In May, visitors to the nature-focused home decor e-commerce site Bloomist were greeted with a curious note. The site, it said, was closing its digital doors and shutting down, effective immediately. Given the shifts of the pandemic years—toward spending on the home, toward online shopping—the news came as a bit of a shock to casual observers. Behind the scenes, it was a surprise as well.
“In May, the investor [a family firm that had originally backed the site] quite unexpectedly made the decision to close and liquidate the business,” says co-founder Michael Zung, who launched the site with Alex Bates in 2018. “[They] thanked customers for three years of support and [let] go of all Bloomist employees.”
In the wake of an abrupt closure, Zung and Bates were faced with a stark decision: Stick or twist. Ultimately, it was an easy choice. “My immediate reaction was: We have to keep going with this,” says Bates. “We weren’t done. We were cut off on an upward trajectory and growing, so my thought was to find some way to get this back.”
After negotiating to acquire the site themselves, Zung and Bates retook control of the platform and its social accounts. They’ve since relaunched Bloomist as a duo and are in the process of rebuilding relationships with key suppliers, looking to pay back vendors, and seeking investors to help carry the brand into its next chapter.
Bloomist finds itself in a unique moment to restart. Since its launch, the brand’s core premise—curating a selection of products that bring nature into the home—has aged well. One would be hard-pressed to argue that consumers are less interested in sustainability, biophilia and soothing interiors than they were four years ago. “I think [the brand] has a stronger, deeper resonance than when we first launched,” says Bates. “Everything we were going through during the pandemic … it brought customers to want their homes to be this sanctuary, to be more organized, simplified and serene. It was sort of crazy: These are the things people want, and that’s the exact concept of our brand.”
The aesthetic of the brand too, adds Bates, has been a boon. In a somewhat old-school category, Bloomist’s minimalist aesthetic has helped it win a dedicated consumer base and a trade audience, she says. In its first iteration, the site’s big winner was no ornate geegaw, but a simple monochromatic carved wooden chain. “[Going forward] we may want to pare back the selection and go deeper on our stronger categories,” says Bates. “But we think there’s still a void in the higher end of the decorative accessories market. Simplicity, and a really warm minimalism definitely resonates with designers.”
The zeitgeist has been kind to Bloomist. But the logistics of online commerce have made for tougher sledding. The site, like so many brands of the DTC era, had relied on Facebook, Instagram and Google Ads campaigns to quickly grow a “five-figure” base of consumers. Apple’s 2021 change to its operating system, allowing users to opt out of app tracking, made those channels far less efficient and cut into revenue, says Zung.
It’s also undeniable that the end of the pandemic boom on home spending, not to mention a looming economic downturn, means Bloomist is relaunching in stormier weather than its first go-round. In its next incarnation, Zung says Bloomist will focus on organic growth as opposed to paid customer acquisition. A few weeks into that new strategy, he says the site is now profitable and is also picking up fresh customers. Since the relaunch, roughly half of Bloomist’s transactions have come from new accounts.
Attracting a new audience is encouraging, but both Zung and Bates say their primary fuel has been a show of support from customers who were happy to see the brand return. “We got this incredible outpouring of support [when we relaunched],” says Bates. “That positive reinforcement definitely propels you forward.”
“There’s so much potential here,” says Zung. “The story is just getting started.”
Homepage image: The nature-focused home decor e-commerce site Bloomist finds itself in a unique moment to restart | Courtesy of Bloomist