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Meet the Family


Erin Benzakein

Founder of Floret and New York Times best-selling author

Erin is Floret’s founder and is honored to be considered one of the nation’s leading “farmer-florists”—a term used to describe those who specialize in both growing and designing with seasonal flowers. Erin’s work has been featured widely in numerous books, magazines, and websites. Her first book, Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: How to Grow, Harvest & Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms, published in 2017, won the American Horticulture Society’s 2018 Book Award. Her second book, A Year in Flowers: Designing Gorgeous Arrangements for Every Season, published in 2020, made The New York Times Bestseller List.

A researcher at heart, Erin conducts extensive field trials on a wide selection of flowers and foliage, including many varieties that are highly fragrant, delicate, and not commonly available in the flower industry. She regularly shares her trial results, plus growing tips and photos of her lush fields, via Floret’s popular blog and social media channels. Erin also teaches a 6-week course on small-scale flower production to other farmers, designers, and enthusiasts from around the world through the Floret Online Workshop.

Known for her lush, airy, romantic designs, Erin is drawn to old-fashioned blooms. She is constantly pushing the limits of design and broadening the range of material that can be used in arrangements—work that landed her a Martha Stewart American Made Award for Floral and Event Design. Erin’s other dream job is to become a midwife. She believes in fairies, and of all blooms, she loves sweet peas the most.


Chris Benzakein

The Heart of the Operation

Chris is the rock that underpins our family. He supported our household when Floret was in its beginning stages, working full-time and helping with the operation evenings and weekends. He taught himself photography and is almost always the one behind the lens, capturing the beautiful, flower-filled images that have been central to our storytelling and our success. He also does the videography for the Floret Online Workshop and all our educational programs. Chris has an amazing work ethic, overseeing construction, soil work, and irrigation repair. He is full of encouragement and great at finding the silver lining in any situation, and he can literally fix anything.


Elora Benzakein

Our Animal Caretaker

Growing up on the farm, Elora tended a modest flock of bantam chickens, a clutter of sweet rescue cats, and many, many tanks of local pond creatures. She happily assisted with bouquet-making, flower bunching, and packaging. Now a college sophomore, she dreams of traveling the world and working with animals.

Jasper Benzakein

Our Helpful Assistant

Jasper, now a junior in high school, has grown a vegetable garden since the age of 4 and loves to feed his family. He regularly works with Chris on construction projects, compost making, and irrigation. He’s very social and outgoing, and passionate about cooking and computer coding.


Our Extended Family


Jill Jorgensen

Creative Director

Jill takes things from good to great. With a background in writing, event planning, and floral design, she oversees all new product and content creation, coproduces educational resources and books, and helps bring ideas to life. Jill has played a key role in every phase of Floret’s growth: She was the first florist to buy blooms in the farm’s earliest days and has worked side by side with Erin ever since. Everything Jill touches, she polishes to a shine, and she cares so deeply for the work we do. The phrase most often heard from workshop participants is, “I need a Jill!” She lives in Bellingham with her husband and two young kids and has never met a garden rose she didn’t like.

Susan Studer King

Digital Content Director

Susan is our in-house journalist, digital content creator, and multi-tasker extraordinaire. She is our technology troubleshooter and is responsible for the Floret newsletter, blog, and press pitches. Susan also assists with Floret’s digital marketing strategy and manages product launches, all the while keeping everything flowing smoothly behind the scenes. A lover of peonies, Susan lives with her family in Ohio, where she and her mother operated a small flower farm and wedding design studio for 10 years.


Nikki Boyce

Nikki Boyce

Operations Director

Nikki came to us with a unique mix of farming and operations management experience. After taking Floret’s 2018 workshop and putting what she learned to use on her own farm in Reno, Nevada, she moved to the Skagit Valley, where she manages our Farm Crew and Shop Crew—which means she’s constantly working behind the scenes on workflow, training, inventory, and financials to make sure all of the beautiful things going out into the world are perfect. Her favorite flower is the dahlia, and in her spare time Nikki loves to create by sewing, doing watercolor, exploring, and finding all the best places to eat. Nikki appreciates the agricultural abundance of the Skagit Valley, where everything from flour to produce can be sourced locally. 

Angela Strand

Angela Strand

Customer Service Manager

If you’ve ever sent an email to Floret, you’ve likely heard back from Angela with a helpful response. In addition to customer support, she helps facilitate the Floret Online Workshop, manages our Farmer-Florist Collective and our Facebook page, and organizes special projects and events like our book launch party. She has a soft spot for the first spring daffodils and fields full of lupine. A lifelong Washington resident, Angela loves being active in her community, connecting with others, and encouraging positivity wherever she goes. She is mother to three young children and a menagerie of cats, dogs, chickens, and ducks, and in her spare time, she loves to hike, garden, and work on her family’s 2-acre homestead on Camano Island.

 


Marryn Mathis

Marryn Mathis

Research & Trials Director

For Marryn, no two days are the same. You will find her doing everything from organizing the seed sowing schedule to planning the dahlia rainbow field planting to harvesting armloads of blooms for big photo shoots. She came to Floret after 21 years in IT and credits Floret’s 2018 online workshop with completely changing the direction of her life. Her favorite flowers are sweet peas because people’s emotional connection with them, and dahlias because they’re bold, beautiful, and easy to grow. In her spare time Marryn enjoys remodeling her family’s 1901 farmhouse with her husband and three boys and working in her garden. She loves it that Floret gives people the inspiration and the tools to follow their dreams and change their lives.

