Flowers by the boxful
When Priya Jelly opened her floral boutique, she wanted to set it apart by lending a touch of Parisienne elegance.
Maison des Fleurs, a home-grown, boutique florist, was opened three years ago in Jumeirah Beach Road by Founder Priya Jelly. She came up with the idea while she was working with the family business, Platinum Events, and she realised how much was being spent outsourcing flowers for events and weddings.
Maison des Fleurs offers a variety of flowers: fresh flowers, which last about three days and orchids which last about a month, long-life roses which last just over a year and silk roses that work best when flowers are required for an outdoor event or a photoshoot over a number of days. They last indefinitely with the proper care and are also well-suited to the climate of the Middle East.
“Long-life roses are treated with olive oil and harmless chemicals on our farm in Ecuador. Provided they do not come into contact with water, direct sunlight, or humidity they will last over a year. The nice thing about long-life roses is that they come in natural colours, or exotic colours such as green, blue, or black,” said Jelly.
When she decided to operate in retail, she wanted to offer something different, and was not interested in opening an already established brand in Dubai. Because Paris is one of her favourite cities and a source of inspiration, she looked into the availability of bouquets in boxes, which she discovered was not offered here. The first two boxes in her range were square and round and part of the classic black collection.
“Apart from the black collection, which is always available, we offer two other limited edition boxes: the white collection for Christmas and the ‘From Paris with love’ collection for Valentine’s Day, which feature images from Paris. I wanted to keep the boxes specifically for those occasions because residents in Dubai are spoiled for choice. Once they are given a choice, they want to know what will be available next. Transparent acrylic boxes are available to customers looking for a different way to display their flowers,” she said.
In the summer of 2016, just before Ramadan, Jelly opened her flagship store in Dubai Design District (d3) because she didn’t want it to be in a mall, and she wanted to make sure the location suited the brand, which she described as “funky and trendy”. There are also many SMEs and home-grown brands in d3, so Jelly felt it was the right space for Masion des Fleurs.
Jelly attributed the steady growth of the business to two factors. The first is providing great customer service to ensure repeat business; she said she would rather have five happy customers than 50 customers and 20 complaints.
The second factor is the brand’s viral popularity on social media, which she says is the perfect tool for SMEs without an advertising budget. When she posted images to Instagram, she would get a call from a potential client with an inquiry or an order. Soon certain Hollywood celebrities and international magazines started posting images that she had not sent them.
“We started to see Maison des Fleurs Instagram accounts opening in different parts of the world, and they were using all our images and logos. I had registered the trademark throughout the GCC before we opened, so in the beginning it was upsetting to see people copying our products. Then I decided not to care and just focus on what we are doing. People can copy our images or even our boxes, but they cannot copy our creativity,” she said.
br /> Maison des Fleurs has been growing consistently, and Jelly said to date, 2016 has been their best year. She is starting to franchise the business and opened her first franchise boutique in Bahrain on 1 October this year, in partnership with Noor Enterprises. She has signed an agreement to open a boutique in Qatar in early 2017 and is currently in talks to franchise in Saudi Arabia as well. She added that she wants to make sure that she gives the franchise to the right partners, saying that they do not have to be florists, but they must have a passion for the brand.