cultivate Project  ::  Social Media  ::  Currently Obsessed

When you think of the term “Social Media” often the first thing that comes to mind is Facebook, am I right? But actually social media is so much more than that! It refers to a ever widening range of all sorts of internet goodness that allow users to easily exchange information and interact with each other.

I know I’ve mentioned Pinterest to you before, which is gaining lots of organic momentum. I can’t tell you how many times in the last several months that my friends have asked me “Have you heard of Pinterest?!” and my response is “Psssh, old news! haha”.

Well, my latest finding is along the same lines and it has me equally infatuated! It’s a new website called Currently Obsessed! It’s a place where you can choose to “stalk” your favorite fashion bloggers and see what they’re loving and buying! The Cultivate Project :: Social Media :: Currently ObsessedIn your account you make a list of those you want to follow and in a layout display similar to Pinterest, you will see a line up of cascading images of all the products that those on your list desire. When (not if) something catches your eye, just click on it and a small pop-up box will appear with a quick summary of what you’re looking at. If you’re still feeling it (translation: the price is right), click on the Buy button to be redirected to the original site to make your purchase! Or if you love it and want to save it for later just add it to your list of favorites by clicking on the heart in the bottom corner.

And you can bet that this site is tracking all sorts of data on what’s being looked at and what is being clicked on. Information that can provide insight on trends and consumer wants. Information that can help the individual brands and the industry in general. Information that can even be used to direct and influence future sales.

I know a lot of you out there are thinking “Okay, great! I don’t care about shoes and purses, how does this apply to plants?” Look at the big picture. Yes, this is a website about fashion. But, what I’m trying to show you is that the way we think and share information is rapidly changing. Loads of information is created and shared daily on the web. Exchanging ideas and information is instant and often spreads at an exponential rate. Overnight, these sort of sites can take an obscure, unknown artist or product and make it the next hot thing, and the information that they gather and can provide alone would be very insightful.

Now, let’s put our minds together and figure out how we can apply this sort of organized frenzy to our industry!

What About Mentorships?

You know what there needs to be more of around here? There needs to be more mentors…or even just some sort of way to connect people in this industry.

When I first started doing a little bit of traveling with my dad I personally didn’t know many people in this business. And it can be scary to put yourself out there and show up to some tradeshow cocktail function where you don’t know a single person. I see it all the time, especially with young people. They show up because they would like to meet new people and form connections with others who have similar interests, but everyone has their little groups already and everyone else seems to already know each other…and it can be intimidating. Yeah, I’ve felt it and I’ve been there before too.

Luckily for me I usually had my dad to fall back on. He would introduce me to people and I’d get to tag along for dinners and cocktails. But not everyone has someone to show them around.

Even if it’s just a distant acquaintance across the country or someone you know you can have lunch with once a year at the Short Course – it would be nice if people had a place where they could find others to connect with. A place to connect the newbie with the old-timer with a bit of advice or the first time tradeshow attendee with the seasoned exhibitor who wouldn’t mind sparing 20 minutes to show him the must see’s.

I know there are already lots of forums and facebook pages and associations out there, but I’m talking about a place where the sole purpose is to form these sort of connections. I’d feel silly throwing out a “Hey, let’s meet for drinks” on a facebook page where everyone is talking about plant ph or recent county regulations or things IGC’s should do…

Growing Happiness


So I was on Pinterest the other night and I came across an image of a lovely garden scene pinned by someone I follow (actually a babysitter we had previously hired for Gwen). The picture was nice, but nothing amazingly wonderful that I had to write about – but what I did notice was the title she had named her board – ‘Growing Happiness’. Doesn’t that just sum it all up?!

Maybe that’s the sort of message we should promote – ‘Growing Happiness’! That way it applies to everyone. No arguing over why indoor plants aren’t represented or why landscape shrubs aren’t being shown. It’s basically what we’re trying to say anyways right? Aren’t we trying to show consumers why they should want and need plants in their lives? – happiness and well being seems to summarize the long list of psychological benefits of plants. 

Or maybe our marketing could somehow indirectly imply that plants are necessary to complete your lifestyle, your home, your office…a room just isn’t complete without a little (green) life in it. Just like how young women homeowners like myself automatically feel like a dining room just isn’t complete without a chandelier in the center of it as a focal point. Perhaps one day it will be that a dining room just isn’t complete without a living centerpiece at the center of the table…you get the idea!

I just hope that whatever we do, it doesn’t end up looking like the the same old, same old that we’ve been putting out for years. Some of it is nice (others not so much), but all of it is nothing exciting or anything that would grab your attention – especially if our goal is to reach the main stream consumer.

