One of my favorite parts of visiting California was meeting and connecting with Lisa Filice from Regional Farms. Her story is fascinating and impressive. I had a great conversation with her regarding how she entered the floral industry, her role, and how Regional Farms has developed and grown under her leadership.
Lisa Filice is an influential leader of the floral industry today, but she just happened to come upon it according to her. She worked for a small wholesaler for a year and then became a sales representative and started doing administrative work after they closed. She was hired by Regional Farms 20 years ago, and recently celebrated ten years of ownership as. Today, Lisa runs Regional Farms and their sales and shipping staff, and is on the California Association of Flower Growers and Shippers (CalFlowers) board.
Since taking over Regional Farms, the Filices have worked hard to increase their customer base and have adopted a hybrid model. They have embraced diversification and aren’t just wholesale florists–they also own and manage two retail stores with a full-time design staff. In addition to wholesale and retail, they also manage an extremely successful and in-demand wedding and event business.
According to Lisa, this has been a positive growth for Regional Farms. Even their retail customers benefit from their wholesale status because they have many products including hard to source greenery and foliage available and always have access to fresh flowers, especially during the ongoing worldwide flower shortage. Their customers have praised the longevity and quality of their products and have claimed that flowers from Regional Farms last longer than those from other florists.
Their position in the wholesale floral industry has also helped Regional Farms through the year’s flower shortage. With demand surging and supply remaining low, many florists have found it difficult to accommodate weddings and source products that brides are looking for. This isn’t the case for Regional Farms, which have been able to produce for their clients and customers and offer them reliability, availability, variety, and savings.
Regional Farms has greenery available from various small local farms to source for their blooming and popular floristry business. Known for their variety, including 5-7 varieties of year-round eucalyptus,.as well as magnolia, rosemary, dusty miller, pampas grass, kiwi vine, curly willows, liquidambar, and a variety of fall foliage with maple and oak leaves.
Regional Farms ships throughout the United States and Canada, supplying products to wholesalers, event planners, and retail florists. Recently, they have successfully invested more into logistics and the ability to ship orders to deliver next day has been a major boost to their business.
As with all industries, the floral industry was very much impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Lisa, this was hardest for the wholesale business in the early stages of the pandemic when individuals and businesses were trying to navigate their new normal. Fortunately , the demand for flowers continues to increase as studies have shown they brighten moods and freshen up work and living spaces. Regional Farms is continuing to meet their customer’s demands for something to make them happy–flowers!The entire business has learned and grown from the COVID-19 pandemic and taken the positive and learned how to pivot their business. When asked what they learned during COVID that they’re still practicing today, Lisa told me that the team at Regional Farms had primarily learned how to adapt to change. With staff, they learned how to multi-task and expand their capabilities. When their retail side is busy with the holidays, sales staff from wholesale from the sidestep in and help with customer service and deliveries, among other things. Whereas everyone had a set role before, they are now more efficient and flexible, and are cross functional in their skill sets.
In addition to being the owner of Regional Farms, Lisa is influential in many other parts of the floral industry. She has proudly served on the board of CalFlowers for eight years, and currently acts as their Membership Chair. Because of her dynamic and unique role in the industry, I wanted to get her opinion about how the California floral industry was faring amid the growth of the cannabis industry and some floral farms closing.
Her response was positive–many were worried about the effect of the cannabis growth industry, it wasn’t that impactful. Some aspects of the business have been affected more than others, but many growers continue to successfully produce some even with increased quantities to meet demand. As a result, California is being provided with beautiful, high-quality flowers, and the market continues to uptick.
Lisa believes that her various roles in the floral industry are essential to keeping her up to date with the industry and market trends. CalFlowers is a strong group Serving on the board of CalFlowers and attending multiple trade shows and flower conventions every year has helped Lisa gain insight, industry knowledge, and endless networking opportunities.
Her favorite part of the floral industry is definitely the connections she has made over the years. She has a vast network of wholesalers, and close relationships with retailers, event organizers and planners, other members of the floral supply chain–and most importantly, the trusted client and customer base she has worked hard to grow over the years.
This amalgamation of different facets of the floral industry has allowed Regional Farms to differentiate themselves from their competition because of their unique and cross-functional business model. Their diversification and hybrid business strategy that provides a good and service to both consumers and florists allows them to understand their customers’ needs and offer products that their B2B and B2C customers appreciate.