Meet The Family
Erin is Floret’s founder, and is honored to be considered one of the nation’s leading “farmer-florists”—a term she has helped popularize to describe those skilled at both flower farming and floral design—and her exuberance for seasonal flowers has helped inspire a new crop of beginning farmer-florists. Known for her lush, airy, romantic designs, Erin is drawn to old fashioned blooms and is consistently pushing the limits of what can be used in arrangements which led to her winning the Martha Stewart American Made award for Floral and Event Design.
A researcher at heart, Erin conducts extensive field trials of a wide selection of flowers and foliage, including many varieties that are highly fragrant, delicate, and not commonly available in the trade. She shares her trial results along with secrets to small scale, high intensity flower production and design techniques through social media as well as during multi-day workshops that attract farmers, designers, and enthusiasts from around the globe.
Erin’s work has been featured widely in numerous books, magazines, and websites and her first book, Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: How to Grow, Harvest and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms was released in March 2017. A believer in fairies, Erin’s other dream job is to become a midwife, and of all blooms, she loves sweet peas the most.
Chris Benzakein is the heart of our operation. He oversees all of the field production, greenhouse construction, soil work, irrigation and delivery. He is almost always the one behind the lens, capturing our beautiful flower-filled story. Chris is full of encouragement and is the rock that underpins our family. He has an amazing work ethic, is great at finding the silver lining of any situation and can literally fix anything.
Elora tends a modest flock of bantam chickens, a clutter of sweet rescue cats and many, many tanks of local pond creatures. She dreams of becoming a veterinarian and traveling the world. She happily assists with bouquet making, flower bunching, and packaging.
Jasper is passionate about fish, water insects, coding, and farming. He has grown a vegetable garden since the age of four and loves to feed his family. An amazing helper, he regularly works with Chris on construction projects, compost making, and irrigation.
Our Extended Family
Jill takes things from good to great. She writes content, oversees all product creation and helps bring ideas to life. With a passion for technical writing, she breaks down complex ideas and makes them easy to understand. Everything Jill touches, she polishes to a shine and she cares so deeply for the work we do. An extrovert to the core, Jill loves communicating and relating to all who cross her path. The phrase most often said at workshops is “I need a Jill!” She has a background in writing, event planning, and floral design and was the first florist to buy flowers as Floret was just getting started. Jill types and makes boutonnieres at the speed of light, and has never met a garden rose she didn’t like. Mama to two adorable young kiddos Jill lives in Bellingham.
Brandi brings an incredible skill set to Team Floret and has a constant thirst for knowledge, enthusiastically diving into the next subject with a stack of books on her nightstand. Brandi has worked in the floral industry for nearly two decades and served as the Regional Floral Buyer for Whole Foods Market. Brandi was one of Floret’s biggest customers! She heads up all aspects of our online shop, including ordering, importing, forecasting and projections. Brandi loves the beach and also has a passion for dance. In her off hours, she teaches fitness classes and stays busy with her mini Australian Shepherd, Leo. Having inherited a love of flowers from her mother, Brandi has never met a flower she didn’t like. She has a special fondness for houseplants with her collection nearing 100!
Susan Studer King
Susan is our in-house journalist and multi-tasker extraordinaire. She manages the Floret newsletter and blog, our popular Farmer and the Florist interview series, puts together story pitches, assists with nearly all of Floret’s content creation and keeps everything flowing smoothly behind the scenes. A lover of peonies, Susan lives with her family in Ohio where she and her mother operate Buckeye Blooms, a small flower farm and wedding design studio.
If you’ve ever sent an email to Floret you’ve likely heard back from Ellen with a helpful and cheerful response. With a BS in Horticulture from Texas A&M University, Ellen works remotely from Dallas, helping with administrative tasks, copy editing, answering growing related questions and troubleshooting flower and all other inquiries. Ellen manages the Farmer-Florist Collective and communicates with our Facebook followers. She loves baseball, knitting, and hiking, and will wade through any river she passes by. She is an adoring mother to a college aged son and high school aged daughter and has a soft spot for sweet peas. Four decades ago, a sweet woman gave Ellen a cutting of her Caldwell Pink old garden rose in a coffee can. Through various moves it remains a reminder to bloom where you are planted.
Anne was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and her husband’s job transplanted them to the Pacific Northwest. Anne fell hard for the Skagit Valley and has been firmly rooted ever since, raising their four sweet daughters here. Anne came to us via a farming workshop and we were all convinced she’s one of the kindest souls on earth. While she happily fills in where needed, Anne is our people person, highly empathetic, adaptable and an enthusiastic problem solver. She brings out the very best, from people to projects, with so much love. Anne has an incredible knack for saying the right thing. Our new team mantra is Listen to Anne. She fondly remembers smelling each rose in her Grandmother Rose’s garden to find her favorite scent. Anne is super involved in the community, is a great cook,
With a background in office administration, Meg keeps everything tidy and organized on the home front. She’s extremely hardworking, a master at beautifying spaces and will fearlessly tackle even the most daunting project. Her favorite flower is phlox and when’s she’s not working her tail off, you can often find her country dancing, antiquing, or spending time with her family.
A former flower farmer in Skagit Valley, Nina now lives just outside of Burlington, Vermont. Nina flies back to assist with each Floret workshop to act as our hostess extraordinaire. Nina is a true mama bear, and provides reassurance to workshop attendees and gives the very best hugs. Nina makes a mean apple crisp, loves all flowers and has an especially soft spot for dahlias.