Episode 360: Two Little Buds — From Florists to Flower Farmers. Mindy Staton and Alice Francis on Changing an Established Retail Platform to Meet Customer Demand
August 1st, 2018
Today’s episode continues the mother-daughter theme with Two Little Buds. Founded in 2004, Two Little Buds is a boutique floral design studio that specializes in wedding florals, event design, and editorial work. Daughter Mindy Staton and mother Alice Francis, began Two Little Buds as a wedding and event floral studio, eventually opening a full-service retail flower shop in Hamilton, Ohio.
Mindy and Alice expanded to flower farming about four years ago with the establishment of Morning Sun Flower Farm. The Two Little Buds’ brand now reflects the womens’ love of farm-fresh, local product and shows the best that each season has to offer.
Here’s a bit more about Mindy Staton:
Mindy Francis Staton loves to spend her days with flowers. She has an unbelievable passion and appreciation for the beauty found in nature, and backs it up with the talent to bring her amazing visions to life. Mindy truly never forgets that while she may have done thousands of weddings over the last decade, each couple only gets one wedding day—so each wedding is important, each couple is important, each flower is important.
In 2015, inspired by attending a floret workshop with Erin Benzakein, Mindy made some big changes with her shop and her life!
Morning Sun Flower Farm was born of a few sentences written at that workshop, as she articulated a dream for her future. Since Mindy is the kind of dedicated person who gets things done, she convinced her husband to start a flower farm with her, and, in the spring of 2016 (less than a year later!!), the first perfect anemones were cut at her farm and brought to Two Little Buds to share with her incredibly lucky clients and customers. And the flowers didn’t stop there, because soon the shop was brimming with beautiful ranunculus, tulips, dahlias, sunflowers, zinnias, sweet peas, and more!
Mindy continues to grow and expand the farm, with plans to include a design space and a meeting area to sit down with clients.
She manages to run two locations of Two Little Buds PLUS a flower farm, and still have the time to hang out with her best friend (spoiler: it’s her husband) and their three hilariously goofy bulldogs. Mindy loves Chinese food, her mom, milkshakes, working outside, and facing challenges head-on. And her best quality? She’s never met a stranger and will literally do anything to help others!
Here’s more about Alice Francis:
Alice Stone Francis, co-owner of Two Little Buds, was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio, but has always had a connection to Oxford, where she lives now. She was super close to her parents, loving to cook and garden with her mom and joke around with her father.
Alice met her husband Bill when he came over to her at a softball game and handed her an apple, and how does a girl say no to that?? They went on to get married and have four amazing children. Alice worked as a school teacher while Bill served in the Army, and she also loved to go to craft fairs and sell wreaths that she handmade using flowers her father grew especially for her.
Once her kids grew up and moved out, she started right into taking care of her grandkids! Then in 2005, Mindy and Alice started doing wedding florals out of Alice’s greenhouse.
Demand for their beautiful floral work outgrew the greenhouse, and the Two Little Buds storefront in Hamilton was born! When you meet Alice, it’s easy to see where Mindy got her willingness to help people, her love of animals, her appreciation of nature, and her creativity.
Alice loves her family (she has a real soft spot for her grandkids!), white chocolate mochas, dogs, and keeping Two Little Buds current on her favorite Instagram accounts. If Pam the bulldog doesn’t post for a few days, we all hear about itAlice loves meeting brides and talking about their vision for their big day.
Morning Sun Flower Farm is a perfect little farm located in Morning Sun, Ohio. Founded in 2015, the farm’s location is truly picturesque, adjacent to Hueston Woods State Park, with a cute little horse farm in front of it.
In the spring, the field explodes with color from foxglove, sweet peas, tulips, daffodils, and poppies, while the hoop house is home to gorgeous anemones and ranunculus. Summertime makes way for amazing sunflowers, larkspur, delphinium, bachelor’s buttons, snapdragons, and dahlias in the field and perfect lisianthus in the hoop house. When autumn comes to visit, we keep the field teeming with more dahlias and sunflowers, plus zinnias, scabiosa, and lavender. Come fall, the hoop house is home to some wonderfully vibrant chrysanthemum varieties. Winter is time to regroup—the land rests while Mindy and Josh get busy plotting and planning for the following spring. As she says, “it’s so rewarding to watch the change in seasons reflected in the blooms that we’re able to share with our clients and customers!”
Morning Sun hosted its first Farm-to-Vase workshop in August 2016, and it was such a good time for everyone involved that the farm now hosts three design workshop-dinners each season — recently named one of Ohio Magazine’s ‘Best of: Editors’ Picks 2017′.
There is so much joy in this work, this calling I feel to shine a light on the floral tribe who means so much to me. Speaking with people like Mindy and Alice is such a gift to share! Something Mindy said really resonated with me.
“We had to change or we weren’t going to be ahead of our competition. So for us, it was taking the step, doing the research and figuring out how to change the look of our business in flowers.”
Managing change in this dynamic climate for floral design on the top of my mind these days! In fact, I’ll be addressing the changing and progressive forecast for the floral industry when I present at the upcoming Trend Summit later this month.
Created and produced by Hitomi Gilliam, TREND SUMMIT 2018 takes place in Vancouver, B.C., beginning with a two-day conference on Friday, August 17th and Saturday, August 18th, followed by the Trend Summit SYMPOSIUM on Sunday, August 19, 2018.
I’ll be presenting at the Symposium on 9:30 a.m. Sunday August 19th, followed by an amazing lineup of fellow Trend Experts and Influencers, including Holly Heider Chapple (Hope Farms & Chapel Designers), Leatrice Eiseman (Pantone Institute), Gregor Lersch (Global Design Expert), & Hitomi Gilliam AIFD!!
What an honor to join this amazing group of floral leaders. I’m so grateful to Hitomi for including the Slow Flowers message in this forum! Hope to see you there! It will be a powerful day to be inspired & to influence!! All registration information can be found here.
I am grateful to all you — our entire community of flower farmers and floral designers who together define the Slow Flowers Movement.
As our cause gains more supporters and more passionate participants who believe in the importance of the American cut flower industry, the momentum is contagious.
I know you feel it, too. I value your support and invite you to show your thanks and with a donation to support my ongoing advocacy, education and outreach activities. You can find the donate button in the column to the right.
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Welcome to our newest sponsor, the Team Flower Conference – a professional floral event where flower lovers from all over the world gather for networking, learning, and celebration. It’s a special time for the floral industry to come together and whether you’re a farmer, designer, wholesaler, or just love flowers, you’re invited to join Team Flower to dream big for the future of our beloved industry. You can head to teamflower.org/slowflowers to learn more about the 2019 conference in Waco, Texas!
Florists’ Review magazine. I’m delighted to serve as Contributing Editor for Slow Flowers Journal, found in the pages of Florists’ Review. It’s the leading trade magazine in the floral industry and the only independent periodical for the retail, wholesale and supplier market.
Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of passionate family farms in the heart of Alaska providing bigger, better peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at arcticalaskapeonies.com
Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at seattlewholesalegrowersmarket.com
Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at longfield-gardens.com.
Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at syndicatesales.com.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at johnnysseeds.com.
Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at ascfg.org
Mayesh Wholesale Florist. Family-owned since 1978, Mayesh is the premier wedding and event supplier in the U.S. and we’re thrilled to partner with Mayesh to promote local and domestic flowers, which they source from farms large and small around the U.S. Learn more at mayesh.com.
Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers. To learn more visit americangrownflowers.org.
I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast.
Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto iTunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at soundbodymovement.com. Special thanks to Stephen Yaussi.