Bridal bouquets, Mother’s Day surprises, Valentine’s gifts… it’s not hard to see how the loveliest flowers in the world end up in the hands of women. And if these happen to be Colombian-grown, then we can confirm that they’ve been in the care of women from the beginning.
We want to share with you three stories of the amazing ladies behind our flowers. This is who we are:
Isabel: The love of a mother
With 51 years of age, Isabel is still bursting with energy. She’s a worker in one of the many farms around the Bogota plateau and she lights up when she talks about her lovely flowers; even more when she mentions her girls. Her two youngest daughters (18 and 21) are in college at the moment. The eldest is 27, she graduated in September from Business Management and she’s recently given Isabel another big reason to smile: her first grandchild is on the way.
After decades of working with flowers, Isabel feels that her work is responsible for all the good things in her life. It was in the farm that she met her husband, who works there as a security guard and with whom she’s built a happy life in a village called Marquez. Every day she wakes up at 3:45 am to make breakfast and lunch for her college-bound daughters, then she leaves at 6:20 for work and at 7 she starts her routine in the greenhouse with fields of alstroemerias.
She mentions that she usually talks to her flowers: “Good morning, how did my babies wake up today? I’ll give you a bit of water to get you all pretty, mamitas”. The confession makes her laugh and she tells us that people find it silly but that in her years in the farm she’s seen it work. “My plants receive the good energy that I get every day when I wake up”, she explains. More than her positive vibes, Isabel is very gentle when handling and selecting each flower, as part of her daily work. She’s got the mom touch, and you can see the difference in those alstroemerias that have been cared for with maternal love.
Camila: the power of persuasion
Women are not always interested in flowers, can you believe it? Take Camila (25), a salesperson from Bogota who until two years ago had no concern for them. Her first professional experience after college in 2015 was with a firm focused on mass consumer products and in 2016 she got the opportunity to work for a flower exporting company. Her studies and her city life didn’t give her much knowledge about agriculture, let alone about the floral industry, but that’s precisely why she took it as chance to learn something new. “It’s very different to sell a short-lived product like flowers than to sell something like shampoo” says Camila. When she speaks about the flowers she works with, you wouldn’t be able to tell that she’s just learned to love them in the last couple of years.
“People think there’s only white, red, yellow roses, but they are classified according to the variety, and things like the size of their heads, their shapes, and the length of their stems define their worth”, she explains. While Valentine’s Day is the most important season in her year, roses are good business all year round. “I’ve realized how special these flowers are as gifts, the different things you can express through the right kind. I see now why surprising someone with Colombian roses can feel like a luxury”.
For her, part of the reason why they are a good gift is the fact that we take them home and care for them, to keep them blooming longer. “It’s not like giving someone a chocolate that they eat and that’s it. With a rose, you’re taking home something that will keep bringing beauty while you nourish it”.
She’s got to be this persuasive when discussing flowers, because her job is to connect clients from all over the world with the perfect roses they need. More than work contacts, Camila feels she’s made friends with florists and shop owners from different cultures, who ask for her advice on the best ways to present and sell their flowers to the consumer. Trusting in her feminine sensibility, she puts herself in the place of those women about to get her product as a gift. Empathy is her secret weapon and she’s so good, you wouldn’t believe that two years ago she had no idea about flowers.
Cristina: the leader
The farm was her dad’s. It’s been running for 30 years and when he passed away, just five years ago, Cristina had to take over. She lives in Medellin, one of Colombia’s most important cities, and every day she drives to Rionegro, a nearby town with the perfect amount of rainwater and sunlight to grow chrysanthemums. She’s learned to love those flowers and if you ask her what’s the best part of her job, she’ll say that being surrounded by nature every day.
Every season they grow a different kind. “For Mother’s Day it’s pink but, in the fall, we have warmer tones like red, orange and yellow”. She believes that those flowers are a reflection of our own diversity in Colombia and that they bring a bit of our country’s beauty wherever they go. Since she took over, Cristina has been focused on perfecting the quality of her products and she claims she can even identify them when she visits stores and supermarkets that sell them in the US.
There’s 420 employees in the farm and she enjoys working close to them daily, but she’s aware of the contrast between her and her late father as leaders. “Being a woman in charge is hard, because it’s usually men. There’s a lack of trust and you have to work to prove yourself and change that. You would think that agriculture is dominated by men but at least 60% of my team is made up of women, many of them single mothers. So actually, there are a lot of opportunities for women here”, she concludes.
With women like her leading the way, we’re sure those opportunities will only grow more.