Jimi Santoli’s Love Affair With the Tulip… and Other Flowers

He possesses a charismatic and an outgoing character coupled with a love for flowers, especially the tulip.

By: THURSD. | 13-03-2024 | 6 min read
Flowers Interviews Tulips
Jimi Santoli and His Passion for Tulips and Other Flowers

Jimi ‘The Tulip’ Santoli is not your ordinary flower aficionado. He is more than just that! Jimi has, at least, thirty years of experience in the flower industry, and is a wholesale floral account manager at Jet Fresh Flower Distributors, a family-owned and operated wholesale flower distributor, importer, and grower located in Miami, Florida - near the Miami International Airport -, and also at Jet Fresh Flower Growers, S.A, a boutique rose farm located in Cotopaxi, Ecuador.

Often sporting a plush silvery beard, Jimi is hard to not recognize even in a crowd. He always has an outgoing flair around him and a hail-fellow-well-met persona. You can, every so often, identify him donned in his trademark sky-blue colored tulip suit, that features red and green floral patterns. He describes himself as a highly motivated individual who takes pride in having a ‘can do’ attitude. So, here’s 'The Tulip' as you, perhaps, may have not known him before.

An Eventful Journey in the Flower Industry

Jimi’s love affair with flowers began at a young age. He got particularly interested in the tulip flower - and by extension the general flower industry - right after high school, perhaps not realizing that many years later, he would be so invested in it to even consider taking up any other profession.


Jimi Santoli’s Love Affair With the Tulip



“I started out in the flower business in 1988 right out of high school not knowing that thirty-six years later I would still be vested heavily in the business. My friends would make fun of me being in the flower business and one day — playing on the Italian Brooklyn angle — I came up with the name ‘Jimi the Tulip’ LOL. I worked in retail and events for about twenty years. Then, I decided I needed a change. So I took my knowledge of the industry and began a road in sales.”


Jimi Santoli piano design yellow roses
Project of Jimi with floral designer Sarah Campbell from Intrigue Teaches


That was back then. Today, he is a floral account manager at a renowned flower company and doubles up as a well-known social media commenter — often posting insightful life quotes on his social pages.


"For the motivational posts, I use them as a reminder for myself but take pleasure in knowing that a lot of my followers are reading them and reminding themselves to be positive in a world that can sometimes be stressful and not so positive. I often read them a few times a day and remind myself to slow down in life and enjoy every second. I follow a lot of motivational pages and listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks to get pumped and excited to share." 

As a wholesale floral account manager both at Jet Fresh Flower Distributors and Jet Fresh Flower Growers, his roles are diverse. However, essentially, he deals with retail flower customers helping them acquire the best flowers for their business from the wide assortment that the company he works with supplies. 


​Jimi Santoli’s Love Affair With the Tulip



“In my current role, I like to think of myself as a relationship builder who provides value to my customers and their customers. My typical day starts at about 4 am. I review the current inventory and send out an email blast to all my customers. 

I also include any daily specials or deals I think they can benefit from. I then review any upcoming and future orders and begin to source products for them. I also have a customer list and prioritize my calls to them.”

And the job, he says, is certainly as fulfilling as it is rewarding in every way. He gets to work with different individuals and institutions and a diverse range of flowers, and for the most part, his favorite is the tulip, which he describes as a really incredible flower. And just so you know, everyone loves tulips!


Jimi Santoli’s Love Affair With the Tulip



“I love all flowers but particularly the tulip, which is an incredible flower. I had the pleasure recently to visit Sun Valley Farms in California and they took us on an incredible journey on how tulips are prepared and harvested - from seed to bulb to flower — I really never knew the science behind growing these flowers until this tour.” 

So many factors, he says he learned, play important roles in a tulip’s growth, development, and longevity. Such include lighting, fertilizer application, and shade, among numerous others.


​Jimi Santoli’s Love Affair With the Tulip


Working With Tulips… and Other Flowers

Working with flowers, according to Jimi, is quite an experience. While there may be challenges entailed, the whole experience still remains a fascinating one. For tulips, for instance, maintaining the cold chain in transportation is key for the flower’s longevity.

Tulips are, also, not just pretty flowers, but are also phototropic; meaning they tend to grow toward the light. And did you know that there are black tulips? well not really black in its literal sense, but, regardless, black all the same!

Even so, Jimi feels that some of the biggest challenges faced in the flower trade are related to transportation. 


​Jimi Santoli’s Love Affair With the Tulip



“We, here at Jet Fresh, like to get the flowers from Canada and California via refrigerated trucks. This helps keep the cold chain and by keeping them in water, prevents yellow foliage and unnecessary stress to the flower.”

Still, for him, education on flowers is key to remaining at the top of his game. He loves reading articles (from Thursd for example) to stay on top of trends and goings on, as well as attending workshops and floral functions. Networking with all kinds of people in the floral industry is also something he thrives in. 


​Jimi Santoli’s Love Affair With the Tulip


In that regard, his advice is for anyone keen on getting into the flower world to start right from the bottom and learn all they can in the flower industry. Attending any floral conferences and groups available is imperative. Also, one has to visit event designers and wholesalers alike, pick their brains, and always be willing to adapt to change. 

The Allure of Tulip Flowers

Tulips, he notes, are very popular in the spring time of course but at Jet Fresh Flowers, they have cultivated some great relationships with growers and try to have them year-round to break their springtime-only stigma. 


“I love educating customers that tulips can be available year-round, not just in springtime.” 


Jimi Santoli’s Love Affair With the Tulip


And having worked with these flowers his entire floral career and having seen different varieties come and go, he says his hope is to one day attend the tulip festival in Holland and visit some Dutch farms, given that the country is home to the largest tulip farms, essentially making it the land of tulips.


Photos courtesy of Jimi 'TheTulip' Santoli (@jimithetulip)



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