Meet Mike, one of the founders of Soul-Flower.com:
Hi folks – I must admit that writing about yourself is kind of a strange exercise – but here I go…
My role with Soul-flower is more specialized than it was when we first started. In the beginning I wore every hat since we didn’t have employee’s, but today we have a most excellent team of folks (many of which you may have met online or via phone calls) who handle the day to day operations and I can focus on where we’re going as a company – in terms of the catalog, website, and product selection. My life today is very busy, but also laid back.
Peggy and I both live in Des Moines now, which is where we’re both from originally. We both work from home (but in different parts of the house) and our children (Siera -age 6, and Cody- age 4) have a great time playing outside, going to their schools, and getting to visit their grandparents on a regular basis. However, as much as I love Des Moines, I still love the Twin Citie’s too and you can find me at the warehouse once or twice a month.
I miss answering the phones and having “live” contact with our customers – so I have to go up to get my fix 🙂 I also enjoy being where the action is and we have lots of fun at the warehouse while your orders are being picked, packed, and shipped. Through all these years we’ve always had fun, and hopefully you feel a little of that happiness and love when you open your packages. The rest of my lifestyle is pretty easy to figure out – all you have to do is visit our website, catalog, or this blog. Soul-flower is a reflection of our lifestyle, and nothing makes us happier than seeing others who have had a Soul-flower experience and subscribe to many of the same ideals. I like to think that we created a “General Store” that you can visit via online or thru the catalog – maybe you’re just wanting to see what we’re up to or you want to make a purchase – it doesn’t matter as long as when you leave you have a smile on your face, a bounce in your step, and know that you’re part of a larger tribe 🙂 Peace and Respect – Mike S.
Some of my favorite creations are t-shirts. I am pretty much a t-shirt addict – I love tees that allow me to express myself. I advertise that I am a treehugging, earth-loving, green mama. And that is getting easier & easier now. Even large department stores are selling tees expressing eco-friendly virtues and ideas in so many fun ways. But I always take my purchases one step further – I ask myself “where was this tee made?” and “what is this tee made of?” If I can feel good about the answers to those questions, I pretty much always buy it.
Sometime I see crazy $50 and up tees out there – I am not going to pay extra for some designer name or manufactured “green” statement. But there is one thing I will pay extra for – organic cotton. I love the feel of organic cotton, first of all, but I also love the feeling of knowing I am wearing something that was created free of toxins & chemicals. Something completely natural.
My addiction to tees spreads right into my buying and designing for Soul-Flower. Many of our Soul-Flower tees are designed in house, others are from small, independent artists. And as we continue to bring in more and more tees, our focus is now on organic cotton, bamboo, hemp and other natural fibers. Most of our t-shirts at Soul-Flower are now organic cotton. And I know a lot of you out there wonder, is organic cotton really that different than conventional cotton? I am here to say yes, it is different and BETTER. I did a little research and wanted to pass along what I learned –
Conventional cotton farming is one of the most damaging types of farming towards the environment. Producing cotton uses 25% of all insecticides in the world and 10% of all pesticides. It is second (corn is first) in the amount of chemicals used to produce it. To put it simply, a 100% cotton shirt made from conventional cotton is actually about 75% cotton and 25% yicky chemicals and residues used to produce the cotton. Nobody wants that touching their skin.
When you choose to buy just one t-shirt made from organic cotton (versus conventional cotton), you are saving 1/3 a pound of synthetic fertilizers & pesticides from entering the environment. (These are the same chemicals that 1- damage soil so badly it can’t be farmed 2-harm animals in the vicinity, and 3-ultimately contribute to global warming ). So, that one organic cotton tee you buy supports environmental causes & helps to nourish the earth and the lives of all people involved in the process of growing, manufacturing and distributing the organic cotton. It feels good to wear that!
It might be more expensive, but that is because growing cotton organically takes skill. It takes time & patience. To me, buying organic cotton is worth it, especially for my young children, who are already exposed to so many chemicals & toxins in the environment.
Hello to all of our buds in blog-land. Better late than never, we are finally starting an official Soul-Flower Blog. So much of our day-to-day work involves talking with customers and hearing your stories, we thought we should take a little time to share some of our stories with you. Our blog will create another way to connect to you (our customers and friends), as well as a place to share more about Soul-Flower and the things we care about and take an interest in.
So, to start it all off, here is Soul-Flower’s birth story:
Mike & I both were working in the corporate world when we made a decision to start our own company. We liked our jobs, but were far from getting the most out of life when most of our waking hours were spent in front of our computer screens, coding in my case, selling in mike’s case. We thought, hey, let’s figure out a way to make a living out of what we love most. And what we loved most always came back to the music. We have been festival goers for years, starting with the Grateful Dead (various shows/tours from ’85-’93), then NO Jazz Festival, Horde Fest, and many regional gatherings. We had a couple of friends with a classic hippie shop in Iowa City, The Peaceful Fool, and they were kind enuf to give us tips and ideas on opening a store. Owning our own business was nothing we had done before, but we had the love and commitment to create what became Soul-Flower. With positive attitudes, a little capital, and alot of sweat equity we started off on our own ‘long, strange trip’…
We opened the doors (in october 1999) to our 1000 square foot shop on Grand Avenue in St Paul, MN. It was a little boutique full of Hippie duds, Jam Band T-Shirts, Posters, Stickers, Patches, and lots of other cool threads. We relied on the many college students in the area, and of course there were good days and bad days, but looking back it was a blast – especially getting to know the students and locals in the community. Folks like Mike M-our local Grateful Dead statistician who could name a dead show in just a few notes of Jerry’s Blog Image guitar; Carl-the guitar playing, bike-riding minimalist who would stop by daily to just say hello; Katelyn – the baby and now young girl whose mama owned the Thai restaurant next door (Pad Thai Cafe – one of the best Thai restaurants in St.Paul); all the SPA students who would visit after school each day; the list goes on…we had just a few employees – most of whom we are still in touch with, and some that are still working with us 🙂 We were also getting our name out in the midwest scene by vending various festivals and events – something that we finally have given up as our own Soul-flower family (Siera and Cody) grows.
Now fast forward 9 years and we’ve transformed from a brick and mortar boutique into an online boutique. Soul-flower
still resides in St.Paul, but now we work from the second floor of an old warehouse that has been funked up to suit the laid back and fun attitude of the team. Oh, and somewhere along this trip we decided to start printing a mail order catalog, which has been an absolute blast. So 9 catalogs later here we are, in front of our computers again…only now it is all good. I think that Soul-Flower, much like a child, has grown into it’s own entity – we created her but she has become her own, independent, growing experiment.
Blog Image So now, Soul-Flower is a catalog and online store, a bit different from the original boutique – but we are more passionate and committed than ever to continue creating the same friendly, community-related atmosphere online that we had at our shop. It can be a tough act – i.e., personalizing the internet – but we believe the littlest things make a big difference. A thoughtful product (from concept to existence), a pleasant phone call, an extra note (and occasional random gift) in your package, a thank you to our customers. Our company has always been defined by the Golden Rule – treat others as you would like to be treated and everything else will be fine. When you’re happy, we’re happy.