How to make a service-based business thrive online

an interview with Amelia Posada.

Because of COVID-19, we can’t ignore the fact that how we operate commerce-based businesses has changed forever. In California and Georgia, where we live, cases are surging and businesses are shutting back down. How can businesses shift their focus from a temporary online sales model to something more permanent, and see it as an opportunity for growth?

This week on commerce tea we’re discussing how to make your service-based business thrive online. We’re later joined by Amelia Posada, founder of Birch and Bone. To keep her doors open, Amelia had to pivot her business – fast – and has been able to sustain her business, in an industry that typically utilizes traditional business practices.

Grab a mug and join in.

guest.

The world's top brands have tapped Amelia Posada, award winning floral designer and Founder of Birch and Bone, to brighten their spaces, parties and events with colorful botanical installations. Since launching Birch & Bone in February 2015 she’s become a favorite florist of the artist, celebrity, fashion and maker crowds.  Amelia is a native Angeleno, living in Silverlake and working out of her studio in DTLA.Birch & Bone has been featured in Women's Wear Daily, LA Magazine, & LA Times. 

 

sponsors.

Octane AI enables fast-growing D2C brands to increase revenue and collect data from the marketing channels your customers use.

Clocked in a time clock for Shopify.

With Clockedin your team members can easily clock in and out of their shifts from anywhere. You can manage your team's hours as they work remotely with an intuitive interface that can be used from desktop,tablet, or mobile. 

show notes.

(0:00) COVID-19 has changed things forever

(2:06) Kelly lives just outside of Atlanta

(2:59) Calendly is based out of Atlanta too

(4:04) Gyms going online

(5:24) Cocktails, delivered

(7:56) Bitter, like the cocktail kind

(10:39) Let’s talk traditional brick and mortar businesses

(11:58) Video makes a difference

(13:50) Rhian and Kelly don’t love VR but do love AR

(17:33) The power of Facebook groups

(19:38) Virtual wine tasting

(21:00) How Powell Books is seeing this through

(22:38) Kelly has a MSW, Rhian puts her on the spot

(23:43) Amelia Posada introduction

(25:05) From Ace Hotel box office to Coachella installations

(25:21) Wait, but before Amelia was a butcher?!

(28:35) Treat all of your customers like VIPs

(33:55) Managing Cost of Goods on perishable items

(35:35) The importance of managing people’s expectations

(38:17) How Amelia is using her Shopify store

(39:27) Acquisition strategies

(40:20) What’s next for Birch and Bone

(42:20) Store/ Brand shoutouts

 

resources.

 Aperitif Cocktails

18.21 Bitters

Bespoke Social Club

Powell’s Books

6-8 sports

Energy Lab

ReCharge

Zapiet

SEO Manger

Birch and Bone

Concrete Geometric

Other Wild

Clift Craft

Birch and Bone Instagram

transcript.

 

Kelly 0:00
Because of COVID-19, we can't ignore the fact that how we operate commerce based businesses has changed forever. In California and Georgia where we live cases are surging and businesses are shutting back down. So how can businesses shift their focus from a temporary online sales model to something more permanent and see it as an opportunity for growth? This week on Commerce Tea, we're discussing how to make your service based business thrive online. We're later joined by Amelia Posada, founder of birch +  bone to keep her doors open. Amelia had to pivot her business fast and has been able to sustain her business in an industry that typically utilizes traditional business practices. Grab a mug and join it.

Rhian 0:42
Welcome to Commerce Tea, a podcast to help you succeed on Shopify.

Kelly 0:46
I'm Rhian, and I'm Kelly. Grab a mug and join us as we talk about all things, commerce.

Rhian 1:02
Hey Kelly, how can merchants get more out of their Facebook Messenger and SMS marketing campaigns?

Kelly 1:07
I recommend Octane AI, the leading Facebook Messenger and SMS platform for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants. 

Rhian 1:14
How does it work?

Kelly 1:16
Using their built-in flows, conversational ads, and retargeting campaigns. You can easily unlock Messenger and SMS as new revenue channels. The platform has ready-to-go integrations with top apps such as Klaviyo, Privy, ReCharge, and JustUno

Rhian 1:30
What kinds of returns can I expect?

Kelly 1:32
Merchants using Octane AI I report 80 to 95% open rates a 7x increase in click-through rates, and even a 7 to 20% increase in revenue.

Rhian 1:41
This sounds great. Where can I learn more?

Kelly 1:44
You can start a 14 day free trial by requesting a demo at octane ai.com or by visiting the Shopify App Store and searching for Octane AI.

