Colombian company seeks to expand – NBC Connecticut

Guillermo Herrera was born in Colombia in 1964, his family owned three flower farms in the country.

“My dad and a group of 7 other friends pioneered cut flowers in Colombia,” Herrera said.

As a young adult, Guillermo traveled to the United States to attend college, where he met his wife, Marcia. After getting married, the couple returned to Colombia to run the family business. Marcia took care of the marketing and Guillermo supervised the farm.

“It’s been good, it’s exciting work, it’s stressful, but we have a lot of good projects that we’ve done together,” Marcia Herrera said.

“We had about 350 employees and we did that for 6 years, and then we decided to venture here in the United States to the Hartford area to sell our farm produce directly to wholesalers,” Guillermo said.

The couple established Bella Rosa International in 1996, a flower import company, now based in Bloomfield. They continued to buy produce from the farm they once owned in Colombia.

“We sold that farm, but we’re still very connected to the whole floral community there,” Guillermo said.

As a new minority-owned business in the area, Guillermo says they faced many challenges in the early years.

“I had to go door to door with wholesalers, explain to people what we were doing. Who we were, I would say the first 5 years were very difficult. I almost gave up,” Guillermo said.

Over the past two decades, the business has been able to thrive. Guillermo said they sell first to wholesalers and then to local supermarkets. But then came the Covid-19 pandemic, and like many businesses, this industry was hit hard.

“To the point where we thought we would close. At one point we had 35 employees and now we only have 8,” Guillermo said.

Guillermo says that thanks to the support of the community, their doors have been able to stay open. Today, as the company celebrates 25 years of activity, it seeks to develop.

The couple launches the Floral Club, individuals or private companies can register and have access to company facilities, amenities and resources, including transportation.

“So we have the infrastructure that everyone needs to grow their flower business. So, we have the flowers that come from the farms, we have a skilled workforce, these employees have been with us for 15 to 18 years, they have been with us, so they know the details and the design very well,” said said Guillermo.

The company will also offer design workshops. The concept is similar to “Paint Night” events. People can sign up for a lesson and create their own bouquet. Each session will be led by a florist.

“Flowers make people happy and that’s one thing I can do, and I love the opportunity to come here and help with classes and teach people what someone taught me. “said floral designer Debra Herr.

Guillermo says they also want to give back to the local community. Once a month, people can sign up for a charity course, where the pieces created will be donated to a local retirement home.

“I know that over the years, delivering to a nursing home at this time of year, fall, winter, holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, it’s usually been difficult, anxiety, depression in a lot of these homes and just to put a smile on someone’s face,” said floral designer Tamie Myer.

“We continue to look for different avenues to make the flower industry happy. I feel a moral responsibility to the employees we have had over the years as I told you before we have been through some very difficult times and I really hope this floral club thrives so these people can continue with us,” said Guillermo Herrera. .

The Floral Club will be launched in October. All members will receive a two-month free trial. you can click here the first of the month for more information.