Winnipeg flower business blooms into international operation
A small flower business started in a Winnipeg woman's basement has now bloomed into an international operation. Experts say technology is opening the door for small local businesses to bring worldwide customers right to their virtual front door.
Catherine Metrycki, founder of Callia, started her flower business working out of her basement. Now about four years later, she says Callia has expanded to every province in Canada and is branching out with locations in the United States as well.
But Callia is not your typical florist.
"At Callia we do things differently—we only do online ordering. So no store fronts, just warehouses all across the country where we pick and pack bouquets," Metrycki said.
With locations coast-to-coast, customers can purchase a bouquet online and have it delivered right to a friend or family member's front door, no matter where they are.
Metrycki said she had the idea for the floral delivery business a few years ago when she wanted to send flowers to a friend.
"My lightbulb moment was, if only someone had created an easier, more consistent way to send a really special moment—and so Callia is all about that, we try to create a really delightful experience every single time you want to celebrate with someone," she said.
"It's a really consistent trustworthy way to send flowers to someone you really care about—easy, simple, always on time, always good quality."
Callia recently closed a Series A round of financing, which brought a $6.4 million investment into the company, launching this local business across the continent.
Robert Warren, a lecturer with the University of North Dakota's marketing department, said he is seeing more small businesses opting to go virtual.
"The fact is you can easily compete electronically in those further away markets," he said.
Warren said in many ways, small local businesses have a leg up on the retail giants who have to appeal to a mass market.
"Small companies, though, what they can do is focus down on a particular market and understand what makes that market buy—whether that market is in Winnipeg or that market is in St. John's, Newfoundland, they are going to react the same way," he said.
Organizations like the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce are helping small businesses make that jump into the virtual economy.
"That is truly one of the benefits of the digital age is that your market is no longer just your back yard, but is the entire globe," said Loren Remillard, president and CEO of the Chamber.
"The importance of having that digital presence where people can find you, get to know you, get to understand your product, your service, what makes it unique, is critical whether they are actually going to do an online purchase or they are going to come into your business."
Remillard said getting an online presence, like a website or Instagram page, is the first step to reaching a bigger customer base.
Though—as Warren says the move to digital is the wave of the future—Remillard doesn't believe all customers will be virtual.
"There is always going to be a place for the bricks-and-mortar store. People are tactile, they want to be able to touch it, see it, get a sense of it before they make a purchase."
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce said businesses looking to get started online can visit its website.
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