BLOGS

Chapter Zero, The Preface

John Pouw - a founding father of today's rose world and a novel in the making, from an old boys' industry to a competitive business.

By: JOHN POUW | 01-11-2019 | 4 min read
Books
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‘… and on the seventh day, relaxing in the ozone filtered sunlight, feet in the crystal blue ocean, Jesus’ nikes by his side, He set mankind a challenge by creating some rosebushes. For thousands of years we have worshipped the flowers, only to be disappointed.

“O, my Luve's like a red, red rose, / That's newly sprung in June”: temptation in optima forma, but wilting after a few days. A loveless one-night stand.

Expensive and falling apart shortly after Valentine’s, rather than making a lasting impression. “Thanks for the flowers, Fred, do you want to come in for a night cap?” Later, Fred banging at the door after having been kicked out.

“Hi Fred, it’s Wilma again, I just came walking in after spending the week at my mum’s. Fred, your roses, they’re still fantastic! Why don’t you come and have a look? I’ll change into something more suitable in the meantime.”

The ultimate dream.

The time has come to make the dream come true. To show the Creator that, although it has taken a while, His humble creations have met His challenge. The perfect velvet red rose that opens and lasts for a guaranteed 14 days.

This rose is a Renaissance invention, completed in the transition period of the unique old boys’ world of rose breeding into ruthless price competition, infringements of rights, fraud and bankruptcy of old family businesses. Creativity struggling with money. Some weird old breeder goes under in this struggle, but leaves a secret rose seedling, a code, the embodiment of ultimate beauty. Strangely, there is little fiction in the story. The rose is the proof.

So far, roses have been unreliable. The complicated supply chain and inward focus of the industry has prevented any serious attempt at establishing a consumer brand. This velvet rose has supreme intrinsic qualities which, in a controlled supply chain find their way into the consumer’s vase and his life through the gradual revelation of mysterious beauty.

No Guts, No Glory. No Rose, No Story.’

In the middle of the night I wrote this email to [email protected], after having read an article on them in a magazine. I had been looking for expert help to develop the first professional horticultural consumer brand. Earlier, an American agency informed me of their starting fee of US $ 20,000 for a first meeting. KoenKraam, the article said, was set up by two friends, worked out of an old church in Amsterdam, won all kinds of advertising prizes, but also allowed for new projects in which they could experiment and learn from.

The next morning, at 08.30 a.m. I was called by the secretary of the GM of KoenKramer, to make an appointment for an interview with her boss.

A year earlier, ten years and three jobs after quitting Witte de Wit, one afternoon, I picked up the mail from the letterbox in front of our house. One envelop caught my attention, because the address was handwritten, difficult to read. It contained nothing but a handful of little seeds. Every spring, for the last few years, my little girl was sowing the seeds that she collected in the previous year and at the end of winter would attempt to force in her little plastic containers from the takeaway Chinese. Despite the mess, for me this was a source of great joy and pride. I put the envelop with her dolls. She would be happy to find it there at some point.

Later that week, on one of my iPodded, bi-daily evening walks I noticed a cardboard billboard on a lantern post, announcing a special evening for those entrepreneurs that had ‘just gone bankrupt, feared bankruptcy, were in financial problems’ or ‘wished to orientate in different industries’. A way of life was collapsing for real now. A few kilometers later, on the outskirts of the Boskoop polder, on a small dike with shrub nurseries with the occasional ‘for sale’ on one side and lower, de-turfed meadows on the other, Bette Midler suddenly made things fully clear: tradition, the seeds, the handwriting, the Chinese.

In the winter far beneath the bitter snow
lies the seed that with the sun’s warmth
in the spring becomes the rose….

Chapter One, Coming Out
John Pouw

Rosa’s Secret is the result of (1) a promise to my Canadian buddy, Burke ‘Bruno’ Cullen. We share the love of myth, beauty and Stroh-inspired story-telling. And (2) my grandfather Jan Pouw, who set up his own flower growing business a hundred years ago and who taught me never to give up on a dream, work hard and discover and tap your talents. Today, I divide my professional time between teaching and developing Viking Roses.

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