DC wedding flower startup Poppy raises $1.7 million

Poppy founder Cameron Hardesty, who worked in the White House communications department during the Obama administration, also volunteered in the White House flower shop. (Courtesy Cameron Hardesty)

Poppy, a D.C. startup with a mission of disrupting the wedding flower business by serving as a high-tech direct go-between for florists and consumers, has raised $1.65 million in new funding for expansion.

Investors in the new round of seed funding include IDEA Fund Partners, Irish Angels and Techstars. Poppy has now raised $2.2 million in funding since its founding in 2019.

Poppy connects brides with florists using proprietary software based on their needs. It handles the billing, providing florists with customers and customers with florists and designers ready for their floral needs, regardless of size. It works with a nationwide network of designers.

Unlike large, traditional wedding planner companies, Poppy focuses solely on floral arrangements.

Poppy founder Cameron Hardesty, who worked in the White House Office of Drug Policy during the Obama administration, also volunteered in the White House flower shop. She left the White House in 2014 to join D.C. flower delivery startup UrbanStems before starting Poppy in 2019.

Her experience taught her that the wedding flower business’ supply chain was antiquated, making wedding flowers more expensive than they needed to be.

“The timing of the round (of new investment) was strategic because we’re entering a high season for people starting to plan weddings, so we are investing in marketing and sales as well,” Hardesty said

Last spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled almost all in-person wedding plans, Poppy pivoted to Poppy At Home, a do-it-yourself flower kit, along with micro-wedding packages for Zoom weddings.

To date, Poppy has sold more than 100,000 stems through Poppy At Home. Poppy donates $1 for every kit sold to a flower farm in Ecuador to pay for assistance for its majority female workforce.

Poppy focuses on smaller weddings, a segment Hardesty says has been traditionally ignored by the wedding industry. It had 100 wedding bookings in its first year of operations.

Hardesty was recently featured in Flower Magazine in its Wedding Flower Trends in 2020 article. Last fall, she was featured on the Today Show’s “She Made It” series.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Hardesty worked in the White House communications department. She worked in the White House Office of Drug Policy.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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