The interview was transcribed and adapted into an article by Grace Holloway
Lockdown Economy: Interviews by think tank AlterContacts.org with real entrepreneurs sharing insights, challenges and successes during the COVID19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world.
In this interview, we meet Margaux, the founder of Mosaic, an online flower shop in Barcelona started only one month before the lockdown. Margaux does more than just sell flowers — she offers the experience and the art of flower arrangement. Her idea was to design simple and stunning color combinations of bouquets every week, sourcing flowers locally, and modernize the florist industry where customers can order easily online in a subscription model program that was inspired by Netflix. This allows her to offer fresh and seasonal flowers, whilst reducing waste to the minimum. During the lockdown, she was able to focus on fostering relationships with people, raising brand awareness, and growing her customer base. Thus, in some ways, the lockdown created an opportunity for Mosaic to flourish online while keeping the role in human relationships! As the lockdown eases, Margaux will be able to explore other channels that she had to put on hold during the Lockdown period. Mosaic plans for 2021 to offer new ways for differentiation and Margaux will be focusing her energy and investment on targeting businesses in Barcelona similar to hotels, co-working spaces, and getting engaged in the community.
Tell me about your business. What do you do as a business?
Margaux: I’m a florist. In February 2020, just before the lockdown, I launched an online flower shop called Mosaic Flowers. It is very simple and is intended to modernize the florist industry and be where the consumers are. Thus, 80% of what I do is online. As a customer, you go on my website, order a bouquet, and that’s it. I take everything from there. I make a beautiful bouquet and include a delivery service to make sure that the person you’re sending the bouquet to receives it in great condition. Another element of what I do, which was inspired by Netflix, is a subscription program. Through this, anyone can have a bouquet delivered at their place on a regular basis.
How many employees do you have for Mosaic?
Margaux: For now, it’s just me. I do get help with the deliveries if there is a lot going on. But for now, it’s me, and I’m very happy to keep it that way. I want to be able to understand everything and get everything perfect before starting to delegate, as the business is growing and the customer base is increasing.
Can you give me a background of your clients?
Margaux: The good thing about flowers is that everyone likes them, it’s universal. It’s linked to culture, but regardless of your religion, where you’re coming from, your generation, everyone likes flowers. So in terms of clients, it’s as wide as it can be. Because of the lockdown, I was only able to focus on individuals, or one person offering a bouquet to someone else. With lockdown being softer, I would like to focus on more business clients, such as hotels, companies, co-working spaces, or restaurants. All of those organizations are potential clients that were difficult to target during the lockdown, as they were closed. For now, the profile of my customer can be a 15-year-old teenager to a 70-year-old grandfather, and you’re targeting both the client and the recipient of the bouquet. There’s not one profile, the bouquets are very subjective as they’re art. It’s not linked to your age or anything, it’s something that could please anyone because flowers are universal.
You opened right before the lockdown hit. How did the lockdown affect your business? What were the challenges you faced?
Margaux: The lockdown was a major opportunity for Mosaic. People started spending a lot of time at home and online, and I’m an online business. I took that opportunity as a strategy for Mosaic. I put more into social media and Google to increase the awareness of Mosaic. People are at home and bored, and see all these colourful images on Instagram and Google, which allowed me to raise awareness of my brand. Once people leave reviews, and I have all five-star reviews, customers trust you more and share the brand with others. They want to be a part of the brand. It’s not just them buying flowers, it’s them contributing to your brand awareness.
Lockdown obviously has its downsides as well, but for me, it has been a massive opportunity. There’s very few online flower shops in Barcelona that have a website to make it easy to purchase a bouquet, and that offer delivery. I am always disrupting the market because this is not the way people normally buy flowers, but lockdown forced them to. When you get that customer base, and people are happy with your product and service, you get their trust. After that, people buy more and want to help and contribute. I am very happy I launched in February just before lockdown, as it allowed me to differentiate myself, raise awareness of the brand, and get people to be a part of it, increasing business and the customer base.
