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7 Questions with Sally of In Bloom Florist

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Sally Kobylinski, Co-Owner of In Bloom Florist, as a part of the Building the Brand podcast: a series hosted by our Creative Director & Founder, Ben Gill and Christian Harris of Aqueous Films.

In Bloom Florist is a local flower shop in Orlando. Over the past 30 years, they have grown to become the largest retail florist in the Central Florida area. They serve the Orlando area and beyond with swoon-worthy florals for everyday celebrations, weddings, and events.

Read on to learn more about Sally's story and how In Bloom Florist came to be, or listen to the full podcast episode here!

1. How did you stumble into the world of flower shops and florals?

My mom did the flowers for my sister's wedding, she actually had a flower shop when I was a kid and my grandparents had a flower shop, so it runs in the family. My grandfather and grandmother had a shop dating all the way back to the '30s. I made my very first flower arrangement when I was nine, but then never had worked in the flower shop myself after that point.

When I was a young adult, my sister got ready to get married and [John] ended up working at this flower shop where my sister was going to buy the flowers for my mom to design them. He meets me because I put the down payment on flowers for my mom to design the bouquet for my sister's wedding. So that's actually when we first met, weirdly enough. And then we get married two years later.

He actually loved horticulture. When he was in college, they encouraged him to get a job in horticulture.The only thing that he could find was this job at this flower shop and he got a job as a delivery person. After 11 years is when he ended up opening his own shop by himself.

2. How did In Bloom come to be?

[John] crawls into bed this one night and he shuts off the light and says, “I think I'm going to start my own shop.”

So I turned back on the light and I said, “I think that this is one of those things in marriage that people actually talk about.”

He said, “Well, I don't know what to say, but I think I'm going to start my own shop.”

And that's kind of it. He wasn't being rude. I don't think he thought there was much more to say other than that.

So that's when it started and how it started, and it was in 1990. And that was that.

3. How was it in the beginning, opening the business?

I mean, the holidays stunk. Mother's Day, where your image (for me as a mom) of having a family meal and these wonderful cards– I'm making the cards that my kids are giving me, two days later because my husband's at work. It's one of the busiest holidays that we have at the flower shop, so my husband's really not around for that. I've never had a Valentine's Day with my husband. Holidays were not what I imagined they would be as a young married couple, and especially with young kids.

Initially [John] took a salary, so we weren't really afraid of not eating, but we definitely didn't always know what we were doing. It was kind of frightening because you really don't know, what you don't know, until you start down that road.

He had been a designer, a driver, and worked throughout the business for a period of time, but you've never been a collection agency before. You've never been a tax person before. You don't know how to go through all those different variables of having a business until you go through them.

4. When did you become a part of In Bloom?

From the beginning, I would just work holidays: Valentine's and Mother's Day. Every job I had, I would tell them “I'm going to help my husband two days before Mother's Day and two days before Valentine's, so I'm going to need those for vacation days, is that okay?” And they'd always say yes.

I just helped out on the phone for a couple of hours every holiday and then I'd go back to my regular job and that would be it, until 2008. I helped during the recession. I really didn't know up until that moment that flowers were a luxury. Literally every time I answered the phone, someone would cancel their standing order. We were doing stuff for Louis Vuitton and Chanel and all these different companies. I'd pick up the phone and they'd be like “I'd like to cancel our standing order.”

I say seemingly overnight, it went down 40% in business. But it was probably within three months we lost 40% of our business. [By 2011], it had flipped back. We were fine again. We knew we were going to be okay. Then in 2014, [John] asked me to come and help for a longer period of time.

When John talked to me and said, “Will you come back in?”

I said, “Well, I want to be over the Marketing [Department] and over HR.”

I really wanted to work on the business and not in the business.

5. How did you end up in Orlando?

My mom and dad divorced when I was nine (shortly after I made that one flower arrangement). My mom remarried and for her honeymoon, they decided to take us to Disney. I have no idea why.

When we were here at Disney for their honeymoon, our home burned down. The house and the flower shop burned down in one fell swoop, and then we just decided to stay in Orlando. My mom thought it was a good idea to remain in Orlando at Disney, like permanent vacation. So we just stayed.

John was born here. He was born at the hospital down the street [from our store]. One of the very few natives.

6. What do you love about Orlando?

I think for me– and I have a hard time saying this– because for me, the biggest moment came with Pulse. I don't want to talk about that in vain, I don't want to diminish those lives, but I feel like that was such a moment where you can talk about that unity and who we really are. That time really solidified what we all knew about Orlando: [a place] where we come together, where we are unified, where there aren't boundaries, where there aren't differences, where we all have each other's backs, where we all want to do what's right.

7. How proud are you, looking back on 30 years in business?

I think that we're surprised more than proud. I feel humbled probably more than anything. I think a lot of times we walk in the door in the morning and look around and just go “Wow.”

We're really grateful that we're here. I don't think it leaves us too much, the 2008 thing. That was a real thing. I don't take it for granted.

I find myself being more proud of [John] than of us. He's carried it the long haul. I mean, he's done this for 30 years. That's a long time.

A special thanks to Sally for allowing us to share her story. Be sure to listen to the full Building the Brand podcast episode with Sally's full interview linked below!

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About the Building the Brand Podcast

The Building the Brand podcast is produced and hosted by Ben Gill, Creative Director and Founder of Oxenfree Film & Motion, and Christian Harris, Owner of Aqueous Films. Together, Ben and Christian uncover the stories behind some of the most well-known businesses in Orlando and discuss the 'how' and 'why' behind each brand.

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