People came up with all sorts of innovations during the COVID-19 pandemic. What could have been a complete tragedy was turned into business opportunities by some.
Maye Araneta Gutierrez is one such person. Though she initially had her reservations about selling vegetable bouquets, the idea was a hit for many people.
Maye is the owner and sole vegetable stylist of “Edible Blooms by Maye.” She makes personalized vegetable bouquets placed in a terracotta pot. But it has more than one purpose. Once all the vegetables have been used, the pot contains herbs, which can be regrown.
Maye had a clear sense why selling vegetable bouquets was timely amid the pandemic. During a time when a lot of people were stuck in their home or under quarantine, a gift like a vegetable bouquet made people feel less lonely. It reminded people that they have friends and family who cared for them. Since it was also entirely made of vegetables, Maye said that the bouquet gave off “happy and healthy vibes.”
How Edible Blooms started
Prior to the pandemic, Maye used to manage two restaurants in Mandaluyong and Pasay. She was forced to close them down due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Around the same time, her husband, Louie Ocampo Gutierrez, opened an urban farm in Makati. This was so he could help sustain the livelihood of his employees from his jewelry retail company.
The crops they harvested were sold at the farm. To improve the aesthetics of their stall, Maye created vegetable bouquets as centerpiece decorations. She thought it would be wasteful if she was going to use flowers as they would just wither, so she got creative and used their own harvests instead.
Maye was not always confident that people would connect with her creations, but it turned out that many people actually admired them. This gave her the confidence to start selling the bouquets, which she continues to receive orders for until now. Maye said that peak seasons for Edible Blooms are on Valentines, Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.
Maye believes that people are attracted to her vegetable bouquets because she takes her time to customize each bouquet. She is able to create endless variations as she likes to experiment with the form, color, and texture of available vegetables.
Maye explained that she has been this way for a long time now. She traveled a lot because she used to be an international flight attendant. In her travels, she often visited floral shops at flea markets to appreciate how flowers were arranged.
Maye noted that the proceeds of Edible Blooms go towards supporting her husband’s urban farms in Makati and BGC. Since it has become one of their best-selling products, it helped attract more people to visit their farms. This goes hand in hand with her husband’s advocacy to get people interested and involved in agriculture.
Photos courtesy of Maye Araneta Gutierrez.