In full bloom: Callia Flowers' rise to tech success

February 8, 2021
5 mins
In full bloom: Callia Flowers' rise to tech success
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Few moments compare to the delight of seeing flowers at your door, especially when they’re unexpected. Our online Neo partner, Callia Flowers, does this best with their modern flower delivery service, guaranteed to create tender moments in the easiest way possible.

But starting your own tech company isn’t all roses. 

It takes grit, discipline, and an appetite for risk to overcome hardship and come out successful. It’s a thorny entrepreneurial journey, but one that’s well worth it.

We’re excited to team up with Callia, a female-founded business that started in Winnipeg and has irreversibly disrupted the flower industry across Canada.

How Callia started

Big wins call for celebration. But what if you’re short on time? Founder Catherine Metrycki wanted to send her best friend flowers for getting promoted, but the whole process proved more difficult than she imagined. In the end, she didn’t send a bouquet of flowers like she had hoped, but instead, a text message that read, “Congrats!”

That’s when the light bulbs went on.

Metrycki noticed how intertwined technology is with our lives and saw an opportunity in the flower industry to better integrate the level of speed and ease that we’ve come to expect.

Graduations, birthdays, and get-well-soons are all made better with the sight of a blooming bouquet, but you have to jump through hoops. You need to go to a florist in-person or describe in great detail what arrangement you want over the phone. Neither are kind on time or convenience. 

Knowing firsthand how lousy it feels to let those things get in the way of strengthening relationships and celebrating those you love, Metrycki formulated a plan to make it easier for people to follow through on their intentions.

In 2016, she worked at Procter & Gamble as a brand marketing manager by day, and by night would pour her brain power into what would be Callia, the name nodding to her Polish heritage and a kind of lily. Metrycki dedicated evenings and weekends coding a website, putting stickers on boxes, and delivering bouquets to her friends and family.

Soon growing beyond a hobby, she joined Manitoba Technology Accelerator to help her make Callia her full-time business.

Disrupting the flower industry in just a matter of clicks

Changing the way people buy and send flowers now starts with a click of a button. Callia makes it easy to order a high-quality bouquet in minutes and have it delivered within hours (in over 50 Canadian cities), all from your phone or computer.

While many would refer to the business as a flower service, Metrycki describes Callia as a tech company and emphasizes how they’re digital-first with their customers. 

“Delivering flowers reliably in Canada is really hard,” says Metrycki. “That’s why we’ve built a ton of technology with predicate ETAs, text notifications, and a ton of communication with both senders and recipients to make sure we can support our 100% Happiness Guarantee.”

Choosing from three bouquet styles online, customers simply select a style, delivery time, and location, and the rest is out of their hands. A team of dedicated local drivers drop off the closed bouquets right at their doorstep and they stay fresh for weeks.

The demand for excellence in this industry is especially high since flowers are perishable. Compared with other products that get delivered to your door, such as clothes which can be replaced if sent the wrong item or size, flowers don’t have the luxury of a do-over when they’re not delivered on time for special events or occasions. 

Coupled with Canada’s extreme weather temperatures from -40 to +40 degrees, the quality control challenges of flower delivery make for a risky business to enter.

That’s why Callia keeps things simple.

Making first impressions right, they purposely offer three styles of bouquets at a time based on flowers that are in season to guarantee freshness and value. Plus, it minimizes the number of errors that come with customized orders.

“It’s really important to us that every Callia moment is perfect,” says Metrycki. “One of the best lessons I’ve learned as a founder is having a team that hustles. We work incredibly hard and spend time every morning to carefully craft each bouquet experience. We’re really proud of that.”

All bouquets are beautifully hand-tied and delivered in luxurious packaging. Callia pays special attention to the unboxing experience, knowing that half the wow-factor is in the presentation. From the moment the blue box arrives all the way through to opening the package and being greeted with a heartfelt message inside, receiving Callia flowers is special.

Their flowers are sourced locally as much as possible, mostly from BC and Ontario. When the snow hits and it’s no longer possible to seek local, they source flowers from South America and California. 

From budding to blooming business

What started out as a side hustle serving only her closest friends and family eventually landed Metrycki on Dragon’s Den, where she scooped a $500,000 investment from the one and only Manjit Minhas. 

“Shaking hands with Manjit Minhas was something else,” says Metrycki. “Having her believe in my vision is one of my proudest accomplishments. It just motivated me more to make Callia even better.”

Metrycki has since expanded her team and Callia’s lineup of products. To capture special moments even more, they naturally jumped into the wedding industry to help couples celebrate their big day. Without breaking the bank, their flowers are 75 percent less expensive than average wedding flowers, and they specialize in making boutonnieres, pin-on corsages, two types of centrepieces, and of course, bouquets.

But that’s just one part of their scaling business. Corporate gifting is now made easier as well, as Callia offers custom branding for companies when they want to send flowers to clients or co-workers. 

And for those who just can’t get enough of their bouquets, they’ve launched a subscription service, so people can expect a fresh bouquet every few weeks or once a month to lift their moods and spruce up their spaces.

Now delivering in more than 55 Canadian cities, Callia has made flower delivery as seamless as it is touching.

Building long-lasting connections

It’s not all just about the flowers. Strengthening real connections is the whole reason why Callia went into this business in the first place. Flowers hold the power to connect deeper in all relationships, and Callia recognizes the impact they make beyond their customers.

Inspired by the work of their communities and other small business owners, Callia works with passionate people in cities all across the country who love what they make. Customers can add items such as handcraft jewelry or candy made by local artisans as part of their bouquet orders. 

Now, Neo members can enjoy a more rewarding experience when they pay with the Neo Mastercard® at Callia Flowers. 

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