Kelly 1:54
Hi, Rhian. 

Rhian 1:56
Hi Kelly, how are you?

Kelly 1:57

I'm doing well this morning. How are you?

Rhian 1:59
I doing awesome. So, for our audience's sake, tell us where are you based out of?

Kelly 2:06
I am based in Georgia in a suburb of Atlanta.

Rhian 2:12
Amazing. I've been to Atlanta once. And I still haven't gone to the Coca Cola place. And I know that is not the only thing Atlanta. Oh, no, that's all we have. There's also a burgeoning tech scene in Atlanta, which Oh,

Kelly 2:25
yeah, like only become aware of in the last month, which is my own ignorance. We have so many companies headquartered in Atlanta that just nobody recognizes how much of a tech scene Atlanta has, which is great for the businesses that are here because they kind of it has like that underdog feel that like, companies that a lot of people use on a daily basis, like Calendly is based in Atlanta. Really?

Rhian 2:51
Yep. Because I

Kelly 2:52
love calendly I use it all the time.

Rhian 2:55
All of the time. I don't know how I managed my anything,

Rhian 2:59
but I wouldn't Yeah, just be permanently double booked.

Kelly 3:05
Every day. Somehow I still end up double booked. But that's not Calendly'sfault. That's calendly doing its job and me being like, Oh, yes, I'm totally available at this time.

Rhian 3:14
And then sometimes I just like Renegade and just like put things on your calendar.

Kelly 3:20
That too, that too.

Kelly 3:24
Well, things are kind of not great right now.

Rhian 3:29
That is Yes, absolutely.

Kelly 3:31
So we I know I've had a number of clients who have had to kind of shift their their focus. For example, like a company that has multiple workout like boutique workout studios, suddenly they had to close their doors. So how are they going to continue to be able to pay their employees and you know, find new ways to continue to make more money. What are some other businesses that you have seen?

Rhian 3:57
So I'm based out of a small, small town caveat that 71,000 people,

Kelly 4:03
small, small

Rhian 4:04
Well, to me, it's small, but my husband comes from a town of 700 people, so everything is relative. And I live in Southern California in between Los Angeles and Palm Springs off the 10, which if you live in California, you're like, Oh, I know where that is. And for the rest of culture here, like, so like near LA and so yes, I live near  Los Angeles. And the backbone of our town is small business. And I don't say that in a hyperbolic fashion. I say that because legitimately, most of our town is run by small business. And I don't say though, that our town is unique in that way, because that's, that's seen in a lot of cities and across the United States, but we have noticed many folks pivoting quickly, including the gym that my daughter works out at and now zoom works out at every single day. And it's been phenomenal because even as there's been a return to gym switch, I'm not sure how much longer that's going to happened for full disclosure. And that's conjecture. I could be incorrect. But right now they're doing a hybrid model. So my daughter is still able to work out from home, just as if she was in the gym with everybody else. And so that's been something that I they pivoted a very, very quickly probably the fastest. I've seen any business pivot. They were like up and running within two days.

Kelly 5:23
That's really impressive.

Rhian 5:24
Yeah, they looked at the numbers and they said, this is how it's gonna be in the end. They just went forward with it. Another place that's been, I was kind of excited by there's a mixologist in town who has set some of the most popular drink menus in Los Angeles and regionally and he started a company called Apertif cocktails and they delivered pre-made cocktails to your door and said that speak because as the bars will the bar shut down first, then they reopen for like a couple weeks now they're shut back down again. And during this whole period, he created a bunch of cocktails and they deliver cocktails to your door and they have slushy cocktails, which are like Capri Suns, but for grown ups, and they have canned cocktails and bottled cocktails, and all just all different kinds of cocktails. And he delivers Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. So you get to put your order in at the beginning of the week. And then they get delivered.

Kelly 6:21
So this

Kelly 6:23
is so cool.

Rhian 6:24
I learned a lesson quickly.

Rhian 6:27
Which is as such, you're not actually going to drink as many cocktails as you think when you're looking at them on the internet.

