Jeff Sheely and Ajay Kori, co-founders of flower delivery service UrbanStems, got the idea to start their own company thanks (or no thanks) to their negative experiences with sending flowers. Bouquets would show up late if at all or were just not what they appeared to be on the website. After almost being broken up with by his long-distance girlfriend after a birthday flower mishap, Ajay joined up with Jeff to take matters into their own hands.
To address the issues with standard flower delivery services, UrbanStems made a commitment to providing fresh, seasonal bouquets at affordable prices delivered in the blink of an eye. Because ordering UrbanStems is so hassle-free, flowers are no longer just for saying “I’m sorry” or “Happy Birthday”, they can be given for everyday occasions. They even now offer chocolates, which is certain to make anyone day brighter, as well as collaborations with other local businesses like Bull + Moose bowties.
We regularly order UrbanStems for all our Bitches, dinner parties, or just to celebrate the arrival of weekend brunching. We caught up with Jeff recently to chat flowers, the UrbanStems philosophy, and brunching in D.C. Read on to see what he had to say!
We love UrbanStems commitment to fresh seasonal blooms. Can you tell us about your process of sourcing your flowers?
We we work directly with great farms in Ecuador and Colombia. We found sustainable farms that employ 90% women and pay them a fair wage, which is pretty rare down there. We source the flowers directly and create arrangements in-house for delivery in D.C. and New York.
When you think of a flower business, you don’t necessarily think of two young guys at the helm. What was your inspiration for UrbanStems?
We get that question a lot. We started it because Ajay had been in a long distant relationship. He was dating a girl in Philly and sent a lot of flowers, but the experience was always really terrible. A lot of flowers wouldn’t show up, were late, or weren’t high quality, and didn’t look like what was on the website. He almost got broken up with on her birthday, and that was a catalyst. We started looking into what we didn’t like and how to fix it.
What does UrbanStems offer that fills a void in the flower delivery market?
With UrbanStems, we provide fresh seasonal arrangements at an affordable price in just minutes. We use premium, long-lasting flowers and deliver them on-demand via bike courier!
One of the biggest draws for using UrbanStems is the affordable prices for beautiful bouquets. How do you keep your costs so reasonable while maintaining your excellent quality?
We create a seasonal selection of three to four bouquets that we know people are going to like. Because we have a limited selection and source flowers directly (cutting out the middlemen), we create arrangements that are simple and bold, but are still affordable. Not only that, but our bouquets actually last longer because we get them to you as soon as they arrive from the farms.
People mostly associate flowers with Valentine’s Day and birthdays. What are some of the other popular occasions for ordering flowers?
For us, it’s actually all about everyday gifting. Traditionally, people only give flowers on birthdays, Valentine’s, or when they screwed up. Because of the quality of the flowers, affordable prices, and fast delivery, we see a lot of everyday gifting. Guys are sending them every day and girls are sending them to their friends. We see more everyday occasions like good luck on the test or congratulations on the promotion. We love that because we’re all about spreading everyday happiness.
Where is your favorite place to brunch in town?
I’m going to say Bar Charley in Adams Morgan. I love their chicken and waffles.
What is your favorite dish to cook for brunch?
I’m from Texas, so I like breakfast tacos or breakfast burritos. That or omelets with leftover brisket.
Do you prefer to brunch in or out?
I guess it depends on my mood and whether I’m going out with friends. My wife cooks an incredible brunch, so we stay home a lot, but if we’re with friends, we go out.
What brunch item do you have to order if it’s on the menu?
Probably chicken and waffles, which is why I think I like Bar Charley.
Do you prefer Bloody Marys or mimosas?
I definitely prefer mimosas out of those two. I like to mix it up a little bit with other juices than orange.