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.

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.

teen advisory panel group photo

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 it 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 l. 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

youth advisory panel composite photo

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 & Jim

Author

Jim McCann is the founder and chairman of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. as well as a business leader, author, and philanthropist with a passion for helping people deliver smiles. Devoted to helping others, he also founded Smile Farms, a 501(c)3 organization that provides meaningful jobs in agricultural settings to young adults and adults with developmental disabilities.

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