By Janine Tasaka
On Thursday, I walk out my front door. There, on my porch, is a fresh-cut bouquet of beautiful flowers in a small mason jar. The tag reads, “Everyday Bouquets. Flowers from my garden.” I can’t believe how much joy this brings me. Simple pleasures.
Jana Young is the founder of Everyday Bouquets, a new social enterprise that delivers locally-grown, artfully-arranged flower bouquets directly to your doorstep. You can sign up for a weekly subscription and Jana delivers the bouquets to your home, anywhere on the North Shore. The best part? All proceeds help support local families in need.
“This venture started by total fluke. I’m not a floral designer, I’m just a gardener pretending to be one!” says Jana. “Gardening is my true passion and last year when we bought our house, I decided to fill the front yard entirely with true blue flowers. Blue is the rarest colour in the flower realm, only 10% of all blooms are true blue in hue. Flowers like delphinium, hydrangea, brunnera, forget-me-not, Himalayan poppy, cordyalis, muscari, allium, baby blue eyes and more.”
Before planting, Jana educated herself by reading 80+ library books on gardening, combing them for all of the true-blue flowers that would thrive in our North Shore climate. She made endless lists and sketched various garden layouts. She joined the North Shore Garden group on Facebook, which she says is an amazing community of people, generous with both their plants and knowledge.
“Summer came, but my delinquent delphiniums and hydrangeas started opening up pink and purple — not blue! — and I was so ticked off,” says Jana. She now knows that in her haste to plant, she skipped the soil testing step. “Hydrangeas need acidic soil to bloom blue or the addition of aluminum sulfate. So, despite all of those books that told me to ‘test the soil’ first, I rushed ahead. Cautionary tale!” she laughs.
She thought to herself, I know what I’m going to do with all you misbehaving blooms. I’m going to cut you off and sell you. “So, I threw up a little flower stand at the end of my driveway one Saturday morning in July. My son Owen grabbed his toy cash register and piggy bank and was excited to play shopkeeper,” smiles Jana.
They sat and waited for customers. People walked by and Owen would shout, “Flowers! Five dollars!” but no one stopped. After 10 minutes — a decade in toddler time — Owen said despondently, “Maybe no one wants our flowers?”
Jana thought: no. We just need the right people.
So, she snapped some photos and hopped onto the North Shore garden group and within five minutes Jocelyn, their first customer, showed up to buy a bouquet. More people saw the post and started walking or driving over. “By the end of the day, Owen’s confidence had ballooned. He’d yell at anyone walking their dog: ‘WHICH flowers do you want?!’,” she laughs. “We completely sold out that first day.”
The next weekend, the dream team set up again. And again. And again. They even upgraded their storefront with an old puppet theatre. “People started requesting special orders for sympathy bouquets, birthdays and graduations,” says Jana. “And we did two Covid weddings. All from my garden!”
Initially, Jana announced that the proceeds would be used to buy toys, candy and more flower seeds. “Then we started accepting chocolate coins as payment, to cut out the middleman,” she laughs. “When Owen had enough candy and toys, I decided to start giving the flower money to our nanny, Noelia, who was trying to bring her kids to Canada from Mexico to live with her.”
Jana says that “nanny” is a weak word to describe Noelia. She’s become a kindred friend to her and a loving teacher to her children. She was an elementary school teacher in Mexico and has overcome great personal adversity in order to start a new life in Canada for her children. She’s a single mom and her parents have been caring for her kids, who are teenagers, while she’s here in Canada and sending money home. “She didn’t want to take the flower money at first,” says Jana. “I had to convince her, but I reasoned that the money is for her kids’ flights, which were more costly because of Covid - and she accepted.”
In late August, Jana and her husband had their first night away from their kids in four years. On their way home, they stopped at Ferncliff, a hundred-year-old dahlia farm perched on a plateau in Mission, with views of the belltower and terracotta tiles of the Benedictine monastery Westminster Abbey. “I strolled through their fields and thought about expanding my flower business. A number of customers had suggested a delivery subscription idea and I was considering it for the future,” says Jana. “I bought bouquets from David, the owner and farmer, and asked him how long the flowers would keep blooming and he said that dahlias start looking pretty sad by about the third week of October. It was August 27th. I blame the euphoria of freedom for my next thought, which was: Well, I guess the future is now. Better make hay while the flowers bloom!”
The new business is called “Everyday Bouquets,” because Jana believes that flowers shouldn’t be reserved for special occasions; every day is precious enough for flowers. “When I first launched the business, I hopped onto Facebook to get the word out again. After I posted, I waited, but it was crickets the first night. No bites. So I went to bed discouraged, thinking just like Owen: ‘Maybe no one wants my flowers.’”
