The Bouqs

In the relationship between fashion and flowers, the latter has always been viewed as more of a garnish.

But take note: There’s a lot to be learned from budding direct-to-consumer business The Bouqs Co.

The Los Angeles firm, started in 2012, has raised $43.1 million building buzz and a business around an online flower delivery service that’s made it a point to offer trendy, fashion-forward arrangements with a focus on working with sustainable farmers. The company doesn’t do paid posts and has a net promoter score hovering in the low 50s so far this month, which is about two times the industry average.

The brand started with $13,000 pooled from founders John Tabis and Juan Pablo Montúfar, plus friends and family. From that initial funding, the company generated $1.2 million in revenue. The company landed on “Shark Tank” about a year and a half after launch, presenting a concept the sharks waived away. In fact, Tabis said they were told by Kevin O’Leary, also known as Mr. Wonderful, he’d send flowers to their grave. Robert Herjavec, another shark, later participated in the company’s Series C.

“It’s been a really fun journey,” Tabis said during last week’s forum.

While many companies play with the message of sustainability when it comes to marketing, The Bouqs doesn’t lead with that, even though they have an eco-conscious story to tell.

“It’s all about aesthetic,” Tabis said, adding The Bouqs has focused on unique designs and answering the question of how their arrangements fit in with a customer’s home decor or relationship. Technology has helped further solidify those relationships. A scheduler, for example, helps customers automatically send arrangements to people in their lives on birthdays, anniversaries or other occasions.

It’s about treating flowers as fashion, Tabis said.

Florists, the ceo said, are “just artists and their medium happens to be floral.”

“What we do is we spend time looking at trends,” he said. “We look at what’s trending in fashion. We look at how the conversation’s trending culturally.”

To that end, succulents are having a moment, Tabis said. Plants were just launched and are popular due to what Tabis attributed to an experiential nature, particularly among Millennials. Plant owners, more specifically, can have an ongoing relationship that involves regular water and care.

The company’s floral aesthetic has helped land it a customer following of 30- to 44-year-olds, with average household incomes around $140,000 to $150,000. This is a customer group that’s heavy on the use of mobile, with about 80 percent iPhone shoppers. The company, unlike its peers, skews female with about two-thirds of its customers women. And there’s a growing base of businesses utilizing The Bouqs now for corporate gifts.

“Because we treat it more like fashion, we tend to attract a more aesthetically driven audience,” Tabis said.

That’s also helped The Bouqs land partnerships with companies such as West Elm, where it’s done pop-ups, along with Tommy Hilfiger and Anthropologie.

“Anything where you go ‘What the heck is that’ tends to sell really, really well,” Tabis said. “Anything that makes it stand out, folks tend to come to us for that. We’re not just a one-color-roses-for-$39.99 company. People expect us to come up with something unique.”

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