I’ll be completely honest here – I used to think that bouquets were overrated.
“What’s the point? They’ll die anyway,” I told an ex, who obediently honoured that request.
But more than that, I felt that bouquets were a huge waste of money. Why spend an average of $60-80, only to be reminded of the transience of flowers a few days later?
Of course, that changed when my current partner defied my constant requests and sent me a bouquet for a half-year anniversary.
But being an unromantic scrooge, I asked my partner why he decided to spend so much money on something I told him to avoid.
He revealed, unwillingly, that the bouquet wasn’t actually that costly – it was $30 and that price included a note, and delivery fees as well.
A pop of purple and pink hues tied together with brown paper and string, the bouquet was gorgeous, but not corny – I was sold.
As a writer, however, I was intrigued by the business behind the bouquet.
Paying a visit to The Enchanted Tree’s website, I found out that the affordable pricing was so that potential customers won’t “need to worry about saving up for a bouquet or saving flowers for a special occasion”.
But what’s the story behind the concept?
I checked in with founder Chloe Chong to find out more.
It Started Off As A Passion, Not As A Business Idea
With more than 15 years in insurance product management roles in banks, Chloe is a Gen X-er who credits the journey’s route to success to the support of “a team of creative and passionate souls” and her husband, Kenny.
At the moment, she has 2 full timers – Ellie, who, like her, has a corporate background and Lynn, who has a background in floristry and owned her own flower shop in 2000.
“They thought they were heading into a less stressful job when they joined me but little did they know that…haha! While (a flower delivery business) is less stressful in many ways, it is a hell lot busier in other ways… but it’s a happy kind of busy I would say.”
“When you know that you have created a lovely bouquet for someone, and being appreciated for it – that’s the real essence of job satisfaction I would say.”
Yesterday two of my Best Friend surprised me with flowers for National Best Friend Day! One by @eileensayslala who got flowers from #theenchantedtreesg which is a combination of my favourite hydrangeas and her purple. While the other was from @nahsoaix who got flowers from #thebloomboxsg in my favourite mythical unicorn feel. And coincidentally it came one after another, like a combo in a game. I’m seriously blessed to have them with me. So much love from them. Thanks girls! Love you all! 🙆🏻 #allynnteo💐 #allynnteo👟 #eileen➰allynn #by2👭
But why the decision to hop from corporate to startup?
“Frankly, it didn’t start off as a business idea. It started off as a passion. I had always admired the beautiful works created by talented floral designers and a little curiosity kick started the process. But as you know, most of us – in my era at least – would study hard, get a degree and end up in a corporate environment.”
“I did that too but it came to a point where we were okay financially […] and so after more than 15 years working in an office, I decided to take some time off to learn the art of floral arrangement.”
Soon, the roots of The Enchanted Tree were in place, and she, inspired by the courage of startups, embarked on her entrepreneurship journey.
“I did a lot of research as it’s an ultra-competitive business, and basically my entire savings were poured into this, so a lot of homework is a given.”
A Setback, That Led To The ‘Spoil Market’ Bouquets
2 months into opening the shop, Kenny lost his job as the economy headed for a downturn.
Given that the business was in its infancy stages, Chloe’s venture was also not profitable.
“There was no safety net, and we had 2 young kids at that time.”
“We were struggling to get known, often even handing out flyers around the store and because it was my first time being a business owner, we didn’t have the confidence to fix a direction that will make us successful.”
But the hurdle turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because she realised that while the demand for flowers were still there, it wasn’t something many wanted to splurge on during bad times.
“We then came up with the most affordable bouquet in the market, because we knew that spending power was greatly reduced. Many people lost their jobs during that time.”
Social media became their main tool of marketing, and many got to know of their $30 ‘Daily Pick’ bouquets – which Chloe curates with the stock of fresh flowers she has for the day.
“In fact, it became so easy and affordable that some of our clients send it for fun – like a Happy Monday greeting to start the person’s week, or to someone who had a bad day to cheer the person up.”
