By now, you’ve probably read a few end-of-year recaps. Let this one be a missive from the land of beauty.
Beauty: the moment I handed a bride, who had just cancelled her wedding, our first bridal bouquet of 2020 on March 14, before she held a tiny ceremony downtown for her family. Neither of us knew the suffering that was to come, but the joy coursing through my hands, and the hope, when I passed her those flowers: that was a spark in the darkness.
Beauty: a computer screen full of weary and optimistic faces, the nucleus of my growing team, two weeks into the crisis. We believed that if we held on to each other, we would find a way through.
Beauty: The fifth-generation family farm, whose owners I have grown to know and love, were forced to throw away thousands and thousands of flowers as stay-at-home orders shut down the international supply chain the floral industry relies on. When I asked them if they’d be willing to try something new with me to keep their flowers out of the compost heap, they said yes.
Beauty: In the first month of our experiment with sending flowers to anyone, the husband of a pulmonologist in the middle of New York City’s covid surge purchased 250 stems from us to send to his wife, who was quarantining from him and their two little ones to keep them safe. Our flowers were her way to shed the stress, even if just for a few minutes.
Beauty: Hearing a man exclaim, “My momma’s gonna LOVE this!” as he chose a bundle of flowers, donated by one of our supply chain partners and handed out in front of The White House in the early days of the racial justice awakening that our country so sorely needs.
Beauty: Walking through rows upon rows of blooming dahlias at Hope Flower Farm in Waterford, Virginia, to pick just the right ones for another bride whose dream of family and friends dancing the night away would be postponed. The look in her eyes when I handed her her bouquet. The tears welling in my eyes.
This year has forced us to examine the way we live, work, celebrate, and mourn. We didn’t ask for it, and we certainly didn’t expect it. But here we are.
The extent to which darkness, ugliness, desperation and fear have infected our lives this year, is the extent to which beauty is required to sustain us.
Flowers can’t heal lungs or mend broken bones. But flowers can feed and clothe people: the workers at the flower farms depend on us. Flowers can’t bring our families nearer, or strengthen our democracy. But flowers can make your mom’s day, and give you a reason to connect with a stranger.
Flowers are a bridge. Between people, of course. But also to a better, more beautiful, more connected world.
Building a company that can do all of that has become one of the great joys of my life. I became the person I am today because of flowers. After the year we’ve had, I’m not embarrassed to say that anymore.
And I am bursting at the seams to bring the beauty and joy of flowers to many, many more people in 2021.
Wishing you and everyone you love the happiest New Year, and a year filled with beauty ahead.