Christine Hoffman, a Minnesota native and seasoned floral business owner, will co-host the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit, delivering panelist commentary about wholesale business modeling and giving a tour of her Twin Cities Flower Exchange operation.
Christine became interested in horticulture at a young age, and decided to embark on a career path in the field starting in 2013 through her Foxglove Marketplace retail shop. Over time, Christine harnessed her passion for education and turned her retail store into a floral design studio, hosting workshops and spreading the Slow Flowers message.
Most recently, Christine founded the Twin Cities Flower Exchange, a wholesale flower market built on chemical-free, sustainable practices and sourcing product from more than 20 local Midwest farms. For the upcoming Summit, attendees will tour the TC Flower Exchange and learn more about Christine’s business experiences.
A dedicated teacher and advocate for sustainability and the benefits of purchasing local product, Christine will share her story and advice with Summit attendees next July.
I caught up with Christine to ask a few questions about her work and what attendees can expect from the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit.
Above: Christine (right) on a visit to meet farmer-partners Jeff and Randi Greiner at Beezie's Blooms
Q. What makes the Twin Cities a particularly vibrant floral community?
A. “In recent years, the Twin Cities has put itself forward as a cultural Mecca in the Midwest. People are realizing that culture, music, design, food, and creative design communities are growing here. We’re owning our Midwestern cold winter identity and creating community around that. People have the thought that trends start on the coast; but the Midwest is starting to set its own trends.”
Q. What can attendees look forward to about Twin Cities in terms of its landscaping and topography?
A. “July will be a great time as it’s still relatively early in the season, especially for cut flower growers. Annuals will be coming in at that point, and as far as the landscape goes, the Twin Cities is an urban area, but we have a lot of parks and green space.”
Q. How has the Slow Flowers message impacted you personally?
A. “The Slow Flowers message really reflects my values and aesthetics. I started Foxglove as a retail shop in 2013, and it was a year into it that I realized once I started talking to people about local flowers and what they mean on a larger scale, people reacted to it. They had little information about it otherwise, so the providing education and creating content became a passion for me really quickly.”
Q. What will be your role in the Summit?
A. “As co-host and founder of Twin Cities Flower Exchange, I’ll talk about the experience of setting up a wholesale hub for cut flower sales. As a panelist, attendees will have a broad view of wholesale hub models, and people will also get a chance to see the Flower Exchange in action. They’ll tour the space, meet the farmers, and have a hands-on experience in the market, seeing it set-up and functioning.”
Q. Which speakers are you most excited to see and why?
A. “I am really excited to hear from Louesa Roebuck of Foraged Flora and Carly Jenkins from Killing Frost Farm. I’m a huge fan of Louesa’s book and her ethics and ideas surrounding floral design and the environment. I think that foraging is a really good topic to discuss because people don’t know a lot about it. Designers think that they know, but they don’t know enough to really do it ethically. Foraging is a really important environmental topic and one that people ask me about a lot.”
Inside the Twin Cities Flower Exchange during a Summer 2018 Slow Flowers Meet-Up
Q. What advice would you give to those interested in developing their careers in farming, arranging, and horticulture in general?
A. “I would say that if it’s your passion, dive in and do it because I think this movement is growing so quickly. You’ll want to take a look at your market first, though, because you should have a good idea of how you’ll set yourself apart. Farming is tough anyway and while the competition is amazing and wonderful, that’s making it tougher on the farmers.”
Q. Which area of your job are you most passionate about?
A. “I have always been a creative person, so the design aspect is one of my favorites, but the education piece is something that inspires me and keeps me going and interested. Whether I’m sharing key points about local flowers during workshops and classes or writing pieces, education keeps me inspired all the time.”
About Mackenzie Nichols:
Slow Flowers contributor Mackenzie Nichols is a freelance writer and experienced floral designer. She writes regularly for the Society of American Florists’ Floral Management magazine, and her work also appears in The Boston Globe, The American Gardener, Canadian Florist, and Tastemakers music magazine. She interned with MSNBC, Donna Morgan, and The American Horticultural Society and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a minor in Music Industry from Northeastern University. Mackenzie worked as a floral designer for Fern Flowers in Boston’s Back Bay Area, and Tiger Lily Florist, the top flower shop in Charleston, South Carolina. She lives in Manhattan’s East Village.