Over 10 years ago, Joe Vega did a favor for a florist.
While visiting a florist, Joe saw her struggling online and experienced firsthand the difficulties she had in getting customers to her website. He offered to help with some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) magic.
It was a disaster.
The florist called him in tears a couple of days later. Demand had gone through the roof and she couldn’t cope with the sheer volume of orders she was receiving.
It was a shocking surprise that ultimately broke new ground and business boomed.
Joe learned from the experience and realized there was an opportunity here that could create a substantially improved situation for florists who wanted better.
But Joe also had a newborn baby to think about.
Not to mention a tempting job offer from a major company. A steady corporate life was now his for the asking.
In possibly the toughest decision he ever made, Joe decided to follow his dream. Along the way, he talked to a developer friend, Ken Garland, about the potential he felt was there.
It was an easy sell.
Although Ken was an expert developer, he had spent some of his early childhood in his grandparents mom-and-pop flower shop.
Grandma took care of the designs, while Grandpa worked full-time as a painter and made time to cover deliveries.
Both Ken and Joe had been brought up believing in hard work and the American dream.
And both had experience with the wire services, with mutual reservations about the way things were going in the industry.
They became United Florist Network (UFN).
From the get-go, the company understood that certain “services” were starting to turn the tables on florists, essentially forcing them to become the ones doing all the serving.
Joe and Ken believed their services could be provided on a performance basis. No upfront fees, no monthly costs, no codified containers, no hidden charges.
Joe honed his already impressive SEO and design skills. Ken recognized that no software existed that was tailored
to florists’ needs. They decided to create a whole new software platform from scratch. And they did.
This would be an independent, “bootstrap” operation. No paychecks, no safety nets.
Their first employees enjoyed salaries and health care coverage. But Joe and Ken went without and reinvested everything back into the business they believed in.
Hard work achieved powerful results.
It also garnered great word of mouth from happy florists, who not only benefitted from the ambitious new company, but could relate to its situation.
The new performance-based payment structure was a big innovation for the floral industry at the time and it was greeted with some skepticism. These guys were young, cocky, and naive. They would learn the hard way.
But it became a battle cry. It was meant. It was backed up.
And it worked.
Lou La Venia, a member of the Association de la Fleuristerie du Quebec (AFQ), who had once played a major role in exposing a double taxation on florists in Quebec, Canada, became a mentor.
He actively encouraged florists to sign up with the new company.
Today, Lovingly’s vast experience acts as a springboard to new ideas and smart innovations, keeping us firmly at the cutting edge of the industry. We are still proudly independent and still give that same battle cry:
We don’t make a penny until you do.
And we are just as passionate about creating partnerships between your art and our expertise.