I’m just throwing out my thoughts…

Yes, It’s More Talk About Change…

Are you sick of hearing about it lately – the whole national campaign idea and what not? Well, too bad – you need to hear more of it so it can saturate deep into your brain 🙂 …

Today I thought I’d share some opinions from people other than myself or someone that is related to me (you all read what my dad had to say)…Marc Higaki of Bay City Flower Company in Half Moon Bay sent his thoughts over to my dad after reading his article in Greenhouse Grower:

…I enjoyed reading your article…As a consumer who is a Gen X’er, I rarely purchase plants, and I’m immersed in the industry!  

You hit on some great topics and there is a need for a change in this industry. One particular quote I came across a few years back that has stuck with me – “People do not change because they see the light, they change because they feel the heat.” By reading your article I think you’re one of the few that “sees the light.” 

I don’t think this industry needs to reinvent the wheel, we just need to listen to our customer.  

I’m going to use Apple as an example…Apple (or Steve Jobs) did not invent the computer, the MP3 player, the phone, the tablet pc, or the retail store. But what he did do was make each one of those pieces extremely user friendly – easy to use. In fact those items do not include a user manual, that’s how easy they are to use. 

Apple ( S. Jobs) made them extremely appealing to everyone, not just to the tech geek, but to soccer moms as well.  He turned a boring computer and bland phones into the Mac and iPhone which are “sexy” and simple. And sexy and simple sells in the US – this we all know. 

As I have attended various SAF and OFA events/seminars over the last 6 years, I always hear, “Did you know I am getting the same price for my pointsettias (or insert crop here) as I did 30 years ago!” And my response has been “Well, what are you doing differently now that you did not 30 years ago?” Or “What perceived value have you added to warrant a price increase?” 99.9% of the time, the response I get is, “Well, my costs have increased” 

Considering consumer goods, the trend has been a decrease in price as an item matures (food and clothing are necessities and are not included). CD players, microwaves, and DVD players were all very expensive at one time…

Marc really makes some great points – it’s not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about changing consumer’s perceived value in our products and marketing our plants in a way that will appeal to them. Let’s turn ‘I don’t really need…’ into ‘I really want…’ – how will we do this? I know, I know, it’s easier said then done. We’ll have to touch upon this more later – brainstorm out loud, share ideas, collaborate with one another – let’s talk about it another post to follow.

I’d also like to mention – Art Parkerson of Lancaster Farms in Virginia. Have you heard of his website OpenHort? If you haven’t you need to get on over there asap and check it out. He’s all about trying to change the consumer’s perceived value of our plants and he believes we can achieve that by sharing information and innovating on each other’s ideas. Sounds good to me! Check out his TED post – food for thought!

Marc and Art, just by taking the time to put their thoughts into physical form and share them with someone else – are taking the step towards change, towards helping our industry to transition and evolve to where it must go. If we each contribute something, no matter how small – even by leaving a comment on a blog post or sharing it with someone else…if we each contribute towards the bigger picture, I believe we can get there!

Lost in Translation

Just a little laugh for you today – enough tutorials for one week!

A lot of older people think they know how to relate to the next generation, but some things definitely get lost in translation…

Has this happened to you? My parents just barely started regularly texting this year – it’s still 50/50 that my mom will even realize she’s received a text and respond to you that same day. I was describing someone’s appearance to my dad before – as ‘Rockabilly’ – his response was ‘What? He’s what?”…

Pinned Image


Got Plants?

Greenhouse Grower is taking a poll right now on whether or not you would contribute towards funding a national campaign like the ‘Got Milk’ ads – but for our industry (and no it’s not going to be ‘Got Plants’ – we can do better than that!).

Here and there people have been talking about it for years now. Individuals have brought it up, it’s been discussed amongst groups, brought up at meetings – yet we’re no where closer to enacting anything than we were then.

Currently the poll shows people being almost equally divided into Yes, Not Sure, and No – with the No’s at a slightly higher percentage. And although I feel ‘Yes’ should be the overwhelming majority, those numbers seem to reflect the general consensus out there.

I can understand having doubts as to how this will be executed and how your two cents will be used, but I can’t understand why the majority are not for implementing some sort of effort to change consumer’s perceived value of our products. If we can change their perception then everyone up and down the supply chain will benefit.

This poll is taking the teeny-tiniest, most miniscule step towards trying to change the way the consumer thinks of plants – and the majority are against it. Geez, we’re basically shutting it down at just the very thought of such an idea.