The next morning, there it was: her first order. A message from Carla in Edgemont who wanted a bouquet for herself and another to surprise her friend. “And it took off from there,” smiles Jana.
In winter she sources flowers from the commercial greenhouses yet still relies on the donated greens from local gardeners to keep costs down. Customers leave their empty jars on the doorstep for collection and re-use.
Every Thursday, you can find Jana collecting donated or purchased blooms from local gardeners, tracking down jars, arranging the bouquets in a flurry of creativity in her garage, and then packing them into her car and doing deliveries all over the North Shore. “You get a little thrill when you flower-bomb someone’s house!”
During that time, Noelia cares for the kids, giving Jana the space to pursue something that enlivens her: flowers and horticulture. “I’ve been gardening my way out of postpartum depression for two years now,” reflects Jana. “It struck suddenly after my daughter was born and I’m still not out of the woods. It’s insidious and misunderstood, and yet common.” Jana spent a year in the Pacific Postpartum Society support group. Each week she shared stories with other moms who were going through it too, which helped her feel not so alone. “Early motherhood is isolating and unrelenting. Not unlike a Covid lockdown actually. There’s so much that doctors still don’t know about postpartum depression, it’s different for almost every woman. But studies show that the beneficial bacteria in soil increases serotonin in our bodies. So gardening is good for the body, mind and soul, in my experience.”
Noelia’s kids are here now. A dream come true. “It felt like such a long road but she’s a determined mother full of fierce love,” says Jana. “It wasn’t an easy journey, but they have no regrets. All three are some of the bravest people you’ll ever meet.”
A bit more about Jana at home. She has two toddlers, Owen (4) and Audrey (2). Owen is clearly their spirited kid with an entertainer streak, who has grown confident in his new flower salesman role. Audrey is a delightful, agreeable soul who loves flowers and wearing anything floral. “They’re the perfect match for the new family business. Audrey picks the flowers and Owen hawks them!” says Jana.
Jana’s husband Ben is a lawyer — he’s General Counsel for an e-commerce software company called Elastic Path. He grew up in Redding, Connecticut, went to law school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and the Atlanta Braves are his baseball team. The couple met in Prague when they were both 21 years old and studying abroad. “We lost touch for 10 years — this was long before social media!” says Jana. “We reunited by total chance and fate here in Vancouver in 2010. We had our second first date at the King’s Head pub in Kits Beach and were married in Banff.”
Jana and Ben both have a passion for fundraising and they created an event called “Done in a Day” which is an annual charity hike. As a group, they hike the entire Baden Powell Trail from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove in one day to raise money for mental health and the Burnaby Counselling Group, which offers subsidized counselling on a sliding fee scale. Jana used to be the Executive Director for this charity and Ben currently serves as a Board Member. “The hike is 48 km and we start at 4am and finish around 8pm. It’s like the Knee Knacker race but instead of running, we hike it. There’s no lottery to take part, you just have to collect pledges. Ben has hiked it almost every year and I’ve done it for four years.” The event has raised over $100,000 since its inception.
Jana’s background is in journalism, non-profit leadership and human resources. She grew up in Dunnville, Ontario, spent her twenties in the Rockies hiking, skiing and working (in that order, jokes Jana) and she made her way to Vancouver in 2010 for journalism school, and providentially, to re-meet Ben.
“Bloom where you’re planted,” is a quote that Jana likes. “It’s so simple yet so true. Like a dandelion growing through concrete. Make the best of your current circumstances. Don’t wait until things feel perfect, because they never will, so start now.”
Jana has already planted strong roots here in our community. She’s found a way to take what she loves and grow it into an inspiring social enterprise, based on a foundation of compassion. Lucky us, getting to support such a fantastic cause. These joy-sparking bouquets that land on our doorstep each week are just what we need, to brighten our every day.
Follow Jana on Instagram @everyday_bouquets to support local families in need and fill your life with everyday bouquets.
Neighbours of Edgemont editorial:
A new year often brings a fresh start and new perspectives. At a time when things are unpredictable, we’ve had to relinquish our need to control and be more adaptable when it comes to our best-laid plans.
The one thing we can control is choosing kindness through thoughtful words and gestures. I continue to hear of people committing daily acts of kindness throughout our city and I’m inspired by businesses that are starting up, with the sole purpose of brightening the days of others.
One such business is Everyday Bouquets, started by the dynamic Jana Young.
She’s created a heart-warming social enterprise on the North Shore where she delivers hand-crafted flowers to your doorstep and the money raised goes to help local families in need. It nurtures her creativity, gives back to others and is a socially-distant business — with the element of surprise. The joy of seeing a bouquet on your doorstep will remind you of how good it feels to support great causes and surround yourself with things of beauty.
Wishing you a lovely start to 2021.
Janine Tasaka, Content Coordinator
Neighbours of Edgemont magazine