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How We’re Collecting Fresh Ideas from our Talented Teens

Sharing a Letter from our Chairman & CEO

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Sharing a Letter from our Chairman & CEO
Cheryl's Cookies
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See how our Youth Advisory Panel helps teens learn the ropes of a business, and how we’re learning from our teens.

Once a year, most companies allow parents to bring their children to work so they can see what mom and dad do after they leave the house each day. Over a day, the kids get a taste of what life is like in the grown-up world – and have an opportunity to forge a tighter bond with their parents.

Our company supports Take Your Child to Work day in April, but we also go a step further. Years ago, we launched a program that brought teens into the office and put them to work. We asked them to share their ideas, creativity, and feedback with us. And we were never disappointed.

The teens who participated learned how a large company turns ideas into products. But the company learned a lot too. The teens’ fresh perspectives and ideas helped us think outside the box and question procedures. Our Youth Advisory Panel members advised us as much as we advised them!

Chris’s daughter, Devon, participated long ago, but she still recalls lessons learned from those workshops.

“I talked about my experiences in college essays, brought up points during my business school classes, and even mentioned things I learned from them during job interviews,” said Devon, who is now the senior manager of strategic gifts at Special Olympics International.

The panel returns

After a long break due to the pandemic, the panel returned for the first time to our new headquarters in Jericho, New York. We invited children of employees ages 13-17 to learn more about our company and what their parents do, use their creativity to come up with ideas for a project (a product or experience that they would gift to someone in their age group), and share their ideas with us.
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The first of three planned sessions took place last month, with the second planned for this week and a third in January. The first day began with Devon joining us virtually to share her experience years ago at a similar workshop. She gave great insight as to what it was like for her and what the students could expect from the program.
As much as this day is for all of you to experience, it really is helpful for 1-800-Flowers too to get a younger perspective and really bring a different audience in,” she said. “Speak up today and share your opinions because they are really valued.

– Devon McCann
The teens were then introduced to Alice Lewis, the founder of our Alice’s Table workshops. She shared her entrepreneurship story and tips for constructing a good pitch. She also showed them the episode of “Shark Tank” where she pitched her company on national television and gave them guidance for presenting their own ideas.

A deep dive into our gifts

To ensure the teens understood the scope of our operations, we brought in a broad selection of our products. There were arrangements from 1-800-Flowers, cookies from Cheryl’s Cookies, tasty arrangements from FruitBouquets.com, gourmet treats from Harry & David , cake from Wolferman’s bakery, and much, much more.

After reviewing PowerPoint slides that detailed each of our brands, the panel filled out a “sensory evaluation” worksheet as they sampled or handled the myriad products. For the record, Shari’s chocolate-covered strawberries were the group favorite. Nobody was shy about sharing their opinions.

Daisy Chin, who works with local florists in our BloomNet network, showed the team how to create a unique floral arrangement – a spider crawling on top of an arrangement of flowers. She took them through the process step by step while also sharing other details to consider, like the cost of the flowers and how to merchandise the bouquet. This was the teens’ favorite activity, and their creations were perfect for Halloween.

How to build a product

After lunch with their parents at our café, the teens were introduced to their group project: to come up with an idea for a product or experience that they’d want to gift to someone in their age group. They excitedly brainstormed and put their ideas down on paper.

Representatives from our Product Development and Merchandising teams also visited the group and explained the process of creating new products and taking them to market. The information will be used to help the teams present their ideas and bring them to life.

Despite the long day, every teen brought fun and creative ideas, not to mention positive attitudes, to the table. The feedback from the teens and their parents was equally positive.
It was such a great idea to get our kids exposed to the inner workings of the company in a fun way. Carly really enjoyed the day.

– Chris Barca
Vice President of the Project Management Office, and dad to Carly, 16.
I had such a great day learning about 1-800-Flowers and all the different products. The presentations were very interesting, and I especially loved making the flower arrangement and taste testing the sweet treats! I liked interacting with the other kids about our project ideas too. It was really fun to see where my mom works and meet some of her coworkers.

