Flowers speak a universal language of love, beauty, and care. And Humble Bouquet’s garden-to-vase floral business communicates even more: a deep appreciation for community and respect for the Earth.
Owner and florist Laura Wheeler is passionate about sharing her love of flowers with her community – with a focus on sustainability. “Just like a regular florist, I do everyday deliveries for birthdays, condolences, weddings, and events. The main difference is that I don’t order flowers from wholesalers. I grow most of them on my property in Bellingham, and buy from local growers.”
Laura is a passionate champion of the garden-to-vase movement, explaining it as the floral equivalent of farm-to-table. “Growing and sourcing seasonal product closer to home means that there is a significantly decreased cost to the environment, less waste, and it is easier to ensure no harmful chemicals were used in the growing process,” she says. “It also means I can use a larger variety of more delicate flowers and foliage in my bouquets and flowers that are very fresh.”
Laura’s approach doesn’t just create beautiful bouquets. It also cultivates a deep appreciation in those who receive the flowers – year-round. She’s able to have a sustainable business model by meeting customer demand throughout the seasons, getting especially creative in the winter.
“I started drying flowers from my garden so I could have arrangements during the winter,” she recalls. “Dried flowers used to be how people had flowers during the winter, before flowers started being shipped from South America and other far away places. It’s what people gave to each other. You used food saved from the summer harvest, the same way you preserve flowers to enjoy in the winter. Embracing seasonality means that you don’t always have everything at your fingertips, so you appreciate what you do have so much more.”
That appreciation extends to the community and those who support Humble Bouquet and the philosophy behind the business. “People have really embraced my business model,” Laura says. “I’ve been meeting so many other makers and small business owners and have found that this is a really good way to live: making things and selling to your neighbors. That used to be the whole economy!”
Laura notes the power of community, especially during the past two years of the Covid pandemic. “The last couple of years have been rough for many, but I’ve had the pleasure of seeing people’s personal notes that they write to each other. I get to look into all these micro-communities within the larger community and see people caring for each other. It makes me feel so many positive things about this community, that so many people are interested in sustainability and using their money and influence to connect and support those they share a community with.”
And that’s just what Laura does, too – support other business owners in the community through her work with Humble Bouquet. “I’m doing a Mother’s Day special this year,” she explains. “I’m partnering with local potter Anna Poupa of Croak and Bloom, who has a home studio in Bellingham and is a mom, too. Together we are creating ‘The Artisan Collection’, locally-grown flower arrangements in locally-made handmade pottery.”
Motherhood plays a special role in Laura’s work, too. “As a mom of young kids, the biggest benefit to having my own home-based business is that I can work when, where, and how I need to. This flexibility (especially during the pandemic) has been necessary for me. I appreciate my customers for supporting my business because it allows me the opportunity to earn income while doing what I love with the ones I love. Because I know how precious this is, I try to support other parents of young children with small businesses as much as possible.”
A subscription to Humble Bouquet is another special way of appreciating mothers, mother-figures, and Mother Earth. “Instead of honoring someone one time, you get to honor them all year,” Laura says. Subscriptions also continue the lessons of sustainability, since recipients get to experience the year-round beauty of Laura’s bouquets and arrangements.
This Mother’s Day, consider communicating with the language of Humble Bouquet flowers: one of sustainability, community-mindedness, beauty, and love.