If we change nothing, then nothing will change – with the current state of things, is that what we all really want?

I Have a Confession to Make…

Okay, so I have a confession to make. Here I am the marketing gal, but I’m reluctant to say that I’ve been slacking a bit on my end of things – for our nursery, for my invitation company.

I’m not saying that I haven’t been doing anything. But I haven’t been giving it all I’ve got that’s for sure.

…My daughter is turning 2 years old next month and being a mother is the hardest thing I have ever done. Right now I’m doing good – I don’t consider it the hardest thing in my life right now. But, especially in the beginning, it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.

During my pregnancy I had envisioned how I would get so much work done on my maternity leave with my brand new baby sleeping nearby – that was totally delusional of me. Try sleeping in intervals of 2-3 hours at a time day after day after day – there are no days off in being a mom…I was a total zombie. A living version of the walking dead. 

After 3 months of leave I returned to work. All that did was add another scheduled element to my existing sleeping (or lack of sleep) schedule. I stopped wearing make-up or even attempting to be fashionable (my previous indulgence). If I managed a shower in the morning that was a feat in itself. Eventually, 2-3 hour sleep intervals turned into only having to wake up twice a night at 2 am and 4 am,…I became a pseudo-zombie.

Then around when Gwen was one and half she began to sleep through the night. Hurray!…but wait, now the problem was that she wasn’t going to sleep until midnight and 2 am and a couple of times at 4 am…and I have to be at work at 8 am – you do the math.

Things are getting better now – we’re at 11:30pm right now and I can do that. We’re still working on moving her sleep time up. Although I easily get confused as to what day it actually is – frantically waking up on a Saturday because I think I’m late to work or sleeping in too much on a Thursday because I think it’s Sunday – and I also have no concept of time…2 days feels like 2 weeks ago so don’t ask me I can’t remember – that’s why I write down anything pertinent.

Currently, since I can get at least 7 hours of much needed zzz’s most nights, I am again wearing make-up and getting dressed…the hair is still to come (I just had it cut and styled…I haven’t had a haircut since Gwen was 3 months old!). And now that I’m finally feeling like my old self, I’m ready to take the bull by the horns! It’s going to be a year of change for us in 2012 and I hope a year of change for you too!

Generational Differences

Frauke Theilking Generation Photo Project

The next generation seems to be a hot topic right now! Probably because all of us nursery “kids” are now getting to that age where we’re becoming full fledged adults – not just the 18 year old kind – but the full-time job, first house, married with or without kids kind of adults. And as we mature and take on more responsiblity, the norm starts to shift. ‘This is the way it’s been done for years’ is being questioned and perhaps even challenged. But what do I know, maybe it’s not like that for everyone, but it’s definitely like that over here at our nursery (and I bet if your case is otherwise, then your children may not be voicing their difference of opinion, but I’m sure they harbor some). 

I consider my parents fairly open-minded. I grew up in a somewhat democratic family, where you had a say and a voice, but but ultimately my parents still made the decisions. So growing up this way and being raised with the nursery as such an integrated part of our lives, this sense of democracy has carried its way over as I stepped into the family business. Within the last few years as I’ve started my own family and hit 30 (eek! – well actually 31 one as of yesterday!), my sense of maturity has really evolved and I officially feel old when strolling by CSUF on the way to a football game.

Previously my only concern was marketing and outside of that I really had little interest in else what was going on. Now, I have a hard time accepting my previous notions of ‘eh, it’s not my problem’ when it comes to something that can be done better at the nursery. This has as led to voicing my opinions more adamantly than I had in the past in regards to issues at the company and ways that we do things around here…which had been consistently received with resistance, anger and excuses…which at its worse point earlier this year eventually led to a huge blow up between my dad and I, which then resulted in me turning in my future resignation at the end of this year – but before you run away with this – we ended up working it out and gaining a better understanding of each other. And I think my dad is finally coming to the realization that the next generation may have ideas worth hearing (other than our annual catalog themes which we argue about every year, because every year he thinks I’ve pushed the envelope too far…but that’s another story). I know I can be stubborn and frustrating at times, but guess who I get that from?

I’m not saying that what my parents have created isn’t a feat in itself or that they have nothing to contribute to the company anymore – it’s far from that. All I’m saying is this, “If you change nothing, nothing will change” – so don’t be surprised when the same issues arise again and again. Maybe it’s time to start allowing the new blood take the reins a little…maybe it’s time to allow us “kids” to show you that we’re not kids anymore…

(image via the Frauke Theilking ‘Generation’ photo project)

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