Life has gotten a little busy for Lisa McPhee and her daughter Alyssa.
The mother/daughter duo and founders of Backroad Blooms don’t really have much time for stopping to smell the roses these days and that would be okay. McPhee shared the idea for their cut flower farm seemed simple enough just over a year ago.
What seemed a simple venture to support her daughter Alyssa in her aspirations as a Business Marketing major at Sonoma State, has since blossomed into a full time job for the mother of four and her 20-year-old daughter.
The stand, at 10040 Highway 120 in Oakdale, adjacent to Oakdale Cheese and Specialties, first opened in September 2018. The idea seemed basic, rent the building, offer flowers from their “back road” property in rural Oakdale, as well as some pumpkins and gourds.
“We have a big pumpkin patch at our house that we’ve had for years,” Lisa said. “Originally we grew pumpkins and gourds for fun. Now we sell them at the shop as well as some from an outside vendor.”
The duo also acquired some adjacent land, enabling them to grow more flowers and have them close by to freshly pick for the stand.
“Everything we grow we grow out in the field. So we close for the winter months and then we’ll re open in the spring,” Lisa said.
“The last year, I’ve just learned so much,” she continued. “My daughter and I both said, the year of learning and we are both just so astonished by the support of the community.”
Placing her marketing studies to the test, Alyssa handles all the promotions of the business via social media, as well as all photography. Her skills quickly paid off, as the 2019 season has kept the duo busy cutting, planting, arranging and even hosting events.
“She loves the marketing end of it,” Lisa said of Alyssa, even all the way from her Sonoma State campus.
“I’m not a flower shop, if it’s not in season and blooming I won’t have it,” Lisa stated. “Sure I can order it, but that’s really not what we’re about.”
What they’re about may seem simple but is also extremely successful. With three young children at home and still in school, the stand hours are limited to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. Backroad Blooms also hosts a self-serve counter, where flower arrangements are placed daily and customers may either Venmo or place payment in the money box.
“When it’s not open I have self-serve out for the customers at 10 a.m.,” she shared, noting that she’s in the field daily either picking, harvesting or deadheading once her children are in school. “I put $15 bouquets out there.”
Now with a full year under their belt, a business model which is thriving and a month left before wrapping up another season, Lisa shared she’s still not completely sure how they stumbled into this business. Neither mother nor daughter have formal training in horticulture or floral design. The majority of their learning has come through research and listening, as well as trial and error.
“Mostly you have to learn by doing,” the mother of four said. “I can’t remember how it all really happened. My husband is super supportive.”
While the shop may be open from March to October, the work doesn’t end when the doors roll down at the final sale.
“Always planting and planning,” she said, “almost a year ahead. Some things you can kind of go with, but everything is real zone specific.”
In addition to the pre-made arrangements, customers can also choose from a variety of flowers in the shop when opened. To keep pricing simple, they are priced by stem versus variety. Backroad Blooms also has a self-serve succulent bar, where visitors can pick a succulent as well as a pot of choice and create something special for themselves or a gift. They also host Fairy Garden parties and Girls Night Out events.
“I love it,” she shared of working with her daughter. “It’s a lot of fun. You really need someone to bounce ideas off of. I love that she loves it too.
“I don’t know how it actually turned into this,” she continued of the business success in its first full year. “Social media is great; free advertising and the local community. We have people stop every week to get flowers. It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun all at the same time.”
To learn more about Backroad Blooms visit their website at www.backroadbloomsfarm.com or find them on Facebook at Backroad Blooms Flower Farm.