A family-owned Lafayette floral business is growing nationally in the sharing economy as a way for couples to cut wedding costs.

Something Borrowed Blooms, a rent-and-return online-based floral boutique that began in October 2015, allows couples to select a floral collection from the 11 it offers, the silk flowers are shipped, the flowers are used at the wedding and shipped back with their given return label. It also offers a selection of garland and decor.

Two months after it started, the company supplied flowers to its first wedding. Since then, co-founder and CEO Lauren Bercier said, the silk flowers have appeared in almost 3,000 weddings across the country and Canada.

“We grew over 400 percent in 2018, and we’re growing even quicker already this year,” Bercier said. “Right now, we are doing over 300 weddings a month, and by the end of 2020, our goal is to be at 2,000 weddings a month.”

Bercier, along with her cousin and co-founder, Laken Swan, have set aggressive goals, but with a staff of 14, they believe they can reach those marks. At 2,000 weddings a month, they would be capturing only about 1 percent of the wedding market in the U.S.

Bercier said they recognized the trend of renting and sharing among millennials. A Forbes survey indicated 74 percent of respondents — and 3 out of 4 millennials — would rather spend money on experiences than things.

Bercier and Swan began the venture in an attempt to meet the need of millennials who would perhaps prefer to spend more in another aspect of their wedding, like their honeymoon.

“We knew we wanted to start something," Bercier said. "We noticed things like Rent the Runway and VRBO where you can share your home and Uber where you can share cars.

"Rather than just buying things they are not going to use and then just getting rid of them, people are being more willing and open to looking for things that they could just rent, spend less money on — you know, be a little more budget-conscious and a little more sustainable as well.”

Bercier said their main influence on the "low cost for high value" model was Rent the Runway, an online-based designer clothing and accessories rental company. Users can rent for a weekend dresses valued at $490 for only $85, according to its website. The same type of value goes for Something Borrowed Blooms, according to Bercier.

According to the wedding planning website The Knot, the average cost of buying wedding flowers in 2017 was $2,379. The average cost to rent silk wedding flowers with Something Borrowed Blooms is $500, Bercier said.

Along with the trend in rentals, both women were newlyweds and new moms when they were brainstorming business ideas together and shared experiences with wedding flowers that ended up being less than they thought they should be.

“They’re really expensive, (and) you don’t always exactly get what you think you’re going to get because you meet with a florist,” Bercier said. “They might bring you something that you love, and they might bring you something that you’re kind of less than impressed with — which is what happened to me.”

That's when Bercier and Swan saw a gap in the wedding market.

As far as competition, Bercier said their only local competition is traditional florists, but there has been some national competition that arose, with one website directly copying theirs to such an extent they had to take legal action.

Bericer said she believes their greatest advantage over a traditional florist besides price is getting to see exactly what your flowers will look like before you receive them.

“You see our products on our website. You can see other brides use that same product on their wedding day and what they look like,” Bercier said.

While Something Borrowed Blooms does have multiples of each collection and thousands of pieces of inventory, Bercier said the company has had issues with available product for some short-notice orders.

“Typically, we recommend to book your wedding three to six months in advance. There has been times where people have tried to book in shorter time frames and we’ve had to say no because the inventory wasn’t available and we wouldn’t be able to produce it in time,” Bercier said. “That usually only happens if it’s a last-minute order.”

“I think that weddings are meant to be focused on the union and the love of two people and the ceremony of actually becoming a married couple,” Bercier said. “It can be really stressful for couples, so we are happy that we’re able to do something that hopefully can ease their stress.”

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