Episode 110 - Organic Goods and Flowers in Marketplace with Organic Style
Sean Daily, Green Living Ideas’ Editor-in-Chief, talks with Gerald Prolman, CEO of Organic Style, about organic flowers, the development of Organic Bouquet, and the evolution of organic goods online and within the corporate marketplace. Click here for Organic Style Magazine!
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Sean Daily: Hi, and welcome to Green Talk a podcast series from greenlivingideas.com. Green Talk helps their listeners in their efforts to lead more eco-friendly lifestyles through interviews with top vendors, authors and experts from around the world. We discuss the critical issues facing the global environment today as well as the technologies, products, and practices that you can employ to go greener in every area of your life.
Sean Daily: Hey everybody, this is Sean Daily with Green Talk Radio and GreenLivingIdeas.com brought to you both by GreenLivingIdeas.com and Personal Life Media. And today’s program is going to be on the topic of online organic goods shopping and organic flowers. And, my guest today to be talking to me about that is Gerald Prolman who is the CEO of Organic Style. Gerald welcome to the program.
Gerald Prolman: Thank you Sean, I appreciate being on your show.
Sean Daily: Well, yeah it’s a pleasure to have you. It’s interesting, I know that you guys started-- Well, it’s interesting I always ask guests to tell me their story because I like to start with the story of why you’re here, why you’re doing what you’re doing. I was particularly intrigued by a press release that went out. I’m going to give the intro line to the story and I’m going to let you fill in the rest because I thought-- I found this fascinating because I have two loves, one is all things French and then jazz. So here’s the story, so “when Gerald Prolman fell head-over-heels in love with French jazz singer Raquel Bitton he used magnificent floral bouquets to win her heart. He went on to create something entirely unexpected: an eco-floral revolution worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” So, you’ve got to tell us that story.
Gerald Prolman: [laughs] Ok, alright, well, it’s a true love story. Let’s see, where shall I begin? Ok so--.
Sean Daily: Well, you don’t have to give us intimate details! [laughs] That’s not really what I’m fishing for here, but just kind of how that led you to be in the business you’re in…
Gerald Prolman: It was kind of funny, it was just a story I told to somebody and all of a sudden it ended up in a press release and it went out on a wire. And--.
Sean Daily: Ah, um-hmm, you’re whole life exposed.
Gerald Prolman: [laughs] Yeah.
Sean Daily: Be careful what you tell the PR people
Gerald Prolman: Yeah so I used to be in a very different business, the food business when I was a young guy. Not that I’m still not a young guy. And I had meet this lovely woman by the name of Raquel Bittot and I was courting her and--and uh so I thought well-- I was just thinking, and I was really interested to pursue her. And, I was thinking up every possible way I could get her attention, and so I was thinking, OK flowers it would be a good thing to do! [laughs]
Sean Daily: Uh-huh
Gerald Prolman: And so after work everyday, I lived in the city, in San Francisco, and I would go to this floral shop, it was called Keio’s on Fillmore St., and I would try to put together a bouquet. I didn’t really know anything about floral arranging or making, but I was very much in love and quite a fanatic about trying to make sure all the flowers were perfect and they looked really good together. I probably tore up this poor lady’s floral shop every time I came in and…
Sean Daily: [laughs]
Gerald Prolman: And, then I’d made something that looked horrible then I’d put it back and I was making quite a mess. So, this woman came up, actually her name was Keio, and I think probably just to save her store, started to show me how to-- what I should be doing. And… [Laughs]
Sean Daily: Gave you some on-site training as it were.
Gerald Prolman: Yeah, and after a long day at the job I had, I was actually having fun doing this and it became a ritual. Every couple days I would be in that shop, going through all the flowers and we ended up making these spectacular bouqu-oh, she did- she made these spectacular bouquets. And I had this thought to myself: What a nice Job! I just secretly told myself that I wouldn’t mind doing this for a living.” But, I never, in a million years, imagined that I would be in the midst of a field of flowers of twenty million stems of roses doing this for a living, but--.
Sean Daily: [Laughs] Yeah. Well, what--.
Gerald Prolman: I remember I had that thought at that time. And, well, it certainly worked because I brought Raquel those beautiful bouquets every couple days and, ultimately, we got married and now it’s almost twenty—well, it’s more than twenty-two years later--.
Sean Daily: Wow.
Gerald Prolman: Two kids later, and she still gets flowers from me every few days!
