Blame it on fate: When Dana Van Tassel and Jenn Murphy, our NJMOMpreneurs of the week, first met in Ridgewood in 2012, little did they know that in time, they’d both move their families to London and back to NJ, and develop a mutual adoration for fresh, simplistic flowers. Years later, they looked for those same, gorgeous blooms they would buy from the flower markets in London. When their search came up short, an idea between them grew—offer their community flowers that would focus on an abundance of fresh, single blooms rather than a typical mixture you find at traditional florists—and with that, they opened Piece & Pollen. We chatted with them about how flowers have a positive effect on your emotions, the joys of having a business with your best friend and the go-to shopping spots for gifts and jewelry in their hometown.
Owners of Piece & Pollen & NJMOMpreneurs, Dana Van Tassel and Jenn Murphy
NJMOM: What does Piece & Pollen offer, and how does it stand out from other small businesses?
Dana: Our aesthetic differs from other florists—we celebrate and embrace the simplistic and chic beauty of an abundance of a single bloom. We believe that flowers in their simplest form can create a dramatic, classic and elegant look. We offer fresh, seasonal flowers on a weekly or subscription basis or for any event, sourcing directly from the local and international markets, so that we can guarantee the freshest blooms.
NJMOM: Where do you live and vacation in New Jersey?
Dana: We live in Ridgewood. We enjoy day trips to Spring Lake, but mostly we like to hang out at our home with friends and family.
NJMOM: How did you both meet?
Dana: We met back in 2012. We lived right around the corner from each other. We had several friends in common and daughters who are the same age. Coincidentally, our husbands’ jobs ended up taking both Jenn and I to London. Jenn and her family moved in 2014, we moved in 2015 and we both moved back to the States during the summer of 2017.
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Dana: After living abroad in London, I became accustomed to always having easily accessible fresh flowers in my home. They were beautiful and gave me joy and a sense of well-being every time I looked at them. Upon moving back, I realized the only place to get flowers was the supermarket or a traditional florist, and neither of those places really offered the type of blooms I was looking for. I strongly believe flowers should be an everyday part of people’s lives. Although I have no formal floral background, I studied art, fashion, design and marketing in college. Art has always been a big part of my life and that training has carried over into floral design and an understanding of what is pleasing to the eye.
NJMOM: How did you come up with your name, Piece & Pollen?
Dana: We worked a long time on deciding the right name for our business. It took a lot of brainstorming, throwing around words, phrases and thoughts. We felt it was really important to have a catchy name that was easy to remember, and rolled off your tongue, but also meant something to us. The “Piece” part came from taking a piece of London, a piece of our experience abroad, and bringing it back home. “Pollen” obviously for flowers, but also part of the name of a great restaurant we loved in London.
It’s never too late to see your dream become a reality.”—Dana Van Tassel, Piece & Pollen
NJMOM: What is your favorite type of event or venue to create floral arrangements for?
Dana: We do a lot of private home parties and big events at Felina in Ridgewood, but we also love delivering blooms to someone who is not expecting it because it’s awesome to be reminded of the positive effects flowers have on a person. We totally cater to any need—whether it’s entering a client’s home using a private passcode while they are on vacation to surprising them with a full tablescape, to spray painting blooms so they’ll be more personalized. We love that we get to be part of helping make any event special and personal for our clients.
NJMOM: What is the best part about your business?
Dana: Besides getting to work alongside an amazing partner and best friend who makes me laugh harder than most, I love that I get to be creative, whether through floral design or ways to grow and expand the business. And of course, I cherish the moments when we get to see how much joy our clients get from our products and services.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Dana: Starting it! Being a female entrepreneur is so empowering and great for my kids to see, especially my daughters. The fact that Jenn and I had a dream, an idea, and we made it a reality is awesome. It’s never too late to see your dream become a reality.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Dana: My husband and I are on the board of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). CHOP has saved the lives of two of our children, one during pregnancy and one through their Neurology Ketogenic Unit. They are the leaders in medical breakthroughs and are changing the medical world with constant achievements, all while being some of the kindest, most warmhearted people you will ever meet.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom ever gave to you?
Dana: Life’s the journey. Not the destination.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Dana: It’s been amazing watching them grow into their own and seeing their personalities flourish. Every age I think, ‘this is the best age’ but then it just keeps getting better. I learn a lot from them, and how they always challenge me to be a better person. I love how they show me different ways to see the world and remind me to slow down and appreciate the little moments in life.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Dana: My husband and I frequently grab dinner and drinks at Felina in Ridgewood, Roots Steakhouse in Ridgewood and Varka in Ramsey. For family dinners, the kids always want to order in from The Sicilian Sun in Ho-Ho-Kus or pick up sandwiches from the Market Basket in Franklin Lakes. For shopping, Katie Diamond Jewelry stores in Ridgewood and The Collective—she offers very cool fine jewelry pieces and home goods. If I’m looking for fun accessories, the Goldie Shop in Ridgewood and BB Clover in Ho-Ho-Kus are both great spots for gifts or something special. My kids absolutely love the The Curious Reader bookstore that specializes in children’s books for reading at all levels, and on rainy days, you can find them at Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Allendale or Color Me Mine in Ridgewood.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Dana: Go for it! But take your time. It takes a while to get the family and work balance right, or as balanced as it can be. And know that there is a great network of supportive, encouraging female entrepreneurs out there.
NJMOM: How do you juggle being moms and businesswomen?
Dana: Great question, we’re still trying to figure it out! Let us know if you have any tips.