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Arts + Lifestyle

From the Desk Of… Whitney Bromberg Hawkings of FLOWERBX

Whitney Bromberg Hawkings worked her way up in the luxury fashion sector for over two decades – her first job was as Tom Ford’s PA at Gucci. In an industry known for ‘saying it with flowers’, London-based Bromberg Hawkings founded FLOWERBX in 2014, to fill a gap in the market. “It was impossible to buy fresh, simple flowers for myself or someone else in a consistent, convenient, and beautiful way online.”

Today, the online flower delivery service sources the freshest flowers, direct from the growers, and delivers them to your home or office. As a brand signature, bouquets are single-variety stems and chic as can be.

Having “always been fascinated by and drawn to beauty”, here Hawkings defines her aesthetic, chats first jobs, and daily routines with CF readers…


 

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How do you start your days?  

I start my day with a cuddle in bed with my three kids, husband, and puppies for a good 10 minutes before the chaos of the day ensues. Since we are all at home, I now go for an early morning run to Hyde Park with my two older children before the home schooling starts so that they, and I, don’t turn into zombies.

What’s your go-to uniform?

I always wear a pair of Re-done jeans, an ATM white t-shirt (or crew neck cashmere jumper when it’s cold) and a tailored blazer by TOM FORD, YSL, or my friend Claire Thomson Jonville x Pallas for more relaxed, Parisian chic.

Describe your desk/workspace…

I have taken over our living room and work on our velvet sofa with a little antique French table in front of me as my desk and a fire in the fireplace. It is actually quite relaxing, however, I miss the hustle and bustle of the warehouse. While it is cold and very industrial, few things fill me with more joy than arriving to work every day to a warehouse full of flowers.

 

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Define your aesthetic…

I always favour classic, both in my environment and in my clothes. I love quality and will always choose quality over quantity, and the same is true for our flowers. We only sell the best quality and grade of flowers available in single stem bunches as, for me, the simplicity and quality are what makes all the difference.

Identify something in your workspace that’s special to you (and why)…

Now it’s my ring-light, sadly. I finally invested in a good ring-light in December as it is dark in the UK at 3:30PM these days, and it has dramatically improved my afternoon zoom game.

What are your workplace essentials? 

Water, flowers, my computer, and my Smythson notebook.

What time of day are you at your most creative?

I am most creative on the weekends when I go to the country with my family. I find that I always come up with our best ideas when I have time and space to think, and long walks in the Cotswolds are great for that.

Work takes you most frequently to…

It used to take me to Paris and NYC quite often to help develop FLOWERBX in those markets and make some floral noise. I am dreaming of being able to return to our offices there and to be able to travel again, in general.

What’s your go to lunch order? 

Quinoa salad with chickpeas, cauliflower, and tomatoes on a bed of watercress with olive oil and lemon.

 

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What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

The most rewarding part of the job is creating something that didn’t exist before and seeing people respond to it and ultimately buy it. Everything we do, launch, celebrate, has a tangible and immediate effect on sales and this is extremely gratifying.

I am also most proud of the team that I am lucky to work with. Working with people who inspire me, challenge me, and teach me is rewarding every single day, and I am so lucky to work with such exceptional people who are helping to make this floral dream a reality.

And the most challenging?

Ah, how long do you have?! As if being an entrepreneur wasn’t hard enough, throw a pandemic, remote working, Brexit and a global economic crisis into the mix, and that would pretty much sum it up.

Joking aside, I think that getting the right team in place has been a huge challenge but is greatly rewarding when everyone is pulling in the same direction.

What did you study in school/ university?  

I studied French Literature at Columbia University which led me to Paris and my first job working for Tom Ford there at Gucci.

Where are you from originally?  

Dallas, Texas.

What was your first job? 

I was Tom Ford’s PA at Gucci.

 

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What first sparked your interest in floristry? 

I never wanted to be a florist, per se, but have always been fascinated by and drawn to beauty, hence my first career in fashion. What led me to start FLOWERBX was that I wanted to provide a solution for something that didn’t exist on the market. As a working mom of three children, I was buying my clothes online, my beauty online, my farm-fresh groceries online, but it was impossible to buy fresh, simple flowers for myself or someone else in a consistent, convenient, and beautiful way online.

Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?

I am constantly inspired by Natalie Massenet, a friend and one of our early investors.  Natalie completely changed the way that people buy fashion with NET-A-PORTER. Before she started, no one could conceive of buying an evening dress online, and now it’s completely normal.  I would like to do the same thing in making flowers as accessible as they are desirable.

What were some hurdles you had to overcome in the early days of FLOWERBX? 

Oh, the hurdles were, and still are, endless. The firm that was doing our first real website went bankrupt in the middle of the build which was a huge early challenge. Setting up the different territories on a limited budget has also been very challenging, but ultimately very rewarding.

What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?

I am constantly learning lessons, daily even, but I think the most important lesson I’ve learned is in regards to raising money. We have raised quite a bit of money and our amazing, late Chairman, Mark Sebba, told me not to take money from anyone I didn’t want in “my club.” That bit of advice has saved me from making a lot of big mistakes and is one that I always share with fellow entrepreneurs when they are fundraising.

What is your busiest period?

Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas have historically been our busiest periods, but we are happy that our subscription business has grown so significantly and that our self-purchase client base has grown as well which helps mitigate the seasonality of running a flower company.

 

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The best advice you’ve ever received.  

My old boss, Tom Ford, always said, “Don’t hire anyone you don’t want to have dinner with.” If you’re working as hard as we are, day in and day out, it is vitally important that you like the people that you work with.

Your favourite flower is…

It’s impossible to name my favourite flower, as it changes with the seasons. Right now, ranunculus are my favourite with their delicate dreamy petals, but then peonies will come back into season and take centre stage. In the summer, I can’t get enough of dahlia and then hydrangea come back in the fall and mesmerise with their sculptural, voluptuous heads. So, I don’t have a favourite flower, but I definitely have a floral pet each season.

What’s next for FLOWERBX? 

Global floral domination. Hahahaha. Our next immediate plans are to launch across the entire US, as our service is now only available on the East and West Coasts.

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