Kelly 6:37
Eyes are bigger than your stomach. Oh, yeah,

Rhian 6:40
that makes sense for the weekend, and then you get all this cocktail. You're like,

Kelly 6:43
Oh,

Rhian 6:44
yeah, that's gonna last me about three weeks. So that was a learning opportunity. But overall, I will say that I think that the businesses locally here have done a phenomenal job. What what are you seeing In your neck of the woods,


Kelly 7:04
a lot of the companies that I'm familiar with are already most of them are already selling online in some capacity, which I'm really happy to see. Especially a lot of my favorite places that are that operate out of like Ponce City Market, for example, which is like one of those buildings that has a bunch of different businesses inside of it. It's not a mall. It's a it's an experience you really have to when you actually come visit me in Atlanta sometime, I will take you to Ponce City Market. There's like a food court on one level, which again, it's not like a mall food court where you have like the traditional. I can't think of any of the typical food court restaurants you

Rhian 7:43
Panda express Yes, like that court staple. These are like, that's the one that sticks in my head is just every food garden I've ever been in like, and there's a Panda Express. Exactly. So So

Kelly 7:56
yeah, instead like this is going to be like there's their price. For one thing, but it's like Indian food or Cuban food, or there are a couple different options for like Italian food. It's all like really, really good stuff. Mediterranean is my absolute favorite in there. And then the upper level is all businesses. And a lot of them like 1821 bitters, for example, was one of my favorites that I'd go visit because well they make a lot of different kinds bitters, and they like how do you sample them with like in certain situations? What goes well with this bourbon for example,

Rhian 8:31
hold on real quick. How do you sample a bitter? Do you just like is it like one of those olive oil situations where you just like take it like a shot? Are you sick? Or do you mix it you make you miss? Okay? I'm just what? In my head you're just wandering around sipping.

Kelly 8:51
Thankfully not. But like 1821 bitters, for example, they also sell their bitters online and Georgia is really strict. Their alcohol delivery laws. But bitters are allowed to be shipped in Georgia because they're not traditionally drink as an alcoholic beverage, you add it to something else, you're not drinking entire like vial of bitters or else you're going to have a bad day.

Rhian 9:17
So in Georgia right now, in California, they have made it so if I want to get a cocktail from like, my favorite Thai restaurant in Redlands, I can get it curbside delivered. Is that something where you can go up and they can just put it in your trunk and you can drive off? Is that something that can happen in Georgia or does that fall under the? Absolutely not because there's tequila in this role?

Kelly 9:44
I honestly don't know. Because I haven't tried. I've heard some places like I've seen people post on Facebook. Oh, I got a margarita to go. So I guess there's to some level you can get it but like we just Had the house, approve a bill to allow delivery of beer and wine, which is still sitting on the desk of Governor Kemp please sign it so we can actually get some things delivered.

Rhian 10:14
I would also I think it's important for our listeners to note that Kelly and I have both remain very locked down during this entire period. So we we are both very aware of the the pivots made by local businesses as we try to support them in their endeavors while keeping us and our families safe. For sure.

Kelly 10:39
So let's talk about what service based businesses traditionally brick and mortar face to face kind of businesses should keep in mind when they're looking to pivot online or open up to a new market online because right now is a very, very crucial time and a lot of these businesses Lies. It's not like the beginning of March, April when everyone's like, Oh shit, how am I going to keep my business running? Now we've had the PPP loan come out, we've had some time for businesses to reopen to some small capacity and really have time to think and plan. So let's talk through some of those things that people might be thinking about or should be thinking about.

Rhian 11:26
Right. And one of the things that's most important and this is pre COVID as well is your online experience should mirror as closely as possible to a brick and mortar experience because most buying behaviors and habits by consumers are informed by in person experience for sure

Kelly 11:50
you know, my favorite way of doing that? What? Video

Rhian 11:57
explain explain more.

Kelly 11:58
Record. videos of people using your products or experiencing your products in some way if it's something people tend to tend to go into a store to touch and feel, or smell you can't really do much about online. But if you're able to kind of show people what it's like for them to have that product or whatever their service whatever it is, use it in their own home. They're able to better get that understanding from what's only when they're really only experiencing online. AR VR really great opportunity to dig into that like being able to hold up your phone in a part part of your room and see if a couch will fit.

Rhian 12:41
I that's one thing as we're embracing our I hate I really don't like the term new normal as we're embracing our reality.

Kelly 12:52
It's not new. It's nothing's normal about this. So

Rhian 12:55
yes, yeah, yes, we're embracing the reality in which we live. We're finding ourselves at home significantly more. I can't quantify it. I'm like, like 100% of the time

Rhian 13:09
I was home. But

Rhian 13:10
that that VR component or that AR component is key. Are there any apps or what? What is a great use case that you can think of off the top of your head for AR?

Kelly 13:24
I think the one that Shopify used a long time ago when they first announced support for AR VR, which was a stroller, where you can see how the stroller fits, not only in your house, we can see how it fits like on a sidewalk, for example. Yes. I thought that was so cool, especially when you have a you know, a smaller space for storage, whatever it might be, how will it actually fit in there?

