Recruitment & Retention

How a flower shop in Brooklyn used Instagram to grow recruiting

The shop’s owner runs the company’s hiring, and found a simple way to increase its recruiting pipeline.
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Illustration: Hannah Minn, Photo: Stems

· 4 min read

Suzanna Cameron, owner of Stems, an environmentally-conscious flower shop in Brooklyn, New York, was not having success finding new employees on the major hiring sites.

“There are different platforms that maybe more corporate-style businesses maximize,” Cameron told HR Brew. “I didn’t find those resources to be super helpful for what I was trying to hire for.”

She described her company as a “grassroots” and community-oriented business—“We’re an open space that anybody can come into”—and with that in mind, she decided to post her jobs on Instagram to attract a wider range of applicants.

“It’s just become this really cool way to attract potential hires that I think has been a little bit more successful for us,” Cameron said.

The old way. Previously, Stems mostly hired people who were visitors and fans of the shop.

“We have people constantly emailing us directly, asking for jobs or asking to work for free for internships or apprenticeships…It’s such an attractive industry that for us, there’s a lot of people that want to be in and around the space,” Cameron shared.

It was a dependable recruiting pipeline for Stems, which has two full-time employees and around a dozen part-timers on payroll.

“I used to rely on that, people that were just coming to me,” Cameron said, “which is actually a great way to do it. You already know that the person is interested in your business for sure.”

Improving it. While the volume of applicants was not an issue for Stems, as can often be the case for small businesses, finding people with passion and the right skill-set has been harder, Cameron said.

She added that she’s learned that she can train people in some of those skills, allowing her to focus on finding people with a passion. She also learned to relax some of the requirements in job listings.

“The better we get at training, the more open we can keep our hiring practices—the quicker we can train people and get them up to speed,” Cameron explained. “We can focus on finding people who are really passionate about flowers, which is what our passion is, and we want to always keep that at the forefront of our hiring practices.”

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In order to attract more diverse applicants who are passionate about the field, she started using Instagram as the primary channel for marketing job listings.

“That just makes it a more fair opportunity for everyone,” Cameron said, explaining the process she has honed over the last three years. “I’ll post a listing, give it two weeks for people to send in their applications, and I do another week of phone calls and then another week of hiring.”

The results. Cameron acknowledges a glaring diversity issue in the floral industry, and the working world at large.

“In our industry specifically, there’s systemic racism happening on a level that I’m not okay with, and I want to encourage more opportunities for Black florists,” she said, pointing to low single-digit percent of Black representation in the industry, a figure that is seemingly declining in recent years.

Cameron said her workforce is made up of individuals who are more reflective of the community the company serves in Brooklyn, and also more appreciative of its eco-friendly practices.

“Our team now is people who really care about the environment. They care about social issues, they care about the vendors and the practices,” Cameron said. “[When] you create a more balanced team…your new hires are going to be people who want to see themselves in your business.”

Building a diverse team can also pay the long-term dividends of continuing to attract and engage diverse employees and customers.

“When you’re operating in a more equitable way, in a more socially conscious way, people see that. And if they see values that they identify with in your business, and they want to be part of that, you are going to attract different types of people, and that’s definitely happened for us,” she said.

Cameron adds that the value of diversity for spurring innovation and new ideas in her business is also immense.

“Having different perspectives, with any job, no matter what it is, is important for being more creative in your business, for ensuring that your business is reflective of your community, [and] ensuring that your industry is moving forward in an equitable way.”

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.