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Meet Libby Francis Baxter of The Modest Florist

Today we’d like to introduce you to Libby Francis Baxter.

Hi Libby, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I began my career in floristry almost by accident. In 1989 I was hired as the c0-manager of a wonderfully eclectic little shop in Woodstock, VT. It was a breakfast/lunch cafe, old fashioned soda fountain, and full-service florist all in one space. While I had experience with food operations, I was completely unfamiliar with the floral business. My co-manager, who ran the floral side, suggested we all get cross-trained. And so began my apprenticeship with Lucia Armstrong Williams, a noted floral and landscape designer and judge for the Garden Clubs of America.

At the time our cut flowers and plants came from local greenhouse growers and flower farms. Imported flowers were rare and expensive. Within a few years, this dynamic began to change as the US “war on drugs” program funded farmers in South and Central America to grow flowers instead of illegal drug-producing plants. Soon we were regularly bringing in roses from Colombia and not the rose greenhouse that was only 20 miles away.

Fast forward to 1995 and I am managing a shop in Georgetown, DC. The owners were subscribed to all the wire services: FTD, Teleflora, 1-800-Flowers, etc. These services require that “member” shops have on hand *all* the flower varieties offered on their websites and catalogs. The only way to do that is to stock flowers from the S.A. growers, which have ideal growing conditions year-round. I was astonished that the industry had completely pivoted in such a short time.

I moved to Baltimore in 2006 and enjoyed working at MICA. During that time I saw a need for a full-service flower shop with sustainability as the core value. My experience years ago led me to open The Modest Florist in 2013 and find local growers. I source reused/recycled containers and am committed to environmentally-friendly solutions for the modern floral business. The Modest Florist is the first and only florist to be recognized by and listed on the Maryland Department of Energy “Green Registry” and I am a LEED Green Associate.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My greatest challenge was finding local growers of flowers and plants, specifically greenhouse growers who could supply cut flowers through the winter months. Because of the floral industry’s reliance on (and the US government subsidizing of) the cut flower farms in South and Central America many (if not most) of our domestic greenhouse growers have been put out of business.

I am grateful to have many options for local field-grown flowers in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. I am more grateful for the very few wonderful multi-generational family greenhouse growers that are still thriving.

As you know, we’re big fans of The Modest Florist. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
The Modest Florist is the hometown Hampden source for floral services with sustainability as the core business value, The Modest Florist seeks to return to the roots of the floral trade before the widespread use of environmentally-unfriendly supplies, products, and business practices. Combining 21st century technology and “old school” knowledge, The Modest Florist is the only florist in the MD/DC/VA region able to offer a full range of floral services year ’round using only locally-grown flowers and foliage, reused/recycled containers, and no floral foam.

Our range of services include:
– Retail: floral arrangements, foliage and blooming plants, gourmet baskets and gifts delivered daily throughout Baltimore city and can be ordered via the website www.themodestflorist.com or by phone. Florals for all occasions including Birthdays, Get Well, Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Winter and Spring Holidays, Sympathy, and “Just Because”.
– Weddings and Events: custom florals designed to be uniquely yours! Wedding Ceremony, Reception, and Personal Florals; Rehearsal Dinners, Anniversary Celebrations, Holiday Parties and more.

– Corporate and Non-Profit: flowers, plants, and gifts to reflect your organization’s brand. Weekly Lobby/Reception Arrangements, Fundraiser Centerpieces and Decor, Indoor Foliage and Blooming Plants, Seasonal Outdoor Planters, Holiday Gifts for Clients/Employees, Trade Show Booth Decor.

– Subscriptions: flowers for you or a friend delivered on a schedule that you choose at a price point that works for you. Weekly, Bi-Weekly, or Monthly.

– Seasonal Specialties: blooming plants available with bulk discount. Poinsettias, Easter Lilies/Spring Bulb Plants, Fall Mums/Cabbage.

Our purchasing/sourcing:
– Fresh cut flowers and foliage: sourced from field-grown farms and greenhouse growers within a 100-mile radius.
– Foliage and blooming plants: also from growers/specialty greenhouses within 100-mile radius.
– Vases/Containers: thrifted and vintage vases, customer’s own reusable containers, recycled glass.
– Gourmet and Gifts: all products produced locally in Baltimore city.
– Other Supplies: local organic potting soil and succulent mix, locally-made plant food/fertilizer. Absolutely NO floral foam, plastic “cages”/”pillows” or other non-degradable materials.

Our business practices:
– Electricity: 100% green power supplier.
– Delivery: Only within Baltimore city and FREE delivery within a two-mile radius to encourage density of deliveries and minimal vehicle usage.
– Lighting: all ceiling and tabletop lamps have been converted to LED’s.
– Furniture/Fixtures: all shop counters, shelving, displays, tables, chairs, plant stands, and lamps are reused/vintage.
– Waste: purchase small quantities or fresh product almost daily to minimize waste from spoilage, compost leaves/stems/trimmings, recycle all cardboard/paper/glass/aluminum, use brown paper bags for garbage to reduce the amount of plastic in landfills.

The Modest Florist is committed to sustainability and the health of our environment now and for the future. Most important though is delivering beautiful, long-lasting, and thoughtful creations. Our customers’ satisfaction will always be our number one priority as we continue to support local, environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
I am an avid knitter. I have a “stable” of vintage Vespas. I was the proud owner of a country inn in Vermont. I was once a motorcycle courier. I drive a stick shift.

Contact Info:

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