In 2007 alone, the mothership of this new online boutique, Organic
Bouquet, saw over 55 percent growth and had hundreds of millions of impressions of the company’s brand through TV, magazines and newspapers as well
as numerous radio interviews. This included being voted Smart Money’s number one best buy for Mother’s Day and crowning the queen’s float at the Rose
Bowl Parade, as well as having Christina Aguilera present their six-foot-high
“World’s Tallest Roses” to Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show.
“What a lot of people don’t
realize is that typically 50 to 1,000
times the amount of chemicals that
are legally allowed on foods are
used on flowers.” Currently, Pr”olman has over $100 million worth of sustainably grown flow- ers in the pipeline and he expects to sell over 20 million stems of roses alone
by the end of this year. Much of this growth has happened through partnerships with non-profit organizations, expanded business-to-business wholesale
efforts, as well as working with farmers to develop a strong supply chain.
Tapping into two major trends, eco-awareness and demand for quality,
Prolman’s latest launch, Organic Style, has a tremendous opportunity for
growth as well. He is already in the process of acquiring several companies to
join the Organic Style brand and has recently launched an online magazine to
tell the story behind these socially and environmentally conscious products.
Once again he had to help buyers
understand and connect with the products. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that typically 50 to 1,000 times
the amount of chemicals that are legally allowed on foods are used on flowers. It’s astounding,” Prolman said.
“Many natural food stores wave the
green flag and promote their commitment to sustainability, however, often
the first thing you see when you walk
into the store is a floral department
selling pesticide-laded flowers. In the
past, supply was the issue but that is no
longer the case.”
Today, consumers and businesses
are becoming more aware of the effect
their purchases have on the world, a
trend that Prolman is helping usher in.
Creating Demand By Creating a Connection
Prolman was a leader in organic long before the eco-flower industry blossomed or “eco-luxury” was a buzzword. As a co-founder of Made In Nature, he
was the first to create a brand identity for organic produce and helped convert
over 20,000 acres of farmland to organic production.
“My job was two-fold. One, persuading growers to grow organically, and two,
convincing buyers to pay the necessary price to justify farming costs,” he said.
Prolman found that the best way to get buyers in the North American market to pay the appropriate price for the goods was to make a direct connection
between the producers and the buyers.
“When buyers came to know the names of the growers, got to meet the families, see the fields and learn the real difference between sustainable agriculture and non-sustainable agriculture, it made the sale much easier,” he said.
Prolman sold Made In Nature to Dole in the mid 90s, but wanted to continue his work of connecting organic farmers to buyers.
In deciding on his next endeavor, Prolman realized that within the organic
industry, no one had stopped to smell—or sell—the roses. The $20-billion-per
year U.S. floral market had been quite literally overlooked. “When I first
brought up the idea of organic flowers, the response was often… ‘but we don’t
eat flowers,’” Prolman said.
Planting a Pathway to
At the same time that he was creating demand, Prolman also had to
develop supply. He spent a year going
door to door talking to growers before
he finally created his first partnership
with Sun Valley out of California, who
agreed to grow some tulips organically.
After that he found some likeminded
growers in Columbia and Ecuador who
were already on the environmentally
and/or socially enlightened path and
started working to help them become
Through working with these progressive growers, who were already
doing things like providing medical
care and schools for their workers’
families, he realized the industry needed something that would not only put
growers on a path to organic production, but that would also ensure social
responsibility and high quality standards. He took this idea to Scientific
Certification Systems (SCS), who has
developed sustainability standards for
the forestry industry, Starbucks and
many others, and asked them to create
a standard. Prolman put together a
team of floral experts to help develop