By Sophia Ricco
Hometown Flowers Co. is turning the floral world on its head by introducing Long Island’s first mobile and digital flower shop that only sources from local growers.
Look out for a 1976 Ford pickup truck called “Baby Blue” for it’s striking color, Hometown Flowers Co. delivers and sells floral arrangements across the Island. Flowers are sourced from Long Island and Queens farms.
Coming from two generations of florists, Jaclyn Rutigliano of Woodbury was never interested in the floral industry until one of her marketing clients acquainted her with the “slow flower process.”
“I didn’t realize it was a movement,” Rutigliano said. “She opened my eyes to the dark side of the flower industry. When they are imported, they are basically put to sleep and pumped with chemicals. It’s really commoditized.”
Rutigliano learned that prior to a trade deal with Latin America, 80 percent of flowers in America were U.S.A. grown. Now it is only 20 percent. She realized this was why she never connected to mass-produced flowers, despite utilizing floral design as stress relief.
“I would take the flowers home from people’s weddings and always take them apart and redesign them,” Rutigliano said. “Or I would prune our or my parent’s backyard and make thirteen arrangements in a row. I finally realized, I really like this and maybe I’ve got something here.
As she began reaching out to local farms and researching growing seasons, Rutigliano and her husband, Marc Iervolino knew they wanted to launch by this spring.
“I really want to focus on local because as I was talking to these farmers, I realized there’s a huge agricultural revitalization happening on Long Island,” Rutigliano said.“There are these badass farmers growing gorgeous things, all with amazing stories.”
The couple looked into a brick and mortar store until the “aha moment” hit to make it a mobile shop. This allows Hometown Flowers Co. to bring the best of western and east end farms to the entire Island.
“We are trying to form a connection, where people just feel that sense of hometown pride, as they have with their food,” Rutigliano said.
Hometown Flowers Co. uses the florals in season to create arrangements that feature uncommon varieties and “embrace nature,” Freshness is key; flowers are delivered between 24-36 hours after they’re cut.
“We are mother nature dependent,” Rutigliano said. “It’s basically community-supported agriculture for flowers. You don’t know what will be delivered until it arrives. This is because we don’t know what we’re going to get until we go to the farmers. It’s whatever is fresh at the time of cutting.”
Hometown Flowers Co. offers subscriptions, as well as its pop-ups. One can brighten a business or home with a floral subscription that can be tailored to monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly and feature an eclectic mix of blossoms in sizes from 10 to 30 stems.
“I am someone who really doesn’t like your typical arrangement,” Rutigliano said. “I seek out the unusual and beautiful varieties growing nearby. I don’t want to do what everyone else is designing. Something I learned about myself is I cannot copy or recreate. I don’t know what I’m designing until I just do it.”
Hometown Flowers Co. loads up “Baby Blue” for festivals, markets and fairs where they sell bunches of flowers and arrangements out of the bed of the truck. This summer they will NE at the Babylon and Roslyn Farmers Markets on Sundays and Wednesdays.
“Our tagline is ‘embrace your roots,’” Rutigliano said. “It has multiple meanings, of embracing your own physical roots, embracing our hometown roots, and embracing roots that grow naturally.”
They will give back to those roots by donating a portion of subscription proceeds to the Peconic Land Trust in Southampton.
“It just felt like the perfect synergy,” Rutigliano said. “We want to increase awareness and demand for local flowers, because with more demand, we can get more flowers from farmers. Then they are able to expand their operations.”
Rutigliano is looking forward to future growing seasons, and excited to incorporate seasonal buds and vines in bouquets.
“I love embracing what’s available, so even in the winter, I will be working with evergreens, berries and branches,” Rutigliano said. “I just think this creates a dynamic, interesting arrangement.”
Hometown Flowers Co. hopes to bring a fresh feeling with every delivery. Each comes wrapped in a paper bag with a sack of flower food.
“Flowers connect you back to nature,” Rutigliano said. “In this digitally-connected, fast-paced world we live in, this gives you a moment to just breathe in the smell and brighten your home.”
Hometown Flowers Co.