Rian Thiele, co-founder of Woodbury’s Pet Evolution, has added a new venture to his plate. Rian and his brother, Randy, first pitched the idea for their new joint business at the February 2016 Minneapolis Home and Garden Show. The concept—a subscription-based service that home-delivers seasonal planter boxes at four points in the year—immediately drew attention, both for its uniqueness and its simplicity. “There were already a number of businesses out there offering seasonal items delivered right to people’s front door, but Randy’s idea was: what if we could deliver something in every season, year-round?” Rian says.
By the end of the weekend, Simple & Grand had its first clients, as well as the offer of a booth at last summer’s Minnesota State Fair. Now entering its second year, the company has reached more than 300 subscribers across the region. Recently, they’ve also made forays into commercial beautification, with signature planters now adorning the Selby Avenue shopping district in St. Paul. “There is definitely a need for this type of service,” Rian says, adding that Simple & Grand has been particularly popular among stay-at-home moms. “That’s our core market. We save them from having to go out and do this themselves. We take that out of the equation.”
The process is deliberately simple—like placing an order on Amazon, but without the overwhelming options. On the Simple & Grand website, shoppers first choose from three container sizes (select, classic and signature), then select one of three or four container options. They can then choose the floral arrangements, depending upon the amount of sun or shade their space receives, as well as their personal aesthetic. “We save people from having to come up with their own arrangements, because the best arrangement is right there: right at your finger tips,” Rian says.
Simple & Grand relies on the expertise of an in-house floral designer with many years of experience, as well as input from their social media friends and followers. Each season, the company proposes nine fresh designs and invites the public to vote on a favorite. The top three go on to become the principal options for the following season. While custom orders and add-ons are also available, Rian says that the main focus remains the entryway. “Our primary mission is beautifying the front door,” he says.
By offering a small but carefully-curated selection of products and a subscription-based model, Simple & Grand is just as economical as it is convenient. “With the [12-month] subscription model, we can actually save people money, if you compare to what they might be getting at a greenhouse,” Rian says. “Plus, there’s free delivery.” Prices range from $59.97/season for the 11- to 13-inch select arrangements to $89.97/season for the 14- to 21-inch signature arrangements.
The flower arrangements are designed and crafted at the Simple & Grand warehouse in Chanhassen, and all of the plants are locally sourced. The delivery team also hauls away the old planters each season, allowing the company to reduce waste by composting the organic matter, and rinsing and storing the pots for future use.
While they hope to see their business as well as their workforce expand in the future, the Thiele brothers are cautious. Rian says, “We’re hitting our goals, but we’re taking it slow. That’s something we’ve learned.” Both men have come into this venture with years of business experience. Rian co-founded his pet food store, Pet Evolution, in 2012; Randy Thiele, along with his wife, Cheryl Thiele, has been running the Hinkemeyer Christmas Tree Farm in Rice, Minn. since 2013.
Current Simple & Grand subscribers can expect their spring arrangements to be delivered at the end of next month. Those interested in starting a subscription can view the options at the website here.