Gift giving is hard! You want to give something that is meaningful and from the heart but know you can’t find that at the mall. So what do you do? Small business owner Zoe Branch can help you with figuring it out. With a business centered around customizability and personal touch, Zoe creates different pieces that will reflect each customer and the relationship they have with the person they are gifting. Even if you are gifting yourself, Zoe has the perfect products for you and your personality type – literally because you are picking it all out, she is just helping you put it all together!
To learn more about Zoe’s creative touch and how it helped her create her small business Flora and Phrase, follow along:
What products do you offer? How long have you been in business?
I type up poems, quotes, snarky asides, and more on my great grandfather’s 1931 Remington Noiseless typewriter and mount the words on birch wood with a pressed flower. My products range the gamut from sentimental to ridiculous and people typically put one on a bookshelf or hang one on their wall. I also make greeting cards that span the same range, for example “everything I am you’ve helped me to become” or “I love that we hate all the same people” just to name a few. I also provide earrings, and candles. I started flora & phrase in December 2018 kind of by accident (keep reading to learn how).
How do we find you online?
I have a dedicated website at floraandphrase.com.
You can also find me on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/floraandphrase
What is lesser known about your business that you wish more people knew?
I partner with four local emerging writers to promote their poetry and pay them for their work — I refer to them as my “featured writers.” Right now, they include Brandi Douglas, Tomicia Blunt, Mushawn Knowles, and Emily Harman. I focus on partnering with people with historically marginalized identities in order to intentionally support them and to reach a wider audience: I think that poetry can and should be accessible and relevant to everyone, and that representation in the field is always crucial.
How did you start your business? What makes your business different?
I had written two poems for my grandparents as a Christmas gift and was trying to figure out a way to make them more than a piece of paper I folded into an envelope. I typed them up on the typewriter, bought some wood and cut it with a box cutter (do not recommend), and added some flowers I had long ago pressed in an old phonebook. Some friends saw the pieces and asked if I could make similar ones for them to give as gifts. It just took off from there.
I specialize in custom pieces and have had requests to type up someone’s original poem they wrote for a loved one, as well as peoples’ wedding vows, matching the flowers on the piece to the colors of their big day. These are often my favorite things to do: There aren’t a whole lot of places you can go to get something so personalized and meaningful, and I love seeing peoples’ reactions when they see their piece for the first time.
Fun facts about you or your business?
This typewriter and I have been hanging out for a while! I used to write stories on it in my grandparents’ basement when I was a kid until the keys started sticking and it fell into disrepair. About four years ago, my mom came across it and did a ton of research on how to fix it up, worked on doing so for months, then gifted it to me out of the blue. It was definitely the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received — I loved this typewriter to death when I was little — and without that gesture I definitely wouldn’t have started doing any of this.
My business remains a side hustle — my full-time job is as an assistant editor at South Sound and 425 magazines — and it’s been such a fulfilling experience to learn the ins and outs of the small business community. Leah Morgan and the Tacoma Night Market team have done so much to lift me up in the past year and I am forever grateful to have been welcomed into that space. And thank you to Tacoma, which is supportive of its artist community in a way I have never seen anywhere else. I am definitely lucky to be creating in the City of Destiny.