Lilla Bello’s Bloom Boxes are a big hit
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Toby Kassoy had a rough 2020 with her Santa Monica boutique floral and event styling firm Lilla Bello.
She was contracted to decorate rooms with lilacs, tulips, roses, lilies and other beauties, but the virus was preparing to annihilate 16 years of hard work.
“The bulk of our business was weddings and events,” she said. “Within two weeks of COVID, the whole year was canceled. That was really hard on us. I had a moment where I thought, ‘Oh my God. What’s going to happen?’”
A longtime Santa Monica resident, Kassoy gathered herself and pivoted the firm, which is based in ArtStation. She teamed up with friends who own farms and created Bloom Boxes. Delivery in Los Angeles is available on Wednesdays or as a single gift.
“When COVID hit, we were paralyzed for a couple weeks,” she said. “In that two weeks, we heard about local farms who, at that time of year, were at the height of spring cuts. The local farmers were dumping their crops. They couldn’t get products to consumers. It was a disaster.”
Farms, she explained, stagger their cuts throughout the year in a “massive” timing effort.
“It was a domino effect that has on the farming community,” Kassoy said. “We started reaching out to the local farmers and tried to figure out ways to get their products directly to us.
“That’s what inspired Bloom Boxes. The whole theory was to get fresh flowers back into the homes of people and give flowers to people again.”
The boxes include instructions for conditioning the flowers and link to an instructional video for arranging flowers. The prices start at $72.25 per week at Lilla Bello, which means “beautiful lilac” in Italian.
Soon, Kassoy had to expand to floral farms throughout the world so she could meet her customers’ needs. Peonies are only available throughout the East Coast and Oregon, while others are imported from Holland and Israel.
Bloom Box flowers aren’t perfect, she added. The flowers aren’t cleaned or trimmed. Kassoy called the service an at-home project that everybody can do. Add-on services include clean stems.
“If they don’t want to get their hands dirty or it’s not their jam, we’ll do it for them,” Kassoy said.
“Very few people want us to do that. They’re super into it. They want to see dirt and peel the leaves off. We also have, in our store, an introductory tool kit for our budding floral designers.”
Most people, she added, do not realize that when she receives flowers from farms, they’re dirty, rubber banded together and poorly hydrated.
“Tulips, for example, look half dead,” she added. “Each flower is different, but we cut the stems and lower-level stems off. Lilacs have branchy, woody stems. There’s a technique to conditioning those. You cut the stems at the bottom at an angle and up the stems. They hydrate and draw water into these beautiful blooms.”
These flowers provide an emotional self-care response. For a half hour to an hour, consumers open the box of flowers, watch videos and unwind.
“They’re a massive stress relief for people,” Kassoy said. “Even now, as the pandemic effects lessen, it’s a wonderful concept.
“We’re definitely becoming more mindful. I think what happens naturally, during any crisis or pandemic, people become more award of one another. People wear masks and make eye contact to say hello. We’re more conscious about connecting with people around us. I actually wave my hand or say hello louder than I would have normally.”
With events slowing emerging, Kassoy is planning to keep Bloom Boxes beyond the pandemic. She said they make the perfect gift for Mother’s Day because consumers have really connected with them.
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