– Mia Modica
13-year-old daughter of Administrative Assistant Lisa Modica
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Everyone on the panel left with a greater understanding of what their parents do at work as well as the potential to turn their ideas into amazing concepts in the next two sessions. We’ll share some of the incredible ideas in an upcoming Celebrations Pulse.
All the best,

Chris and Jim
Chris Jim Jim
Honoring the community’s veterans

Friday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, a time to reflect and honor the men and women who defend our country.

In the 1-800-Flowers community, several of our employees have their own ways of marking the holiday. Blair North, a production director for Harry & David and a U.S. Army veteran, prefers to reflect privately on the day.
I will quietly reflect on the sacrifices veterans have made: Being away from family for long periods of time, including holidays. Missing the birth of their child. Coming home with physical and/or emotional scars. Or, not coming home at all.

– Blair North
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Blair mentioned that he has reconnected on social media with people he served with, and on Veterans Day they will reach out to one another to share memorable stories from their time in the service. “I will share these stories with my children so they can also appreciate the sacrifices we made.”

How will you honor the Veterans in your community? Thankfully, parades have returned after the pandemic. You can find what is happening near you on Vetfriends. Additionally, you might consider speaking with a veteran or volunteering at, or contributing to, an organization that serves veterans, such as: The Purple Heart Foundation, The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Team Rubicon.

All these organizations serve veterans and are great candidates for your consideration. You can also express your appreciation by posting on your Facebook page and including a picture of you with the Veteran in your life, sending a text or sharing a picture of your family with a departed family member who was a vet.

You can also drop off small care packages at a local Veterans Administration hospital or treat a retired service member to a meal gift card. To easily make a veteran’s day, send one of our Veterans Day ecards, available here.

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As we approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, Jim’s been thinking a lot about the spirit of giving and gratitude. An important part of building better communities and relationships is helping those in need, and he can think of few organizations that do this as well as The Gift of Life International.

The Gift of Life International is a Rotary-based organization that has been saving the lives of children with heart disease across the world. Founded in 1975 to help a Ugandan child receive life-saving heart surgery, The Gift of Life’s global network has since treated over 40,000 children in 80 countries.

In this week’s Celebrations Chatter, Jim sat down with CEO Rob Raylman, President/Founder Robert Donno, and honoree Dr. Craig Sable, M.D, Healthcare Partner, Pediatric Cardiologist at National Children's Hospital in Washington, DC. Listen as they share forward how the organization is continuing to impact more and more children worldwide and help sustain future treatments and aftercare in remote communities.

Listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and please #ShareItForward by leaving a review!

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Flower painting contest winner

Last month, we invited the community to share original flower paintings to celebrate our collaboration with Yaymaker, the company behind the popular PaintNite paint-and-sip events. More than 250 paintings were submitted, and hundreds of you voted on your favorite at PaintNite.com.

We are pleased to announce the winner: Barb Whitman, who created a beautiful work of art featuring sunflowers. She shared her story with us:
Hi, my name is Barb Whitman and I love to paint! I didn’t have an inkling that I had any creativity in me until I started working at a bakery. There, I learned how to decorate cakes, and I enjoy it to this day. A lot of the things I’ve learned over the years are from searching them out on Google.

During COVID I began to explore acrylic painting and learned about color mixing online and have come to love it. My first painting I did with my friend was a lighthouse by the beach. With encouragement from family and friends, I have now sold five of my paintings.

I am amazed at how far I’ve come but also excited about how much more there is to learn. I learned about PaintNite through an ad on Facebook and the step-by-step process gave me confidence to attend these types of events. Being able to paint alongside others and having a real person to guide and ask questions from has increased my skills and given self-confidence to enter this contest.
Congratulations, Barb!

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Related articles that caught our eye
Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse Sunday Letters aim to engage with our community. From sharing stories to welcoming your ideas, we want to help you to express, connect, and celebrate the important people in your life.

*Save 15% when you order through a link in this email at Vitalchoice.com and enter code VITAL15 at checkout. Discount will appear during checkout when ordering online. Void where prohibited by law. Product purchase is exclusive of taxes and shipping and processing charges. Shipping and processing charges are based on the regular price of merchandise. Offer cannot be used on previous purchases. Not valid on orders of $2,500 or more; for orders of $2,500 or more, contact the corporate sales division at 800 248 5567 for any applicable discounts or promotions. Void if transferred, copied, purchased, sold, or bartered. No cash value. Offer valid through November 13, 2022.
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