In the spring, my daughter Lali and I came up with a meaningful purpose for ourselves as part of our summer plan. We decided we’d try our hand at growing flowers, selling them as cut bouquets, and donating half the money to Ronald McDonald House Atlantic (RMH). We called our social business Les fleurs de Lali. I wrote about our initial learnings in July when things were just getting going.
This past Saturday we had the privilege of visiting RMH¹ in Halifax to drop off our cheque. We saw, first hand, how the money is used to host families whose children are receiving medical care at the nearby IWK Hospital. During our visit, Lali acted like some CEOs I know. She distractedly replied to the development officer’s curious questions about our business and moved as quickly as she could to the shiny objects in the RMH playroom☺.
On so many levels, our foray into social entrepreneurship was a huge success.
Here’s what we kept track of (in a tiny little paper book):
# bouquets sold = 95
$ raised for RMH = $900
(closer to 60% of our total in the end)
Sweet spot for pricing = Approx. $15
(Lots of people tipped, bringing their contribution to $20)
# of Pop-Up Markets held = 2
(Both involved neighbourhood kids and cousins as our sales team)
Main platform for sales = Facebook
# customers online and via Pop-Ups = 57
(20 were repeat customers; only 4/57 were men!)
# of donated vases = Approx. 120 vases from 9 different people
Values of other donated products (bulbs/ garden supplies) = Approx. $350+
# of people/families who contributed flowers from their own gardens to sell = 7
# of hours worked = 200+ hours
By traditional business measures, our little social business was a fail. Without donated flower bulbs, vases and some flowers plus a lot of labour, the year one numbers don’t really work.
It would have been FAR easier for me to coach a leader for a few hours and donate the revenue. This would have given me more than a month for vacation or Chandler Coaches work. This is no small point as I did overdo it this summer (Those of you who know me well may sport a knowing smile now).
But given a do-over, I/we would do it all again.
Because in creating Les fleurs de Lali, we got to watch nature’s beauty bloom before our eyes on a daily basis. We had a yard full of bees, a healthy sign for our environment. We had at least a half hour of creativity and connection baked into our day in arranging flowers. We talked to our neighbours every day while we were picking their flowers! We saw a parade of smiles come to our door, whether to donate vases or pick up bouquets. We regularly read appreciative posts on Facebook. And thanks to our customers, our deliveries took us to elderly people who don’t have frequent visitors, a grieving wife, and some hard-working staff at some PEI businesses.
The whole summer side hustle has me thinking about how Chandler Coaches could move toward a triple bottom line. And more importantly, because the impact would be much bigger, how we can support Chandler Coaches clients to zero in on their noble purpose and move toward a triple bottom line. The most recent report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes tells us that drastic change is needed now to save our planet.
The recent frost will bring a bittersweet end to Les fleurs de Lali. At least for this year. It’s time. Today we treated ourselves to a Les fleurs de Lali bouquet for our own table. If you’ve played a part in our summer of beautiful blooms, we share it with you.
P.S. You may see us back next year. Truth be told, we already have ideas. We won’t settle for anything less than a triple bottom line of profits, people and our planet. Lali wants to deliver flyers in the neighbourhood and have more Pop-Ups. I’d like to enrol local gardeners, perhaps retired ones and neighbourhood kids, to grow pesticide-free flowers for the cause. Use rain barrels etc. Might you want to be involved?
¹ Ronald McDonald House Charities® Atlantic helps keep families close to each other, and the care they need, when they need it most. Serving families from all three Maritime provinces, programs include Ronald McDonald House® and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms®
- RMH in Halifax served 553 families last year, providing 4,887 nights of comfort
- The Halifax Family Room at the IWK had 29,681 visits last year
- The Moncton Family Room had 17,623 visits last year