When florist Christina Stembel was only 18-years-old she left the rural Indiana farm where she had grown up and moved to the big city, New York. “I was determined to get off the farm, and start a successful company that did something good in the world,” she explained.
Lucky for the Bay Area, Stembel left the East Coast behind and set her entrepreneurial sights on San Francisco in 2000, where she ran her budding flower business out of a 100-square-foot Russian Hill dining room for over two years.
After learning about the incredible waste generated by the import-led U.S. floral industry, Stembel launched Farmgirl Flowers in 2010 using only locally-grown stems. You know them by their gorgeous, seasonal bouquets wrapped in eco-friendly burlap packaging and delivered via bike messenger.
Stembel’s farm-to-vase operations have since expanded to the Los Angeles Flower Market, with a New York outpost slated to open in 2016. We sat down with the Farmgirl to talk green business, spirit sisters and being an all-around #girlboss.
What does sustainability mean to you?
I use one of Webster’s definitions: “involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources.” What this means to me is that before I make any decision for Farmgirl that will impact the environment (either directly and indirectly), I think about what produces the least amount of harm. My goal for Farmgirl is to do more good than harm to the environment, which may sound easy, but is actually very challenging to achieve.
Tell us about your craziest business idea.
There’ve been a few whoppers. One involved iron-on pockets for women’s suits (I called it Pockettes – and I haven’t given up on it yet!). Another aggregated public domain information on potential dates to let you know whether the opposite party is as put-together as they claim to be (Guycheck/Galcheck).
Who are business leaders you find inspiring?
Arianna Huffington, Sophia Amoruso, Elizabeth Holmes, Brene Brown, Oprah, Martha Stewart, Tory Burch, Adi Tatarko. Most are them are definitely women.
Brene Brown and Amy Schumer, who are both my spirit sisters and just don’t know it yet. In my dreams, we’re all BFFs though.
You’re surrounded by colors and scents all day at work. What’s your home like?
I’m lucky enough to live by the ocean in Half Moon Bay, but my current house is a beige castle. I wasn’t sure how long we were going to stay, but given the current rental market and wonderful rent control, we’re in it for the long haul. I’m getting the paint rollers ready.
So you go to the beach to unwind?
Yes, with my dogs. It allows me to recharge daily.
What’s your perfect date night in SF?
Definitely a double order of the chick-pea fritters at Frances, followed by a good theater or comedy show.
Favorite fall flowers:
Gorgeous Garden Roses in the perfect shade of peach paired with Protea and Pistachio foliage.
Frances, Brenda’s, and Darwin Café.
Indulgence you’ll never give up:
Coffee – even if I have an ulcer. I’m really committed to my coffee.
Hustle with heart.