Julia Capalino and Danit Zamir | Bloomerent
"A green option for fresh flowers, Bloomerent allows you to save on your centerpieces without settling on quality. Flowers are usually discarded after a 5+ hour event, long before their lifespan is over. Bloomerent was created to give weddings and other events the opportunity to pay less and get more. You choose your floral arrangements with a florist in our community and we give other events the opportunity to share them."
LFC: What made you want to work in the industry you’re currently in?
Julia Capalino: When I started working with Danit I was already involved in the event planning world and had been planning events, and some weddings, on the side for years. The wedding industry is so interesting to me because it has such a high price tag for no other reason than it can. Often as soon as you attach “wedding” to something the price doubles. Customers have an expectation of a high price tag but are also open to options that reduce that price. This leaves a lot of room for innovation. The floral industry, in particular, has not really evolved in decades. As a two sided marketplace we want to benefit both parties and allow our couples to save on flowers while also bringing our florists more business.
Danit Zamir: The truth is that I never expected to start my own company in any specific industry, I just loved the startup world from my own experiences in it. I came across a problem personally that had no solution that fit my needs, or wants if you will, at the time. The wedding and event industry is really interesting and it’s also a fun space to be in. The florist side of the industry, to Julia’s point, really hasn’t evolved and I think what’s really nice about what we’re doing at Bloomerent is that we’re not disrupting a process per se, we’re putting a spin on what’s taking place behind the scenes. We’re giving customers another option to repurpose flowers that helps them save a bit while sending florists new business and helping them reduce waste.
LFC: What was your biggest doubt before starting/going into your new company?
JC: When I joined Danit at Bloomerent I was already consulting for startups, so I knew what I was getting into. When I decided to join Danit full time as a cofounder I had very few reservations.
DZ: I think that when you decide to take the leap into entrepreneurship, you’re not really allowing yourself to have doubts. Nine out of ten startups fail so I knew it would be incredibly challenging but I also really believe in what we’re doing at Bloomerent and was willing to take the risk and put any doubt aside. Prior to that, I was an early hire at a successful startup and that helped me see the highs and lows of what a startup looks like, and it was exciting even on the bad days.
LFC: What made you finally take the leap and go for it?
JC: When I first decided to take “the leap” to start my own business I was working in a very corporate environment where I constantly felt limited in my growth. A mentor once told me, “if you look directly above you and you look above you to the left and you look above you to the right and you don’t want any of those jobs you should start looking elsewhere.” For me this was great advice. I think it’s important to give every experience a fair shot (I worked in corporate for
2.5 years) but at a certain point, I knew I was unhappy and it wasn’t them, it was me. Then I just quit. I think people, especially young women, feel they need to have the next step always figured out before you make the next move. As long as you have savings in the bank time off can be extremely beneficial. I spent about a month just talking to people and trying to figure out if what I wanted to do next made sense.
DZ: I started my career in a corporate environment in the sports newsroom. I loved the job and the people but I knew my heart wasn’t in it the way it should be. I then started working in startups and I loved everything about it. The opportunity to solve my problem presented itself and it felt right to take the leap when I did given the circumstances.
LFC: What are some advantages of working in this industry, as well as disadvantages?
JC: The biggest advantage for me personally is creating my own schedule and setting the pace. I’m a morning person so I’m often up a 5:30 and checking email by 6am but that also means I leave the office at 5pm. I also can’t stand the pace of the corporate world where everything needs to be reviewed by 20 people. In the startup world our ability to be agile is probably our biggest asset. We can constantly and quickly respond to what is working and what isn’t. The biggest disadvantage is there is no one to look to when things aren’t working. When you have a more structured corporate environment and you have a question, you just go to the person above you. Not here. Danit and I will talk it out, do research and talk to friends in other industries but at the end of the day it lands on us.
DZ: Creating my own schedule is definitely an advantage. While Julia’s a morning person, I’m a night owl, so between the two of us our customers can get a response 24 hours a day. The disadvantages can also be seen as advantages if you’re unsure of something, sure you can’t go to the person above you to get the answer, but I love the challenge of getting to the answer on my own and learning how to get there in the process. Whether that’s through research or asking someone in my network who I think could help me reach a solution, one way or another, we get there.
LFC: Do you feel you have the freedom to be creative with your ideas at work?
JC: YES! This is the aspect I love most about working at a startup. I own the user acquisition funnel for Bloomerent which means I manage anything that is consumer facing. In one day I’m the creative director, the digital advertising manager, the social media manager and the head of customer service. We’re constantly changing how we market our service to customers with copy, photos and messaging. In an age when brands carry more weight than they debatably ever have it is really amazing to be actively building a brand that our customers can engage with.
DZ: Definitely. We have a great collaborative environment and we bounce new ideas off each other regularly. We have different personalities and skillsets which allows us to be more productive overall with what we’re doing but also to bring different creative ideas and perspectives to the table.
LFC: How different is what you're doing now than what you expected you would be doing a few years ago/at this age?
JC: Both my parents started their own companies, admittedly more traditional than mine, but I always knew that I wanted to do the same. I don’t think I knew in what capacity I would be building a company but I knew I would be building one.
DZ: My parents came here from Israel at a young age and didn’t go to college, and I didn’t really know what kind of opportunities were out there until I went to college. I didn’t expect or think I’d start my own company but I’m incredibly grateful that this is where I ended up at this point in my life.
LFC: What has surprised you the most throughout this process, good or bad?