Wednesday’s Pick of Tinted #LilacHydrangeas with Eustomas. It’s a popular pick, so get your hands on them early 😉 Available for online order now through our website for tomorrow’s delivery! Need a bigger bouquet? Simply select 2 Daily Picks & we’ll wrap it in a single, larger bunch! 💐 #theenchantedtreesg #dailypickflowers
“I am proud to say that we were the first in Singapore to come up with this concept and at that time, we were considered to have caused a disruption to the industry.”
However, this caught the attention of competitor florists.
“It drew some flak from other florists who were saying we ‘spoil market’. But to us, we are a little bit like AirAsia in the sense that when they first started, their slogan was ‘Now Everyone Can Fly’, because they made it extremely affordable to do so and they continue to do that until today.”
“That was the same philosophy we wanted to promote.”
Chloe quipped that after starting, she also noticed several other competitors following suit – something that she actually embraces.
“It helps to promote the floral industry further and makes it more and more affordable for people to send flowers!”
Keeping Their Heads Up During Peak Periods
As we all know, Valentine’s Day can be the best or worst day of a florist’s year, and The Enchanted Tree has been spared the wrath of angry customers – a fate that certain competitors couldn’t avoid this year.
“It’s really about planning ahead, and we are careful not to take in more than we can handle because it’s an end-to-end process. Everything needs to be in sync and if there’s a hiccup in any part of the process, it causes a domino effect.”
[SOLD OUT] 💘 Valentine’s Pick (14 Feb) with Purple Hydrangeas & Red Roses. We’re sorry for the site downtime earlier, due to overwhelming response this afternoon. Thank you all so much for your support! We are not able to accept any more orders – do feel free to pop by our shopfront tomorrow!! 😊 #theenchantedtreesg #tetcreates #valentinespicks #valentines2017 #floristsg #sgflowershop #sgig
“I guess if you put yourself in the sender or recipients’ shoes, you would want it as early as possible.”
Their Most Memorable Bouquet
Having delivered countless bouquets since their launch in 2015, Chloe reveals that their most memorable delivery to date was actually done by Kenny himself.
“Upon ringing the doorbell of the recipient, a lady answered the door and Kenny routinely greeted her to confirm that she was Mdm Y. Kenny then presented the bouquet to her, but she quickly rejected it saying that we must have sent it to the wrong person, because she had never received any flowers before in her life.”
“Kenny tried very hard to assure her that the address and name all matched her details, so it couldn’t be wrong. But she was adamant that the flowers were not meant for her because she couldn’t think of anyone that would send her flowers. She refused to accept the bouquet and insisted that Kenny check with the shop.”
“So, Kenny rang the number and got hold of the sender (who was actually her hubby) to speak to her and according to him, the smile on her face was priceless – very near to happy tears actually.”
“This was a particularly a memorable experience for us because it went on to prove us right by making it affordable for people to send flowers.”
The Future Of Flower Delivery Startups
In the midst of automation replacing jobs and technology making certain roles redundant, Chloe reiterates her confidence in the longevity of florists, because she doesn’t think a robot could do the job of an artist yet.
“The taste and flavour of an arrangement is something that’s unique to human senses.”
However, she is well-aware that there are flower delivery startups and florists that are still crumbling under financial pressures – mostly due to high rentals, low walk-in traffic, and the inability to tap into the online space.
“Traditional models are becoming tougher to cope with and I think the industry is evolving with the demands of new age buyers.”
That said, they have plans to look into implementing more technological solutions, possibly in the mobile and digital space.
“Stay True To Yourself”
Behind the beautiful bouquets and their success story lies many lessons, and Chloe is quick to open up about how she was almost tempted to go back to her regular job when times weren’t good.
The early days were wrought with disagreements and uncertainty, especially with two young kids in tow and only one (then unstable) source of income.
“But one day, Kenny came up to me and said, ‘When we are in the shop, you are the boss, I’m just the employee. Don’t look at me as your husband because then you won’t have control’. I knew at that very moment that he was there to support me all the way, whether my decisions were right or wrong, it doesn’t matter.”
“He just wanted me to be successful doing something I love.”
Now, Kenny is happily back at his job and Chloe is running the business smoothly.
“It’s very hard to tell you what are the ingredients to a successful business because the first time you cook a dish, it will taste bad. Over time, you will change some ingredients, use less of certain ones and use more of others.”
“Most importantly, stay true to yourself, and do not lose sight on why your started the business.”