Sean Dailey: That’s great-- that’s a great story. Well, I’m curious now, at the time what were you doing as you’re walking into this flower shop being the understudy of this woman?
Gerald Prolman: You mean professionally?
Sean Daily: Yeah. At the time you were doing the--.
Gerald Prolman: I had a specialty food company supplying ingredients to top chefs in the white table cloth restaurants around the country.
Sean Daily: OK. So, now you have this inspiration and this epiphany, and I love the title of that press release to because it said “Revolution Began with Love and Flowers”. So, forward to that what was the-- what sort of happened to you professionally in implementing this company and going forward with it?
Gerald Prolman: Well, I’ve been working in the natural products sector for the past thirty years. Building branded food companies and specifically working in the organic agricultural business sector developing organic ag projects. And, I had one of the early companies in the world of organic produce, back in the day when organic fruits and vegetables were considered to be somewhat funky in terms of their cosmetic appearance. Let’s say an apple only that a organic mother could love.
Sean Daily: [laughs]
Gerald Prolman: And, the name of the last company that I built was called Made in Nature. And it was one of the first organic produce companies that was able to gain acceptance at mass-market retail. And, it was the company known for really helping to change the image of organic produce with traditional supermarket buyers. And during that time I had my hands in the conversions of over twenty-thousand acres to organic production systems, and I did this in, um, a number of countries around the world. Pretty much Mexico, and Central America and, I was always working directly with farmers. I spent a lot of time getting to know them and encouraging them to grow by organic methods. So that’s what I did for a very long time and this gave me quite an opportunity to work with a very diverse group of growers, which included either large agro-businesses, mid-sized family farms, and I also worked with many small, very poor growers in really rural areas of the world. And, during all these experiences I got to know many growers. I was spending a lot of time with them and their families and I was able to see first-hand the positive impact of organic farming and also the social benefits that are associated with paying a fair price for goods. And, my job was also really interesting, well to me personally, because I was fascinated really to discover where products come from and to see the whole process from seed to market. So—but, the situation was at-at that time, again this was in 1989—1990-- early ‘90s, that growers were very willing to go organic but they needed a assurances from the marketplace that would support the costs to convert their farms or really the increased costs associated with small scale agricultural production. And, so I was in this situation where I’m selling to supermarkets and those buyers are used to getting more and paying less.
Sean Daily: Right.
Gerald Prolman: Here I come along, offering what is perceived to be less for more.
Sean daily: umm-hmm
Gerald Prolman: So, I was able to break through this by telling stories about the growers that I met, that I knew, and their families and talking about their commitment to the environment. And in many cases I would bring the growers down to the fa--and would bring the buyers-- I meant to say that again. In many cases, I would bring the buyers down to the farms.
Sean Daily: uh-huh
Gerald Prolman: and they get direct connection then between the buyers and the farmers. And, once this connection was made and the buyers got to know the growers they could see the difference between organic and non-organic production, they seemed to feel they were part of the movement and they lent their support to what is now a multi-billion dollar industry. These are some of the early seeds that were behind the start-up of Organic Bouquet which then became organic style. In 1994 I sold that company, I sold Made in Nature to Dole Food Company. That was a pretty big event in the produce trade at that time because now the largest agro-business on the planet Earth had embraced organics. This served to really legitimize the notion of organic agriculture and had an important role to accelerate the whole movement at that time.
Sean Daily: Now that’s timely because Clorox just bought Burt’s Bees and, this is in the news constantly, with acquisitions of products by companies that are very large corporate conglomerates and purchase these types of lines that have small mom-and-pop type roots. Do think that that brand has been carried on properly by the purchaser, in this case? Can you speak about that?
Gerald Prolman: Well, you know that Dole, surprising to many, is I found to be a really amazing company, a very responsible company and the chairman of the company actually hates agro-chemicals and there’s a quiet internal directive to eradicate them completely throughout their organization. But, they never talk about it and they never talk about the millions of dollars they spend on sustainable agricultural developments. I guess just being a large corporation they just don’t talk about the good deeds that they do.
Sean Daily: umm-hmm
Gerald Prolman: But they bought the company, I ultimately ended up buying it back from them, and then I sold it one more time.
