Meet PE Finalist Jennifer Grove, Founder & CEO of Repeat Roses

We sat down with #PEIntensive17 finalist Jennifer Grove, Founder & CEO of Repeat Roses, a sustainable floral waste removal business that gives back to people and the planet. Jennifer discusses the motivation behind her entrepreneurial endeavor, the challenges she’s faced along the way, and how her mission to repurpose flowers makes a positive social and environmental impact.

Tell us about your company.
A beautiful solution to an ugly greenhouse gas and climate change problem, Repeat Roses takes the ordinary business of disposing floral waste and transforms it into an exceptional emotionally engaging experience benefitting the social good and the environment.

Repeat Roses collects flowers at the immediate conclusion of weddings and events as well as unsold floral inventory from the wholesale and distribution level. Flowers are restyled into petite arrangements and within hours, delivered to the best-suited non-profit organizations in the local community to provide an emotional health boost to our nation’s elderly, ill and those without shelter. Typical destinations include hospitals, hospice care, nursing home, cancer care, homeless shelter and domestic abuse facilities. Once the flowers have been twice-enjoyed, the flowers are reclaimed for composting and the containers are recycled.

The zero-waste service not only diverts significant volume from winding up in a landfill where it would otherwise convert into greenhouse gases, it creates a unique value-add, corporate social responsibility and tax credit opportunity for businesses and private clients in the hospitality, wholesale cut flower, and wedding and event industries.

What is the mission of your company and what is it attempting to change in the world?
The Repeat Roses mission is to make every floral occasion a valuable contribution to People and Planet by reimagining the existing flower-to-landfill pipeline.

More than 1 Billion pounds of healthy fresh cut flowers wind up being thrown out in the garbage—and ultimately in the landfill—every year. Organic waste that is buried in a landfill cannot decompose quickly. Instead, it emits environmentally harmful methane (CH4) gas.

Repeat Roses is committed to reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) that negatively impact the atmospheric climate system. We are the only flower removal and repurposing service providing a comprehensive floral waste solution for leading hotel and venue partners to meet new sanitation legislation, composting regulations and United Nations SDGs through our thoughtful disposal process.

By maximizing the viability and sharing the joy of such stunning flowers with those in the community who will benefit most, it’s the social impact icing on the cake. It makes waste removal a much more beautiful and purpose-driven storytelling opportunity.

Where does your passion for this business stem from?
Before launching Repeat Roses, I owned a high-end boutique wedding and event design company. I planned everything from underground dining events to philanthropic fundraisers to elaborate weddings and collaborated closely with clients and florists to turn the “Big Day” dreams into reality. This typically involved thousands and thousands of gorgeous flowers.

Over time, I grew frustrated with what I saw as misguided misuse. Time, talent and resources were spent designing dazzling centerpieces of beautifully groomed blooms which were then simply disposed of at the end of the day. When I recognized this heartbreaking insight was actually an opportunity to change the status quo, I launched Repeat Roses.

When did you know you had a good idea on your hands?
I knew we were going to be able to make a measurable difference around the world when I received the same feedback from all of our front line florists, planners and hotels: “Thank goodness someone is doing something about this problem.”  Hearing this from the industry talent and execs who see the vast behind-the-scenes waste volume after every event and vowed to help get our service in front of their clients not only validated the model but it personally meant the world to me.

With a clear value proposition and this type of endorsement at every level in every channel, I knew I could dream big and do something innovative and meaningful about a large-scale, ugly waste problem.

What has been the most difficult thing you’ve faced on this journey so far and what’s been the greatest reward?
The most difficult challenge as a social entrepreneur is combatting apathy. It’s easier for people to throw things in the garbage and simply not think about the waste their single event creates. No one gets engaged and immediately thinks about how they’re going to deal with the garbage generated at their wedding reception. Newly engaged couples think about the ring, the dress, the hotel, and the honeymoon. I’m on a mission to inspire brides in particular to think about repurposing their flowers to spread the joy of this major life event into the community and create a ripple effect from all the love. It’s an amazing opportunity to set a precedent for more acts of kindness in a marriage while also including an eco-responsible element in the wedding.

The challenge has created the greatest reward—we’re breaking the mold and inspiring more people to think about “garbage” in a new light. There are 2.3M weddings every year in the US alone—when I think about the good we can do and the waste we can divert, it’s the fuel that drives our company’s Triple Bottom Line goals. We’re on a mission to make an immediate positive impact every single day in terms of Social Responsibility, Environmental Protection and Economic Prosperity.

What has motivated you most throughout your entrepreneurship journey?
A personal sense of purpose, the desire to leave a legacy for my daughter and winning the support of industry leaders I admire to help Repeat Roses change the status quo and elevate communities around the world.

What words of wisdom would you share with other new entrepreneurs?
You’re the one taking the risk that will activate and inspire change—go for it. Despite good intentions, there are going to be a lot of people offering you advice and taking up your time, pulling you in different directions and telling you “no.” Don’t let too many cooks in the kitchen stress you out, distract you from executing your vision or prevent you from dreaming big, lofty, bold new ideas.

Learn more about Repeat Roses in this video.