Written by Sarah Sammon, Co-Founding Director
How We Started
In mid 2004, my mother, Jan Slater, and I, founded Australia’s first rose petal farm, Simply Rose Petals. Mum had grown cut-flower roses commercially for over 20 years (with help from me when I was a kid) until Mum’s brother was tragically killed in a plane crash. At the time I had been travelling the world for 3 years ski instructing after completing my uni degree.
Mum was keen to bring the farm back to its glory days and my English ski instructor boyfriend had taken off with my friend. I was finally ready to return home, but my science degree didn’t offer many career options in the small country town of Swan Hill.
So we started growing cut-flower roses, until one day I was surfing the net when I spotted a budding new industry overseas selling rose petals for weddings. I was captivated by the stunning photos of brides being showered in beautiful rose petals... so much more romantic than paper confetti!
Mum’s horticultural expertise became invaluable in trialling hundreds of rose varieties to find those which dried well, and I set about designing the packaging and marketing, uncovering where my real talent and passion lay at the same time.
At this point, no-one in Australia even knew that rose petals could be used at weddings... let alone what our unique confetti cones and rose petal cannons were for!
In May 2005 we became a fully Accredited Australian Bridal Service Business and later that month we exhibited Australia’s first range of dried rose petals, petal cones and rose petal cannons.
Today our rose petal farm is the largest in the southern hemisphere... and possibly the world. If we can’t match a colour theme, then it’s highly likely that no-one can!
What We Do
From the banks of the mighty Murray River, we grow thousands of rose plants. They are all grown exclusively for rose petals. From spring through to autumn, our paddocks are ablaze with colourful roses which must be picked daily.
The delicate petals are removed by hand and loaded into one of our huge commercial freeze dryers. Weighing over 1.5 tonne each, these freeze dryers are really impressive units.
Inside the freeze dryers, the petals are frozen and then gradually brought back up to room temperature whilst under vacuum. This removes the moisture from the rose petals. The whole drying process takes up to 2 weeks and ensures that the petals don’t shrivel up or change colour when they’re dried.
Everything is done here on the farm... from growing petals, packaging and sending orders. In fact, you’ll often speak directly with me when you phone our 1300 number!
I’m so lucky to work with my Mum every day. As with most family businesses, it really is a family effort here! It’s not uncommon to see my Dad, Brian, helping with the drip irrigation; my husband, Richard, servicing our solar pump and fitting new data points in the office; or my Nanna, Fay, and my step-son, Max hand-picking petals from hundreds of stems.
Even my labrador dog Coco is a pest control expert as she’s extremely talented at ferreting rabbits out from behind the rose bushes! Growing rose petals is not a bad life, is it!?!
We are always excited to win awards that recognise the achievements and dedication of our team at Simply Rose Petals. Our innovative products have been recognised by many prestigious awards including state finalist in the Telstra Business Awards. Also our commitment to service excellence has been rewarded by winning many highly sought after Australian Bridal Industry Awards. We have won the award for Special Services to the Bridal Industry for 3 times in Victoria, and once in South Australia and once in Western Australia. We have also been a Runner-Up in New South Wales and Queensland.
As co-Founder of Simply Rose Petals, I have been fortunate to receive many awards and fellowships which have helped develop my leadership skills and industry knowledge. Some of these include the Australian Rural Leadership Program, Churchill Fellowship , Telstra Business Women’s Awards, Smart Company 30 Under 30 Awards, Australian Anthill Top 30 under 30 Entrepreneurs and the Australian Government Corporate Governance Scholarship.
What Our Customers Say
I’ve attached a photo from our wedding day featuring your rose petals.
I was really impressed with the quality of the products and your service. Thanks for helping to make our day special.
Adam and Benita.”
Benita and Adam Bensch, NSW.
Thank you so much for your wonderful service throughout the process of ordering and selecting my wedding petals. Having a nautical themed wedding limited the colour choices of petals I could select (or so I thought), until I saw your wonderful blue/green petals. Ideal for my colour scheme.
From my first enquiry I was amazed by the promptness and friendliness you offered. I hope your business continues to grow as well as your petals!
Lee Sharman, WA.