When Alexa Maniaci started running Anna Rose Floral & Event Design in North Haledon, New Jersey, seven years ago, she thought the logistics of wedding work seemed unnecessarily cumbersome. When her number of booked weddings climbed from 40 or 50 a year to more than 150, she vowed to find a better way.
“I realized a lot of tools that existed were not built for small business owners,” said Maniaci, who was profiled in 2016 in Floral Management magazine for her efforts to reinvigorate her family’s business. “I was using 10 to 15 platforms to get the job done. It just seemed so confusing and overwhelming.”
Maniaci polled fellow florists and other wedding professionals about the problems they were experiencing. “Across the board, people faced the same challenges — internal communications with their team, collaborating with other vendors, understanding task lists and updating them in real time, and keeping clients in the loop,” she said.
During this time period, she also designed flowers for the 2014 Super Bowl in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and developed a relationship with employees of the National Football League, who relayed their own similar frustrations with event planning.
Maniaci sat on the information for a bit, then brought in her mother, Nancy, to run the shop so she could attend user experience design classes at General Assembly.
“I didn’t feel confident that anyone in the tech field would address this or that they would understand the pain points,” she said. “I knew I needed to build something myself.”
She soon went “full force,” playing with ideas and building a prototype for an organizational service.
“It was very important to me to have all the info in one place you can access at any time,” she said. “I’m sure all wedding professionals can relate to rummaging through sheets of paper looking for the one that’s up-to-date. That’s when mistakes happen.”
Her platform, Aflutter, went live in the fall. It includes a mobile app and is available for all wedding professionals and brides. “It was important to me that anyone involved with a wedding can access it, so everyone stays on the same page,” she said. “Also, the transparency builds trust with brides. They appreciate not having to hassle vendors to find out what’s going on.”
Currently, about 300 brides and 10 of Maniaci’s vendor contacts are using Aflutter. An updated version comes out later this month. Maniaci hopes to have another 20 or 30 vendors signed up by the end of the summer and plans to pursue partnerships with wholesalers in the floral industry in coming years.
“We’re taking it slowly,” she said. “We want to work with people who are really interested in improving wedding logistics and offering their feedback. We’re growing Aflutter around their input.”
Read more about the backstory of Maniaci’s business and the origins of Aflutter.