They say, say it with flowers. From high-end weddings to luxe events and special decor at hotels, flowers, for decades, have been the preferred choice to decorate a space and as ornaments. Though, its short shelf life has always been a concern and so has the generated waste and cleaning process. In some cases, especially when it comes to a thematic setting, the availability of a certain variety in desired colours has also been an issue.
Emerging luxe e-startups, such as Champs Fleur, Studio De Fleurs and Splendid Roses, selling treated natural flowers, are addressing the challenges, one petal at a time. The bloom, mostly imported from other countries, is shipped to labs and mixed with biodegradable colours and chemicals, which increases the flower’s shelf life; in some cases, even up to a year or more, without water and sunlight.
So, if you want glow-in-the-dark roses, all you must do is place your order online and be willing to pay anywhere between Rs5,000 and Rs30,000, depending on the blossom you choose. The well-travelled entrepreneurs, inspired by the trend abroad, say that the response in India is good and the segment has the potential to become a market in the years to come.
Flowers play an important part in professing one’s love. If flowers are a symbol of a lasting bond between people, fresh flowers would draw a rather bleak image, as they perish soon. “Our purpose was to create something that is a lasting memory and an unforgettable gesture of love,” says Madhavi Jalu, 35, Co-Founder of Studio De Fleurs, established in May 2018. And, the concept of everlasting flowers perfectly expresses the eternal bond of love, adds the New York-resident, who quit her nine-to-five accounting job to build the business along with her sister Nidhi. The duo perfected the process of preserving roses for a year in an eco-friendly way, before launching their e-portal. Three months after, they opened a studio in Rajkot, penetrating the Indian market.
Neel Pujara, Director of Emcer Tiles, was among Jalu’s first customers. “These flowers are unique, and people love something different”, says Pujara. He gifted the flowers to his corporate clients across 35 countries last year and is also planning to do the same this Diwali. “These flowers are unique, and I think my clients will love to keep them in their offices, and hopefully, remember me every time they see these long-lasting flowers.”
26-year-old florist, Chitra Das’ Champs Fleur has supplied its products to Park Hotels, GVK, Femina, Vogue, Longines, Apollo Hospitals and Dodla Dairy since its inception in 2017. Building the right brand image through the right aesthetics and colours is paramount for all brands. Flower decoration is an important element of the exercise. “Chanel always wants white roses,” says Das, a trained florist from the London Flower School. Preserved flowers always work better for brands that have such demands all year round, especially in a country like India that offers limited colours and varieties of flowers. “Most companies like to maintain a specific look. They usually want the same thing irrespective of the season and prefer treated flowers that are low on maintenance.”
The company was born out of Das’ love for flowers. Brought up in Australia, she found solace in the flowers while living alone in Hyderabad, where she relocated to for work in 2017. However,
she was perturbed by the shorter lifespan of flowers due to the heat and humidity here. While looking up ways to preserve flowers, she found her business idea. “Champs Fleur was born
with the aim of providing a flawless personalised experience, backed by seamless customer support. It also congruently strives to reduce the carbon footprint and impact on the environment,” Das says.
Another Hyderabad-based entrepreneur Pratap Reddy, 55, started Splendid Roses in early 2018. Once a contractor for the Konkan Railway, Reddy was inspired to start Splendid Roses while visiting his daughter in Ecuador, a country known for its exquisite, large roses. While primarily working with long-lasting roses procured from Andes Mountains, the company also supplies Hydrangeas, Gypsophila (also called as baby’s-breath) and Limonium.
He says that these flowers, which cost five to six times more than untreated flowers, are predominantly for elite consumers and corporate houses. Yet, the growth has been promising. Champs Fleur recently expanded to Delhi and Mumbai. Splendid Roses reported a 25 to 35 per cent year-on-year growth, and Reddy anticipates a further 50 per cent rise in sales in the next two to three years. “We are planning to open two franchises each in metro cities and big towns across India,” adds Reddy. Studio De Fleur aims to be at premium hotels and décor stores.
Behind the curtains
Each company follows a different preservation technique. Champs Fleur, for instance, imports flowers from Colombia and Kenya. These are then flown to the preservation lab in Tokyo for a four to six-week process, in which the flowers are dehydrated with ethanol, rehydrated using glycerine, infused with colour, and then shipped across India.
Splendid Roses is the sole franchise of six Ecuadorian rose farms in India. Thus, all their products use the widely considered best roses in the world.
According to Parimala Shivaprasad, an eco-entrepreneur pursuing a PhD in chemical engineering at the University of Bath, India creates about two million tonnes of waste generated by flowers per day from religious ceremonies alone. Taking the excessive amount of floral waste into account, Studio De Fleurs takes sustainability very seriously by practising a four-step, wax-based preservation process, using only eco-friendly solutions to preserve flowers. “I believe that people are realising the importance of being eco-friendly and we have maximised on this aspect,” says Jalu.
At a glance
Founded: Late 2017
Founded By: Chitra Das
Products: Preserved flowers in containers of various shapes (square, rectangular, cylindrical, raindrop, dome, etc.) and materials (glass, acrylic, suede, metallic, etc.), and hairpieces with preserved flowers.
Prices: Rs1,299 to Rs29,999
Founded: January 2018
Founded By: Pratap Reddy
Products: Preserved foliage Hydrangeas, baby’s-breath, Limonium and roses in multiple sizes. Roses are available in over 21 solid colours, 24 rainbow and bi-colours, pastels, and novelty roses such as golden, silver, metallic blue, pink and even glow in the dark.
Prices: Rs2,500 onwards
Studio De Fleurs
Founded: May 2018 (USA),
August 2018 (India)
Founded By: Madhavi Jalu
and Nidhi Jalu
Products: Preserved roses packaged in keepsake acrylic boxes, available in customisable shapes.
Prices: Rs1,999 to Rs9,999 (prices for custom collections on request)