Starline Flowers knows where to source their flowers

It actually started with 'a bit of fun', but Starline Flowers is now more than past that stage. Together with a partner, Joost Petri started Starline Flowers in 2016, a Dutch based company that was initially focused on the import and export of garden plants, particularly shrubs. In the last year and a half, the company has grown rapidly with a wide range of cut flowers from the Naples region. "This trade has exploded", says Joost, "we supply all four auctions every day of the week. Lately, we have also been doing that under our own brand Della Stella, and hopefully soon with our own recognizable sleeve."

How this came about, Joost tells modestly, is perhaps more luck than wisdom. "In Italy, you actually have two flower regions, one around San Remo in the north and one around Naples, in the south. The first one is highly developed and has been in business for many decades. But as far as Naples is concerned, it is much less 'chewed out'. There was a gap there and we jumped on it."

This is, of course, not luck, but rather evidence of entrepreneurial spirit. The extent to which this leap paid off, however, exceeded all expectations, as was evident last Valentine's Day. "Products were scarce, people were looking for alternatives, and then suddenly we came into the picture. With a different range, high quality, and relatively cheap. Think of Persian buttercup, violets, and snapdragons, products that you don't have here these days or that are very exclusive."

The climate around Naples is a little different compared to the Dutch climate; thanks to the sun and higher temperatures, everything grows and blossoms even in winter. Moreover, cultivation is based on the highly fertile lava of Vesuvius, "throw your car key on the ground and a car will grow out of it, so to speak".

Still, it is surprising that the growers in the region trusted Joost after his first visit. "A number of things come together. There is little collective and hardly any structure in the region. Moreover, the growers always have to see that they will get paid for their product. By happy coincidence, I came into contact with a grower who was in dispute with a customer. I flew over and said, 'We'll pay.' And in short order, that caught on, so much so that we now have two people working for us full time."

As a law student, Joost was already earning extra cash at the auction, but the initial intention was the legal profession. During an internship at a law firm, he soon realized that his future had to lie elsewhere, "Joost this is not you", whereupon the plant trade came back on the radar. "When I worked as a student, I already sold many shrubs to customers in England, and even then I often felt that I could not get what I actually wanted, despite the demand is enormous. And so I started Startline Flowers with a business partner."

The Naples situation as it is now, is what Joost meant by that stroke of luck. "Sometimes you have to get lucky. Call it what you want, whatever it is, people have to want to buy from you. With Starline, we gain people's trust by personal contact, rapid response and always keeping our promises. That works, and perhaps the fact that we are a small group also plays a role. The big players are often in everything, and sometimes they sell on to your own customers. These are things that make growers dare to look further."

For more information:
Starline Flowers 
Joost Petri
Royal FloraHolland Rijnsburg
Laan van verhof 75, Rijnsburg 

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