In 2004, my mother, Jan Slater, and I (Sarah Rose Bloom), founded Australia’s first rose petal farm, Simply Rose Petals. Mum had grown cut-flower roses commercially for over 20 years (with my help 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 my rural hometown of Swan Hill.
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 at Australia's largest bridal expo.
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!
From the banks of the mighty Murray River, we grow over 6,000 rose plants 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 to 2 tonne each, our stainless steel 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!
One of our most exciting partnerships today is with Foodbank. For every packet of edible flowers you purchase, one meal is being donated to a person in need. We have an ambitious goal of donating one meal to every person in need in Australia every year - approximately 116,000 of edible flowers must be sold every year to reach our goal.
But the real highlight of every day is the fact that I get to work with my Mum, day in and day out. Our business is truly a family affair. It’s not uncommon to see my Dad, Brian, helping with the drip irrigation or my Nanna who's in her nineties hand-picking rose 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! And our border collie, Belle, is the chief entertainer, constantly asking for her toys to be thrown. 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, winning the 2018 Prime Super Agricultural Innovation Award at the Victorian Regional Achievement and Community Awards as well as the Inside Small Business Top 50 Australian Small Business Leaders.
Our commitment to service excellence and quality has been rewarded by winning many highly sought after Australian Bridal Industry Awards. We have won the award for Special Services to the Australian Bridal Industry 13 times at the State Awards, culminating in winning the 2018 National Designer of Dreams for the #1 in Australia at the Australian Bridal Industry Awards.
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 Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award for an Australian Business Woman Under 40, Australian Rural Leadership Program, Churchill Fellowship, Nuffield Farming Scholarship, 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.
Whilst we've had some very high profile customers and seen our rose petals on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Dancing With The Stars, Nine News, Landline, Big Brother and Fox Footy, what makes every day truly worthwhile is the feedback we get from our every customers, particularly our beautiful brides who have captured their dream wedding photo with our rose petal confetti.
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.