When the coronavirus took hold this past spring, DC resident Cameron Hardesty thought the worst.
“I was convinced this was going to be lights out for the business,” says Hardesty of Poppy, the floral marketplace focused on weddings and events she founded in early 2019 after years of experience in e-commerce and floral arranging. Through Poppy, soon-to-be brides receive access to farm-fresh flowers from across the globe, talented designers and the latest floral designs. But for Hardesty, who spent almost a year learning from mentors about running a startup, she knew that when the climate around her changed, she’d have to adapt.
“We were 100% focused on weddings and events, but they are going to meaningfully change for a while,” says Hardesty, who also developed her floral expertise as a volunteer to the chief floral designer of the White House during the Obama administration. “So I just threw the old plan out the window and thought, ‘What else can we do?’”
Enter Poppy At Home, a new arm of Poppy that gives you the chance to design your own floral bouquet from the comfort of your couch. Currently featuring six different kits—many of which were curated with Waterford-based floral designer Holly Chapple—Poppy at Home comes with about 50 stems of premium, colorful flowers grown in Ecuador, a printed instruction card and free access to a video tutorial featuring Hardesty. Plus, you can purchase a subscription of three Poppy At Home kits per month, turning floral arranging into a unique self-care routine.
While many florists were shutting down, Hardesty leveraged her relationships with farms across the globe, both maintaining her business and saving would-be throwaway flowers from the land. In the first two months of the concept’s inception, Hardesty has gained more than 1,000 customers and, to her surprise, saw a steady increase in revenue too.
“We have this chance to rethink the whole paradigm of weddings and what the floral business is really about,” explains Hardesty. “I got into the world of flowers as a way to get in touch with my creative side that wasn’t being expressed. Being able to share that with other people and enable them to both get in touch with their creativity but also empower them to be entrepreneurs in their own way has always been at the core of what I want this business to be.”
Hardesty hasn’t forgotten about weddings though, as she also launched the Courthouse Package this past spring, giving DMV-based couples the chance to receive photo-worthy florals at their intimate gatherings, micro weddings or elopements. And, this month, Hardesty will debut gardening kits.