Can you share a bit about your business and what you do?
Bella’s Bloom is a small floral home decor online shop based in Jersey City, NJ, that I founded with my twin sister. We wanted to liven up living spaces by creating unique, plant-focused decor for city dwellers and other budding plant lovers. We also have a stationery line under Letterati Co.
This year, we’ve redirected a large part of our business to charitable causes. Besides selling stationery, air plants and planters, and DIY terrarium kits, we are also selling reusable antimicrobial face masks. All profits from mask sales are donated back to charity in the form of masks given to shelters, food banks, and other similar organizations helping those most in need. We also fundraised with donors to directly fund these mask donations.
Since we started the project in April 2020, we’ve donated over 11,000 masks to over 23 charitable organizations. Aside from our COVID-19 efforts, 25% of all our profits support charities we care about, both local and global, from monthly donations of food/supplies for shelters and food banks near us to contributions to organizations funding cancer research.
When and why did you decide to start your new business?
I studied mechanical engineering at Dartmouth College, then almost went into medical consulting. Still, after taking a graduate course in hydraulic modeling, I ended up as a civil engineer in Honolulu (where I’m from) focused on wastewater drainage design and modeling. Three years later, I got a job at the Port Authority of NY & NJ and moved to NYC. I wanted to move across the country and work for the PA to apply my education, knowledge, and experience on projects that would have a real-world impact on millions of people. During my five years there, I worked on huge projects in practically all the airports and shipping ports in the greater NYC area. But despite the stereotypes about the easy life of a public worker, as one of only two drainage specialists in the PA, my work-life was anything but easy.
I turned to gardening and plants for stress relief, which quickly grew from a hobby to practically an addiction. At one point, I realized I had over 100 indoor potted plants (many more outdoor) and probably over 300 air plants. Not to mention, I also had countless succulent propagation clippings. At this point, my boyfriend and I were already living in Jersey City, but our place was by no means big, so I got in trouble with him for hoarding so many plants. I turned to my twin to help me sell some at local fairs in NYC and NJ under her stationery business Letterati Co. They turned out to do quite well, and we started selling them at more fairs. I soon realized I loved my plant hobby way more than being an engineer, so in 2019 I quit my job to turn my hobby into a business. It certainly hasn’t all been easy. We spent 2019 figuring out the local fair scene, then the pandemic hit, and all fairs were canceled. So we’ve spent much of 2020 transforming into an online business.
What do you love most about running your own business?
I love that I can use my business to do good for my community. I am happy to have created a meaningful business that supports issues and charities that matter to me. I also get to connect with customers that have similar passions and values. And of course, I get to have and take care of lots and lots of plants!
What are your overall goals for your business?
Our goal is to help people alleviate stress and anxiety, improve their mental and physical health through plant care (as I did), and encourage everyone to be more environmentally conscious. I would also like to continue using my business to support charitable organizations I believe in.
What services do you provide for anyone who may want to reach out to you/work with you?
We are open to any collaboration. For custom orders and bulk purchases, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also just got accepted to Bulletin, a curated wholesale marketplace, so you can look forward to placing wholesale orders on Bulletin in 2021.