November 28, 2022

Ace Blooms wants to develop the men’s flower market

If you’ve ever bought flowers online, you’ve gone through dozens of bouquets trying to decide which one says “You’re a pretty awesome grandma.”

But what many buyers don’t realize is that when you send flowers, the order is fulfilled by a florist near Grandma’s house. If it’s in a small town in Nebraska, they might not have the same flowers as a store in Minneapolis or Chicago. Sometimes substitutions have to be made and what grandma ends up getting looks nothing like the picture you saw online.

The Des Moines-based startup Ace flowers seeks to simplify the ordering process and help small florists create bouquets with their best flowers, rather than trying to recreate a stock photo from available stock.

How Ace Blooms Works

Launch of co-founders Shawn Harrington, Justin Schoen and Lyndsay Horgan Goquets in 2014, taking the company through Iowa Startup Accelerator in 2015. Goquets still exists, but going through the accelerator, the trio decided they wanted to target a more specific audience and for the company to have a more unique voice.

As a result, they created Ace Blooms earlier this year. The business is called “The Way Men Buy Flowers Online”.

“We wanted to meet the needs of the male market, and that’s something that women like too,” Harrington said. “They want something to show their husbands and boyfriends.”

When Harrington lived in upstate New York, he visited the local florist for flowers for his mother and grandmother. He told them how much he wanted to spend and what the flowers were for. When ordering flowers online, he didn’t get the same options and was often disappointed with the results.

“It really burned me that once I spent half an hour choosing bouquets, based on photos online. When I saw a photo of what had been sent, it was completely different from what I ordered,” Harrington said. “I called to complain and the florist apologized and said they were limited in stock, but if I had told them my budget , they could have taken good care of me.”

When ordering from Ace Blooms, the site starts by asking who the flowers are for, allowing you to choose “girlfriend”, “wife” and “mother” with just one click. You also mark the occasion (“birthday”, “anniversary”, and “congratulations” are all quick-select options), when you want them delivered, and how much you want to spend, ranging from $50 to $130.

After placing an order, it is sent to a local florist who composes a personalized bouquet. There is also an optional preference field, if you want to specify that Aunt Helen likes the dais.

Planning for a sustainable business

Harrington said Ace Blooms might have 15 to 20 orders a day on average, but that can reach over 100 a day when a big party rolls around. Because Ace Blooms works with florists in all 50 states, there’s no problem increasing orders when something like Grandparents Day or the Florists’ Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, rolls around.

Ace Blooms was recently part of 1 Million Cups 1 in a million contest, as one of 40 teams submitting an elevator pitch for a $25,000 prize. Ace didn’t budge in the next round, but Harrington said there were other plans in the works to expand Ace’s mark.

The company was recently featured on the Men’s Style Lab Blog, and Harrington said they plan to partner with more male-focused sites to get men thinking more about flowers. This month, Ace Blooms will also launch a “Bourbon & Blooms” video series, featuring men talking about flowers while sipping bourbon.

“We’re seeing a lot of shopping habits changing, with people wanting to shop faster and from their phones, and florists are trying to adapt to those online customers,” Harrington said. “We want Ace Blooms to be the first solution in the florist industry. But we also want the company to complement other products in the men’s market.

Joe Lawler is a Des Moines-based freelance journalist.