We're all familiar with farm to table, but what about farm to vase?
Did you know that most of those lovely bouquets you've been bringing home are grown using a heavy mix of fertilizers, chemicals and preservatives? Add to that worker exposure, miles traveled, ship time, resources and packaging and you’ve got one loaded bunch of tulips!
When we heard Foxglove Market & Studio was tackling that issue right here in town, we knew we needed to meet. Enter, Christine Hoffman. A lady full of creativity, charm and passion for changing our current flower paradigm. Oh yea, and she's also one of the sweetest shop keepers you'll ever meet! We had a hard time prying ourselves away from the store and if you've ever stopped by, you know why.
Whether you want to shop small or shop local, Foxglove of has you covered. Not only do they specialize in being one of the only dedicated local flower shops in the state, they also carry a variety of locally produced and gathered, vintage home goods.
Foxglove Market & Studio
792 Grand Avenue in St. Paul.
Stay up to date on upcoming classes and events, stop by regularly for seasonal flowers or consider becoming a local flower grower yourself. We sure left with more inspiration than we knew what to do with!
Photography provided by Sean O'Brien.
Tell us about your operation. What do you do? How long has the business been in existence and on what scale?
I opened Foxglove Market & Studio in July 2013. Foxglove is a brick & mortar store featuring home goods, paper goods, and locally sourced, chemical free cut flowers and flora. It is a retail concept that combines all my years of experience as a freelance designer, and it definitely reflects my personal aesthetic and values.
What are your main goals with this operation?
I like offering my unique spin on retail and design, but my real passion is launching the local flower movement in the Twin Cities. My goal is to educate consumers about local flowers-what that means exactly, why they should buy local, how it supports our community, how it creates appreciation of seasonality-I could go on and on! My other goal is to create a sense of community at the store, making it a welcoming place where people gather to create, share ideas, and get inspired.
What is your background and why did you decide to create a marketplace for local flowers?
As I mentioned, my most recent background is 10 years or so as a freelance designer-retail, interiors, gardens, and events. Using flowers for so many of my projects made me aware of the lack of “real” flowers commercially, and reawakened a desire to work with flowers that fit my personal sense of style.
Did you have a grandparent or close elder who influenced your work? If so, how did they impact you?
I recently found out that my great-grandparents were flower farmers! It made so much sense, and I was dumbfounded that I hadn’t known before. My grandparents and parents always had flower gardens as well, so it is something that has just always been part of my life.
Where do you source the materials you use?
I currently have 5 flower farmers. Two are established farmers I connected with when I opened the shop, and they provide the bulk of my materials. I also have a customer in the neighborhood that now grows for me, a CSA farmer growing independently for me, and a herb farmer who grows organically year round in a greenhouse.
What has it been like bringing on new flower farmers?
Incredibly rewarding. My goal is to increase awareness about local flowers, as well as my flower business, so I am able to support my farmers and encourage new farmers.
How do you deal with our short growing season?
I knew that would be one of my biggest challenges, and also a great opportunity for education and broadening perspectives. Everyone desires that red tomato or red rose during the middle of winter, but I really believe that working with what is in season helps connect us to the natural world. Right now I have product year- round with the exception of January. I actually thought about treating it as a seasonal business, but there is still so much interesting flora to work with during the winter. Plus-customer demand has stayed steady, and many are embracing “stick season”.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Outdoors! It is difficult with a retail shop, but I try every week to spend a good chunk of time outside. The color of the walls was inspired by a hike in Seattle. I love just soaking up that energy from the natural world and transferring it into what is happening in the studio or the shop.
How can people support or connect to what you’re doing?
I’m here with retail and flowers 6 days a week, so stopping in anytime to see my offerings and learn more about local flowers. I’m also hosting more workshops and events in the store this year, all of which you can find on my website, emails or Facebook!
What were the biggest challenges you’ve faced with this operation?
Running a small business is so challenging, and being a solo-entrepreneur is even more so. I think time is always the biggest challenge, and knowing where to best dedicate that time to grow the business wisely.
What are you most proud of accomplishing in 2014?
Making it through the year. Ha!
No really - getting to the point of realization that people are getting it.
They want to know more about local flowers, and they are turning into loyal flower customers. Hearing the words, “I’m okay with any kind of flower you have, I just love what you do.”
What are you most looking forward to in 2015?
More collaborations! One of the best parts about opening this shop is meeting so many passionate and like-minded business owners, makers and farmers. I’m looking forward to creating and nurturing this mindful business community to offer more to our community of mindful consumers-so awesome!
What directions do you see the business growing in the broader future?
Offering a full range of local flower services: retail, arrangements, delivery, more events and weddings, workshops. I would also love to create a co-operative of businesses centered around local flowers-always increasing demand and opportunities for new flower farmers.