A Disastrous Valentine's Day Inspired This Founder to Launch Her Own Floral Brand. It Became a Celebrity Magnet With Retail Revenue Up 450% Since 2019.
Seema Bansal Chadha and Sunny Chadha, co-founders of Venus et Fleur, saw a massive opportunity in the market.
For the occasion, Chadha ordered a bouquet to be delivered to Bansal Chadha — a decision that would ultimately catapult them to long-term romantic and business relationship status.
But not for the reason you might expect: The flowers weren't impressive. In fact, they bore little resemblance to what Chadha had actually purchased.
"He'd done a ton of research and worked with one of those websites that would broker out floral arrangements that you'd see on the site, and it goes out to a bunch of florists," Bansal Chadha tells Entrepreneur. "What I received was not what he ordered, so he was extremely disappointed with the experience."
Both Bansal Chadha and Chadha come from entrepreneurial families, so it wasn't long before the "lightbulb went off." The duo saw a massive opportunity in the market: to create their own product and brand within the floral industry.
Inspired by Parisian floral design, which often presents flower bouquets in decorative hat boxes, Bansal and Chadha set out to build a global brand that would give its customers a consistent experience every time, naming it "Venus et Fleur."
To truly control for quality, the co-founders had to figure out how to preserve their arrangements. So they teamed up with a farm in Ecuador, a partnership that continues to this day — and had samples of their regular classic roses within six weeks.
Venus et Fleur's Eternity Flowers set the company apart from others selling arrangements that last a week at best. Although the brand's blooms are 100% real and grown in various countries around the world, they undergo a special treatment once they reach the U.S. A non-toxic solution strips them of their natural color before they're treated with non-allergenic wax and natural oils, essentially dehyrdating them so they can be re-dyed and last a full year — no water required.
When Valentine's Day rolled around the following year, Bansal Chadha and Chadha made a strategic move that would turn their company into a celebrity magnet, teaching them valuable lessons along the way and fueling major growth.
"We really didn't think anything was going to happen. We just wanted to get the products into their hands."
Understanding just how much the world of social media marketing can sway a brand's success, Bansal Chadha and Chadha decided to send their flowers to those who might be considered the most influential influencers of all: the Kardashians.
"We really didn't think anything was going to happen," Bansal Chadha says. "We just wanted to get the products into their hands."
But something did happen. Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian posted Venus et Fleur's arrangements on Instagram, and massive demand followed immediately.
Unfortunately, the combination of Kardashian publicity and Valentine's Day buzz was too much for the young brand to handle at the time.
"We hadn't projected very well. We just bought what we thought we could sell, and we clearly sold out right away — we had no merchandise," Bansal Chadha says, calling the mishap "a tough pill to swallow."
But a steady stream of calls, emails and Instagram messages continued despite the hiccup, which helped Venus et Fleur keep up its momentum and eventually draw even more celebrity attention from the likes of Drake, Oprah, Heidi Klum and more.
"Because we have to [manufacture the product], we have to a have a lot of components in-house — because everything is made to order."
Because Venus et Fleur brings in a live product that has to be temperature-controlled, supply-chain issues can be especially difficult to navigate. That's why one of the brand's first major hires was brought in to oversee that area specifically.
"We had to make sure we had enough supplies to create the products that our customers really wanted," Bansal Chadha explains. "And because we have to [manufacture the product], we have to a have a lot of components in-house — because everything is made to order."
It also means projection is critical: Venus et Fleur typically plans for its products eight months in advance, always keeping major holidays for the industry, like Valentine's Day, in mind.
One thing Bansal Chadha wishes she and her husband might have known sooner? Just how important data analysis truly is when it comes to product planning and manufacturing.
"Sunny and I did not have a lot of experience analyzing data," Bansal says. "And if we had, [it] would have informed our decisions for products, marketing and website layout, and [deepened our knowledge of] customer behavior. If we'd really understood the data, we would have made better decisions."
"We understand our business day in and day out. We're in it, making those decisions."
Since 2015, Venus et Fleur has continued to see steady growth across all of its categories. Today, it counts seven retail stores in the U.S. The company has grown 97% since 2019 and created a wholesale division with retail revenue up 450% in that same period.
Bansal Chadha chalks some of that success up to the bootstrap mentality the brand has had from the start.
"We never took out any outside funding," she says. "We're cautious and methodical about any partnerships that we do bring within the company because when you do take on investment, you relinquish control. We've been able to be successful because we have our hands on the pulse. We understand our business day in and day out. We're in it, making those decisions."
Bansal Chadha also has some words of wisdom for entrepreneurs ready to start their own ventures.
"Don't try to be amazing at everything," Bansal Chadha says. "Bring in experts that are good at the things that you aren't so that you can grow and focus on the areas that you can excel at and make sure you're constantly learning. [Be] open to taking criticism — and don't try to be the hero of everything."
"As an entrepreneur, [we sometimes think] we can do it all," she continues. "And you definitely can, but you will burn out at some point, and maybe your growth won't be as quick as you may have hoped."