Fresh flowers are really a wonderful way to decorate. And of course there are always occasions when you can express your thanks with a gorgeous bouquet. For those who want to be sustainable, it is best to buy flowers with the FLP label or a box of roses. The latter are packaged at the time of flowering and last a few years instead of just a few days. We spoke with Sarah Zergaw, the founder of the start-up Emmie Gray GmbH. Zergaw discovered boxed roses during a trip abroad, learned about the method and successfully introduced this special process to interior design in Germany. She plans to make this technique known all over Europe in the future.
How did you come up with the idea to found Emmie Gray?
During a trip abroad I discovered a rosebox and on my return I wanted to order one online for my home. Unfortunately, no deliveries to Germany were being offered. That’s how the idea of offering the product on the German market came into being.
Would you mind describing the procedure in more detail?
Sure, I’d be happy to. The roses are harvested when they are flowering at their peak. The conservation process is carried out directly on site at our partner rose farms in order to avoid transportation issues. The roses are first removed from their natural cellular fluid, which is subsequently substituted with an alcohol-based preservative solution. Only natural ingredients are used during this environmentally friendly process, so that the roses remain biodegradable and are absolutely harmless to human health.
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Did your colleagues in South America tell you their production secrets?
We have been working closely with our partners in South America since the very beginning, developing new color concepts or even new products in conjunction with the farms. For example, we are currently testing the preservation of a flower variety that has been up until now only available worldwide in its fresh, unprocessed form.
What problems did you initially have to contend with?
We invested an enormous amount of time and effort before we even went online with our web shop, as well as our personal funds, without knowing whether our product would be accepted at all as it had not yet appeared on the German market. Although there may have been one or two situations that set us back, giving up was not an option for us.
When did you know that you had made it?
Once we finally launched our shop after six months of intensive planning, we received plenty of orders right from the start. We felt reassured by the positive feedback from our first customers and by the prospect that after just a few days, more than 100 Emmie Gray Roseboxes had already been delivered to German living rooms.
What are you currently working on?
We are always working on broadening our range with innovative products and our customers can look forward to many new interior designs that will make their homes even more beautiful. What exactly? We just can’t reveal that yet.
Custom-made products for major customers has also developed into an interesting line of business. The boxes are branded with a company’s name or logo. Companies from the automotive industry such as Porsche and Mercedes or cosmetics companies use this service.
What would you recommend to other entrepreneurs with regard to their private and professional lives?
A work-life balance is, I think, a challenge for every new entrepreneur, especially in the initial phase. In our first year with Emmie Gray, the enormous demand completely overwhelmed us. We worked around the clock and we hardly found any time for our families and friends even on weekends. Fortunately, this has now changed, also thanks to the help of our great team.
Though it can often be difficult, you shouldn’t forget to take regular breaks in the face of all the stress. In the long term, this is the only way you can devote yourself to your project and stay full of energy and focus.
What tips do you have for other start-ups when it comes to closing the deal?
We realized that it is the team of founders that first and foremost has to function in order for the business case to work. No matter how innovative or promising the business idea may be – if the team does not all work along the same lines and doesn’t stick together unconditionally especially in difficult periods, a successful start-up will be tricky. So you should choose your business partners carefully, whether you are on your own or part of a team. The important thing is not to lose sight of your goals and always believe in yourself and your idea.
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