Welcome to the first in our series of NJ Mom Bosses! We hope you enjoy these profiles as much as we love creating them.
Back when pals and Ridgewood NJ residents Dana Van Tassel Jenn Murphy were both living in London with their families at the same time, they realized that one of their favorite things about the city was its easy access to beautiful fresh flowers, available at flower markets on nearly every corner throughout the city. Unlike back at home where options were usually limited to cellophane-wrapped bouquets from the grocery store or uber-pricey overly designed arrangements from specialty florists, the duo loved that they could get simple and elegant offerings to fill their family homes.
After brainstorming ideas for a business they could launch together once they moved back to Bergen County, the two settled on something they were equally passionate about: flowers. In 2018, Van Tassel and Murphy launched Piece & Pollen a modern-day florist focused on delivery, events, and subscriptions centered around one single varietal at a time. “We realized there was no middle ground with flowers and believe people should have fresh flowers in their home and it should be easy and accessible,” says Van Tassel. “We don’t do the typical mixed bouquet. Everything is hand-tied. It started as we would pick one seasonal bloom a week and do a delivery of that but then people really liked our aesthetic and started calling us for events.” It’s only grown from there for the company, which uses an Earth-friendly model, providing customers with reusable burlap tote bags, making deliveries via electric car, and only procuring enough flowers to fill its orders, ensuring nothing goes to waste.
We talked to Murphy, a mom of three, and mom-of-four Van Tassel about their favorite Bergen County businesses, what they do during (rare) downtime, and the challenges of launching a boot-strapped small business. Here’s what our mom-entrepreneurs had to say.
What’s your go-to date night out?
JM: Our favorite date night out would be at Roots, sitting in the booths, getting the raw bar and dirty martinis.
DV: My husband and I love going out together and doing dinner and drinks. We go to Roots. We go to Varka. We go to Felina. We love going to Ridgewood Country Club. We really make an effort to get out at least once a week together alone.
What about a family activity?
JM: We love to go on family walks with our dog Cooper and on Sundays we love playing games with the family.
DV: In the winter we love Friday night family movie night by the fire. We just started skiing, which we love. We love swimming in our pool outside in the summer, going and playing tennis. We try to be active.
Do you have a favorite Bergen County beauty spot?
DV: I love Daisy Nail Salon for my nails in Ridgewood. I wish I had a favorite spa, but I really have not have the chance!
JM: I love Self Indulgence, a hair salon in Waldwick. I’ve been going to Shelly for ages and she’s amazing. It’s a cute little salon with a fireplace and candles. It’s just a cozy spot to really get away.
What’s your can’t-miss workout?
DV: I’ve been doing the Mirror at home. I like it a lot. We have a home gym so I’ll do the treadmill and the Mirror. And they have family classes now so my daughter will jump in with me. It’s fun.
JM: I love Club One Love in Ridgewood for spinning and Powerflow, the yoga studio in Glen Rock for yoga and then just outdoor runs.
What’s the best part of living in Ridgewood?
DV: I love the size of it. I love the people. I love that you have all these fantastic towns in Bergen County right next to Ridgewood. So for families, you have so many activities at your fingertips. It’s a great community. It’s an easy place and a kind place to raise children.
JM: The ease of getting into New York City is definitely attractive. For my husband’s job as well it’s just a hop, skip and a jump for him to get downtown. I also like the schools, the public system in Ridgewood.
Did you face any challenges getting the business up and running?
JM: I think the hardest part ... was really saying, “OK, we’re going to open up an LLC and get this thing started.” That was the hardest part, just biting the bullet and just doing it. We got to the point where we said, “What are we waiting for? We can’t keep talking about it. We need to do it.”
DV: It was more just a hesitation and a fear of putting yourself out there and being vulnerable and just starting it and trying it and really not knowing how it was going to go and doing something completely different.
What’s been most rewarding part?
JM: That this passion of ours has really turned into a job and a career for both Dana and myself and the fact that our children are seeing us work and enjoying it and being able to be both moms and a worker in the community.
DV: We’ve really been blessed. Every day we’re still figuring things out and trying to push ourselves but that’s also what makes it so exciting.