In 2014, Freddie Garland, then 26 years old, began knocking on doors and scribbling down people’s names and e-mail addresses in the hopes of launching a subscription-based flower service in London. Today, Freddie’s Flowers delivers identical meter-long boxes containing bright seasonal flowers to 100,000 committed members across the U.K. and has a staff of 200. It worked because Garland followed the advice you read in every business “how to” book and hear in every TED Talk but never quite take to heart: find something you know and love. In Freddie’s case, this was flowers. (While he was growing up, his parents ran a traditional flower shop in South London.)
The road to success wasn’t without its detours. At the University of Leeds, Garland studied popular and world music, and completed his final thesis in just two days, titling it “How Hot Is the Sergeant’s Pepper?” He barely scraped a passing grade, and, after graduating, there wasn’t a torrent of job offers. It was during this time that Garland started to notice the rise of subscription services, boosted by millennials in the market for lifetime supplies of fair-trade coffee, anti-aging creams, perfectly proportioned meals, and more. He got a job at Abel & Cole, an organic, farm-fresh-fruit-and-vegetable delivery company, and realized that if people are happy buying vegetables like this, why not flowers? So he quit to start what would become Freddie’s Flowers.