Monday is the most important day at Ode à la Rose. This is when corporate clients have their ﬂowers delivered. Every week, round French-style bouquets blending different sizes of ﬂowers, including peonies, tulips, and buttercups, and greenery such as eucalyptus and gypsophila, add color to entrance halls, hotel lobbies, restaurants, luxury boutiques, and jewelry stores on Fifth Avenue.
To meet all their orders, three ﬂorists work tirelessly on the second ﬂoor of an industrial building on West 28th Street, Manhattan’s ﬂower district. The ﬁrst employee receives the fresh ﬂowers, featuring red, yellow, purple, and mauve roses, among others, and trims the stems with a cutter. Most of the ﬂowers are purchased from intermediary companies in Ecuador, Colombia, and the Netherlands. Certain varieties are sourced from New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. The two other employees are tasked with creating the bouquets, which are then delivered in specially-made pink cardboard boxes. Even if the package is overturned, the anti-leak vase will not spill its contents!
At the foot of a conveyor belt, six bouquets are waiting to be sent. One is for the Metropolitan Opera, and the others may be for anyone from Madonna and Lady Gaga to Charlotte Gainsbourg and Diane von Furstenberg, who is a regular client. Some 150 bouquets are made every day in the New York workshop run by Ode à la Rose (which also has a site in Chicago and Philadelphia). The bouquets are delivered the very same day across Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the following day for addresses on the East Coast.
Avoiding Disappointment on Delivery
“One of the things that makes our company unique is that we deliver premium bouquets in water and in less than 24 hours,” says Louis Brunet, a former ﬁnancial analyst at Natixis and the co-founder of Ode à la Rose along with Olivier Plusquellec. Another feature that sets them apart is that every client receives a photo of their bouquet before it is dispatched, which helps to avoid nasty surprises upon delivery.
“Flower delivery is a sector in which there is a lot of disappointment,” says Louis Brunet. “This is even more true in the United States than in France, where there is a long-standing know-how and a tradition of neighborhood ﬂorists. French bouquets are also more understated, with pastel colors, white, green, red, and pink. In the U.S.A., the ﬂower combinations are often quite… unexpected!”
Ode à la Rose plays up to its French side to stand out from the competition. The brand’s mascot is a French bulldog, and each bouquet bears a typically Gallic woman’s name such as Brigitte, Louise, Catherine, Audrey, and Joséphine. What’s more, all delivery boxes feature notes in Frenglish: “Flowers à la parisienne” and “Please handle with amour.”
The Valentine’s Day Rush
In a testament to its success, Ode à la Rose delivered more than 3,000 bouquets for Valentine’s Day last year. The celebration is the company’s best-selling day along with Mother’s Day in May, International Women’s Day in March, and Administrative Professionals Day in April. In preparation for February 14, a wildly popular romantic date in the United States, the French duo recently moved their workshop and packing line to a 5,400-sq.-ft. warehouse in Long Island City. Six refrigerated trucks, thirty ﬂorists, and over a hundred delivery men and women on foot and bikes will head up the operation this year.
However, not all bouquets are actually delivered on Valentine’s Day. “In an effort to stagger deliveries, we offered discounts to clients who received their ﬂowers one or two days before,” says Louis Brunet. “But that did not stop us from delivering 2,000 bouquets across Manhattan on the big day. Latecomers were still ordering ﬂowers on our website at 3 p.m., which would be impossible with a traditional ﬂorist.”
Taking Things to the Next Level
Partly ﬁnanced by Aquarelle, the European leader in ﬂower delivery, Ode à la Rose is backed by the French group’s online sales platform and logistical expertise. This support has enabled the two French entrepreneurs to expand their services. New workshops and ofﬁces opened in Philadelphia in January, and more fill follow in Boston, Washington D.C. and Florida before the end of 2020.
Aside from bouquets for individual and corporate clients, Ode à la Rose is also looking to offer ﬂower sculptures and arches for ceremonies, galas, and weddings. In July, the brand acquired a company specialized in ﬂoral events. “We already create bouquets for brides, as well as ornaments and table centerpieces,” says Louis Brunet. “And we will soon be able to organize weddings with 100,000 dollars of ﬂowers!”
Article published in the August 2019 issue of France-Amérique.