Rhian 13:50
So I have a controversial opinion, but this is about VR. Okay. I love it. Here's why. So my business partner just got an Oculus thing rig. I don't know what they're called. And he sent me a picture laughing because I went to Shopify unite many years ago I think it was actually the first Shopify unite. And there was a VR station set up and I put it on and like, you know, you have like the, your eyes are covered, your ears are covered, you got things in your hands. And I I was like it and then there's like a wolf or there was some creature and I seriously had this VR thing on my body for sub one minute and I just started saying, nope, nope, nope, nope, I just try to pull it off of my head. So I feel like VR is really good for some people. But that person is not me. It's not me either. It's not me I do not like it

Kelly 14:43
I lose a sense of control over the situation if everything of my senses have been covered.

Rhian 14:50
Yeah, I'm not if I'm not personally a fan, but I know a lot of folks are actually my daughter's. My daughter works with a water polo company called 6-8 sports, they have a really cool app. And they have worked tirelessly to bring training remotely to  a bunch of water polo players, but they released a VR app recently. And I thought that was really cool. But I literally have no interest in being in a VR box. Or

Kelly 15:22
it's kind of sad. There's only been one game that I really liked in the VR experience. And it was, I think it's called office simulator.

Rhian 15:33
Like the show or just like no off like,

Kelly 15:35
you sit in a cubicle and I'm typing on my computer and I'm throwing doughnuts at people and I'm moving my coffee cause like it is of all things to enjoy. Of course, it would be an office simulator, because I guess I just really want my real life to remind VR to also be like my real life. I don't know that

Rhian 16:01
ridiculous I love it so much author donated at you it just might take a few days to get there.

Kelly 16:07
I want to see you through hard enough to get a doughnut to me

Rhian 16:12
at this screen, okay, okay, sorry everybody we got we got sidetracked with my my lack of love for VR. I do like AR though.

Kelly 16:22
Yes, I agree. I'm very much team AR. I've team AR

Rhian 16:27
Yes. what ways do you think are the most effective with merchants or store owners reaching their clientele or customer base right now be where your customers are.

Kelly 16:41
If your customer base is always on their phone, consider using something like SMS or if your customer spent a lot of time on social media if you have a very like visual product or service. Like we're going to be talking about our our guests for this episode today. Flowers photograph very well. So be where your cameras are on Instagram, for example. Always, always, always take advantage of email marketing, I see zero reasons and nots, send emails. And also consider how creating like a community I see this a lot with boutiques, apparel businesses, they create like a Facebook group specifically for their store so customers can I don't know, I haven't actually joined one of them. Maybe they talk about the clothing or


Rhian 17:33
That is what happens in a Facebook group. Generally people talk about things but yeah, I I am in several Facebook groups and most of them are local. And they Yes, that that is how they engage sometimes. One thing I would do if I was a boutique right now is I would do I would have like a try on moment. Right, where you come in and I think You can't you could do this asynchronously for safety. But have someone like, like, I am like a size 810. Okay, so have someone my size, try on these clothes. And then you get to see, oh, this is what these clothes looks like on her. And then maybe it was this is a sanitizing experience. Now have someone who's smaller and bigger, come in and try on the same clothes and talk about the sizes that they're wearing. Because that really resonates because it's like, well, I don't need to go on and try those. I'm going to try them on. Exactly, I can kind of see how they're gonna fit.

Kelly 18:29
And those are actually really popular already. They're like Instagram lives or Facebook Lives. Usually it's your team who is trying on the clothes and if you have a team that varies in size, have them take some of the clothes home to try on Yeah, and take pictures or do like the Facebook Lives For example, to give people that opportunity to see. Another option would be to use something like zoom. So all of you can go on the call at the same time trying on the same outfit, but you could be can see different people wearing the same outfit. And speaking of zoom, another really great example of being where your customers are as bespoke social club, and we had the opportunity to talk to Tara Johnson during one of our women Shopify meetups, which we will absolutely include information in our show notes about, about what they're doing with bespoke Social Club, which is they will send us like small portions of wine. I don't know what you would call them.

Rhian 19:32
They look like test tubes via test tubes. vials. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 19:36
yeah. But

Kelly 19:38
they actually conduct a wine tasting via zoom. So you're talking with a Somali and they're going through and describing the wine that you're trying. And it's like a like a mini class. I've done these wine tastings in person before and I've always really enjoyed them. So being able to take that experience online via zoom is super cool.

