What inspired you to start the business?
My husband Anian and I always wanted to be entrepreneurs and start our own business. After we got married, in 2006, we decided then would be a good time to start brainstorming different ideas. In the Spring of 2007 we came across the idea of specializing in roses, and opening a store in Chelsea. But we knew we didn’t want to sell just any roses. They would have to be the World’s Finest Roses. So we did some research and quickly found out that the World’s finest roses come from Ecuador, South America. Ecuador has the best climate for growing roses, due to its location, the climate and the soil. The country is located right on the Equator, meaning temperatures are constant, year round, as there are no seasons. The temperature is ideal for growing roses. It is about 22 degrees during the daytime, and a freezing 4 degrees during the night. There is also consistent sunshine, year round. Therefore, the roses can be grown in the natural climate instead of in greenhouses, which allows them to grow so beautifully, with thick, strong stems, and huge, colourful blooms. In addition, the roses grow at a very high altitude, at 3500-4000 meters above sea level, in volcanic soil, which is very fertile in minerals and perfect for growing roses. They are not just the most beautiful roses, but they are also ethical roses. We source our roses only from four farms in the Ecuadorian Andes, who work to the highest ethical standards. In terms of labour standards, this means that the employees on these farms get paid above average wages and in terms of social standards, they receive free medical care, and one of the farms even provides schooling on the farm, for the children of the employees. Further, none of the farms we work with use any toxic chemicals to grow the roses, so they do not damage the water or soil, working to the highest environmental standards. So, to answer this question, what inspired us most to start this business of specialising in the World’s Finest Roses, and bringing them to London, is essentially their origin – Ecuador – and the story behind our beautiful roses.
When you are a working ‘mumtrepreneur’, it is always a huge challenge to balance work and family. Being an entrepreneur means you do not have set working times…
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
The greatest challenge is definitely the amount of responsibility and time required to be a successful entrepreneur. And to experience failures which is part of any entrepreneur’s life. The greatest reward is experiencing success and witnessing that people love our concept and appreciate the beauty and quality of our roses.
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures
The most important thing is that one has to strongly believe in their idea, be it a product offering or a service concept. If this is given, then it is easy to persevere difficult phases, negative experiences and failures in business. To focus on the positives and things that are going well, and seeing the glass as always being ‘half full’, instead of ‘half empty’, will help. With anything in life and this also applies to business. And to stay focussed is the most important thing of course.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
Trying to juggle both work and our kids. When you are a working ‘mumtrepreneur’, it is always a huge challenge to balance work and family. Being an entrepreneur means you do not have set working times, for e.g. Mon – Fri, from 9–5pm. You rarely have an evening off. Days and weeks are usually much longer when you are running a small business, as there are usually a lot of hats that you – as the business owner – wears. There are also times when the business dictates that you cannot attend a school play either. These moments can be very difficult. However, we are trying our best to spend all the free time we do get, with our children.
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
I have not yet had much of it unfortunately but the little I have had has helped me hugely and I would love to do more of it as and when my time allows.
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
Networking is extremely important, for any business, but even more for businesses who do not have a huge marketing budget.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?
Scaling strategies depend hugely on what type of business you are in, so it is difficult for me to give general advice on how to scale.
The most important thing is that one has to strongly believe in their idea, be it a product offering or a service concept. If this is given, then it is easy to persevere difficult phases, negative experiences and failures in business.
What does the future hold for you?
After the successful launch of our first OnlyRoses franchise in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai, and Abu Dhabi), we are very excited to have recently opened another franchise in Qatar. The OnlyRoses Qatar store is located in one of the most prestigious malls, The Gate Mall, in the centre of Doha. We started franchising two years ago and now have three franchise stores operating with a fourth store to open in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in March 2015. We are planning to open another 6-7 stores in the Middle East over the next two years. We are also planning to launch in further global cities around Asia, Russia and neighbouring countries, as well as North and South America.