My New Years Letter to Everyone Who Supported Three Notch Florals This year

Posted January 5, 2021

I sent out a New Years email to all of the amazing people who trusted Three Notch to provide them with flowers in 2020, whether it was their wedding or a "just because" delivery. Even though this year was a bit of a financial and emotional disaster, their support saved it from being a total loss. They gave me hope, but they (and so many others) also prompted some big changes at Three Notch. This company is not the same as it was on January 1, 2019. I have copied the letter below. 

Last year I said I was going to start a blog in which I talked more deeply about issues affecting the floral industry, and then I never did it. But this year, I'm seizing the opportunity. I want to continue the conversation started in this letter. If you'd like to receive an email about these posts, you can sign up at the bottom of the page. And as always, if you would like to write to me about anything, please do! You can reach me here.

Three Notch Floral's top nine posts from Instagram in 2020, and almost every single stem is locally grown or foraged.

Happy New Year to all of you!

 

I'm sending you this note because you are the amazing people who supported our local flower farms and trusted Three Notch with your events, your elopements, and your deliveries. There is nothing I can say about last year that you have not already heard or read or thought or felt. But if you will allow me a moment, I'd like to tell you what 2020 meant to Three Notch and to me, how thankful I am for all of you, and my hope for this new year.

 

The un-sugar coated truth is that 2020 brought a heavy financial burden.  The revenue for the business fell by two thirds, even with all your incredible support for the bouquet deliveries. There were times when $10,000 of expected revenue would evaporate in a matter of days with postponements and cancellation. And there were months during which I would receive just one or even no new inquiries for weddings. I have nurtured this company from a seed and love this career, but I had real moments of despair when I wondered if there was still a future for Three Notch.

 

And yet, when I look back on 2020, I do not see a year of sadness.

 

Health

 

I am thankful to my core that my family, friends, and myself are healthy and alive. In years past, I've overlooked how lucky I am for our health, but this year I am fully cognizant. My father owns a small restaurant and comes into contact with strangers every single day. At 69 with 2 heart surgeries under his belt, his safety is a constant worry, but he has repeatedly tested negative for COVID over these past 10 months. Four of my friends gave birth to children in the midst of the pandemic, all of whom are healthy and happy back home. My young cousin is in remission from an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer, and in all her trips to the hospital for treatment, she too has remained safe from COVID.  In a year of so much illness and death, this is truly a miracle.

 

Change 

 

This year also brought me the opportunity to think deeply about the world I wish to live in and my role in bringing that world about. I know that sounds a little vague and hippy-dippy, but it has upended so many of my decisions. When I was sprinting from one event to the next, I thought only about filling my immediate needs. I did not think about how the decisions I made affected others, and the space between events this year (space that sometimes felt endless) had at least one enormous silver lining -- it allowed my mind to absorb and digest. And when I had the time to evaluate my choices and be honest with myself, I knew I was not living up to my own standards.

 

Supporting Local Businesses; Supporting Our Environment

 

Before this year, Three Notch used locally grown flowers when it was convenient. I liked the idea of local flowers and their benefits, but I will be totally honest -- I did not make it a priority. No more. In March I faced the reality that without events, the future of our local flower farms was not certain, and I realized just how important to me it was to have a local flower industry. Buying local flowers is no longer a choice of convenience. When possible, Three Notch will only use local flowers going forward. It's not easy to make this change. The availability of flowers changes on a dime. A storm or a frost can and has wiped out an order. And instead of placing an order in advance with 1 wholesaler, I need to compare availability lists of half a dozen different farms every week. But this extra effort on my part creates local agriculture jobs that pay a living wage and supports an industry that is a careful steward of the land. If building a healthy community and environment is important to me, this is a necessary change.

 

In March, I started delivering bouquets of locally grown flowers and switched to using only locally grown flowers for the few small weddings Three Notch was fortunate to be a part of. And even in this incredibly difficult year, your trust in our work and your support of these efforts still brought $12,500 to our local farms. Thank you!!!

 

Making a Floral Community for Everyone, Not Just the Privileged

 

The other necessary change is to make this industry accessible to everyone. The conversation about systemic racism started by the Black Lives Matter movement and continued by so many thoughtful and caring individuals in my life opened my eyes to a privilege I had long overlooked. So many floral businesses, including Three Notch, are able to start and continue because there is someone else behind the scenes paying the bills. And as business owners, we perpetuate this exclusive club by hiring freelance workers, who don't get dependable hours and pay. 

 

In many cases, to be an event florist, you need to have a flexible schedule and some other way to pay the bills. If a person needs regular income for rent or their mortgage every month, if a person needs a set schedule because of childcare or other personal obligations, if a person needs their job to provide healthcare, the floral world is an unwelcoming place.

 

This year has opened my eyes to the role privilege plays in my career, and I am determined to do my part to remove this barrier and create opportunity at Three Notch. It is my goal to move away from relying on only freelancers, and I will create a part time position at Three Notch in 2021 that I hope becomes full time by 2022. I know that one position will not fix this problem, but it is a beginning that makes me hopeful for a larger change to the entire industry.

 

Thank You

 

What a long email! Apologies if you were expecting this to be a short paragraph of well wishes for the new year! But I wanted to take the time to explain how this year has changed Three Notch, and thank you for your role in this change. You expressed your support of our local farms, you sent me notes about the importance of our community, you talked with me about difficult issues, you posted your own information and thoughts that challenged my preconceptions. It is very true that the small events and the bouquet deliveries saved this year from being a complete loss financially. But it is even more true that you helped me grow and have made this company better for it.

 

We're not out of this pandemic yet, but I am hopeful that we will emerge better than we entered. I know Three Notch will. And my deepest wish is that you will as well. I hope that 2021 brings us health, friendship, family, and a better version of ourselves.

 

Happy New Year,

Cara

Hudson Valley florist based in Bloomington, NY.

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