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Student life — Karoline Schnorr has her own business, cultivating organic flowers, alongside her studies in natural resources at UCPH.
Can you create your own student job if you really have a passion for it, and if you hope to live off it after graduation?
Yes, according to Karoline Schnorr (23), who has made her dream come true while doing her bachelor’s studies in natural resources at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH).
She is dedicated to flowers and the climate. And she knew that most flowers in Denmark are imported from the South American countries or from the Netherlands, where they are grown in greenhouses with the use of many pesticides and a large consumption of energy.
This, in combination with her interest in agriculture and sustainability, gave her the idea of growing organic flowers out in the open outside Copenhagen without the use of fossil energy.
It is the new year of 2017/18.
Karoline Schnorr goes down to half-time on her studies at the Faculty of Science, so she has more time to start the flower company Flor with two other women: Moa Nordahl, a designer, and Sara Møhlenberg, an environmental economist and biologist.
The three of them have made plans since the autumn of 2017. They will grow 80 different organic flower varieties on 1,000 square metres of open field that they have rented from the Farm of Ideas site in Lejre in central Zealand. They sell the flowers to companies, consumers, weddings and events, such as the Copenhagen fashion week.
Each week, customers are supplied with fresh flowers, creatively arranged into bouquets of flowers. In the wintertime, Flor produces dried flowers, and in the early spring, they make bouquets of stems with buds, which blossom after being taken inside.
The three founders met each other last year. The meeting came about because Karoline Schnorr had written to the Farm of Ideas project to lease land in the summer of 2017. Sara and Moa had already met each other in the summer of 2017 to grow flowers in the same place. Karoline bumped into them in the autumn, and the three fell into conversation and agreed to start up serious flower production with their new company Flor.
They began together as business partners, but the three turned out to fit very well together.
Companies have become more interested in organic alternatives. No one really thought about the fact that flowers can be organic
“We became friends after we became business partners. We all joined this with our own qualities. We’re honest with each other, and if we disagree, we talk about it,” says Karoline Schnorr.
They are all passionate about the project, and two or three times a week Karoline Schnorr goes to Lejre to work. She has not been significantly delayed in your studies, and she’s not really under pressure, even though she runs strong.
Karoline Schnorr has had to be very proactive in finding co-operating partners, and all three of them at Flor have worked hard on outreach.
They have worked with everything from production planning and budgets to looking for interested customers.
They emphasise the fact that their flowers are organic in their marketing. Part of the company’s concept is to make others aware that the organic farming makes a difference. Also at the level of decorative flowers.
“Companies have become more interested in organic alternatives. No one really thought that flowers can be organic before. There are, for example, not as stringent restrictions on spraying pesticides on flowers as, say, vegetables. And you can trace pesticide residues in the flowers in the store. We want to make the sustainable alternatives more visible,” says Karoline Schnorr.
And they must be competitive in terms of price.
“Our customers only want to pay a little extra for organic flowers. The most important thing is that we have found a style, and that we are good at putting flowers together and styling our flowers. Some might think that organic flowers is just like a boring field bouquet, but we have 80 different flowers, and some of them look quite exotic,” says Karoline Schnorr.
It is hard work, and Flor still has to work hard at reaching buyers for their flowers. But more and more people are discovering Flor on the internet, and customers are starting to approach them of their own accord,” says Karoline Schnorr.
“People think it’s fun to keep track of what we do when we have been out weeding. We take photos of the stuff we do and post them. We have a website, are on Facebook and Instagram (@florblomster.dk), and we use a lot of time on this,” says Karoline Schnorr.
“It is our time that we have invested, and that’s what you do when you are starting up,” she says. She is to begin on her master’s in agronomy in September 2019 after a six-month break in the spring and a bachelor’s degree this Christmas.