If you are planning any event that includes a flower budget, a call to Repeat Roses should be part of your to do list. Launched by former event planner Jennifer Grove, Repeat Roses is the genius, eco-friendly, zero-waste feel-good business that takes your floral arrangements post-event, gives them to those who deserve a little beauty in their lives (hospital patients, women in shelters, the elderly in nursing homes), hands you the necessary tax donation info, and ultimately recycles and composts every last petal and container. I imagine that in a few years, Repeat Roses won’t be a novel idea in the event planning process, it will become an automatic, and necessary, habit. Here, Jennifer tells us about the what and why of her company.
Please introduce yourself, give us a bit of your background and how you came to create Repeat Roses: My career started at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I was interested in fashion, design, style, presentation, merchandising–all the colorful components that come together in this industry. Eventually that led me to PR and events.
For seven years I was a wedding and event planner. A big part of my particular niche was creating something with style, fashion and glamorous flowers. Flowers are the colorful components that really set the décor apart, and a way for a client to customize, lend their expertise, passion and favorite color to the event experience.
I love that. To me it’s such a huge, important part of the wedding or the event experience. I was also the person at the end of the night behind the scenes throwing out those big, beautiful, overflowing centerpieces.
I kind of hit a pain point in the back of a Four Seasons hotel one night where I was like … I just … I can’t do it anymore. It’s so irresponsible. It’s so heartbreaking. My clients had just spent thousands of dollars on flowers that people might have walked by on their way to the escort card table or they might have seen that big, beautiful flower wall for a second, or a small arrangement at a cocktail table. It was a massive amount of floral waste. I recognized the fact that if I was doing this in one hotel for one client, it was happening everywhere.
Flowers make people happy and they’re beautiful, so I wanted to keep flowers in events. I also wanted to figure out a way that I could do something productive with the flowers. I started taking them home and giving them to my neighbors. It made my neighbors very happy, and my assistants, my interns, my parents. Then it got to the point everyone was like, ‘Jennifer, we still have flowers from your wedding last week. Enough. Thank you, but please give them to somebody else.’
So I started dropping them off at nursing homes. What I realized is these are people who have not had visitors, or maybe they’re going through a particularly traumatizing experience if they’re in a women’s shelter or a homeless shelter, or they’re alone and going through cancer treatments.
Whatever the case may be, there’s no shortage of people across the country who would receive an emotional health boost by the surprise delivery of fresh flowers. These are high-quality wedding flowers that have been enjoyed for three hours; there is no reason to throw them out.
I started a business where the idea was do something good with something you’ve already paid for and make somebody else’s day, but what I recognized also is that now I’m in the waste management and logistics business!
Very high-end waste management at that! Repeat Roses is a zero waste service that makes people happy. It diverts waste from a landfill. I can’t just move what would otherwise be considered garbage from point a to point b and feel good about it because then I’m asking a hospital to have to deal with hundreds of pounds of trash. That’s not responsible.
As part of the Repeat Roses service we go back when we’re making our next delivery and we pick up last week’s delivery of the flowers that have maximized their viability. We take the flowers and make sure that they get composted, and then we take the containers and they get recycled back into our inventory.
Whether it’s a corporate event or a wedding our mission is to inspire people to think. Maybe it sets a precedent for more acts of kindness in their new chapter as newlyweds or just being able to talk about it at work.
We have found that many people come back to us, especially the businesses. They’ll say, ‘Every table was talking about it,’ because they’ll put a table tent next to the centerpiece or they’ll put information in the follow-up newsletter. They’ll say, ‘People were really so excited that our company did something with those flowers’.
When did you launch? We launched in 2014. The first two years I was refining the model and I was doing all of the events myself. My dad would help me haul flowers at 3:00 AM and my mom would watch my daughter for me. I’m a single mom, so my mom would come and spend the night in my apartment.
Do you think when people realize they can donate their flowers post-event, it changes how they think about purchasing flowers in the first place? I think Repeat Roses activates a philanthropically-minded customer who already had those feelings of they want to do good in the world. When they spend 15, 20, $100,000 on flowers this makes them feel better about their floral spend.
I talk to wedding planners and florists about this all the time. You wouldn’t spend $90,000 on a car and drive it a couple times and then throw it in the dumpster.
That just doesn’t make any sense. When people want to buy flowers for their weddings this is a way for them to feel like, okay, I can actually create positive vibes in the world by doing this. Then we also say, ‘Here’s one place in your event where you can generate a financial return on your investment,’ because part of our service includes making sure that the client receives a donation acknowledgement letter from the nonprofit we’ve matched their donation to. If they’re spending thousands of dollars on flowers, we can make sure that they get the documentation so they can use it for their tax purposes.
So it’s a win-win for your clients. Correct. It is nice to know that you can feel good, do good, and get a little return on your investment, and be environmentally responsible at the same time.
Three words that describe you: Given my life’s journey so far, I’m confident that fearless, optimistic and goal-setter are pretty spot on.
Three words that describe Repeat Roses: The company’s DNA is that of a disruptive, innovative activator. It’s more than a service, it’s an experience we want to inform, inspire and change mindsets.
What do you see going forward as you delve deeper into this? I think in the world that we live in now people are much more aware of how they spend, the waste that they create, and the impact that they make on people around them. We’ve got social media telling us every single day. We know we’ve got the climate change agreement. We’ve got all kinds of news and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
It’s important. Businesses care about it. There are rules and regulations that are going to require people to be more responsible and businesses to take responsibility. If we can help inspire people to take that step, everybody benefits. As our business grows, more people understand that this is a necessity, it’s not necessarily a luxury.
We’re really fortunate that it’s a beautiful, emotionally-engaging story to tell so it resonates, especially with people who have grown up recycling and composting. You don’t have to explain it to them. You might have to explain it to mothers of brides and grooms because it’s not on any wedding checklist yet.
You think it will be? I am on a mission! I’m so grateful that we have relationships with event planners and florists and hotels who believe in what we’re doing.
In what cities is Repeat Roses available? We’re based in New York, but we just wrapped up a four day corporate event in Kansas City last week. We’re doing an event at the Super Bowl in Houston. We’re doing events at the Kentucky Derby. We’re doing the American Red Cross Miami Ball at the end of March. What’s so exciting is that brides are coming to us, businesses are coming to us.
What’s next? I think the biggest news right now is that the NFL called us. That was one of those moments where I had to step back and go, “Wow!” It’s been pretty exciting for us to know that businesses of that caliber recognize what we’re doing. If we can contribute in a teeny, tiny way, that’s a huge step for a start-up.
What inspires you? I think having that first conversation with a bride who is planning her first event of a wedding magnitude and giving her this kernel of information about how something that she does can create a ripple effect out into the world. Even over the phone, hearing that light bulb moment where you know that you’ve just connected with someone, that to me is so inspiring. I know if I can do it with one person and I can kind of get that out there it’ll just create an even bigger ripple effect.
Follow Repeat Roses: Instagram.