Rhian 20:00
I'd like to take this moment that we can hold Kelly and myself accountable for doing this because we've been talking about doing one of these remote wine tastings via bespoke social club for about a month. So if we don't talk about it in the next two episodes, please someone call us out and say he all said you're gonna do this and it kind of we definitely want to and it's it. It looks incredible. And it's just bring that social element that we're really missing right now and that people crave

Kelly 20:30
greed. Another thing you can do is absolutely should do actually is create a really easy to use experience for your online store. And I think there are two two things that we can talk about here. The first one is pebbles books, which is an iconic Portland based, independent bookstore. If you go to Portland, you usually you have to go there. So you have to it's like nothing you have to experience. Exactly. Yes. Yeah. So they were here. Hard by COVID at the beginning and they had to layoff a lot of their employees and by pivoting their model online to allow for online book sales, they were able to rehire 100 of their employees. And this was back in May or June so it could very well be even more now.

Rhian 21:20
That's amazing. That's I'm really glad they were able to do that. When life is more traveled double I highly suggest everyone goes to Portland and checks out pals books. It's It's such a fun experience. I

Kelly 21:34
have a couple of friends who live in Portland now who used to live here and why don't they moved out there because one of the friends is going to medical medical school there. They've been asking for us to come out and visit. So once it's safe, there, I'm visiting them and also go into Powells books. I

Rhian 21:52
just do a West Coast road trip.

Kelly 21:55
That sounds great.

Rhian 21:57
I think it's a

Rhian 21:58
foolproof idea.

Kelly 22:00
Perfect.


Rhian 22:01
So I one thing,

Rhian 22:03
it is important to address as a entrepreneur, business owner, merchant, whatever you want to call us, and I'm going to include Kelly and I in the US in this because we're both entrepreneurs as well is that our core service and the way we do business may need to change. And it is a lot to reckon with. It is it is and Kelly you've got a bit of a social work background, having a whole master's degree in it and all what what,

Rhian 22:32
but you're on the spot here.

Rhian 22:34
What is a good way to wrap your mind around something like that.

Kelly 22:38
People are resistant to change. I think you don't need a degree in social work to people are resistant to change. It's hard when you've been doing something one specific way for a very long time. The idea of pivoting your business at all changing what your your primary source of income is. feel like you're giving something up because you technically at the moment you have to, because I think we all kind of fall into like the the sunk cost fallacy here where like we've put so much time and effort into making this one thing work. So why do we want to switch now, but the reality is not every service is ideal for online sales without making some adjustments. And I think this is actually a really great lead in to our guest today, Amelia, who had to do just that.

Rhian 23:43
This week, we are joined by Amelia Posada, founder of Birch and Bone, a floral design company based out of Los Angeles. Amelia has been featured in beyond the streets, women's wear daily, the LA Times and so much more. Amelia, thank you so much for joining us. How are you doing today?

Amelia 23:59
I'm doing So good. Thank you both so much for having me. I'm so happy to finally connect with you guys today.

Kelly 24:06
Yeah, me too. Really, really glad to have you here. So I know, you and Rand know each other, but we're meeting for the first time. So can you start by just telling us and telling our audience about yourself?

Amelia 24:21
Yeah, so my name is Amelia. I'm a native Angeleno, and I'm a floral designer here in Los Angeles. I launched my company, Birch and Bone in 2015. And I'm like, the little Engine That Could, I'm thinking about, it's taken five years for me to get to a point where I finally feel like I can breathe a little bit, um, as a small business owner. It's that's a real feeling right there. Really? Yeah, take it a lot. And I'm finally In a place where I feel I'm feeling good. Yeah. Awesome.

Rhian 25:05
So Amelia, I remember when you were selling out of the box office area at the Ace Hotel Los Angeles. Can you talk to us a little bit about when you started Birch and Bone to you?

Amelia 25:21
That's at least My first memory is meeting you there, and how you've kind of morphed and evolved your business through the years. Absolutely. So um, before I even had Birch and Bone, I had a company before this totally unrelated. I had the very first whole animal organic butcher shop in California. And that was called Lindy and Grundy's meats and it was on Fairfax and Melrose smack dab in the heart of Los Angeles. It was a wild success, and we had almost five years of really great business And then that ended with a divorce my partner and I got a divorce and dissolve the company and so so from like 2014 to 2015 I gave myself some space to breathe and grow and kind of decide what my next move was going to be. And I have I've done floral literally since I was 14 years old, and I'm going to be 38 this month so it's been a really long ride with flowers. And so I knew that the next thing that I wanted to do in my life was going to be to go back to my true love my original passion and love which is working with flowers and floral designs. So I was fortunate enough to have built up I don't know like social capital a good reputation community. It's something that I is like the biggest part of who I am is fostering community being a part of it and So I reached out to all my clients that I had had from the butcher shop like the Ace Hotel being one of them and I just like, Hey, guys, I know that you're used to me like bringing you 100 pounds of hamburger meat every week. But what do you think about flowers?



