Are they artificial? No. Are they fresh? Yes. So how do they last up to five years?
The Rose Parade may have been canceled this year, but Dose of Roses is red hot.
Joseph Ayoub and Julian Wilson first found success with their first product: a bear. A rose-covered bear, to be exact. They were drop-shipping a wide range of trendy products from China and marketed the Rose Bear, a bear-shaped novelty covered with artificial roses, as a youthful alternative to fresh roses in 2019.
The bears sold out well before Valentine’s Day and the young business partners, who met at Fashion Nova a couple of years earlier, learned two lessons: online shoppers don’t want to wait one to three weeks to get their orders delivered, and roses sell.
They decided to create a new brand and invest in roses, with an unexpected twist.
Wilson, who came up with the name Dose of Roses, knew that they wanted to offer the Rose Bear again, but how could they make it newer and better than the previous year? After all, Wilson recalls, over 40 million people already saw the Rose Bear via social media posts and videos, how could they possibly outdo themselves?
Well, Wilson and Ayoub started buying fresh roses from a farm in Ecuador that then took the large blooms to a facility where buds are preserved and injected with a variety of colors and even scents.
The new rose is still soft and real but has a whole new color and lasts for as long as five years, with proper care, of course.
“It won’t wilt or die. They look the same, but it’s a better version of a rose,” Wilson says.
How did social media followers respond to Dose of Roses? When the preserved roses collection first hit Instagram, presented in chic black suede boxes, Wilson says their business “absolutely exploded.” A buying frenzy ensured, and at the end of their first 30 days, the pair had amassed $3 million in sales.
One glance at the brand’s Instagram feed tells you this isn’t your grandmother’s florist, with image after seductive image of models, celebrities, and influencers posing with their arrangements. Flowers are an easy share for influencers, Wilson says, unlike teeth whitening gadgets or food products.
“I give them something to make them happy. Posting flowers is organic.”
Dose of Roses might be the first to harness paid social media to move preserved flowers, although their current product range includes everything from single roses dipped in gold to massive boxes of roses arranged to spell a name, like the gigantic arrangement they gifted to Cardi B for her birthday party in Las Vegas. Comedian Kevin Hart and Paris Hilton are among those who’ve shared their love for the long-lasting roses.
“We want to be known as the brand for floral and gifting,” Wilson says. “We work with about a thousand influencers and it’s a lot of gifting throughout the year. It all comes down to having a really good product.”
But even the best products require innovation to stay top of mind, particularly with young shoppers. As part of Dose of Roses’ limited-edition strategy, the brand teamed up with rapper Bryson Tiller for the release of his newest album, Anniversary, and created a limited-edition bouquet in the album’s signature turquoise and white. Only 500 were made and “they were a smashing success,” Wilson says.
Things are rosy now, but the pandemic, which caused China to close up before the U.S. did, affected Wilson’s ability to fill orders during the Valentine’s rush. At one point, they rented a 747 to fly product from China to their office in Los Angeles. They later bought a 55,000 square foot facility downtown to process orders.
“We do everything ourselves,” he explains, “One of the hardest things to do is keep things in stock and COVID-19 made it harder.”
So for now, Dose of Roses is banking on the e-commerce boom and will only offer the roses via their website, but it’s all part of their plan to invest in California and create jobs in the Los Angeles area. They expect to grow even more when events that were canceled due to the coronavirus are rescheduled.
And there will always be Valentine’s Day, and even Mother’s Day, which Ayoub says was a close second in sales this year. Many buyers are gifting the arrangements to loved ones, but a surprising amount of people buy them for home decor. The larger arrangements have up to 150 roses in them, which makes for a spectacular presentation on tables or mantles.
Before Valentine’s Day 2020, Ayoub and Wilson staged a pop-up shop at Alfred’s Coffee on trendy Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. To attract passersby, they rented a silver Porsche and placed over 4,000 brilliant red roses that literally draped out of the car’s window and onto the street. Needless to say, people stopped and shopped. When they asked buyers who the lucky recipient was, seven out of 10 people said they were buying them for home decor.
Still, Ayoub and Wilson know from experience that roses are at the heart of the gifting space. Decor trends come and go, but a big bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day will never go out of style.
Wilson says he and Ayoub plan to expand into similar gifts, like chocolate, scents, and intimate apparel. But for now, they’re readying for a busy holiday season and putting a post-COVID-19 plan into place.
“We’re different,” Wilson says. “Anything we do, we want to innovate. And now we’re disrupting the floral industry.”
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