Inspiring Mom: Erin Benzakein of Floret
When Michèle sent us these gorgeous photos of Erin and her family on their farm outside of Seattle, we knew her life was something meant for sharing. She lives on a farm and grows acres of FLOWERS. Then creates masterful work for weddings and special events that celebrate love. Does it get any more idyllic?
Her story is so sweet and so thoughtful and so earnest that it *might* even make you tear up a bit. Love how she’s managed to blend her life as a mother and her relationship with her children into such a beautiful business. And what a magical and different childhood her kiddos have had.
Let’s hear why she’s such a creative and inspiring mom…
Business name: Floret
I started growing flowers in earnest about 6 years ago but dabbled for a few seasons before that in my home garden.
Where do you work?
My farm is located about an hour north of Seattle, WA. We are nestled in the most incredible little valley, known for its mild climate and superior soils.
What was the inspiration or impetus to start your business?
A few things came into play that helped me realize I was meant to grow and share flowers with the world. First, my great grandmother who nicknamed me her “little flower girl” when I was small passed away. In her memory I planted a tunnel of sweet peas because she always grew them up her patio posts. They were the first blooms that I sold and it was in sharing them that I saw what a profound impact flowers, fragrance and nostalgia can have on a person. The recipient of the bouquet started crying as I handed it to her, remembering her own grandmother and happy childhood summers. In that moment I knew that flowers were my calling!
Second, I had seen an incredible spread in Garden Design Magazine, where floral designer Ariella Chezar took trailing clematis vines and created the most spectacular arrangements imaginable. I was landscaping at the time and had never thought to cut flowers from the gardens I was creating. Seeing what could be done with natural material, fresh from the garden blew my mind!
So, out went the vegetable patch, in went rows of flowers and here we are today!
How does you business inspire your family, or your family inspire your business?
My life revolves around two things, family and flowers. The kids have grown up in the garden and the garden has grown up around the kids. We all spend a great deal of time together harvesting, packing and delivering our blooms. Even though running a bustling business is quite intense, I am so very lucky that I’m able to have my kiddos at work with me everyday!
How has it changed or evolved as your children have grown?
In the beginning I wanted very much to focus on the design end of flowers but with the kids being small, taking meetings, being gone at weddings and the high stress level involved with event work didn’t create the lifestyle we were after. So instead I channeled my passion for flowers into the growing end of things, where I could be home nearly all of the time and the kids could come and go from the garden as they pleased. As they get older I am moving back in the direction of my true love, design!
How do you figure out the balance of time with your children and time to work?
I knew before I had children that I wanted to be home with them as they grew. I spent quite a few years trying everything under the sun to create a business that I could do at home. In the early years when they were smaller, I had sweet young college girls come 2-3 days a week during the season to help entertain them while I hustled and made deliveries. My Mom has also been very, very present in our lives from the start! Once “flower season” hits in the spring, she takes the kids each weekend so I can do weddings and get caught up on the flower madness. She also swoops in when I’m melting down and does the mountain of laundry in my basement, shops for groceries, takes the kids to lessons, mops the kitchen floor and anything else that has fallen through the cracks. Without her fierce and loving support we would all be surely lost!
I am asked all of the time, how on earth we manage all that we do and with children in the mix too! To add icing on the cake, our kids are homeschooled as well! It’s crazy and intense and beautifully rewarding all at the same time. First off, I am really, really relaxed when it comes to structure and parenting. I think much more so than most ; ) Being flexible and having a high tolerance for chaos has helped immensely but running a successful business and being a good Mom is really, really tough!
Day to day, the kids go to bed late because we work late, they spend afternoons helping pack flowers because we have orders to get out, they know how to answer the phone politely, make flower labels, write an invoice and carefully set out centerpieces at a wedding. Their lives are unrecognizable from their friends but they both have gotten a serious amount of drive and follow through from growing up on a farm. My daughter Elora says she is going to write the most hysterical book about her childhood, because it’s all so unbelievable and crazy!
While raising children and growing a successful business at the same time is super intense, it has been the most magical and rewarding experience of my life!
All photos by Michèle M. Waite.