Sean Daily: umm-hmm
Gerald Prolman: And then the company that I sold it to, sold it to another company [laughs]
Sean Daily: Wow, it’s really been around the block a few times…
Gerald Prolman: Yeah, it still lives on. The produce part of it has gone away but the there is still one line that lives on, which is the dried fruit line I introduced. The first packaged un-sulfured, organic, dried fruit. A company bought it and they still sell it into supermarkets and natural food stores around the world.
Sean Daily: So, now, tell us about the foundation the—well, actually, we’re going to take a break and when we come back I’m going to ask you this question about the beginnings of Organic Bouquet. So, we will be right back. We’re talking about all things organic goods, both online and not, with Gerald Prolman who is the CEO of Organic Style at OrganicStyle.com. This is green talk radio, Sean Daily, we’ll be right back.
Sean Daily: And, we are back to green talk radio, this is Sean Daily. I’m talking today on the topic of organic goods and flowers with Gerald Prolman, who is the CEO of Organic Style. Gerald, we were just talking about your previous company, Made in Nature, and I wanted to sort of move forward a little bit to hear about Organic Bouquet, the floral business that we started talking about with that great story you had in the beginning. I’m curious about, now did that start as an online business? Were you bricks and mortar for awhile or did it start online?
Gerald Prolman: No, well the idea for Organic Bouquet, which is the foundation business of Organic Style, was really born from my past experiences. And when I was looking for a new company to build, I was thinking about what I enjoyed most about my career in the past and where I saw a need. At the same time I was learning about the Internet and I thought this was the perfect vehicle, time wise this is around 2000, and I thought this would be the perfect vehicle to make a direct connection between growers and artisans and consumers. And I was thinking that in this way we could really minimize all the excess handling, which included the importers, and the brokers, and the wholesalers, and the distributors, all the people in the middle had become a direct from-farm retailer. That was the idea. And because I was so close to growers it was really just very easy for me to see that the people who did the most amount of work got paid the least amount of money. So, by selling direct from farms I thought we could remove many of the hands in the middle, which would then allow us to pay growers a premium to grow responsibly and at the same time be able to offer really high quality organic products at competitive prices.
Sean Daily: Right.
Gerald Prolman: So, I saw flowers as a category that had been overlooked by the natural products sector. And back at that time there were over a thousand up-scale natural food stores, many with floral departments right in the front. But, most people didn’t make the same organic connection with flowers. People gravitated towards organics very much for personal health concerns over pesticides residues in their foods.
Sean Daily: Yeah. Well, why? Do you think it’s just the disposable nature of it, oh a flower’s a flower no big deal, and its more about on the food side and the personal care products, is that—do you think that’s why, or?
Gerald Prolman: I think that’s where awareness was at the time, but organic is not really about food, surprisingly. Organic is an environmental farming method.
Sean Daily: Right.
Gerald Prolman: The food is a byproduct and it’s all about protecting the Earth, that’s what organic is about. So it doesn’t matter if whether it’s strawberries or cotton or flowers, its all about caring for the Earth and this awareness wasn’t so apparent at that time. But I thought it would, as the market developed, and I could get on a soapbox so to speak—
Sean Daily: umm-hmm
Gerald Prolman: That I get the message out there. What a lot of people don’t know, that many cases, fifty to a thousand times more chemicals that are legally allowed on foods are used on flowers.
Sean Daily: Wow, that’s a lot…
Gerald Prolman: Yeah, and today about seventy percent of all the flowers you see in America are imported.
Sean Daily: Really?
Gerald Prolman: And the only requirement, upon importation, is that they arrive to our borders pest free. So the import laws themselves encourage the use of harsh chemicals.
Sean Daily: Interesting.
Gerald Prolman: And so flowers are just typically grown with many strong chemicals and these chemicals can negatively affect the environment, the farmworkers who are handling the flowers, the wildlife, and ecology. So I thought there would be a need for a company that arranged for flowers to be grown by responsible methods.
Sean Daily: Yeah, and the flowers aren’t getting nuked with chemicals to the point of being harmful to the people that are purchasing them and handling them, you know that certainly makes sense. So, then, so bring us forward to that. Obviously you have had some success with Organic Bouquet…
Gerald Prolman: Well--.
