Send Me Dead Flowers
“These are not your grandmother’s dried flowers,” says Seth Goldman, CEO of UrbanStems.
Here are today’s highlights:
You are not the only one getting ghosted.
Despite what you’ve read, DTC startups aren’t giving up.
Self-care businesses are thriving: “People just want to feel better about themselves.”
The price of fresh flowers is rising, and the popularity of dried flowers is soaring: “Some Mother’s Day flowers won’t require a drop of water this year. The bouquets will arrive stylishly mummified. Dried flowers are suddenly everywhere. They are competing with fresh bouquets, and showing up as gifts or in décor throughout the home. The sculptural bouquets mix intricate textures with bright colors, creating a gathered-in-a-field type look with an array of grasses, leaves and flowers. ‘These are not your grandmother’s dried flowers,’ says Seth Goldman, chief executive at UrbanStems, a Washington, D.C.-based flower-delivery company.”
“UrbanStems launched its modern dried bouquets offerings in 2019. They range from $55 to $110. Each bouquet is roughly $10 more than a fresh one of the same size, and can be displayed for years.”
“At A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a Chicago flower shop, fresh bouquets typically include dried bougainvillea, protea and pampas grass. The shop tells customers that they can save those elements indefinitely and encourages them to build their own dried arrangements, owner Ananda Breslof says.”
“Sites including Pinterest and Etsy have ‘pushed the trend forward,’ allowing dried bouquets to be sold alongside fresh bouquets, says Kevin McCarthy, president of Family Flowers, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based florist with locations in nine states.” READ MORE
Self-care businesses are surging: “On the freshly painted white walls of Mannie and Jamie Carmona’s downtown spa here, there’s a plastic case filled with empty Botox vials and syringes. A label on the case reads, ‘In case of emergency, break glass.’ The cheeky decoration has taken on a bit of extra meaning lately, as the spa is experiencing the best kind of emergency: The pandemic has waned, the masks have come off, the Zoom cameras have stayed on, and business is exploding. The Luxe Med Spa client list has rocketed from 120 in 2020 to more than 800 now.”
“‘It’s all because of the pandemic,’ said Mannie, 33, seated on his outdoor office balcony. ‘It’s created this want — people just want to feel better about themselves.’”
“As many elements of in-person life resume, there are a number of small businesses poised to capitalize on the flood of customers looking to engage in restorative and celebratory behavior.” READ MORE
The U.S. economy added 428,000 jobs in April: “The jobless rate remained at 3.6 percent. Demand in the U.S. has continued to be strong—Americans are still spending at a solid clip, particularly on services such as concerts and travel. Employers are trying to hire workers to accommodate those customers and posted 11.5 million job openings earlier this spring, the highest in records dating to 2000. The labor market’s latest issue has been on the supply side, with an unusually tight pool of workers available to fill jobs, a dynamic that has fueled record wage growth and put pressure on rising inflation. In March there were just under six million unemployed people seeking work, the Labor Department said.” READ MORE
Mark Zandi responds to the jobs report:
Hiring isn’t getting any easier: “Hiring and retaining employees remains the top challenge for small businesses, according to a survey of 1,100 businesses by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Voices out last week. Ninety percent of businesses that are hiring are finding it difficult to recruit qualified candidates for open positions.”
“Small business owners believe the job market is a tale of two recoveries. Eighty-eight percent of respondents in the Goldman Sachs survey say small businesses are struggling relative to larger companies in their local communities. Forty-two percent say they have lost employees to larger businesses that are paying more.”
“‘Small businesses are struggling to compete with larger employers on pay and benefits and cite a lack of qualified workers,’ said Joe Wall, National Director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices.” READ MORE
You’re not the only one getting ghosted: “Manufacturers, restaurants, airlines, and cleaning companies are among the employers seeing a surge of job seekers who accept positions—and are neither seen nor heard from again. Southwest Airlines said some 15 percent to 20 percent of new hires for some jobs don’t turn up on their first day. At security and facility-services provider Allied Universal, roughly 15 percent of new hires disappear before starting a job.”
“When hiring for clients, recruiting firm Murray Resources in Houston has seen candidates not show up for interviews and start dates. ‘Candidates have so many options in this market that typical professional etiquette is being ignored,’ said Keith Wolf, a managing director.”
