Repeat Roses Founder Jennifer Grove and Jenna kick off discussing her team’s remarkable work repurposing event flowers, delivering them to places like homeless shelters and hospice centers, and then returning to compost them. More importantly, we cover the new precedent the company is setting for businesses to focus on triple bottom line goals: Making an impact in the realm of social responsibility, environmental protection and economic prosperity.
Beginning in Jennifer’s college years, we walk through her most formative experiences, from the moment she knew she wasn’t going back to Villanova to deciding to move to the mountains despite a rising career in NYC, working 24-7 to start one of the early e-commerce fashion businesses, while also having a newborn, and her journey at Repeat Roses. Jennifer opens up about the personal growth that accompanied each of these experiences, how she stays present through self-assessment, and her parents’ extraordinary support in achieving her dreams.
Highlights from the Transcript
- On following her gut: “My dad and I packed up my dorm room at Villanova and when I shut the trunk of the car and I knew that I wasn’t going back. My heart belonged in New York and I was going to figure out a way to get there. I had a great freshman year but I couldn’t do four years of college. I just knew I needed to be there. I had an internship at Donna Karan before I was even accepted to FIT but that was fine with me. I was fortunate to get accepted and did both in conjunction. I graduated with two degrees at the top of my class. I knew that if you are driven to figure out what makes you happy and what your purpose is, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t part of some grand plan.”
- On moving to the mountains: “My career was going really well but I recognized that working a lot meant I wasn’t outdoors a lot and if I was going to continue on that path – get promoted, get married, buy a house, have kids – I was never going to have a crazy and wild adventure. So, I thought: Now would be the time to go live in the mountains. I moved out West and I’m so happy I did. It gave me a different perspective on lifestyle.”
- On launching one of the early e-commerce boutiques: “Opening up the e-commerce business was a game-changer for me because it forced me to teach myself a lot of skills. I learned how to do everything from code to buy a new inventory, pack and ship, navigate online fraud and be customer service 24-7. It was pivotal in terms of customer relationship building.”
- On family: “My parents would come up on weekends and help with babysitting, cooking, cleaning, packing, shipping and trips to the post office. During that time, if something was featured in a magazine you sold out really quickly and had to do reorders right away. We would have boxes packed to the ceiling and my dad would make multiple trips to the post office. It was 24-7 and made me realize how lucky I am to have really great parents… When I was trying to build the model for Repeat Roses, I had to be out in the field so I could understand every detail of the job. I couldn’t leave my daughter at home so my parents would come and watch her. There was a night in New York where there were a couple of bombings. We had a huge wedding that same night. I had staff lined up but I didn’t want them coming into the city. Because my parents were here to babysit my dad hopped in the van with me and we went and worked an event that should have been done by a 5-person crew but we did it together. We packed the van and with the help of my mom the next day did all of the floral design and deliveries. We keep rolling. It’s great to know that you have loyal people in your life who stand up and help, know that you have a bigger mission, and will do whatever it takes to get you where you need to go.”
- On learning to ask for help: “I know from my personal growth experience that I need to ask for help when things aren’t going to get done on time or they require a skillset that I don’t have. As an engineer, my dad can pick, pack and stack better than anyone else. My mom, while not a professional floral designer, can look at 45 centerpieces and create a recipe to repurpose them into 300 new arrangements. There are things that I know I can go to them for and that inspires me to take that knowledge and help other people. I look to my team and I know that I can go to each of them to help me and that they’re going to ask me for help too. That’s just how we work. It’s all about attracting the right people in your life.”
- On living the process: “…Understanding that if I am going to work this hard I better be enjoying it. As I’m going through this journey it’s about the people I’m spending time with and making sure they share this common mission with me. As our business changes and grows, I am also growing as a person and a CEO. I have to stay true to this mission and make sure that we are all on the same page.”
- On self-assessment: “Self-Assessment is really hard. You have to pay attention to the fact that life can be emotional. You can make mistakes. There are friendships and loyalties at stake. You have finances and your bottom line. There is so much going on. When you make a mistake, it’s hard to admit it but you have to acknowledge it and figure out what to do so you can move on. Acknowledging it, assessing and understanding it and dealing with it is a skill I have had to learn and hone over the years. No matter how many books or people you talk to you just have to make yourself do it. Its definitely a skill.”
- On routine: “I keep a routine so I can keep my mental sanity, emotional wellbeing, stay well adjusted and always make time for my daughter. There are new challenges every day and I make mistakes every day but I have hopefully figured out how to not make the same one again so I can pay attention to the things that absolutely have to get done when I’m teaching myself something new, dealing with an unexpected challenge, or needing to make decisions quickly.”
- On scheduling time for yourself every day: “As much as I enjoy every single minute and I wouldn’t have it any other way, the past couple of months I’ve really had to say to myself: I can’t go on vacation right now because the business is experiencing pivotal growth but what can I do for myself every day? How do I carve out time for myself? For me, its sticking to my routine: Waking up at 4:30 to work out and making sure I leave the office between 6 – 7 so I can get home and have dinner with my daughter. Making sure that I am uncompromising when it comes to my health and time with my daughter has given me space that I know is mine. Whether it’s 20, 45 or 60 minutes my workout is my time to clear my headspace and its for everyone’s best interest around me that I do that. Sometimes 20 minutes is all I have but I make sure I get that 20 minutes in every day Monday through Friday. It helps me get in a better frame of mind to be a better parent, daughter, friend, and leader. Everyone can make 20 minutes. Everyone around me respects that and knows that I would do the same for them. Its been life-altering doing that the past couple of months.”