The big downside for me as a business is that I wasn’t able to target businesses, such as hotels, co-working spaces, companies, etc. Those were all on hold during the lockdown, and even if they were open, investments were reduced, and buying flowers is part of that. I had to focus on individuals. Now, with lockdown being softened, maybe in the first quarter of next year I can begin to target businesses, which is something that I’ve always had in mind.
The lockdown had a negative impact on many. Do you know how your customers were impacted? Do you know how your competition was impacted?
Margaux: In Barcelona and in the whole of Spain, the florist industry was very traditional. It was traditional in the way florists make the bouquets, and in the service that they offer. I strongly believe that the lockdown has accelerated a change that was already happening. Going online today is a no brainer for a lot of businesses, and florists that only had a physical shop with no website or knowledge of social media were no longer where the customers were. You can’t expect people now to find you in the street without doing anything about it. For me, in terms of competition, florists are understanding something that should have been understood years ago. You need to be online because you need to be where people are. Lockdown has very harshly accelerated this knowledge. Lockdown can modernize the florist industry in Barcelona, making it more efficient.
The local, human aspect of the industry is maintained while online, especially in the delivery process. It’s not one or the other between online and human interaction. It’s local, human, and digital. In terms of competition, I strongly advise other florists to go online. It facilitates so much, it’s flexible, it’s where people are, you can innovate, and you can change if needed. For me, healthy competition is important. The more florists that are online, the more dynamic the market is. I get to change what I do based on what my competition does. For me, it’s even better if we’re all going online. It’s a way of having a dynamic sector that pleases the customer.
How is your business doing over the holidays, and what are your plans for the coming months?
Margaux: Mosaic is doing pretty well, I’m very happy about it. Every week is a different week, and I’m constantly changing things and innovating. This change is key to any start-up and company. I’ve been selling more and more bouquets. People are buying multiple times, and buying subscriptions, which proves that they’re happy and trusting the brand. I also get more and more new customers every week. This creates a good mix of new customers and old customers buying back.
The festive season is a different gifting moment that I’m learning and I love it. It involves more workshops, which is something I’m starting and will continue into next year. People need physical experience as well. Any gifting moment in the florist industry is big, so there will be no holiday break for Mosaic. The holidays are definitely a positive note, and it’s constantly showing me that there’s so much to do with flowers. I can’t wait for next year, to do more workshops and target the business community.
Could you name three things that you need help with?
Margaux: I would say the first, most important thing would be to provide flowers and services to businesses, as I said previously. For me, it’s really important to tackle that market. I’ve built credibility and confidence with individuals over the past two months. Where I would need help is targeting more businesses, either through providing floral arrangements and bouquets to co-working spaces or companies, or organizing workshops with companies. There’s a lot of debates and questions on people working too much and high levels of stress, resulting in team-building sessions at companies. A team-building session around building bouquets could be a nice way of meditating, as it provides contact with concrete nature. Targeting businesses would be my main focus on help.
A second element would potentially be increasing subscription. People, at least in Spain, are still shy about subscriptions. They’d rather buy a bouquet every month at full price than getting a subscription. I try to explain to them that we consume subscriptions all the time, such as cell phones or Netflix. Why not flowers? A subscription would allow you to receive flowers every month for 6 months without having to do anything. I need help educating people or changing their mindset around subscriptions, and instilling that it is only a positive, and it makes life easier.
If I have to have a third, it would be continuing to raise awareness of my service, which is relatively new in Barcelona. Getting flowers online has existed in the U.S. for four or five years, but here I still need help getting people to understand that you can be an online flower shop, and still be human and accessible.
Do you have any last things to say?
Margaux: Thank you so much for listening to me. I can only invite people to follow their dreams. Regardless of the hours spent, what people say, the news, we only have one life. Try to make the most of it. Go for your passion, and the rest will follow.
About the Guest
After working in Marketing in the corporate world in Paris, London, and Geneva, Margaux moved to Barcelona, became a florist, and created in February 2020 mosaic flowers. She is creating bouquets made with fresh, seasonal, and local flowers for individuals and businesses, with a subscription option. Delivering them by bicycle 7 days a week in Barcelona. She also does workshops, events, collaborations, and partnerships with other brands and companies.