By Oliver Peterson
Just when it seemed the local flower biz had no way to grow and innovate, along came Hometown Flower Co.—a unique florist operating Long Island’s first flower truck with a digital business model that brings people who love flowers together with the regional farmers who grow them. Launched in 2019 by married couple Jaclyn Rutigliano and Marc Iervolino, the business presents customers with lists of in-season flowers, much like restaurants and markets do with food, taking orders, and then hitting the road to deliver beautiful bouquets in their signature “flowers in a bag” style.
It’s all about finding the freshest flowers from local farmers and getting that product to the people who want them. Hometown Flower is taking the hyper-local model of the slow food movement and bringing it into a brand-new space. And, with Iervolino handling the day-to-day business and logistics, it’s working.
“We are a mission-driven flower truck and pop-up florist/design studio that exclusively works with seasonal, locally-grown flowers,” Rutigliano explains. “We believe in creating unique, meaningful experiences with flowers so that people can discover and appreciate the beauty that is grown right here in our own hometowns.”
Coming from a PR and marketing background, Rutigliano conceived of the Hometown Flower model while working with a sustainable fashion client. “I became laser focused on all things relating to sourcing, supply chains, labor practices, etcetera,” she says, pointing out that she was born into a family of florists (third generation) and quickly made the mental jump from fashion to flowers. “Naturally I started to become curious about where our flowers come from and why more wasn’t grown here in the U.S.,” Rutigliano adds.
Eventually she met Debra Prinzing, founder of the “slow flowers” movement, which embraces the idea of using seasonal, local flowers. “I was blown away by everything I learned the first time I spoke to Debra. There was really no reason why we shouldn’t be designing with locally-grown flowers. These are perishable products that don’t need to be shipped all around the world,” Rutigliano continues. “There are many different interpretations of the word ‘local’ but for us, we keep more than 95% of our sourcing to right here on Long Island, and the other 5% comes from local Northeast growers in the off-season,” she says. “It is definitely a challenge at times but we find the challenge to be a bit liberating from a creative perspective, often creating a beautifully unique end result.”
Hometown never imports flowers and instead works with what’s locally accessible, even during the frigid months when flowers are few and far between on Long Island. “During the off-season, we work with the winter varieties available to us—dried flowers, lots of beautiful branches, and we also have some local greenhouses growing some incredible varieties,” Rutigliano says. “In general, we also always try to avoid getting into specifics with our clients in terms of the types of varieties we promise, since ultimately it’s Mother Nature who is in charge. We align on overall style, aesthetic, and color palette and then leave everything else up to nature.”
A savvy marketing whiz, Rutigliano represents Hometown Flower Co. with “Baby Blue,” an iconic sky blue 1976 Ford F-100 pickup. The truck is on display throughout their comprehensive and well-designed website, and it regularly appears at their public and private events and workshops, including flower bars, Pop-ups and photo shoots. Rutigliano is quick to point out that they make deliveries in a much less “delicate” ride, so customers never have to worry about the vintage truck breaking down and causing delays. “It was really important for us to build a brand that people could have fun with and connect to, even if that means snapping a photo for Instagram, as it’s an easier way to introduce local flowers that they may not be familiar with,” she says. “We want the idea of embracing local to feel fun, look beautiful, and be memorable.”
The truck isn’t the only thing giving Hometown Flower Co. its truly individual identity. All flowers are delivered in signature, “flowers in a bag” packaging with a natural look that helps them stand apart from competitors. “Similar to Baby Blue, we wanted something really distinct, unique, and great in a photo. We also wanted to avoid plastic, and we wanted to create something that no one else was doing,” Rutigliano says. “We love the idea of these wild, free-flowing flowers pouring out of a brown paper bag, and at the end of the season, I love scrolling through our photos and seeing the transition of the flowers-in-a-bag designs throughout the various months.”
While Hometown Flower is a multifaceted business, well-known for the not-so-standard offerings, including a flexible and customizable, flowers in a bag subscription service, variety of workshops, and pop-ups, Rutigliano reminds people that they are also a full-scale florist that provides one-time deliveries across Long Island, as well as special event and wedding design work. “The end result is often something incredibly unique and truly beautiful,” she says.
Visit hometownflowerco.com for subscription options, upcoming workshops, a list of local floral varietals, info on farmers, and much more.