DZ: I don’t know if I’d say this is surprising because I of course expected it on some level, but I don’t think I realized just how much positive feedback we’d really get and how early on it would come, and that has been so incredible in the best way. On the flip side, I don’t think you can ever truly understand how tough it is to be in this role until you do it. You can’t appreciate what an entrepreneur goes through or has gone through day-to-day until you become one.
LFC: What is one thing you've learned about yourself throughout this process?
JC: I’m a big picture person and I need a partner who is more detail oriented. Starting your own company means you quickly realize your strengths and weaknesses and it’s important to recognize those and discuss them openly.
DZ: I’ve learned so much about myself personally and professionally throughout this process. When I started Bloomerent I was one person working full-time, which wasn’t realistic for rapid growth because there are so many different layers to the business. Being able to accept my strengths, understand my weaknesses and bring in the right person to compliment my skill set with their own was the best decision for me and the company.
LFC: Do you feel like you have opportunities for growth within your company? If not, how do you handle that?
JC: Absolutely. Every day is a growth opportunity for me. As we move a manual service to an automated platform I have to learn about and manage so many different individuals with different backgrounds than my own.
DZ: Yes, definitely. That’s one of the many things that are so exciting about my role. I learn so much every single day and as our company continues to grow, so do my responsibilities.
LFC: How do you keep your job fresh and interesting from day to day?
JC: I don’t have to do anything to keep my work fresh and interesting because each day is totally unique. Every day I learn through my experiences. If I don’t know the answer to a question or I’m stuck on a particular issue, I have to research the problem, reach out to people who might have experience in that area and strategize how to resolve the issue.
DZ: Every day is different. Julia and I are the head of every department at Bloomerent, from customer service to BD and everything in between. Wearing so many hats every day keeps things exciting and interesting because there’s always something new to learn and continue to get better at.
LFC: How you define success?
JC: Success is a day to day week to week and month to month conversation. At Bloomerent we set a variety of goals that we work to hit each day, week and month. We’re successful when we hit those goals. We’re also successful when we don’t if we’re able to identify why we didn’t. In entrepreneurship your failures are just as important as your wins if you’re able to understand and breakdown why they happened.
DZ: Everything Julia said this is exactly how we define success at work. It’s also about being excited to go to work every day to do those things, good or bad.
LFC: What skills have been the most beneficial for being successful in your role?
JC: I think, for better or for worst, I have very little fear when it comes to approaching people. I don’t think I could count the number of cold emails I’ve sent in my life. I wouldn’t say in all instances you have nothing to lose, because I do think that certain introductions should be made at very specific moments of preparedness, but I would say most of the time you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from reaching out to someone. Believe me, there are many times I get no response but often I do.
DZ: This isn’t always the best trait but I won’t take no for an answer unless you can truly convince me that saying “no” is the best option in the situation. My ability to be openminded, listen to advice and criticism without taking it to heart and staying determined through anything that comes my way has allowed me to find success in my role.
LFC: What do you wish you had known before starting this job?
JC: The thing about being an entrepreneur is that it takes a particular type of person. From my experience the person who is drawn to this role typically needs to learn through experience. I spoke with probably 50 people before I decided to start my own company and likely all of them told me things that I didn’t hear at the time. It wasn’t until I made the mistake another entrepreneur told me about or went through the challenge a mentor described that I remembered back to that conversation and thought, ‘Damn, I was warned this would happen.”
DZ: I understood that I was up for the toughest professional challenge of my life but I didn’t realize that you could experience every emotion possible in a matter of one work day. The great thing about entrepreneurship is that you dive in, learn from your mistakes, and no matter what the outcome is you’re better off than where you started. I don’t think you can truly know what you’re getting yourself into when it comes to this type of role.
LFC: As a woman, do you feel that you've had to overcome obstacles that men in the same/similar industries/job roles have not faced?
JC: I think that women, particularly women who are trying to solve problems that face women, are often asked to jump through more hoops than men. You can’t walk in and have a bit of traction but instead need to have proof of concept. It returns to the fact that investors are still more hesitant about investing in women. We need to go above and beyond what our male counterparts have to do in order to reassure people that what we’re doing works.
DZ: It can go either way. There are plenty of people who still prefer men instead of women in executive roles in a startup and have higher expectations than they would for men in the same
position. At the same time I think that there are other people, investors and entrepreneurs alike, who prefer to work with women founders and women in general. We’re hungrier for success because we’re the underdog. I love this quote for women, too: “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”
LFC: How do you want to be remembered for your work, if at all?
JC: I would like to be remembered as a problem solver both in the micro and macro sense. In the office I want to be the person that my team comes to when they need help with particularly challenging issue and in my career I would like to be remembered for building products and services that resolve issues for the consumer.
DZ: I’m not concerned with being remembered for my work on a personal level. I want Bloomerent to be a well-known and successful company where people think to go for their wedding and event flowers as soon as that decision is on their radar. When that happens, my work behind the scenes will speak for itself.
LFC: If you could give our readers any career advice, what would it be?
JC: Talk to as many people as possible before you make a big career decision. Entrepreneurs are often seen as impulsive but I am the exact opposite and tend take my time when it comes to making a decision. I find that speaking with people who have either gone through the process I did or almost did but chose a different path really helps me consider a choice from all angles.
DZ: Don’t be afraid to ask questions this is so crucial. No one has all the answers and even if someone you’re interested in talking to isn’t in your direct network, find a second or third degree connection to them. If you’re going to start a company, the best piece of advice I have is to do all of your research beforehand and if you still feel good about it, go for it.