Relationships are blooming, and businesses that serve them are booming

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Romance is in the air, but with first dates and ceremonies stalled, many in the wedding business have struggled to stay afloat. On the flip side, those who work in the relationship-support niche have found the need for their services skyrocket. Here’s how biz-savvy folks in the heart-and-soul sector are flourishing.

Petal to the mettle

Since launching at the end of October, personalized online florist Floracracy has seen its business explode. “Our amazing team of artists and letter writers take stories sharing all different kinds of love — romantic love, parental love, love toward friends and even that special gratitude in business — and use their fluency in the language of flowers to create visual experiences that share those stories,” said founder and CEO Sarah-Eva Marchese, of the company she founded that ships lush, personalized bouquets to the lower 48 states.

But the road has not been without bumps.

“We were supposed to launch formally in April 2020,” she said. “However, we had to shut down our warehouse for a few months. We ran ‘pay what you can’ campaigns, where people literally could send flowers for zero dollars. We had people gift teachers… We had people give to families who had lost someone from COVID-19.”

The team has grown by 60 percent since the fall, and they’ve experienced a 25 percent repeat purchase rate. No surprise given that during a time of intense isolation, the personalized heartfelt notes that accompany the blooms go a long way.

“Flowers have historically been our ‘language’ when we could not be together, or we simply didn’t have the words to express ourselves,” said Marchese. “These ancient rituals have suddenly become our most powerful means of being present for each other.”

Bling boss

Apeksha Kothari, COO of engagement ring marketplace, has jewels in her blood as the fifth generation of her family working in the diamond industry. Little did she know what hardships the pandemic would bring.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, it was scary and business was quiet,” she said. “The shock set in, and most couples put life-changing decisions on hold.”

As the pandemic dragged on, some relationships accelerated. “Couples moved in [together] earlier, they spent more time with each other,” said Kothari. “And they came to the decision of whether they want to spend time with each other forever quicker.”

That led to a major growth spurt, with business increasing five times over and the Rare Carat crew more than doubling their team, powering more than $100 million in diamond sales annually.

An Oxford grad and Harvard MBA, Kothari has learned to never let a good crisis go to waste.“When things are crazy, people are open to trying things they would not have otherwise. We were able to tweak our business model, offering special guarantees with the support of our partners.”

Baby steps

Annbeth Eschbach, president of Kindbody, which offers fertility services at affordable pricing, said that last year was a tipping point for the bi-coastal biz in their second full year of operations.

“We’ve seen many re-evaluate what matters most, whether that’s building a family, keeping options open or taking the time to learn more and fight for your health and well-being,” said Eschbach, whose brand has quadrupled revenues.

Kindbody also launched a fertility grant for black, minority and underserved individuals, and hosted a series of diversity and inclusion events.

“Leadership requires more than it did before,” she said. “It’s not enough to have vision, courage, confidence, authenticity and a growth mindset. Now we need humility, curiosity and a ‘learn faster’ mindset.”

Their vice president of brand marketing, Rebecca Silver echoed that sentiment, emphasizing the significance of learning “how to adapt, quickly. You think you have everything figured out, and then the world changes in an instant, and you need to figure it out all over again. The more you can stay calm and do what it takes to adapt to new circumstances, the stronger your team and organization will be.”

Mix and match

With over 20 years of experience in matchmaking, Amber Artis, CEO of Select Date Society, saw a giant uptick in clients last year. Considering her firm charges between $10,000 and $50,000 for its services, that’s some serious green.

Her key takeaway for aspiring cupids? “Manage your expectations,” said Artis. “Matchmaking can be fun and glamorous, but it is also stressful and requires a strong work ethic. You have to be extremely organized, a great listener, and a problem solver in order to succeed in this business.”

Despite a springtime taper off in 2020, Artis went on to log her best year ever. “If you are in the love industry and good at what you do, your services will always be needed,” she said. “When life is challenging, people look for love and connection.”

Talking it out

Laurel Steinberg, Ph.D., relationship expert and director of the Center for Relationship Repair, has long spent her days helping couples looking to improve or save their relationships. Now, she’s seen demand for distance therapy quadruple in her own practice.

With therapy via video becoming the new normal, she’s learned that her patients enjoy having their sessions from home.

“The pandemic forced couples to spend much more time together, while sharing resources such as home space in which they had to keep their careers going,” said Steinberg. “The difficulties they shared only intensified.”

She was already doing some virtual sessions, so the transition to fully remote was easy.

For therapists, she recommends getting specific training in areas of interest so that you can have many tools in your wheelhouse. “I still take continuing education courses regularly,” she said.

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