Online Ordering in the Spirit of Green Ink & Fountain Pens

When we began to share our Flower Essences with people and animals back in the late eighties, I laughed out loud when someone suggested I needed a computer.

It’s probably a classic tale of many in my generation!

“Really?” I chortled, “You think ANY of us will need those things?”

I was determined all my correspondence for the rest of my life would be with a fountain pen and green ink. I probably hoped my heartfelt missives would be delivered by pony express too.

The world went on about its business regardless of my opinions, and so by the early nineties when our mail order business took off, we got our first computer. A forward thinker on staff talked me into a funny little Macintosh computer which all the men in the family adored. Too bad I didn’t think to invest in the company at the same time.

The same forward thinker behind the computer purchase set up our mailing list in a quirky way, but I didn’t really care that it was quirky because, let’s face it, computers were a fad and this wasn’t going to be important. I was just pacifying those computer nuts.

And so we have lived with this quirky mailing list entry system for almost twenty five years. My husband Jim took computer programming in college and wrote all the programs for invoicing your orders. He worked around the quirky mailing list and created an invoicing system adaptable to the growth of our Flower Essence inventory as well as the business. His systems still work beautifully. However the next generation tells me that it’s not quite enough anymore.

Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself!

Let us return to those early years when we suddenly had several of these boxy Macintoshes. We might have been goddesses in the gardens but inside, our misunderstandings about these strange computer beasts meant that any of us “office ladies” could derail all the computers in a matter of minutes. One staffer named Susan could place her hands over the keyboard and almost immediately the machine would start firing off endless loops of strange numbers and symbols. What on earth had she done? What on earth were any of us doing? We circled the computers each morning with dread. We knew with piercing certainty that each day would bring flower love AND computer drama.

If my son Ben had a dollar for every time he had to help out us “office ladies” with a computer problem, he would be preparing to retire on a mountain of cash.

Over time we learned that the first thing Ben was going to say when we greeted him as he got off the school bus was, “Did you try turning off the computer and restarting it?” Remembering this pearl of wisdom meant that by the time Ben went to college there were only one or two freaked out phone calls or emails from us a day.

Yes, we got talked into emails too. And a fax machine and a website and three more computers in a row so we could keep getting your orders to you.

You’ll love the story of the first website. With no idea how to proceed, I hired a website person who was a friend of a friend of a friend. She lived in the Pacific Northwest, about as far from here as possible, so we had an endless series of miscommunication over email and phone. The first website was very odd with a lot of floaty imagery. I encouraged the web designer to switch out these images with photos that were more representational of gardens, Flowers and dirt versus misty globs of amorphous lights. Despite my suggestions there remained an overall ungrounded feeling of the site. It was a relief when Ben took over the site a few years later when the original web designer said she was leaving the planet on a spaceship.

Throughout his twenties and into his thirties, Ben wrote code and rebuilt our website in a series of upgrades, the latest of which was launched a little over a year ago. Over time I have gotten slightly less resistant to progress and slightly more open to change though clearly not fast enough for technology or my wise children who now work here too.

These four brave souls (aka the lobbyists for the Angels) continue to nudge me to let go and embrace where the world is taking us. They gamely sort out the enormous amount of data I’ve generated about Flower Essences and creatively share it with you in formats other than green ink and fountain pens. And I thank them!

This brings us to our news! We will launch a new online ordering system in a matter of days. The system was built by Ben who studied Ruby on Rails and other web platforms in Barcelona and now brings this expertise back to us. The online ordering system is elegant, it’s efficient and it means you can go to the website and order anything on the main line up, pay for it on pay pal right then and we will ship it off to you. Transaction complete.

For those dear ones who like our trust system, chatting on email with us before ordering or sending your order written out in green ink with a fountain pen- No worries! I carry the banner for all of us, and YOU CAN STILL ORDER JUST LIKE YOU WANT TO! If you are ordering additional Flower Essences, you will have to contact us by phone or email to order these as the website won’t have a shopping cart for these. You will also have to contact us for expedited and UPS orders as well.

With this new system also comes a small price increase for our Flower Essences from $7.35 to $7.85 for a ½ ounce individual Flower Essence and from $9.00 to $9.50 for a ½ ounce combination Flower Essence and from $25 to $27 for a 2 ounce individual Flower Essence and from $30 to $32 for a 2 ounce combination Flower Essence. We have not raised our prices in 20 years, but the reality is all our supplies like bottles and bottle tops have increased in price in this time, and we must make this change.

Within a week or two we will add our 40,000th Green Hope Farm friend to our quirky mailing list! So many of you have been with us since the beginning. We know and love you! We thank you for all our years together. Us “office ladies” remark daily what wonderful GHF friends we have. We love sharing in your lives. We love knowing about your dogs, cats, horses and elephants! We are grateful for the chance to stand at your side through your ups and downs, and we thank you for being there through ours.

I will post on FB when the online system and all the changes go live. We aim for February 20th. Even after we launch, we will STILL be here reading your precious letters, decorating the office with your cards, visiting on email and doing everything in the spirit of green ink and a fountain pens. I promise!

Emily and Elizabeth on a Flower Essence trip to Bermuda back in the green ink days

These people are now running the website. They ARE 20 years older than they are in this photo, but you can tell from young William’s expression that even then he knows its going to be a problem dealing with his luddite mom.