During the year, we honor 35 living Vanguards and 12 missing heroes. This month’s featured Vanguard is J. Schwanke from Ubloom.com.
Originally printed in the September 2021 issue of Produce business.
Reaching over 96 million homes with his TV show, this most trusted voice in the flower industry, J. Schwanke, shines as he continues to educate consumers about the power of flowers.
Looking at the career of J Schwanke, flower expert, fourth-generation florist and creator of Ubloom.com, it’s not difficult to identify his most significant contribution that admirably advances the floral industry: he created and launched the first national television show that specifically features cut flowers. The show, Life in Bloom by J Schwanke, also extols the health and wellness benefits that cut flowers offer to people of all ages.
Gardening shows on TV have been around for a while, but there has never been a gardening and lifestyle show with an exclusive focus on cut flowers. To indicate the program’s impressive level of acceptance with viewers, Life in Bloom has been streaming since its premiere in 2019. For over 100 weeks on more than 300 channels, Life in Bloom has aired on Create’s national grid. TV without interruption.
The show first aired in April 2019 and now features its 13-episode season with an engagement from its distributor, American Public Television, for seasons four and five, currently in planning and production. Life in Bloom by J Schwanke reaches 93.46% of TVs in the United States with an estimated audience of over 96 million households. The show is currently airing on 377 stations, in 167 markets, in 46 states (Trac Media results – May 14, 2021).
Schwanke took his role as an industry educator seriously from the start. He has built his reputation by sharing his knowledge and expertise with the professional florist at multitudes of educational industry events including state, regional and national flower shows, as well as wholesale florist events. At each show, he shared his personal business card with everyone attending, encouraging them to call him (and later email him) with questions and concerns. These connections built bridges and continued to solidify Schwanke’s credibility within the industry.
It may seem old-fashioned in today’s digital world, but Schwanke is known to respond personally and candidly to every request, with the goal of helping florists grow professionally. His sharp wit and passion for listening and learning during his seminars and presentations make him endearing to members of the audience. Schwanke is sought after for expert advice and that is why he is known as the most trusted voice in the flower industry.
FLOWER POWER LAWYER
A true believer and advocate for the power of flowers, Schwanke has represented dozens of flower industry executives and companies in his live demonstrations. He takes great care in accurately sharing products and information – educating the public on product uses, innovation and most importantly creativity.
J Schwanke is naturally curious and is therefore always interested in seeing what’s new, especially (but not exclusively) in the flower industry. His interest is not only part of his job, it is his hobby and his passion. His passion for flowers is contagious and you might notice the glint in his eyes when he attends a floral event, watches everything, interacts with everyone and sees the next new thing. It soaks up everything.
In 2005, Schwanke observed that events in the flower industry were starting to suffer from a drop in attendance. The audience was shrinking, personal time had become precious, and people needed to learn at their own pace. As the internet became more widespread, Schwanke envisioned flower education through “Sliver Casting” – a targeted dissemination of flower lessons (on the internet) to a segment of the population. In 2006, he created âJTVâ, the first weekly online educational video series demonstrating flower techniques. These videos delivered her flower education skills, creativity and trustworthy expertise to the public, via the internet, on their schedule.
âJTVâ, as seen on the flower fan community website called uBloom.com, spawned a new format in flower related videos. The documentary series “The California Grown Experience” introduced fans to the beauty and hard work of California Flower Farms. Soon after, the âJTVâ segments evolved into âFun with Flowers & Jâ with a clearer and shorter presentation as Schwanke adjusted to the new forces of social media that were already reshaping the internet.
Today, a third generation of Schwanke’s floral education web series titled “At Home with FLOWERS” is dedicated to the flower consumer – responding to the wider audience watching J Schwanke’s Life In Bloom on public television. These videos are inspirational, empowering and educational for everyone, encouraging them to include flowers in their lives, every day.
But wait, there is more. He also produces âBehind the Bloom,â a web-exclusive behind-the-scenes series, including tracking segments featured in J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom. These segments include additional information about flowers, farmers, and topics not seen on the public television series.
IMPROVE ACCESS TO INFORMATION
In 2010, with the proliferation of Facebook and other social media platforms, uBloom became a subscription-based website that gives uBloom.com subscribers access to hundreds of floral educational videos online. By today’s standards, this uptime metric is akin to a streaming service where videos can be watched anytime – and as often as desired. Many use these videos as a refresher course or as training for staff and new hires.
Since its inception, uBloom.com has provided free subscriptions to educators at all levels – elementary, middle and high school, agricultural teachers and FFA sponsors – for use in teaching floristry to their students. Many teachers have a limited or no budget for teaching materials, and the uBloom.com content archive provides a great resource for these teachers at no cost. Schwanke believes that providing educational materials so that instructors and students can easily access them is one way of securing the future of the flower industry.
Steve Dionne, executive director of CalFlowers in Fallbrook, believes Schwanke is a true treasure for the flower industry. âJ’s contributions to industry education began a long time ago and are well documented. What’s been especially rewarding was watching J’s focused transition to reach more consumers and enlighten them about enjoying, organizing and sharing cut flowers more often. Dionne adds: âThe entire industry benefits from J.