Graduate student’s start-up is in full bloom

Graduate student Daniela Salazar realized there’s an important, obvious issue that flower vendors have not addressed: consumers are paying far too much for a product that costs vendors pennies and dies rather quickly. 

Salazar is trying to help change that with Eternispring, a flower delivery business she started four months ago. The company’s goal is to eliminate unnecessary intermediaries between the farmer and customer and provide them with fresh, preserved roses directly from Ecuador.

Producers rely on wholesalers to get their product into various stores – often decreasing their profits in order to move their inventory. Over time decreased profits often result in producers having to close down.”I believe that wholesalers are killing the small producers, so I want to help small producers forecast demand and help freighters improve their supply chain and reduce costs,”Salazar said. This way consumers can get a fresh, natural product at a fair price.

Salazar’s interest in flowers was passed down by her aunt. For as long as she can remember, her aunt has grown roses on the family farm in Ecuador and sold them. Starting her own flower business was a natural right of passage for Salazar.

The business has become the perfect opportunity to do something Salazar’s passionate about while applying the methods she’s learning in her logistics engineering classes at FIU, part of the university’s new master’s program that will give students the skills they need to meet industry demands. As the gateway to Latin America, South Florida is a hub for logistics (the organization of purchase, transport, storage, distribution and warehousing products).

From Ecuador with love

Salazar chose Ecuador to start her business because she found weather conditions there allowed flowers to grow double the size of those grown in other countries. Its central location and mountainous landscape keep temperatures in Ecuador on average between high 50s and 60s, with periods of sunshine ranging 12 hours a day. Nearby volcanoes pack the soil with nutrients and provide the roses with the necessities needed to grow. Salazar’s flowers typically grow 4.72 inches in width and 3.54 inches in height. That’s about the size of a coaster.

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Salazar ships her product to customers directly from Ecuador, where they are hand dyed and preserved to last up to one year with proper care. She doesn’t incur the cost of facility rentals and temperature controlled rooms, allowing her to price her roses (which last up to a year) between $10 and $17 each. When customers order from Eternispring, they choose from an assortment of different colored roses rather than from a variety of flowers, which also helps Salazar keep costs low. Customers have the option of choosing from various arrangements starting at $25.

Recently, she partnered with Pacari chocolates, also produced in Ecuador. When customers purchase her roses they can choose from rose or blueberry flavored chocolate to complement the arrangement.

“I was looking for partners who had the same ideology: to be organic, kind and care about our environment. This was a good opportunity to promote the high quality products that Ecuador offers to the world. The two of them together (roses and chocolate) are the perfect combination to give a special gift to someone you care about,” Salazar said.

Logistics in South Florida

Salazar has spent the past four months studying the flower market in South Florida and familiarizing herself with the needs of her customers.

“Starting in Florida has been one of the most challenging things that I’ve had to face,” she said. “There’s a lot of competitors from all over the world, and –as Miami is one of the main ports in the U.S. – I’m trying to be innovative in an industry that hasn’t been too disrupted, yet. But it takes time, effort and intelligence.”

Salazar runs her business out of her Sweetwater home, where she assembles sample arrangements, processes orders and meets with local customers who want to see the flowers for themselves.

“I want to show the people how beautiful the roses are and give them some ideas of how to use it. The roses are put together with a little bit of imagination and feedback from the customers. It just looks great,” she said.

Salazar’s flowers can be purchased through Ebay and Etsy. Recently, she launched the company’s website and plans to expand Eternispring into other states. Her longterm goal is to offer tours of the farm so her customers can experience the production and preservation process firsthand.