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In Conversation with Whitney Bromberg Hawkings

It starts with a single bloom, just one idea, one moment of realisation, that now is the only now there is.

During Berlin Fashion Week I had the pleasure of listening to Whitney Bromberg Hawkings speak about all things FLOWERBX aka her hugely successful online flower delivery company that’s been brightening up many a London store front, taking floral event decor to a new and sophisticated level and solving the age old of problem of what to send to the most stylish of friends. There were two aspects of her talk that struck a cord with me; 1. She had her ah ha moment just before a significant birthday, one that looms on my doorstop too AND 2) Ordering flowers online has become something of a non-starter since moving to Germany.

A Tragic Floral Story

Whilst living in Frankfurt, I actually had to ask my family not to send me flowers due to 3 hideous bunches of actual funeral flowers that arrived one birthday. Though we did live in the vicinity of a cemetery they were still inexcusable!

“There’s never been an international flower brand,” adds Bromberg Hawkings, who closed an oversubscribed $1.94 million seed-plus funding round earlier this year and named former Net-a-Porter chief executive Mark Sebba as non-executive chairman and investor (other investors included fashion fairy godmothers Dame Natalie Massenet, Carmen Busquets, Eiesha Bharti Pasricha and Tania Fares). With a negative-capital business (the stock is ordered on-demand from suppliers in Holland with a 48-hour turnaround) Flowerbx could become “the Uber of flower delivery,” according to Busquets.

Following her talk, I regrammed a few images from the Flowerbx Instagram feed and asked Whitney if she would take a moment to answer the Silberzahn Style Entrepreneurial Women in Business Q&A…

 Profession / What do you actually do?
I am the CEO and Founder of FLOWERBX, the online flower delivery company that sources fresh flowers, direct from the growers, and delivers them across Europe.

What was your first job?
I started out, straight out of school, as Tom Ford’s PA at Gucci.
I stayed with him for 19 years and ended up as SVP of Communications for TOM FORD.

What motivated you to start your own business?
After working for TOM FORD for 19 years and feeling frustrated with the cost and inconsistency of the flowers I was buying and sending, I wanted to create a branded floral offering. Also, as a working Mom, I buy everything online. My weekly groceries are from Ocado, my clothes from Net-a-Porter or Matches.com and everything else from Amazon. Flowers were the one thing I couldn’t buy, in a simple, chic way, online.

What’s your biggest entrepreneurial challenge?
If anyone had reminded me about the perishability of flowers before I started FLOWERBX, I might have thought twice! Aside from the inherent problems that come from working with perishable goods and cold-chain logistics, we have had a number of setbacks while re-platforming our website in order to grow internationally which kept us from expanding as quickly as I would have liked. That said, I think the delay gave us more time to test shipping, to perfect our product range, and to engineer a custom suite of boxes that will now make expansion swift and (hopefully) painless.

What inspires you to get out of bed every day!
I am so inspired by my hard-working and wonderful team and also extremely excited by the company’s growth. It is so exciting to see all of our hard work pay off in such a tangible way, and this makes getting out of bed a thrill.

Can you describe yourself in 3 words?
Hard-working, tenacious and loyal

What do you do as a special treat for yourself?
As a special treat for myself, I book a facial at Skineses –it is
an outer planetary experience. Or, I book an at-home treatment on my favourite beauty app – Ruuby.

What does the word ‘style’ mean to you?
For me, style means understanding yourself and your body and
knowing what works. True style is effortless and stands the test of time.

How would you describe your personal style?
I had a fantasy that I would leave my heels and pencil skirts behind when I left the fashion industry, but they are still very much a part of my every day wardrobe. I need to be able to go from early mornings in the warehouse to lunch at Annabel’s with a client on any given day, so my outfit must be versatile. I also can’t get rid of my heel addiction. I might not wear them for early mornings in the warehouse, but I will always wear heels for added height, confidence and attitude.

Who is your idol?
My husband, Peter, is my idol; he is so talented, so cool under
pressure, and such a patient guide for us as a family.

What’s your life motto?

Is there a career highlight you’d like to share?

I am so lucky that my entire career has been a highlight, but one of the most pivotal points was getting hired, straight out of school, by Tom Ford. Ironically, I think the second highlight was making the extremely difficult decision to leave my dream job as SVP of Communications for TOM FORD for the unknown and launch FLOWERBX.

How do you balance motherhood and business management?
Like every working Mom, it is a constant juggle, and there is always one ball up in the air. I think the key to being a happy working Mum is to have a wonderful and supportive husband and an excellent nanny and also understanding children! I try to involve my older children in everything we are doing at FLOWERBX, so they feel a genuine sense of pride watching the growth and are more forgiving of the time I need to dedicate to helping it grow.

What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurial business owners?
I would say congratulations. Starting is the hardest part.

What’s coming up for AW18/19 we all need to know about!?
I am obsessed with our new candles and room spray. I have been spoilt by beautiful fragrances working for Tom Ford for so many years, but I can honestly say that our candles and room spray are more beautiful than anything I have smelled on the market. They also make the perfect gift and are so elegant in their chocolate brown glass sitting on a counter.

Huge thanks to Whitney for taking a moment out of her busy busy schedule to answer my Q&A, I can not wait for FLOWERBX to enter the German market and  personally am lusting after these elegant candles. I want one and I bet you do too!


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