Amelia 27:20
And without hesitation, they just said the fact that our butcher wants to do a pop up with flowers in the lobby, just we're on board. We don't even need to see your work. We love you. And so it started with just literally me only affording a few buckets and some flowers and doing pop ups in the lobby. And then a few months later, I had the opportunity to to do a little flower shop in this tiny historic box office of their theater at the Ace Hotel. And a couple of my really good friends gave me some startup capital like Hardly anything literally $10,000 to just get an employee get some basic things like get get it go in. And that's how it started in 2000, that's

Kelly 28:15
wild. I absolutely love that, especially because there's obviously a very big difference between a butcher shop and a floor of like a floral shop. So I'm curious, what are some of the shared values between those two experiences or two businesses so there have to there has to be some crossover despite the product itself being very different.

Amelia 28:35
Um, I truly believe that it doesn't matter what you're selling. Initially what you're selling is trust. And what you're selling is something that people can believe in and take part in. So it doesn't matter if it's a pork chop, a penny a piece of jewelry. I wear a plant, a piece of art. You're you're selling yourself and You are, it's up to you to decide how your customers can interact with the growth of your business and the growth of yourself as a result of that. And so for me, I knew that my core values as a entrepreneur are community and quality. And so I'm like, Well, I'm just gonna take the same exact concept of how I ran my butcher shop, which is knowing everybody by name, taking every single person as a VIP on and making them feel like a part of the growth of my own company. And I just took that exact same model of how I was selling meat to everybody to how I was selling flowers. And it it has been a great success so far. I didn't start with a website. I didn't start with any traditional anything. Um, I it was word of mouth, and my Instagram And to be honest, it still is acceptable I've had a ecommerce site now for two weeks.

Rhian 30:06
Congratulations on the launch of your e commerce site. That's so exciting. Um, why did you choose now to pivot into selling online?

Amelia 30:20
So, traditionally, so I had, I had let go of my my retail shop, like in 2017, I stopped doing any retail at all, because it was just too expensive. The margins were not there, I found that I was having just for a tiny like 10 foot by 10 foot space. I was having to spend $2,000 a week on fresh flowers, just to fill it, not knowing if anyone was going to buy those. So I said, Okay, I need to really shift my model and focus on getting like, weekly clients and just doing events only. So I moved to like a studio model and so Since then I've been only doing that. And so my bread and butter has always been like big scale events, installations. Brands hire me like to come and do a big activation. I do like the Grammy brunch and you know Vanity Fair parties, you name it like big stuff like that. So, in the beginning of March, all of my events started canceling or postponing. And by the end of March, and over the past few months, every single event that I had on my books for the year of 2020, was canceled or postponed until 2021. So that's it. I had no business anymore. No income, zip. Nada. So I, I decided to shift my business model into becoming a retail floral delivery service. And it was a video Trying first month, especially with Mother's Day with mothers. I just I didn't have a website. So this is all from Instagram. Just and when I said at the beginning of COVID during the beginning of quarantine, I had like maybe 11 point 5000 followers then now I have 13.2 that's with me not taking any ads out doing literally nothing except posting pretty pictures of flowers. And I think people are home a lot more and so I started getting a lot of inquiries about weekly flower deliveries and I'm telling you guys, I we were we my girlfriend and my dog were delivering from like, I mean deep, deep valley to Malibu to just all over Southern California every day and I was just having a really hard time napping Getting keeping track of like all the email correspondence with everybody and just everything I said I have to I have to streamline this this is I can't do this I need to have people need to be able to click on a website, purchase something and I can just see it and get it out to them. So it was a long time coming and the best decision I could have ever made.

Kelly  33:25
That I love that.

Rhian 33:27
And her website is is beautiful by nature of what Amelia produces. She just produces beautiful, stunning work. So it's you'll have to check it out because it's really something else her aesthetic is is truly incredible. Oh, I'm like a fan. Amelia and I are friends but I'm also like a huge fan of her work. So I was like fangirl about her work to her, which is

Unknown Speaker 33:54
um,

Rhian 33:55
so you mentioned Cost of Goods as being a stumbling block and Not only do you have cost of goods, you've got cost of goods on a perishable item. How do you how does that all work? Because to me that seems very daunting to deal with.

