Bloomscape is looking to take its special brand of grow-how from living room to patio, and is readying a collection of outdoor plants to introduce next spring.
The Detroit-based houseplant company just raised an additional $15 million in venture backing. And it also announced the acquisition of Vera, a plant-care app that provides content and troubleshooting.
"We've been expanding fast, and it's always been our vision to reinvent the garden center for the next hundred years, and for a new generation of gardener," says Justin Mast, Bloomscape founder and CEO. "And it's been great to give people some joy with houseplants during the pandemic. We've been looking forward to a moment when we can expand the line and offer outdoor plants as well."
Still, Mast tells D2C FYI that selling through the pandemic "has been a bit of a mixed bag." On the plus side, more time at home has swelled the ranks of plant mommies and daddies, many of them as devoted to ferns and philodendrons as others are to pandemic pets. "People are getting into gardening because it's a stress reliever, and a nice contrast to time spent online. Plants give us a way to connect with nature,” he says.
On the other hand, navigating steady logistical disruptions right as the company is trying to scale up its operation has been challenging. "Every little component of our supply chain has been under stress," he says.
Mast, a fifth-generation grower, says he's confident that America's pandemic-fueled fascination with plants will only intensify. "My family and I had so much fun gardening this summer, and our three boys are old enough now to enjoy it.”
People are going to want more of that connection, "so this [coming] spring, we'll also be focused on how to help people grow plants on their decks and patios, as well,” he adds.
Bloomscape works hard to appeal to total beginners, offering access to Plant Mom, who helps with problems. "We provide a lot of care and support onboarding people who are new to plants," Mast says. "But we've also got a lot of customers who are looking for plants you can do a little more with, can be grown through the winter. We see a lot of excitement about that."
The test of the company's Edible Garden selections sold out in a week. Plants here include a kale mix, tomato, lavender, peppers, mint and chamomile, and aromatic, savory and spicy collections.
Another big hit? The recently introduced cat grass, meant for cats to play in and -- at least occasionally -- snack on.
With the company’s total fundraising at $24 million, plans call to add staff, refine its regional fulfillment strategy and expand product offerings.
Mast says it's been daunting trying to manage and expand a cohesive team while working virtually. "It's hard to build a culture that way. As we're adding new people, making sure personal and workplace connections are still being fostered is just much more difficult."
He says the company's marketing, including such streaming channels as Hulu, "continues to get a really good response for us."
And while Bloomscape has gotten good responses from pop-ups and events before, Mast says there's no plan now for physical retail: "We're still focused very much on digital."