Interview with Laura Quatrochi, Founder of Bloembox

It’s no secret that Charleston Naturally is passionate about organic gardening or that we love to explore the latest in sophisticated giftware. Thus, you can imagine our delight when we discovered BloemBox, a company that has combined these interests into a series of charming, organic gardening gifts. BloemBox, founded in 2005 by Laura Quatrochi, creates gorgeous keepsake boxes filled with biodegradable seed ribbons and certified organic bulbs.

We were so enchanted with BloemBox, that we asked Laura to sit down with us and answer a few questions. Here’s what she had to say. . .

CN: Please briefly explain your gardening background.

LQ: I was in the garden at a young age. My mother had a large vegetable and flower garden that produced a bounty of summer vegetables and armfuls of summer blooming bouquets. In high school and during the summer months while in college, I worked as a gardener for local estates. When I was eleven, I won first prize in the junior horticulture garden club show. In the local newspaper, I am pictured holding my winning marigolds, and the caption reads, “You’re never too young for green-thumbing.” Growing flowers and vegetables continues to be an exciting and rewarding experience.

CN: Where did the idea for BloemBox come from?

LQ: For 20 years, I designed private label seed and bulb products for Smith & Hawken and other high-end garden and lifestyle companies. When I searched the marketplace, I saw a lack of imaginative, beautiful gifts for gardeners — irresistible gifts that grow. Rather than use one-dimensional photography (photos I shot for private label garden products), I created lifelike silk flowers that crown the top of a miniature hatbox. Inside, I filled the gift box with tissue paper and seeds that, when planted in a large outdoor container or garden bed, grow into the flower on top of the box. I used the same concept to create all BloemBox products, from Originals to Habitat Gardens to Tiny Tins to Seed Mat Gardens to Bulb Kits. This is the first collection that I offer under my own name, BloemBox (Bloem, the Dutch word for flower).

CN: How and where did you make the first BloemBox product?

LQ: In spring 2005, we assembled and shipped the first BloemBox product from my “seedhouse” in Philo, California.

CN: How do you keep BloemBox products eco-friendly and sustainable?

LQ: I designed BloemBox to be a keepsake box for jewelry or other found treasures. It can be used again as a decorative gift box. The seed ribbon is made of biodegradable tissue paper, and we print in soy-based inks. If you remove the flower and satin ribbon, the box can be recycled.

CN: What are some the most creative ways BloemBox products have been used?

LQ: BloemBox gifts are used for table decorations, place settings, wedding favors, fund-raisers, and special events. We personalize gift tags for bar mitzvah, bah mitzvah, first communion, baby and bridal showers, anniversaries, and birthdays. Customers love to give BloemBox for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. BloemBox is in department stores on cosmetic counters, botanical gardens, art museums, and clothing, garden and lifestyle stores. A fancy jewelry store used them to create a floral display on the counters and as gift boxes (filled with tissue paper) for rings, earrings, and pendants.

CN: What is your favorite BloemBox product?

LQ: BloemBox gifts are like children. I love them equally because they are unique and special in their own way. The Bloembox Originals Shirley Poppy is our signature flower.

CN: Where do you get new product ideas from? How are new products developed?

LQ: I get new ideas working in the garden, watching trends, and listening to people. I love to create and have more ideas than I can possibly execute. It takes 18 to 24 months to create a new product from design to finish. I create a mock-up to see color and scale and address production and assembly issues. The next step is to make molds for the silks and start manufacturing components that we assemble in Philo, California.

CN: Any exciting new products in the works?

LQ: We will introduce two new Amaryllis Bulb Kits for holiday 2010 and a new BloemBox Veggie Assortment for spring 2011!

Next time you need a special gift, consider one of Bloembox’s Flower Gifts. If you love organic gifts and eco gifts, you’ll love Bloembox!