Women ask us all of the time, “How did Fellow Flowers begin? Where did you get the idea?” And the answer is really quite simple. We lived it.
It started with fourteen women who trained for, and ran, a half marathon together in May of 2011. Our common thread was Tori, who had asked us to run this race for her birthday. (The things we do for friends, right?) She introduced us via email.
It went a little like this: Wife, meet mother. Teacher, meet doctor. Nurse, meet businesswoman. Working mom, meet working mom. First-timer, meet veteran runner. 7-minute mile meet 13-minute mile. This group of women turned out to be a beautiful collection of experiences, backgrounds, and stories coming together for one training journey.
Throughout the next several weeks, something happened. We began to share emails with one another, reflecting on our training, but more so, our personal lives. Without even realizing it, we began sharing the why behind our miles and how our training was changing us.
Over 12 weeks we covered topics including infertility, the loss of a child, abuse and abandonment, the pursuit of happiness, and the realization of potential. We admitted fears—big fears—and expressed dreams— epic dreams. The commonalities we saw within our group united us quickly, and fiercely. We grew to trust each other. And we trained. Amidst juggling kids, families, coaching, jobs, dreams, sleep, making dinner, and drinking wine, we trained.
When race day arrived, it was no longer simply about knocking off miles and crossing a finish line—it was about celebrating our journey, and our sisterhood.
The now-infamous flowers that we wear in our hair are perhaps the most beautiful and serendipitous part of this story. They were given to us at the last minute. A friend of Tori’s knew about our training, and just a couple of days before the race she gave us 14 orange Gerber daisies, lovingly hot-glued to barrettes and clips, and said, “Wear these. You’ll be able to find each other on the course, and people will know you go together.”
It could have ended there, but it didn’t. As we all continued to train, run and race throughout the summer, we kept wearing our orange flowers. Even though we were now out there running by ourselves, the orange flower connected us back to our sisterhood.
We realized that running with a flower means you’re never running alone.
Later that fall, Mel was running a half marathon to celebrate her birthday. (Her flower was with her, of course.) Life had been steadily nudging Mel. She was looking for a new direction professionally yet had never considered the intersection between her two passions: writing and running. A few moments before the race started, a question stirred within her: How has this flower changed the way you run? And could it change the lives of other women runners too?
For the next two hours, she mentally mapped out a business plan in her head, and crossed the finish line with a razor-sharp clarity of purpose.
Later that night she texted Tori: “I have an idea. Imagine if we could create a way for other women to take this journey. Friendship + Running = Transformation. Are you in?”
Tori was. And here we are, nearly five years later sharing the journey of the flower with you. Today over 30,000 women from around the world are part of this fierce sisterhood of women who run, move, and live active lives.
We still believe that the MAGIC of running is not just in the miles, but in the moments of transformation along the way. We also believe that every woman—whether she’s running her first 5K or if has been a runner for years—has a story. And we are on a mission to create the space where those stories can be shared.
Today, we are the virtual sisterhood for women who move, run, and live active lifestyles.
We’ve learned that we love supporting women who are setting goals, taking on life’s challenges and seeing what they are truly capable of. We love sweaty smiles, glorious attempts, gritty lessons, and fierce connections. We lead this movement by sharing our own stories and staying real, honest, and truthful about the challenges and journey.
We want to support, inspire and bring together women who are on a training, fitness, health, or running journey. And we seek to connect active women who want more than just training plans, mileage updates and race reports. While running is our core, we continue to take on new challenges, goals AND sports. We believe that Fellow Flowers can support all women on a journey, regardless of sport. And we want to create a community where women are empowered and encouraged to share their stories, reasons for getting out there and motivations for staying active and healthy.
Small but mighty. Dedicated and loyal. Passionate and brave. A perfect balance of yins and yangs and dreaming and doing. We are the team behind the Fellow Flowers movement and online community, and we are here to make a difference in the lives of women everywhere.
Chief visionary + Creative director
We joke that Mel’s brain never stops creating and generating ideas, words and designs, and that if anyone can bring a vision to life, it is her. When she was young, her parents told her she could be anything she wanted when she grew up, and she decided to take them seriously. More than anything, she loves encouraging and motivating women to become the best and most authentic version of themselves. She regularly speaks and facilitates workshops, coaching women on the power of owning your story and living a life that aligns with your who you are and what truly matters. When she’s not steering the Fellow Flowers ship, chances are pretty good that she’s either training for Ironman Wisconsin, printing shirts with her hubby at 608 Threads, or fort building and busting out dance parties with her three young girls.
Connection + community
Tori’s mission within Fellow Flowers is for women to create authentic connection and realize they are not alone in their struggles and celebrations. She’s mastered the art of gently nudging women out of their comfort zones to discover their potential while being part motivator, coach, cheerleader and storyteller, and leads by example as she takes on new challenges with health, nutrition and fitness. Tori brings her unique and one-of-a-kind visual eye to every design, experience and virtual challenge we bring to our community. She believes in the power of fierce friendship, and surrounding yourself with like minded people. Her greatest joy comes from sharing these life values with her three active kiddos.
Community happiness manager
There is no individual who takes more pride in our customers receiving exceptional service than #SuperSara. Every package is sent out with love and every email is thoughtfully responded and attended to. With a background in education (props to all the kindergarten teachers in the world!) she keeps Fellow Flowers organized and on task. Sara helps with coordinating special events and gatherings and ensures every woman who interacts and shops with Fellow Flowers feels the LOVE and appreciation.
Rock Retreat Run coordinator
Event ninja and task master. Lindsay takes spreadsheets and master lists to a whole new level. Lindsay is the glue behind our national annual retreat and is responsible for weaving together all major parts of this event experience from working with the resort property, coordinating the event timeline and schedule, organizing logistics, communicating with attendees and most of all, corralling in the crazy and often last minute ideas of Mel and Tori. This woman is a saint.
Membership experience coordinator
Karen works to ensure every member of our #FFCrew knows the latest and greatest of what’s going on within our membership community. Many of these details take place behind the scenes and result in a smooth process for our members. Whether it is welcoming new members, touching base with current members or sending out important details, Karen has us covered.
Jason Charbonneau + 608 Threads
Fellow Flowers apparel printing (aka, making us all look cool)
Did you know that every piece of Fellow Flowers apparel is now printed in house? This past year, Mel and her husband Jason opened 608 Threads, a screen printing and design shop, here in McFarland, Wisconsin. Every concept is thoughtfully designed and carefully printed, ensuring quality is always a priority. We’re also able to stay informed on the latest styles, trends and garment options for our apparel collections. Take a tour of Jason’s shop here. And P.S. – if you’re looking for a bulk order, Fellow Flowers has partnered with 608 Threads to bring you special pricing for all orders over 12 shirts.