Sean Daily: Go ahead
Gerald Prolman: Well, I can tell you this. I didn’t really realize how hard this was going to be. I thought that—the idea for the company was to begin with flowers and then expand pretty quickly, within, I thought, the first year to other eco-lifestyle products. Artisans, fair-trade, craft, and again direct from the producers to consumers. And given my background in the world of organic produce I thought this was going to be easy, but I was not correct about that assessment, this was very hard. And when I started this business, I like to say that, we began there were no commercial supplies of organic flowers, so there was no supply, there was no demand, people didn’t know why we need organic flowers, and we didn’t have any money. So, no supply, no demand, and no money that’s how we started. And today I am very proud to say that we have a hundred-thousand dollars worth of sustainably grown flowers in the Pipeline and the demand for all things eco are--is at an all time high now. And we were, over time, through angel investors and people who really cared, to support this vision which has now grown into quite an enterprise that we’re all quite proud of.
Sean Daily: Now, that’s great to hear. Now, I’m just curious, how have you guys fared against the sort of knee-jerk reaction that people have to go to vendors like 800-flowers, or whoever, FDD network of florists. How have you guys fared, is it still a niche market or are you hitting really the mainstream audience with whatever search engine marketing or whatever other type of marketing you might be doing. Is it, really are you reaching the mainstream, or have you been reaching..?
Gerald Prolman: We are. And just to put this in perspective, this last past Valentines Day there was well over two-hundred million impressions of our brand on the media. We were on about 300 television programs, we were in, I don’t know, well over five-hundred newspapers, we were just out there. This has become the biggest story. Yeah, it’s--awareness of the environment is at an all time high and people just didn’t realize what was on flowers and our little company, Organic Bouquet, has absolutely rocked the world of horticulture and we—people are really taking notice and now some of the big companies are starting to embrace sustainably produced flowers. And one company has added fair trade and another has added sustainably grown flowers in a small way. So, we’re very glad to see the competition because that’s what we want, we want to see the world—the world of products produced in a sustainable manner, so we’re glad to see that it’s starting to happen.
Sean Daily: Yeah, but, that great. Is it true you—do you deal with—I know there’s different eco-floral certifications there’s organic, sustainable, enviro-dynamic. All of which are terms we have talked about on this program quite a bit. Is it true you’re offering products sort of in all those categories on the site?
Gerald Prolman: Yes.
Sean Daily: OK and I assume there are different pricings associated with different labels.
Gerald Prolman: Its not so much the pricing with different labels, we—our pricing is quite unique, we’ve been able to offer our certified sustainably grown flowers at competitive prices. At the same time we are able to pay our growers a premium, so you might ask, well, how do we do that?
Sean Daily: How do you do that? [Laugh]
Gerald Prolman: We pay more, sell it for less so how do we stay in business? We were able to do this in the early days as I mentioned we didn’t really have a capital to work with so we really had to develop some grass-roots marketing initiatives. And one of the things we did early on that has proven to be really great for our company and everybody involved is that we started a whole-cause marketing initiative, where we partner with charitable organizations. And today we have partnerships with over fifty charitable organizations. Whether that’s amnesty international or PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or women for women or the breast cancer fund, we have these wonderful organizations we work with. They take our products and market them to their membership base and when anybody clicks on the links they get a donation of ten percent of the proceeds. And in this way we’ve been able to reach more than ten-million consumers on a monthly basis. And these are consumers who passionately care about the environment, social justice, animal welfare, just our kind of people. This works out great, the recipients going to get this beautiful box of roses, it looks like it came from the eco-Tiffany’s, it’s extremely high quality, beyond anything you’ll see anywhere, we’re real sticklers about quality. And then there’s a note card and there is this special message and then at the bottom of the message it says a donation has been made in your name to Amnesty International. So, it’s this ripple effect of goodness and this is what really motivates and inspires everybody who works here at Organic Style. In fact, I have to toss people out of here late at night, no one wants to leave because we’re having a really good time.
Sean Daily: That’s a good company to work for, that’s a good thing. So I’m curious, and we have one last question before we go to our last break and I want to talk a little about Organic Style the magazine which you recently re-launched. But I was curious about the Vera-Floral certification. I know there is a sustainable sort of verification for the flower industry. I understand you had some hand in starting, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Gerald Prolman: Sure. In my pursuit of growers to grow by organic methods I went to—well I started in California so we have--we support local agriculture as a priority but not all flowers grow locally so I had to go to other places as well. So we source not only from California, Oregon, but also Central America, and South America. And Ecuador is known to have the finest, best quality roses in the world. I visited farms there, in Ecuador and Columbia, and starting with growers who were already involved in what they call “green-label programs”. And green-label programs were some of the programs that were developed from European influences when there was some very serious concern over the treatment of farmworkers, back in the early ‘90s. And there was a lot of good programs that I saw, a lot of progressive growers really trying to grow sustainably, really trying to take care of their farm workers. But there was no consistent message. Every certification was missing something. They all were doing good work but not one certification had the answer for everybody and could give the total comfort. Organic is a farming method for the environment, but it doesn’t address the social issues. And some of the green-label programs in Ecuador and Columbia were—had tremendous social programs, but were a little bit lacking on the environmental side
Sean Daily: And just to clarify for the people listening, we are talking about the social issues, we are talking about for example the treatment of the indigenous people in the area where the products being grown are in some cases manufactured.
