“The girls at work now call me Shrek because of my size, and the way my hands are always green from dealing with flowers. Also, I burp a lot.” – Stanley Tan of Windflower Florist.
You might have come across their flowers in a curious space – in the small cubbies of a vending machine.
Last month, Windflower Florist’s bouquets enjoyed the limelight for their unique vending machine concept in Raffles City. Priced at $25 and $35, these bouquets presented convenient and gorgeous gifts for the busy Singaporean.
But Windflower’s venture into vending also signifies something larger – how one son revived his parent’s wilting business into a blooming success.
Of Beginnings And Renewals
Windflower Florist first took root in 1997; but by 2005, the increasingly competitive market had forced the shop to pivot into gifts.
At its lowest, the shop was eking out paltry single-digit daily sales.
It was the son who still saw potential in the business and as “bull-headed” as he was, Stanley began his plans to salvage it.
“I’ve always wanted to take over the business since I was Secondary 4,” he shared with me. “I remember getting pushcarts during my secondary and Poly days, and selling roses during Valentine’s Day.”
Looking back, I think these experiences reinforced my decision to take over Windflower Florist, believing there is a lot of potential for growth.
Despite the state of the business and their scepticism, Stanley reveals his parents weren’t against him taking over. And so, he dived off the deep end and “emptied out his bank account to get the business going.”
“That was painful,” he laughs now.
But the pain has paid off, turning the business’s single digit daily sales into a four-digit number.
Besides the Loyang Point shop that his parent and aunt run, Stanley now also has a workshop and a 8-person team where the team works to make magic happen.
Keeping Ideas Fresh
At the start, Stanley made sure to surround himself with flowers everyday by going to the wholesalers “almost every day”.
Surrounded by so many types of flowers and their endless combinations “were what got me really excited.”
“That’s what made me fell in love with floristry.”
At the same time, he began following local florists such as Floral Magic, Heaven in a Wild Flower, Bloomroom, Floralsbym.
“During my experimentation phase, I drew inspirations by filling my feed with their posts to try out various styles and designs.”
But that’s also when the arguments began.
“As a heartland florist, the flowers [my parents] used were more common and cost-effective. When I started trying new varieties for the new designs and styles, the costs also went up.”
But thankfully all worked out in the end, otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing gorgeous designs all over their Instagram today.
Every bouquet that heads out is a name card, [and] word-of-mouth is definitely one of the main reasons for growing our brand following.
Stanley quotes one example to prove his point.
“My army mate ordered a bouquet for his girlfriend at styleXstyle and the bouquet I did up garnered a bit of attention in the office. It was during the time that Sharon Au was starring in the LKY musical, the styleXstyle team wanted to gift a bouquet and so I did up one of Calla Lilies for her.”
“Next thing I know, Sharon posted it on Instagram and tagged Windflower Florist. That drove traffic to our social media platforms and we grew in our following.”
Innovation is what also comes when a bunch of millennials come together to run a business, he adds.
Build an environment that supports fresh ideas instead of dismissing them. We like to innovate and that is one quality that grows our brand following, engaging our audiences with brand new concepts and ideas. Our recent campaign for Singapore’s first dried bouquet vending machine, is the result of the team building this environment that welcomes innovation and change.
A Team Effort
Flowers can’t grow by themselves, and neither could Windflower Florist.
In a space where he sports the nickname ‘Shrek’ for his size, green hands and burping habits, Stanley considers his biggest achievement to be having his team alongside him – a sentiment they also share.
“We have been very fortunate to be given the opportunity to do something we are passionate about and to grow as individuals,” they say.
We may not be the best on our own but what makes this team special is that we complement each other for skills we lack. It’s clichéd but we complete each other, supporting one another such as when the logistic and operation teams doubled up to help the production team during Valentine’s Day.
The Windflower Future
“We broke into vending machines with campaign ‘f. on the go’ to provide convenience to audiences [and] change the perception that flowers are expensive and difficult to obtain.”
“Ultimately, our hope is to have flowers be part of an everyday lifestyle,” he states resolutely.
“Employing vending machines is a step to making a difference in the floral industry here. We are the first florist in Singapore to do this and we’re excited to see how we can further push boundaries with this concept.”
“In the end, my goal is to make Windflower Florist a household name here in Singapore. When people think of flowers, they think of Windflower Florist.”
Featured Image Credit: Stanley Tan