Shifting from data to human instincts: Just Bloom School teaches businesses the power of creativity

Jess Deyo
Columbus CEO
Sarah Lagrotteria and Angus Fletcher, founders, Just Bloom School

If you put a handful of flowers in a vase, odds are, there are a few that just won’t sit the way you’d like. A flower won’t bend for us; instead, it will bloom as it should, and it’s our job to place it somewhere it can thrive. That’s easy if we just think outside the vase.

That’s the lesson Sarah Lagrotteria and her husband Angus Fletcher are teaching businesses at their newest joint venture: Just Bloom School, a creativity hub that gives teams the confidence to stop relying on what doesn’t work, and open their minds to new solutions, all taught by using flowers.

And this isn’t your average crafting class—Just Bloom’s lessons are influenced by Fletcher’s scientifically backed research.

Get the top Central Ohio business news delivered to your inbox:Subscribe to CEO's weekly newsletter

The class challenges modern ways of thinking, which typically emphasize being computer-like, Fletcher says, but his research shows that focusing on emotion and creativity will take people farther. To help process that information, flowers are used as symbolism: By trusting our instincts, we can create something beautifully unique.

And the duo makes sense—Lagrotteria is a classically trained chef and co-founder of Flowers and Bread Society. Before the pandemic, she attended a program in the United Kingdom to formalize her floral education, an interest she’s had her whole life, she says.

Fletcher is a professor of story science at Ohio State University’s Project Narrative where he analyzes narrative theory. And while he has a rich background in English literature, his career didn’t start that way. He first began as a neuroscientist and remembers going into his career thinking humans are just like computers, thriving off exactness.

As time passed, he found that humans don’t function that way at all. Instead, resilience, emotion and the ability to imagine is the driver. Moving forward, Fletcher studied art in various forms to understand the neuroscience of creativity, and he began sharing his findings with businesses that struggled to solve a problem. Soon, he was speaking with Fortune 50 companies, and even the U.S. military on ways they could improve if they stopped relying on data and followed human instincts.

“In my research, you see a lot of burnout and unhappiness, people changing jobs,” Fletcher says. “And what I do is switch that around and say, ‘No we’re not going to treat it like data, a machine like a computer. We’re treated like human beings; we’re focused on your emotions and creativity.’”

While both Fletcher and Lagrotteria have been set in their interests for years, it wasn’t until the pandemic that they started thinking about joining forces. Fletcher was traveling frequently to share his lessons despite wanting to be centralized, and Lagrotteria was leaning on flowers heavily to find peace.

The two began working on Just Bloom, named after Lagrotteria’s affirmation to herself since high school to bloom where planted. It opened its doors in Old Worthington this September. Currently, there is one employee alongside the founders.

“I think flowers could be a really powerful way to do a lot of the resiliency and creativity work,” Fletcher says. “We started experimenting with that and it developed into this business.”

Businesses interested can choose from two full-day experiences. The first, Business I, takes team members through a two-part floral workshop guided by Lagrotteria’s floral expertise and Fletcher’s lesson. In Business II, both Fletcher and Lagrotteria meet with team leaders ahead of time to get a feel for specific problems the team is facing and craft an itinerary that will address those challenges through their lessons.

While the focus is on businesses, Just Bloom School also offers one-off classes for anybody interested. There are intro classes, which are about two hours long, and master classes, which are about three to four hours, Lagrotteria says. Some of its offerings include vision boards, seasonal masterclasses, and classes focused on working with one specific type of flower.

In the future, she also hopes to incorporate writing and photography workshops.

Uprooting a traditional way of thinking is no simple feat, Lagrotteria says, but she and Fletcher are giving their guests room to bloom, and they hope to see creativity burst in central Ohio.

“Creative ideas are weird, they’re different. But then in the same way that nightfall is weird, we first got one, and all of a sudden you realize that it’s weird, but in a good way,” Fletcher says. “All we’re doing is saying to people, ‘Come in, give it a chance. It’s different, but it will be really positive.’”

jdeyo@dispatch.com

@DeyoJessica

Just Bloom School

679 B High St., Worthington 43085
Justbloomschool.com

Company: A creative school offering businesses and individuals scientifically backed workshops to foster growth and confidence.

Founders: Sarah Lagrotteria and Angus Fletcher

Employees: 3

Projected 2021 revenue: Would not disclose