Eric B Floret

Eric Budzynski

Seed Production Manager

We have Eric to thank for helping us bring to life the most beautiful new flower varieties. He guides breeding projects, working closely with Erin. As Floret’s “seed person,” he is responsible for organizing the planning, harvest, and cleaning of our seed crops and documenting this process. Prior to his work at Floret, Eric was a vegetable seed farmer, beginning in Oregon at Wild Garden Seed and then moving to Uprising Seeds in Bellingham. His favorite flower is orach because it’s wonderful in arrangements and bridges the world between vegetables and decorative flowers. Eric lives in Bellingham and enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, gardening, hiking, live music, and traveling to Vancouver for its vibrant food scene.


Christine Chitnis

Christine Chitnis

Publicity Manager

Years after covering Floret for a Country Living feature, Christine was thrilled to join the creative team to coordinate publicity and help tell Floret’s story. As a photographer and writer, she is greatly inspired by the beauty Floret brings into the world. Dahlias are without a doubt her favorite flower, and when she’s not combing her home state of Rhode Island for all the best cut flowers, you can find her hanging out with her three young children, reading, traveling, sewing, knitting, and working on her own writing projects. 

Meg Almanza

House Manager

With a background in office administration, Meg keeps everything running smoothly behind the scenes. She is lighting fast on shipping days and often acts as the hostess with the most-ess, making every farm visitor feel warmly welcomed. She’s extremely hardworking and a master at beautifying spaces, and she will fearlessly tackle even the most daunting project. Her favorite flower is phlox, and when she’s not working her tail off, you can find her country dancing, antiquing, or spending time with her family.


Susi Murillo

Susi Murillo

Nursery & Greenhouse Lead

Susi keeps the farm crops thriving, and in addition to sowing, transplanting, propagating, and feeding the plants, she also invests in cultivating relationships with everyone on the team. Whether she is overseeing farm tasks, taking deliveries, or brewing compost tea, she is constantly learning as much as possible. Susi brings our weekly team calls to life with detailed descriptions of farm activities, sharing the beauty and the magic of the everyday. Some of her favorite flowers include anemones, echinacea, and lavender. When she’s not busy at Floret, Susi loves being close to the water, swimming, crafting, gardening, and reading.

Sarah-Collie-Floret

Sarah Collie

Sustainability & Culture Lead

From the first day Sarah arrived at Floret, she brought a warmth and positivity to every aspect of her work. We nicknamed her Sunshine. Sarah’s caring heart shines through in everything she does, from managing the farm recycling and compost program, to leading the staff vegetable garden work, to daily care for the chickens and other farm creatures. Growing up in Virginia, Sarah was always outdoors, walking in the woods and playing on land that has been in her family since the late 1800s. Daisies and black-eyed Susans are some of her favorite flowers. Sarah is an avid hiker, and in 2017 she hiked the entire Appalachian trail!


Brenna Estrada

Brenna Estrada

Shop Customer Service & Compliance Lead

Most days you’ll find Brenna in our shipping department, staying busy with inventory, customer care, and a million other tasks. Before she came to Floret, she was a 911 dispatcher for 16 years and prior to that served in the U. S. Marine Corps. Brenna says working at Floret is magical; the farm is full of color, and she feels a closeness to the soil. Her favorite flowers are peonies, and in her free time she enjoys being part of the Snohomish County Search and Rescue team, hiking, working in her garden, and spending time with her three boys at home on Camano Island. 

Emily Rivers

Emily Rivers

Shipping Lead & Technical Assistant

Emily leads crew training on our shipping and manages quality control on orders leaving the Floret Shop, making sure that all the details are just right for our customers. She is a whiz at the computer, has the rare gift of seeing things from many points of view, and is always eager to lend a helping hand. With so many flower varieties to choose from, Emily has a hard time narrowing down to a favorite, but if she had to pick just one it’d be Phlox ‘Sugar Stars’. She loves computers and just completed her certification in Video Game Development and Programming.


Alicia

Alicia Gonzalez

Cultivation & Seed Packing Lead

Before coming to Floret, Alicia had never seen a dahlia, so you can imagine how awestruck she was during her first dahlia season at the farm. As she’s falling in love with new flower varieties, Alicia leads the team in the complex and monumental mission of keeping weeds at bay across the farm, and she also leads the work of the seed packing team. Each day is different. When Alicia isn’t at Floret, she enjoys spending time with her family, being involved with her church, and meeting up with friends. 

Francisco Gonzalez

Francisco Gonzalez

Facilities Lead

Francisco works hard to keep the fields in ideal shape. He maintains the irrigation systems, low tunnels, hoophouses, and farm equipment, in addition to preparing beds and caring for the berries and the orchard. Before Francisco came to Floret, he harvested vegetables and drove a forklift at a local farm. He loves all flowers that grow on vines, especially clematis and sweet peas. He enjoys spending time with his three kids, traveling, and fishing. Francisco loves the Skagit Valley because it’s close to the mountains and the sea.


Nina Foster

Nina Foster

Creative Support Lead

As a flower farmer and designer in Mount Vernon, Nina considers Floret her second family and is thankful to take part in the team’s work of bringing beauty into the world. In the early days of Floret she was instrumental in our on-farm workshops, acting as the hostess and making sure that all attendees felt warmly welcomed. Today she assists with photo shoots, book, video, and design projects. She also helps us plan and carry out on-farm events and host farm visitors. Her favorite flowers are narcissus and dahlias, and in her spare time she loves to cook and bake for her family. She grew up in Vermont and remembers searching for trilliums with her sister as they ventured out after long New England winters. Flowers have played an important role in her life ever since.

Timmy

Timmy the Cat

Loyal Companion

Timmy is Erin’s constant companion as she walks the fields taking pictures and cutting flowers. Timmy first showed up on the farm as a stray, and it took many months of feeding her to coax her into being held. Since orange female cats are rare, we assumed Timmy was a male, and before we realized our mistake, her name had stuck!

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