Collaborating with a popular local illustrator has helped a Boston-area flower shop grow its following, while also depicting flowers as a work of art.
Several months ago, Jackie Levine, manager of Central Square Florist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, met Holly Nichols during an event at Club Monaco, a high-end clothing store. Nichols, who has created campaigns for major brands such as TRESemmé, Saks Fifth Avenue and Disney, has developed a substantial fanbase on social media (743,000 followers on Instagram and 30,000 on Facebook) and Etsy (16,000 sales). Familiar with Nichols’ work, Levine struck up a friendship and mentioned the idea of mixed media pieces, with real flowers to accentuate her drawings.
Since then, Central Square’s blossoms have appeared in a number of Nichols’ creations, including one she posted on March 20 to mark the first day of spring, which featured two ballerinas wearing skirts made of rose and ranunculus petals, a hydrangea floret and statice.
“We do well connecting with other small business owners in industries that aren’t the same but pair well,” Levine said. “It’s important for collaborations to make sense. If they don’t, your followers won’t react positively, and the collaboration won’t be successful.”
Levine considered Nichols a good match because her illustrations are feminine and, typically, fashion-oriented, with opportunities to add three-dimensional details, such as a skirt made of petals or a flower crown.
The two businesses are about 15 miles apart. Nichols makes frequent trips to Cambridge from her studio in Milton to purchase flowers or plants. Other times, Levine travels to Nichols and gifts the blossoms. The floral-embellished drawings consistently get 5,000 or more likes on Instagram — and always credit Central Square Florist for the blooms. Each post nets the shop more fans, Levine said.
On the hunt for a smart collaboration of your own? Here are some of Levine’s tips to find good allies and how to leverage the relationships.
Network, network, network. Levine found Nichols through a blogger event at Club Monaco, for which Central Square Florist provided designs. Whether you’re the host or a guest at an event, work the room! You may develop a serendipitous relationship with a like-minded business owner.
Capitalize on holidays. Once you have identified a good business partner, you’ll want to pull out a calendar and identify some good times to collaborate on a campaign, a post or an event, rather than trying to plan them in the spur of the moment. Holidays and seasonal changes provide good opportunities, Levine has found.
Check in with customers. Last year, Levine hosted a floral arranging class, during which she asked attendees how they heard about the class. One woman told Levine that she found Central Square Florist through Holly Nichols’ Instagram page. When you are connecting with customers, mention your partnerships and gain more traction to your social media channels.
Mackenzie Nichols is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.