For the most part, flowers symbolize love, friendship, congratulations and even consolation.
However, for Michelle, the founder of Blooms: By M, flowers once symbolized “succeeding in life” and became one of her motivations for succeeding in difficult circumstances.
Growing up, Michelle painfully understood what life was like without the certainty of electricity or a roof over her family’s heads. When she was 6, her family left their HDB rental apartment because they couldn’t pay the rent and moved to an abandoned kampung. On the rare occasions when there was electricity, she took every opportunity to watch her favorite dramas on television. These dramas often featured scenes of wealthy men using flowers to woo their lovers, which only heightened his sense of lack, as even something as simple as flowers seemed beyond his reach. After all, who could afford to spend so much on something that would fade in just a few weeks?
“When I saw people buying bouquets, I immediately thought of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the fact that I could never reach the top of the pyramid,” Michelle said. “But it also gave me the determination to find a way to make the beauty of flowers accessible to those who were less well off.”
So she left her office job to start her new business: selling affordable and sustainable flowers. She began experimenting with an assortment of preserved flowers that were more affordable and had a longer shelf life. Before long, his hard work paid off. Blooms: by M turned out to be a success and she decided to expand her business online. In 2020 they joined GrabMart.
On Valentine’s Day that year, GrabMart’s orders for Blooms: by M took Michelle completely by surprise. Due to the unexpected increase in orders, the team had hundreds of Grab delivery people showing up at their door during the day. The team ended up having to intermittently suspend taking new orders several times throughout the day to manage pending orders and even went around apologizing to neighbors for the unexpected inconvenience. At the end of the day, the team was completely exhausted and one of them even had blisters on his soles from rushing.
Since then, Michelle’s business on Grab has grown steadily and she has greatly expanded the brand’s variety of gifts and bouquets with something for every reason. Today, Grab orders contribute more than 30% of total Blooms sales: by M.
What are your favorite parts of running your own business?
I love having the opportunity to engage with my customers, especially when writing the gift cards that come with their orders. It brings me emotionally closer to them because I feel like I’m part of their story. I always try to understand their feelings and convey them in my cards using different fonts and colors to highlight particular emotions or accentuate certain thoughts. I hope to bring the message to life and the recipient will receive all the love with the gift.
Additionally, I started expanding Blooms: by M in 2020, during the height of the pandemic. Compared to my previous job, having my own business is like a breath of fresh air, as it gives me more freedom and control over my work.
What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice is that if you have an idea, act on it. All you have to do is start somewhere. If only I had known that my business would be so successful, I would have started it sooner.
What are your plans for the future and how does your business fit in?
Our initial work plan for 2021 included expanding to a pop-up store to test the physical retail market’s receptivity to our concept. However, living with COVID-19 required our business to stay light on our feet with great finesse. Therefore, we decided to put that on hold and focus on improving what we do best to be even better. Eventually, we hope to expand our operations and eventually introduce our business concept overseas.