In Bustle’s Quick Question, we ask women leaders all about advice. Here, Venus Et Fleur founder Seema Chadha discusses how she launched her business and took the leap from leaving her safety net.
After her boyfriend of two months went all-out to surprise her with a gorgeous flower arrangement on their first Valentine’s Day in 2015, the delivery that showed up on Seema Bansal Chadha’s doorstep didn’t exactly wow her. She showed her now-husband Sunny Chadha the flowers she received, and they quickly realized that it didn’t look anything like the arrangement he chose when he placed the order.
When she saw that most of the reviews left on floral delivery websites all complained about the same issue, Chadha and her husband knew they had something on their hands. “It sparked an idea to create a service that looked exactly like it did online,” Chadha, the now co-founder of floral delivery brand Venus Et Fleur, tells Bustle. “[We wanted it to be] shipped everywhere, and be received the way that you perceive it to come.” Soon after, in November 2015, Venus Et Fleur was born and launched without any outside help from investors.
Before that, Chadha had a pretty secure life working with her family’s plumbing and lighting business as the purchasing manager. But she knew there was something more out there for her. “Things happened really fast,'' the 31-year-old says. “[Before November], I moved to New York to be with this guy I had just started dating, started a business, put my life savings on the line, left my family and my family business, took a lot of risks, moved into a midtown apartment. I did all the things that you’re kind of like, ‘OMG, this is a trainwreck waiting to happen,’ but I don’t know, it felt really right and we went for it.”
Now, seven years after the company launched, Venus et Fleur is continuing to grow and expand in different floral categories (besides its signature rose offering). “We have dried florals that will be coming and a ton of new floral species we’re launching this year,” says Chadha. Below, learn how she launched a first-of-its-kind business that’s become the go-to flower delivery service for celebrity clients.
Tell me about launching your business with your husband.
I have more of a background in marketing, product development, and creativity, and Sunny is really well-versed in the operations side, so we were kind of like, OK you handle this side, and I’ll handle this side. I was looking into manufacturing and working on the product and he was looking into setting up the operations, figuring out which florals we were using, the supply chain aspect of everything, along with how much money we had and how long would that last us. It was great because we both had expertise in different areas and were stuck in our own lanes.
Venus Et Fleur is known for the Eternity™ flowers that last for a year without water or sunlight. How did that idea spark and how did you even learn that was possible?
We first started with five- to seven-day-lasting Ecuadorian roses, through the New York flower district. So we were buying through a vendor. We ended up having a lot of questions about how our flowers were grown and how to make them last longer. We ended up getting in touch with the farm directly and made a trip to Ecuador to visit them. They had biochemists in-house (we still work with this farm to this day) and they were working on a preservation process. Together we worked on how we can make the product incredible; it was good but it wasn’t amazing. We worked with them on making the petals softer, keeping the texture, and shape, and also keeping its scent.
Your celebrity clients include Justin Bieber, Drake, the Hadid sisters, and so many more. Who was your first celeb client?
The first two were Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian on [the company’s] first Valentine’s Day in 2016. We sent their team flowers and never in a million years did we think they were gonna share them online. We thought it would be so cool if they saw our flowers — and then the website was fully sold out, it wasn’t even clickable. When they posted, our followers skyrocketed, the emails were pouring in, our phone kept ringing, and it was just really surreal.
You must have a lot of meetings throughout your day. How do you pump yourself up before you have to present?
I'm a big believer in meditation. I journal every day, but especially during a big presentation or anything that’s nerve-wracking for me, I like to do affirmations. I go in front of my mirror and repeat those manifestations or affirmations. The one I say the most is, ‘The best is yet to come.’ I also like to ask myself, ‘Why not me? Why can’t I do this?’ I think sometimes I have imposter syndrome and that I don't think I deserve certain things. I have to go back to myself and ask those questions. It helps me get grounded and in a really good ground space before I present.
What's the best piece of career advice you've received?
When I was starting out, one of our advisers told us not to try to be amazing at everything; bring in folks that are incredible at those things. Make sure you’re constantly learning and don’t try to be the hero of everything. Bring in people, trust them, and allow them to grow.
What's the worst piece of advice you've ever received?
In the very beginning, people would say, ‘Don’t do things until they’re absolutely perfect.’ Business is about learning and trial and error, and I wouldn’t have learned valuable lessons unless I tried out different things. Don't aim for perfection; try to put all the blocks together and make sure that you have a plan in place, but you do have to remember that things won’t always be perfect.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.