“‘We have a generation of professionals who grew up on dating apps, where ghosting has been accepted as an annoying, but common, phenomenon,’ he said. ‘I believe that is leaking into the professional world.’”
“Stella Pomianek and her husband, Mariusz, owners of Cafe Stella, struggle to keep their Norfolk, Va., restaurant fully staffed. ‘We have lots of applicants to choose from,’ she said. ‘I let them set up the time for the interview, and then 20 percent show up for the interview. The other 80 percent don’t even call me.’”
“‘We used to take it very personally,’ he said. ‘We thought it was about us. Then we started talking to other business owners, and they said they’re dealing with the same thing.’” READ MORE
After the TSA’s mask mandate ended, Covid spiked 50 percent: “On Monday, 542 agency workers had active infections of the coronavirus, according to a TSA spokesperson. That number is up from 359 reported on April 18, the day a federal judge struck down the federal mask mandate. The Department of Justice has said it will appeal the ruling. The increased number of positive cases among TSA employees reflects what some health experts are predicting will be a surge in Covid infections across the country. Reports of new cases were nearly flat in the United States a month ago, but as April ended, case numbers were increasing in nearly every state, signaling a wave that has become national in scope.” READ MORE
A startup is building prefab, solar-powered, backyard tiny homes: “Cosmic's backyard accessory dwelling units can generate enough energy to sustain itself while supplying power to the main home, cutting the homeowner's electricity bill.”
“In recent years, more homeowners have begun adding ADUs to their properties for use as rental units, backyard offices, gyms, and more.”
“According to the startup, it has created the world's first electric home ‘chassis’ with solar, batteries, plumbing, and electric systems all integrated into the platform cutting the time and costs it takes to build the ADU.” READ MORE
One law firm, Gunderson Dettmer, has become the go-to firm for venture-backed startups: “Gunderson isn't the only law firm that specializes in tech and life sciences. But it is the only law firm with a singular focus on startups and the venture-capital firms that back them. Since its founding in 1995, the firm has quietly taken over the industry, representing more than 2,500 startups. The firm gives counsel to the who's who of the startup world, with a client roster that includes Plaid, Bolt, Daily Harvest, Harry's, and Flexport. PitchBook has reported that Gunderson's worked on more venture-capital and growth-equity financings for startups than any other firm for the past eight years.”
“The firm takes on only corporate work, like crafting stock-option agreements and negotiating deals. It doesn't do any litigation or courtroom disputes.”
“The firm's practice of investing in startups also gives its lawyers a reason to stay, Turck said. ‘I'm sure it doesn't hurt from a recruiting perspective to know that as you graduate through the ranks at Gunderson you can participate in those deals through the fund.’” READ MORE
Much has been written about the decline of the direct-to-consumer business model. But that doesn’t mean everyone’s giving up. Insider has a list of the 25 fastest growing DTC startups, including these:
“Misfits makes plant-based, low-sugar protein bars. The U.K.-based company closed a $4.8 million Series A round of funding in September.”
“BelliWelli makes snack bars that follow the Fodmap diet, a protocol often recommended to people dealing with irritable bowel syndrome. The Los Angeles-based startup closed a $1 million seed round in March 2021 and sells its products on its website, Thrive Market, and Amazon.”
“Willo makes a ‘robotic tooth-brushing device’ for kids. Founded by a French dentist and his son, the startup closed a $7.5 million seed round led by Kleiner Perkins in 2019.”
“Days Brewing Co. makes non-alcoholic beers, developed with a master brewer to protect the integrity of the beer's flavor while removing the alcohol. The Scotland-based startup sells a customizable subscription service on its website, with free shipping to U.K. customers.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
21 Hats Will Remain 21 Hats: This week, in episode 106, we start with an update of how 21 Hats has been doing since its sale brought new resources and new ambitions (Spoiler alert: The deal isn’t going great!). Then, Dana White tells Shawn Busse and Jay Goltz about the progress she’s made on multiple fronts: attempting to sell franchises to revive her struggling Midtown Detroit location, to open new salons at Fort Bragg and in Dallas, and to secure financing. The owners discuss Dana’s financing options—venture capital, private equity, bank loan—assessing, in Shawn’s words, their “degrees of evil.” Plus: Shawn explains how his views on remote work have been evolving, and Jay explains why he’s tired of being called a tyrant (even though no one’s actually called him that).
You can subscribe to the 21 Hats Podcast wherever you get podcasts.
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