Farmer Profile, Alex Bates and Michael Zung - Bloomist

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Meet your fellow Farmers, Alex Bates and Michael Zung. Together, they are Bloomist—an online retailer aiming to reinvent online retail. I sat down with them (in their email livingroom) to ask a few questions about Bloomist.

 

Farm: How do you stand out against giants like Amazon? 

Bloomist: We have not set out to re-invent retail—that’s a tall order, and we are a tiny team. Our brand has a singular focus to help customers create a natural refuge by bringing nature into their homes. There are many ways to do that—from chic pots for plants to hand thrown vases for flowers. Outdoors comes indoors through a serene mix of sustainable materials and earthy colors in a thoughtful, curated way.  

Having a simple, well-edited mix and website is the quiet that people are seeking to break through the noise of Amazon. These days, we’re overwhelmed with too many choices and too much stuff. Maybe that’s why Marie Kondo is such a big hit on Netflix.

 

Farm: So while you’re mainly an online company, you’ve opened a pop up in Manhattan to showcase your home goods. How’s it going and do you see Bloomist popping up again?

Bloomist: We love a good pop-up—this is one of the business models of new retail. Hyper-focused brands use pop-ups to allow customers to engage 1:1 with the product. Some of our details are nuanced, so the best way to appreciate them is person. We sell many handmade items with idiosyncratic variations—like our wood flowers—so most people want to pick out their own.  Currently, you can find us in Soho at Marche Maman on Centre Street.

 

Farm: How do you source your artisanal products?

Bloomist: We work with small emerging makers as well as established larger artisan collectives from around the world. We also partner with designers and makers in our own backyard. I have been developing artisan-made products since the early 2000’s when I first initiated artisan-made goods at West Elm where I served as creative director. I have a special passion for working with emerging countries and developing artisans.

 

Farm: What are some of your best selling products?

Bloomist: Our wood salvaged chains are going nuts. Also our large recycled glass jars and our tumbleweed and paper mache bowls are very popular—tumbleweed!?!  Trust me, this is not your usual home retail bestseller list. We may have struck a crazy nature nerve.  

 

Farm: Where in the country (or in the world) are Bloomist customers coming from?

Bloomist: Everywhere! Our initial focus is the US, but we have received interest from around the world, and in particular Canada, the UK, and Australia. And our Maman pop-up in Soho is attracting tourists from all over!

 

Farm: One thing that jumps out at me is that most of your products occupy a very natural color pallet—greens, earth tones, muted whites. Do you see yourself moving into neons?

Bloomist: Hah—that’s a good one. I never say never and can always appreciate a surprise pop of neon off a bit of Kraft paper brown, but for now we’ll keep it earth inspired with a palette informed by the natural materials. Have you seen our latest botanically dyed pillows from France by way of Bolivia? They are a pretty luscious shade of blush fading into terra-cotta with a spicy cinnamon note.

 

Farm: You’ve said before that you believe people should buy fewer but more considered, more crafted products. That concept seems to resonate with the tiny home movement. Do you see Bloomist expanding into tiny home sales?

Bloomist: No thanks—but we will give you the perfectly curated pot for your windowsill herbs in your teeny tiny kitchen.

 

Farm: How long have you been working from The Farm? Which, by the way, seems to fit well with Bloomist’s natural and considered aesthetic.

Bloomist: We’ve been “Farming” since September of last year, and yes, it's been the perfect fit!

 

Farm: If you can recommend one Bloomist product every fellow Farmer could use, what might that be? 

Bloomist: Take a look at our small terracotta goblets (handmade in Tunisia) planted with a desk friendly plant or two. Did you know that recent studies show flowers and plants naturally reduce stress and moderate moods. Just adding a few plants or flowers to your daily life can reduce depression, anxiety and boost creativity and productivity. #truth.

 

Make Nature Home!

 

Thanks so much, Michael and Alex!

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WRITER & CARTOONIST: Farley Katz
@farleykatz is a staff cartoonist at the New Yorker. He brings nature into his home by having a tiny mouse who tunneled in and just won’t leave.

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