Episode 42
February 23, 2021

From Farm to Fortune

with Christina Stembel, Founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers

About this episode

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Farmgirl Flowers is a national floral eCommerce brand that features beautiful hand curated arrangements and bouquets wrapped in their signature upcycled burlap coffee sacks. In this episode, Founder and CEO, Christina Stembel, shares with us her incredible journey from growing up on a farm in Indiana to moving to New York City to pursue acting, to working as the Director of Alumni Relations at Stanford Law School, to launching Farmgirl Flowers from her apartment using just her savings. What started as a one woman bootstrapped operation has blossomed into a team of over 160 people that spans 2 continents and 6 distribution centers. We talk about her experience being rejected by investors, how COVID affected her business, and how she's defied all the odds in building a self-funded flower empire expected to hit over $100M in revenue by the end of this year.

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In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • Why growing up on a farm in a very small town led her to New York City to try an acting and modeling career
  • What brought her to Chicago, led to a career in hotel management, and then brought her out to San Francisco where she saw so much innovation and was inspired by entrepreneurship
  • How the idea for Farmgirl Flowers came about and why she knew this idea was better than all of her other ideas
  • What the early days of Farmgirl was like and how Christina worked hard and bootstrapped the whole operation
  • How the attempt at fundraising went and why she decided to forgo the painful process and continue forward self-funded
  • What Christina would have done differently looking back over the past 10 years of Farmgirl and why
  • Why opening another facility in another country right before the pandemic led to the main distribution center in San Francisco getting shut down which helped save the company throughout 2020 and into 2021
  • How they have grown to include three full fledged distribution centers with plans to add another this year and six partner fulfillment centers with plans to add 20 to 30 more this year
  • How Christina has grown as a leader, some of the challenges she has faced as a female leader, and what her strengths are as she continues to lead a growing company
  • What’s on the horizon for Farmgirl Flowers and why it is an exciting time for the company and the people who have fallen in love with it as consumers

To Find Out More:



“I'm a firm believer that you can't be what you can't see.”

“I think all of my friends and family were just sick of hearing that idea every single week and kind of sighed a unified sigh of relief when I finally started Farmgirl.”

“I would go pick up burlap at the coffee shops. I'd come back and cut it. I'd make the arrangements, have them ready for them to pick up, and then I would do customer service and I would do sales and all day long and I'd go to bed around midnight and get back up at 3:00. And I did that for the first two years from my dining room.”

“I think you have to be very realistic and be self aware... Like everything in life, be really self aware of what you're doing.”

“I honestly did not think there was another way. “I never thought that I could bootstrap to a hundred million dollars. I did not think that that was possible. I just had never heard of it.”

“I've decided I'm not wasting any more time. There are years that I wasted. Thirty percent of my time was trying to fundraise. Thirty percent.”

“So now I'm making the decisions, we're buying the properties, and we're providing benefits that I would never be able to do for my team.”

“We need to do the hard things no matter what.”

“I think that I made a lot of mistakes as a leader that I'm OK with because I learned from them and then hopefully become a better leader.”

“Moving very quickly to the solution phase and the problem solving phase, I think has really made me a strong leader and has kept us alive, especially this last year where I don't get so emotionally tied to what the issue is. Let's just get to the outcome.”

“I decided very quickly that we might go under. We very much might go under, but I'm going to give it the fight of my life. So if I do go under, I have no regrets later on.”

“I think I would have not given thirty percent of my time to try to raise capital. I would have if I have a two percent chance as a solo female founder, I would give it two percent of my time.”

“You don't fall quietly anymore because everybody is writing about it when you fall. And social media or the press, but just don't worry about it. Don't look around. Just get back up and do it.”

Read the transcript

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