The client: Fellow Flowers
The timeframe: September, 2016 – March, 2017
The goal: Communicate their story to grow community engagement and drive more genuine sales
The power of a flower
In 2011, Tori Sager had the inspired idea of asking 13 of her closest friends to run a half marathon with her to celebrate her birthday.
As the women trained on their own, they began to share emails reflecting on their training, but more so, their personal lives. Without realizing it, they began sharing the why behind their miles and how the training was changing them.
Days before the race, Tori’s friend sent her 14 orange Gerber daisies, lovingly hot-glued to barrettes and clips, with a note that said, “Wear these. You’ll be able to find each other on the course, and people will know you go together.”
It took very little time for the epiphany that drives Fellow Flowers: The magic of running is not just in the miles, but in the moments of transformation that occur both individually and together along the way.The magic of running is not just in the miles, but in the moments of transformation that occur both individually and together along the way. @FellowFlowers Read more: Click To Tweet
Mel Charbonneau happened to be part of that original group. Later that same year, her strategic and visionary mind took over as she ran another half marathon. In just two hours, she’d formulated a business plan to turn the magic they’d created amongst 14 women into a full-blown sisterhood and shop for more than 30,000 women who move, run, and live active lifestyles — and, more importantly, the stories that drive them.
“We didn’t create the reasons why women run,” says Mel. “We just listened and paid attention.”
Challenge: The fork in the road
A partnership between Tori and Mel launched soon after, and in 2012, Fellow Flowers was born as an e-commerce platform, selling their signature flowers and apparel. The site accumulated visitors as quickly as the women accumulated miles, and sales kicked off strong.
Within just a few years, Mel and Tori’s growth brought them to a crossroads, from which they could choose two paths: Continue focusing on being a consumable good/product, or move into a different direction, where products are a factor, but communicating the mission of why they matter takes precedence.
When it became clear that the latter was their priority — that stories needed to lead their selling — the pair recognized that their current online presence wasn’t capable of nurturing that path.
It wasn’t just the technical capabilities of integrating WordPress and Shopify that was limiting the duo’s vision. While balancing the aesthetic, the navigation, and the functionality with getting people to buy was a challenge, it was the lack of clarity on their content that stunted their growth.
“When you are a brand that is so tightly associated with a story, it can be very difficult to get your message across clearly and concisely,” says Mel. “We’re not a quick elevator pitch — we have a lot of depth and layers, and we’ve always struggled in how to tell the story in a way that brings all the emotion and meaning but also gives women a clear understanding of how to connect with us and how to engage with our brand. We had a very weak call to action.”
The impasse they’d reached on how to hone in on the soul of their brand — and therefore drive a strong call to action — led Mel to seek out a partner that could help them achieve two goals:
1 – Build Fellow Flowers’ brand awareness by sharing their story in a way that increases engagement.
2 – Improve the online shopping experience for those who connect with the Fellow Flowers story and choose to become a customer.
It was time to lace up and hit the track.
Solution: The race course
“I don’t trust a lot of people to bring our brand to life in the way that we’ve been able to. It’s so near and dear to us, and to give it away to someone and say, ‘Now, do it better than we could’…it’s the most difficult thing for an entrepreneur to do,” she says.
Fortunately, Mel had a personal connection with Rachel of brandiD through the Good Life Project community, where she’d witnessed Rachel’s dedication to her clients’ success.
“She’s almost more hell-bent on your success than you are. I trusted her from the get go and knew that anybody that worked on her team had to be cut from the same cloth because of who she was.”
With the decision to partner with brandiD solidified, Mel and the biD team embarked upon the SOULiD process, kicking off the first step, Strategize, in order to uncover the true ethos of Fellow Flowers.
“In coming to conversation with Rachel, Eleni and Nicole, it became about the why — why should women run with you; what about Fellow Flowers makes running feel different, more meaningful,” says Mel. “They were questions that made us really think about who we are and what we’re offering in the women’s running space.”
It was the stories behind Fellow Flowers — behind each flower; each community member; each thread of apparel — that would unlock the key to the business’ O-factor, where the obviousness of the market’s need, and the obviousness of the solution Fellow Flowers provides, intersects. And where brandiD could help Fellow Flowers Optimize that O-factor before embarking upon the third step, Utilize, where words meet images to bring their work to life and amplify the Fellow Flowers essence.
These first three steps of the SOULiD process didn’t come without their own sets of hurdles, of course.
“The hardest part for us,” says Mel, “was getting the ideas out of our heads in a way where the team understood what we were asking for. For example, we love photos. They’re essential for bringing our vision and story to life.”
But during the Utilize step, the size of the banner images Mel and Tori saw just wasn’t cutting it.
“Likewise, we were in a struggle of how to relay the importance of our flowers and what they meant,” recalls Mel. “How to position them has always been really tough for us. One of the iterations just wasn’t working.”
It was here where the magic they experience on the race course amongst their community had to be replicated amongst the brandiD and Fellow Flowers teams.
“In both instances, we got on a call. Any fear we had of, ‘Can I say this? Can I ask for this?’ was quickly overcome the minute we’d get on those calls,” says Mel. “Each time, they openly listened to our feedback. They shared their ideas. They took the challenge on, willingly, never making us feel needy. And we ended up with a site we love because of it.”
Results: The finish line
“When we finally nailed down the language, it was a hell yeah from everybody on the brandiD team. That matters a lot. They were seriously invested in what we were doing,” says Mel.
A year from the launch of their new site, complete with a membership offering and revamped e-commerce platform, Mel feels their initial goals of building Fellow Flowers’ brand awareness by sharing their story and improving the online shopping experience have both been not just met, but exceeded.
“Overall, the site better aligns our story with the opportunity to become a customer. That’s a big step for us,” says Mel. “Our information is much clearer, and women love the aesthetic. They feel alive and excited when they come to the site.”
The delight is in the details, too. 🌼
“After our hurdles with relaying the importance of the flowers, we ended up with a page for our flowers that’s our favorite page,” says Mel. “It’s the little things — all of the flowers have a thumbnail on the page with a click icon that says, “Pick Me.” The thoughtfulness that went into some of the pages is what we love, love, love — particularly those pages we had trouble positioning and articulating before.”
With their story quite literally driving the narrative, the question remains: Has it taken the spotlight off of sales?
“Good news: We’re still making lots of money. It’s not one over the other; it’s not mutually exclusive. Our story — our mission and vision — strengthens our sales. Women get the intro of the flower right on the home page, and know exactly where to go to shop.”
On choosing brandiD, Mel says: “When we realized it was mission over money, brandiD was the clear choice.”
With their story solidified, their messaging clear and consistent, and their sales consistently improving, the Fellow Flowers ladies have every right to kick back and enjoy the community they’ve created.
But naturally, they bring the same sweat, grit, and fierceness to their business that they do the race course — so they’re far from stopping now.
“What I loved most about this project was that it was a Phase 1,” says Mel. “The brandiD team built this so that when we have new initiatives, they can easily slide into this site instead of being an outcast thing we have to fit in. We have big goals, and our site is equipped to be the foundation to support them.”
They might be six years into the Fellow Flowers journey, but the story is still being written.