VU alumnus Laurens Mulder started The Flower Family with two of his friends. Their start-up distinguishes itself from other businesses in the floral industry: “When a customer places an order, the flowers haven’t been harvested yet.”
You grew up in the Bulb Region and your dad also worked in the floral industry. Were you even given a choice?
Laurens laughs. „Luckily I did, but you’re right, it’s in my blood. Even as a child, I was surrounded by flowers constantly. My father owns a flower exporting business and exports flowers to northern France. I helped him with minor tasks here and there: I would fill freight trucks and during Christmas I would help put glitter on the flowers with one of my friends, who now happens to be my business partner. I grew up amidst flowers.”
Why did you choose to start your own company instead of joining your father’s business?
„I saw first-hand what could be improved within the company, but I was always told that the floral industry was different and “this was just the way things were done”. It wasn’t just my dad who told me this – his staff would tell me the same thing. I asked myself where that resistant attitude came from. I was studying Organization Science at the time and wrote my thesis about innovation within family businesses.”
„I learned that a business is an organism that adjusts itself to its surroundings. Things change, so you need to change too. From a human perspective, that might be difficult at times. When I wanted to start improving the company, my dad told me: “If you think you’ve got it all figured out, just start your own business.” Looking back, I’m grateful he told me so.”
What do you differently from your competitors?
„You can essentially get flowers anywhere. We aim for high quality and strive to be sustainable and of societal value. We use the same group of local cultivators that we have selected ourselves, based on sustainability. In my thesis, I concluded that much of a product’s quality and sustainability is lost through the many links in the logistics chain. We find our way around that by doing business with the farmers directly. And because we don’t keep any stock ourselves, there is no wastage whatsoever.”
And what does that social factor look like exactly?
„Our bouquets are assembled by people with a distance to the labour market, who would other wise be sitting at home. Hasan, a Syrian refugee, is one of our employees. He used to work as a florist in Damascus but wasn’t able to find a job in The Netherlands. Now he works for us a few days a week and it’s done him so much good. That really adds value to a bouquet of flowers.”
What can we expect from you in the future?
„At this point we’re just a small seed, but in the long run we hope to be the first socially sustainable flower business on an international level. We’re dealing with minimum order quantities set by our suppliers. We’re not able to reach that requirement at all times yet. Sometimes we end up with leftovers, which we deliver to retirement homes in Amsterdam, or our girlfriends get lucky.”
The Flower Family offers a discount code especially for VU Magazine’s readers. When placing an order, use code VU_Alumni and you won’t be charged any shipping costs.