Amelia 34:11
Yeah, um, I have it so down that I can just like I just know by look like how much $100 arrangement should she is going to cost me and I can whip it up in three to five minutes. But so what I do is I every every Monday and Tuesday I, I come to my studio, I look at the orders I have so far for the week. And I buy based on how many orders I have to fulfill, but I always buy like maybe 25% more than what's coming in because I know there's going to be more orders. Luckily my studio is directly across from the flower market so I can easily just zip over there across the street if I need anything. More, but, um, I try to keep my my margins like at 25%. So, whatever, like if you're, you know, if you're $100 arrangement, I'm spending, you know, 25% of that on my costs in order to make a profit. Okay?

Kelly 35:21
So this new, this new model that you've been operating under, what would you say have been the biggest challenges you've encountered what's been like the biggest surprises you've encountered while you pivoted to this new model?



Amelia 35:35
managing people managing people's expectations. Also, like because I am so intimate with all of the people that follow my, my Instagram, I engage with every single person. I'm talking several years of direct message relationships with people I've never met in real life that I feel like we know each other and so it feels less intimate for me, you know, to just like, see something pop up online and just fulfill it without my normal like deep connection with them via dm. But that's okay. Like I just have to kind of figure out how to continue to make their experience feel personalized. I literally make every single thing that people order. It's not like I have some team of people here. It's just me. And then my assistant grant who works for me part time, he does all the deliveries and helps me, however, and so yeah, managing people's expectations on and now I'm just kind of like figuring out the kinks of of the website and like, what will make it easier and more user friendly for people as they're ordering and I'm just realizing if somebody's emailing me a question, I kind of want to figure out how can I help Make it so that nobody ever has to email me a question. Hmm, that's becoming hard to navigate, I'm making sure that I see every single email that comes in an order that comes in, I have to kind of get it a little bit more dialed in on my end. It's not my natural string. So

Rhian 37:22
I can emphasize that as an app developer empathize with that as an app developer, because we get so many emails in a day and we try to build out a knowledge base which answers all the questions but then even when we think we have all the questions answered in a document, we never have all the questions It is as if you just keep making more documents and hope that one day it will mitigate some amount of email so we're not waking up to hundreds of emails every single day. So I I see you there. I totally

Amelia 37:52
get that in my in my brain. You know, like, in my mind, there's always at least 10 orders in my mind. The I know what's up but I have to remind myself, okay, just because we're in my brain doesn't mean I'm going to remember them when the time comes right everything down to philia. Make a million lists, make one on your
email them, write them on your whiteboard, post it list everywhere.

Rhian 38:17
Okay, Amelia, So tell me about your Shopify store and what apps you're using and any tools that you have found to be successful for running your business.

Amelia 38:26
Good question. So I decided I wanted to launch subscriptions so that people can have three different price points to choose if they want to get weekly deliveries. So small bouquet every week, a medium or large. I also have like weekly poll options for people who want to just have like loose flowers all around their house, you can have like a small option or a large option of just like bundles of flowers. So for that, um, I have an app that's called recharge that just Automatically recharges these people who want to take part in my subscriptions. And then because we do so many deliveries all over Los Angeles, it was important for us to figure out how to help us manage that. And so we have an app that's called zappy it and we also have like SEO manager.

Kelly 39:20
Awesome. love a good shout out to SEO Manager.

Rhian 39:21
Yeah, I mean, I'm always happy to hear that people use it! Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Kelly 39:27
Okay, so I know you talked about Instagram as being one of your primary channels of acquisition. Are there any other channels you're actively using to find new customers?

Unknown Speaker 39:37
Every now and then I just do Facebook ads, or Instagram ads, but that's it. I don't. I don't really have any other way of reaching people. Except word of mouth. That's

Kelly 39:52
Yeah. And honestly, being a floral business, Instagram is your home like that is the ideal place for you to be Because that beautiful photography is really what sells

Amelia 40:03
Yeah, exactly it's been just a good place to be user friendly and you know people can really see like my portfolio when they go on there and click on my my brand new website if they want to order something.

Rhian 40:15
So Amelia, what is your vision for the future of birch and bone?

