Calyx and Corolla

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Founded in 1988 by Harvard Business School graduate Ruth Owades, Calyx and Corolla (C&C) pioneered the concept of mail order flowers which were sent directly from the grower to the consumer through a partnership with Federal Express (FedEx). When she founded the company, Owades enlisted two other women to form a small but capable management team. Fran Wilson, a Harvard Business School graduate, was brought in as Vice President of Operations, and Ann Hayes, a twenty year veteran of the catalog business, was chosen as Vice President of Marketing. By eliminating the numerous handlers seen in previous flower delivery methods, C&C was able to deliver the freshest product without heavy markups.
The supply chain for a typical florist is shown below. Price mark-ups are substantial at each step and add up to 800% from the grower to the consumer.
In contrast, C&C’s supply chain given below essentially deleted several non-value added steps, and in doing so, provided fresh flowers to the consumer at a comparable price. From the time they were cut, C&C customers received flowers 7-10 days earlier compared to purchasing them at the typical florist. In doing so, C&C was able to achieve incredible gross margins of over 80% of sales.

By their second year, C&C had established a noticeable presence in the mail order flower business thanks to their healthy relationships with FedEx and the nearly 30 growers who supplied the flowers. Owades chose to partner with FedEx because she viewed the company as the most reliable air-courier, and having a reliable carrier was imperative to C&C’s goal of providing quick delivery of fresh flowers. As an entrepreneur in the fresh flower mail ordering business, C&C had several advantages such as commitments from growers who were willing to not only package the flowers and send them via FedEx, but they also agreed to write custom gift cards to accompany the flowers. C&C also developed a strong

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