When Whitney Bromberg Hawkings saw a gap in the market, she went for it. Having worked in fashion for almost 20 years (she worked at Gucci with Tom Ford before becoming the Senior VP for Communication of his eponymous brand), in 2015, Hawkings made the bold decision to start her own company in a completely different sphere — luxury floral delivery, and FLOWERBX was born.
Fast forward to 6 years later, FLOWERBX now covers 24 countries across Europe and including the US, where its West Coast Hub launched ahead of schedule in the midst of the pandemic in fall 2020 and essentially doubled its US distribution in one step. “I know a lot of companies have addressed certain aspects of online flower delivery, but I feel confident no one is delivering on the quality, brand, and consistency, internationally, that we are.” Hawkings says. And she is not wrong.
Seemingly a simple idea, FLOWERBX’s business model is to deliver the utmost fresh, high-quality single varietal bunches of flowers to customers, efficiently and cost effectively. “I think what differentiates us from other florists is that we are buying and selling flowers in a completely new way.” When asked what makes FLOWERBX so unique, Hawkings tells me: “Our unique negative working capital business model means we only order flowers that you have purchased already and deliver them to you the day that they arrive to us from the growers, which eliminates any waste and allows us to offer flowers that are days fresher at a fraction of the price of other florists.”
Hawkings tells me that the biggest upside in the cut-to-order model is the elimination of waste. With her team, she is working hard to build the brand in the most sustainable and ecological way possible. “We decompose all green waste and deliver on green vehicles.” Hawkings says with a smile, “The flower food, which eats bacteria and disinfect the water to keep it clear, is also decomposable.”
Speaking of the simple yet stylish bouquets FLOWERBX is known for, Hawkings makes it no secret that she was inspired by the who’s who in fashion over her two decades in the industry: “Miuccia Prada would send simple pale-pink roses with no filler; Calvin Klein would send white calla lilies in a cylinder base with nothing in the base; Karl Lagerfeld would send in white orchids from Chanel with no other mix.” Hawkings’ idea and unique model that challenged the traditional mixed-bouquets delivery system clearly resonated with the fashion world, and FLOWERBX was quickly seen collaborating and providing florals for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Net A Porter, and Tiffany & Co.
“I have had so many pinch-me moments since I started FLOWERBX,” When asked what was her favorite moment since the brand’s launch, Hawkings says, “But creating a 30m floral chandelier down the Orangerie in the Palace of Versailles for Louis Vuitton was definitely at the top of the list.” She then adds after a quick pause to think: “My favorite collaboration in the States was TIFFANY x FLOWERBX pop up shop at the Tiffany flagship last Valentine’s Day. For me, creating a brand that can (very humbly) sit alongside Tiffany (arguably one of the strongest American Heritage brands), meant a lot to me and was a great testament to the strength of the brand we are building.”
Hawkings is without a doubt pivotal to the brand’s success. Despite being a wife and mother of three, the ever-so-stylish brunette admits she “works all the time” and is “very involved in every aspect of the business.” As the cofounder and CEO of FLOWERBX, Hawkings is exceptionally humble and says she is grateful to be in the position she is in today, with her brand performing so well. In fact during our interview, the word she used most often was “lucky”.
“I am so lucky to have a very strong operational team which enables me to focus on what I love and what comes the most naturally to me (after 20 years as SVP of Communications for Tom Ford), which is creating the vision and telling the story of the brand. I am obsessed with product, creating desire around the product, and selling the product, and these are my favorite parts of the job.” Hawkings also says she’s incredibly lucky to have support from her other team at home — her husband, Peter Hawkings (who is also SVP at Tom Ford), and her nanny who “has been with the family throughout the three kids”.
As the Queen of Flowers in fashion, Hawkings does not have a favorite flower but thinks peony season “is arguably the most wonderful flower season.” Customers can now enjoy the most beautiful peony variety at home (or send as a gift) for 4, 6, 8 or 10 weeks by taking up the brand’s newly launched seasonal peony subscription, which includes classic favorites like Powder Pink and Cotton Cloud along with new and rare varieties, like the single petal Lemon Meringue.
She is also in love with the brand’s vases: “I believe that we offer a perfect solution for every single flower with a classic refinement and approachable price point that is not easy to find on the market.” In addition to its curated collection of beautiful bouquets for Mother’s Day, FLOWERBX and Baccarat have also partnered again to make this day extra special for moms — the luxury offerings can be seen here.
During the pandemic which severely impacted the floral industry, FLOWERBX did incredibly well and dramatically increased its consumer business by 700% YoY, thanks to its negative working capital business model and digital native approach. What is the outlook for FLOWERBX in 2021?
“For FLOWERBX, we plan on spending the next year expanding our coverage across the US whilst strengthening our foothold in the UK and Europe. I hope to take this as far as I possibly can until FLOWERBX is a household name and is synonymous with elegant and discerning people around the world as the sine qua non for floral gifting.” In her signature softly humble yet quietly confident way, Hawkings speaks of the future plans for her business, and adds: “As a female entrepreneur, I hope to empower women along the journey with me and let them grow as we continue to grow. I take my responsibility to employ a diverse and talented team very seriously, and the team at FLOWERBX is the achievement of which I’m most proud.”