What do you get when you mix a kiwi with a VW bus? Typically you'd get that one guy you're sorta friends with and fully jealous (and a bit confused) of his lifestyle and how he gets paid to blog and camp for a living... Don't be discouraged child, because this is not one of those run-of-the-mill #vanlife stories. This is a chat with a most Unlikely Florist.
Spencer Falls has been consistently pumping out some of the most beautiful and creative flower arrangements this side of the Mississippi for quite sometime now. Based out of a hidden compound on a side street in Venice, CA, you'll find him building, creating, and melting hearts while shaking the neighbors windows to some sweet jazz melodies from his boombox. With an upcoming pop-up at our new flagship store in DTLA, and a collaboration tee release, we thought we'd gain a bit more insight into how someone goes about making a living slinging flowers out of a van. Don't be fooled though, according to Falls, 'I'm not just some dirty hippy selling flowers on a corner. That's not me, man.'
BANKS JOURNAL: So Spence, how long have you been The Unlikely Florist?
SPENCER FALLS: What month are we in? Fuck, honestly I think's been a solid and proper two years! Which doesn't seem like that long, but also, so much has happened that I dunno, maybe I've been fucking around for so long that I never realized how much could actually get done in a short span of time haha.
BANKS: It seems like you've transitioned from a florist into more of an artist, how did you get started and get to this point?
SPENCER: Just bought flowers and jumped in the van and started selling them haha! Yeah I mean, I was out of a job as a restauranteur, which wasn't the worst thing haha, and I was pursuing the acting career and was just right there, ready for a fuckin' job and the job just didn't come and so in the meantime I was like, how can I make some cash? I'm going back home to New Zealand in a few weeks so I can't go get another job, but what am I gonna do sit around for a couple weeks or whatever? I'd had the thought, joked about it for years actually, "Ah if everything goes to shit, I'll just sell flowers outta the van." So I just went and did it and it actually worked haha. And then just worked my fucking ass off to keep it going.
BANKS: And the van... she been good for a florist?
SPENCER: Fuck it's been treating us pretty damn well! Fires up every time no worries.
BANKS: You have plans on ever settling down like a normal florist and getting an actual storefront or just keep cruising outta the van?
SPENCER: Probably just gonna stick with the van life, eh? Cheap rent ya know! And then like, I think that, the van was definitely the catalyst for all this stuff: getting into flowers and all that, and it's probably the most enjoyable part of the business haha. Just having a wad of flowers, having em all stacked in the van and hanging out there just cruising making arrangements and hanging out. Definitely some of the most joyful times I've had with the business has just been hanging out, selling flowers, kicking it and talking shit with people who roll by.
SPENCER: There's just too much waste. When you have a perishable commodity like flowers.. you buy too many, you go out and try to sell and if you don't sell enough suddenly you've lost a bunch of money. Not only did you not make sales, but you lost money because you didn't sell shit. So it's just like, I mean, that's how florists are or were. Because we didn't have point of sale, you couldn't be mobile out there making sales. At this point, though, it doesn't have to be that way, it's a wasteful way and waste is just not the right move on any part. Whether it's bad for your business or bad for the environment, so yeah, I don't see any real reason or interest in having like a store front because I believe that in regards to selling lot's of flowers, subscriptions is how we wanna do it. And people love the van! Why be like everyone else with a storefront when we can be cruising in the van!
BANKS: Speaking of that, how have these pop ups been doing for ya?SPENCER: It's been good, you know, we have subscription flowers too and that's what we're really pushing for. We launched it in December, ya know, we'll come out there on Sunday and we'll be selling flowers and all that sorta thing, but what we really want is for people to commit to having flowers in their life. And whether that means you've got a bouquet you can give to someone on a biweekly basis or whether you just want to enjoy them yourself. Make it easy, just have it delivered to your doorstep and make it easy on us and we just know that we're gonna give you flowers every other week.
BANKS: Tell me a bit more about this subscription thing you're running...
SPENCER: These things (above image), are essentially part of the subscription business. The idea is that when people subscribe, they get their flowers, but when they get their next cycle of flowers, if they leave the flowers out for us, we'll take them back and donate 5% from that sale to our growers, and now we've got dried flowers and we rearrange them into something like this, where it's displayed behind glass, and we'll sell that as a new piece, more of a fine art kind of piece. A portion of that sale we also donate to our growers, trying to recycle as much as possible and trying to recycle the money a bit more and divvy it up, ya know, support the people that are fuckin' making it all possible. Especially with all the fires and shit that are going on these days, it's rough being a grower ya know?
Come hang out with us at our DTLA Flagship store, this Sunday where The Unlikely Florist will be popping up all day helping spread
the good word of flora and fauna for you to take home!
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it's a feed that never leaves us hungry.