Amelia 40:20
My one of my biggest visions is to so we've we're starting just with with flowers right now online in the next. So I recently got an SBA loan, which I didn't think would ever happen. I thought oh, yeah, right. That's for like lucky people. Well, I got really lucky. So some of that to invest in offering cool merch, and some like home goods that I want to manufacture for virgin bone. So little by little over the next year, I want to launch new products. Eventually, like a long term goal would be I would love to do a licensing Deal with like a one 800 flowers type of scenario. Because there's nothing cool out there I have, I don't like any flower subscription at all on the market. I'm not going to name names, but I don't like all to be really basic and like wrapped in burlap. And like just, I think that there's a huge market for people who are more design oriented people who are into like a completely different aesthetic than what's available on the subscription market. And so I'd love to do, I'd love to grow my brand that's big enough to present to a bigger one 800 type of flowers so that I could do a licensing deal and have like a birch and bone section.

Kelly 41:48
I love that.

Kelly 41:49
I think there's gonna be a it's a really good point because a lot of these larger floral companies that exist online, they feel a little bit more geared towards the business and the growth was so close to the actual product itself.

Amelia 42:02
Yeah, so there is definitely a gap in the market happens to have flowers like, there's exactly it looks like just any bouquet you could pick up at Trader Joe's or something. There's no legal claim or texture or anything that would speak to me as someone like if I were to be the demographic, there's so many people like me that I know, would want something like that, you know, so that that would be a huge goal I would love that's my I would love that. That's a wonderful call. So speaking of speaking to people, it's an interesting segue, Kelly, at the end of each episode,

Kelly 42:40
we love to do shout outs to maybe a Shopify store that's inspired you a person who's inspired you in the past week, could be anything you want. So who would you like to give a shout out to this week?

Amelia 42:52
I would love to get a shout out to a fellow entrepreneur. Her name is Christina Flores. She's an artist based here in Los Angeles and her company is called concrete geometric. She's a fellow Latinx amazing woman who's just started on her own, probably like seven or eight years ago doing beautiful concrete planters and bases and objects and art that she makes. And she makes all her own pigments. And it's just beautiful. She's been commissioned by like the mayor of Los Angeles to do projects. And she's sells her stuff in like Urban Outfitters and she's just somebody that's always innovating. And no matter how hard the struggle is, she always figures out a way to be the best version of herself, and I'm forever inspired by her.

Kelly 43:49
I love that I love a good, inspirational entrepreneurial story, which is exactly why we're talking to you today to run what's your shout out.

Rhian 43:57
My shout out is Other Wild. It's a store based out of Los Angeles. And I haven't been there in real life. I've just seen their e commerce presence, but there is a physical store as well. And they do a lot of zero waste stuff. And from a, like, commerce consultant viewpoint, they're fast or they're there. Their store is fast. It's beautiful. It has great assets, but also I really love the fact that they are leaning in hard to zero waste, and I really just enjoy everything about them. So that's other wild calm. They're awesome. And there are also I want to when when this is all over, I'm going in there so cool.

Amelia 4:45
They are queer owned. Yeah, they're really cool. That's great. Okay, cool.

Rhian 44:50
Amazing! Kelly, what about you?

Kelly 44:53
So my shout out is a store that a friend of my run mind runs. It's called Clift craft corner. So You see a lot of businesses who do like drop shipping. So you just place the order they may design like something for the shirt or something like that but they never actually touched the product. Somebody else is printing the product and shipping it out. They're just creating designs. My friend who runs the store, she is printing everything herself she's designing it she's bringing in like shipments of shirts to her own house she says other things in shorts as well but just giving shorts as an example. She does all the designs all the printing all the shipping and handling everything for herself and she is constantly putting out new products and new designs staying relevant. And I think it's just it's super inspirational to watch her continue to grow her business. So that's Cliff craft corner .com

Rhian 45:42
Amelia a very important question. Where can we find you on the internet?

Amelia: 45:55 You can find me at birch and bone calm, or on Instagram. It's birch and bone. Wonderful. We're gonna include all of that in our show notes and Amelia Thank you. So much for joining us today. We appreciate it. We appreciate your time. And yeah, thank you so much. Thank you so much,

Kelly 46:13
Thanks for tuning in. And thanks again to our sponsors for supporting this episode. You can subscribe to Commerce Tea on your favorite podcasting service. We post new episodes every Tuesday. So grab your mug and join us See you next week.

Rhian 46:33
clocked in is a time clock for Shopify. With clocked in your team members can easily clock in and out of their shifts from anywhere. You can manage your team's hours as they work remotely with an intuitive interface that can be used from desktop, tablet or mobile. Check it out at clocked in.io or in the Shopify App Store.

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