That roller-coaster ride has resulted in Matildas Magnolias, the couple’s innovative attempt to stir up the floral business, on which Americans spend more than $26 billion dollars a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The business is built around the Bloombox, a $39 box of fresh cut flowers from local farmers delivered to homes and businesses.
“Flowers in the U.S. are phenomenally expensive, and when you understand the farming part behind it, there’s really no justification for that,” Turner says. “We felt that there was a way to bring the beauty of fresh flower to people’s homes but do it in an affordable way – that’s the Bloombox.”
It all started with that Uber, and a broken phone. Boschetto’s mother, who lives in the Bay Area, was in New York City and had read an article in Harper’s Bazaar about a new Nexxus salon opening in the city, and made an appointment there. Turner, who grew up in Yorkshire, England and had moved to New York to work for Unilever, managing the rebranding of the hair care products business and the salon launch, was there when she arrived. As Boschetto looked to leave in an Uber after her appointment, she realized her phone had died. Turner happily jumped in and called her an Uber, not thinking much of it.
“That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me,” Boschetto said at the time.
“I don’t think that she expected that six months later that we’d announced that we were pregnant,” Turner says, wryly. “It was unbelievable.”
Yes, Boschetto introduced Turner to her son Matt the next time they saw one another, and things moved, well, quickly. The couple moved to London and Turner gave birth to their daughter – you guessed it, Matilda – in June 2016.
And it was at that exact time that they formulated the idea for Matilda’s Magnolias.
“This is my rationale as a woman: when you go through the hormones of having a baby, your mind and body are empowered to be able to do anything,” Turner says. “That’s why I think we chose that moment to reassess our lives. We both had good incomes and could sustain a nice life, but we weren’t really doing anything that we really wanted to do.”
Flowers didn’t exactly come out of left field. Matt Boschetto’s roots in the flower farming business run deep, as Matt’s great-great grandfather Giuseppe Boschetto started Boschetto & Podesta Farms, a flower farm in San Leandro, when he moved to the U.S. from Genoa in 1912. Matt’s grandfather Angelo Boschetto worked at the flower farm when he was a young boy and later founded Able Services, a facilities operations firm that manages more than one billion square feet of real estate and where Matt worked many years later, right up until he met Turner.
The couple moved to the Bay Area after Matilda was born as they planned to launch the business here. “As an Italian-American family with our roots born in the flower industry, we’re excited as the fourth generation to be building a business back where our family started more than 100 years ago.”
That doesn’t mean that raising a baby and birthing a new business simultaneously went off without a hitch. “When you have a baby, all of those hormones take over,” Turner adds. “I was feeling so unbelievably inspired – and then all of that’s gone away and I’ve got a baby and I’m not sleeping and what are we doing?”
So what makes Matilda’s Magnolias innovative?
While Matilda’s Magnolias leverages its relationship with local flower farms, chooses the flowers and designs each bloom box to contain flowers with different textures and tones, it does not do the arranging (though it does provide arrangement “tips.”).
“Design and curation is still very much a part of what we do – but the arrangement is not,” Turner says, adding that customers can arrange for a single delivery or set up recurring deliveries. “That’s where the savings comes in.”
Soon after the launch in April, Matilda’s developed great traction in Mill Valley, as Boschetto’s aunt and local resident Courtney Rudnick helped them a great deal with spreading the word. Those early customers have been vital to Matilda’s success, Turner says.
“When you’re building your own business, the first people you get who are advocates of yours – they become like family,” she says. “You really care about maintaining and prioritizing those relationships, our first advocates came from Mill Valley.”
Turner says the business “is tracking way above our forecasts.” The couple put all of their own money into the startup, taking outside venture capital investments. “We wanted to prove the principle of our idea,” she says.
Now they’re hiring delivery drivers and are almost ready to launch the Flowerbar, a 1961 Ford Econoline truck that’s been turned into a “food truck with flowers. We’re excited to take it around Mill Valley and San Francisco,” she says. “People will be able to pick their own blooms from the truck and create their own Bloombox.”
Taking a step back from the insane pace of the past two years, Turner says the whirlwind has all been worth it.
“We took a hit to invest in our future by doing something that we were truly inspired to do,” says says. “And now we’re just over the moon.”