Gerald Prolman: Yeah, we’re talking about what the farmworkers are being paid we are talking about their exposure to the chemicals when they’re working in the greenhouse.
Sean Daily: umm-hmm
Gerald Prolman: Just the conditions on the farm.
Sean Daily: Which ties in to fair-trade and things like this…
Gerald Prolman: And labor practices, yeah. So, I was on some farms, I saw some amazing things I hadn’t even seen in California. Where on a farm they would have a medical doctor for—that was on staff, available for the entire labor force. Where they would have also a dentist on staff, and they would provide meals, nice meals, and the owners of the farms actually eat with the employees. And they would have instead of—instead of the laborers having to, you know, on these typical situations where they would have to walk miles, they would pick up the employees in very nice clean busses at their homes and bring them to work and then bring them back home so they don’t have to walk miles back and forth or situations like for example it’s payday and the only place to cash a check would be a liquor store so sometimes the guys wouldn’t get home with the money for their family and just little things like that. So one farm put an ATM machine right on the farm and they would direct deposit their paycheck so they wouldn’t have to stop at the liquor store on the way home, and they could just take what they need all these little things that show extra care and I saw these programs first hand in Ecuador and in Columbia, and so I thought there’s not a consumer message that can give the total comfort that says these flowers are sustainably grown and produced in a manner that’s safe for the environment, the farmworkers, the wildlife, the ecology and there wasn’t one standard that addressed it all and it was at the same time a big stretch for or—for growers to take the steps to become fully organic, they needed a bridge and time to get there so basically I saw a need for a new standard. And I went to a standards developer in the East Bay, Scientific Certification Systems, and I said that there’s an opportunity in the floral industry. They needed a sustainability standard SCS as they are referred to Scientific Certification Systems our expert sustainable standards developers. They developed the Café program for Starbucks they developed the Nutriclean program that most supermarkets in the United States use to test produce, and they developed sustainability standards for the forestry industry, and the fishery industry and the paint industry so I thought they would be perfect to do this for the fresh cut flower trade. And I helped organize—they agreed to do it and I helped organize the first group of growers to provide as an advisory council and I put together a group of industry leaders from around the world the basic concepts
Sean Daily: Are you including your competitors in this? I mean, is this only you and the growers or is it other industry members as well who are getting in on this?
Gerald Prolman: Oh just industry members, this wasn’t for me to
Sean Daily: Oh, I just wanted to ask it..
Gerald Prolman: ..wasn’t for myself [Laugh]
Sean Daily: No, no but I have to ask that because there are two camps of standards. There are the real standards, and I sort of assumed this was it, but there are also various standards out there in various industries, like in flooring, wood flooring, and things like that where they are backed by one or a couple vendors, you know, so anyway, so yeah..
Gerald Prolman: Yeah. I specifically went to some of the largest growers in the world, some of actually the biggest distributors of flowers in the country, one of the biggest retailers in the country. And I just put together a group of interested concerned industry people to provide SCS with the basic information that they could begin developing their program from. And now this is actually becoming a national government standard, it is actually draft ..standard and I believe in three to five years from now you will not see a flower in the united states that is not certified as sustainably grown in fact its amazing to think that there are flowers on the market that aren’t. I mean, you just make this assumption that products are produced in a responsible manner.
Sean Daily: Yeah.
Gerald Prolman: And it’s really sad to learn that’s not the case.
Sean Daily: Unfortunately not.
Gerald Prolman: But, yeah, its retailers responsibility to make sure they know what they’re selling.
Sean Daily: And consumers to know what they’re buying, yeah, absolutely.
Gerald Prolman: Yeah.
Sean Daily: Well, we’re going to take one last break. And, just on that note, I want to mention too, it’s just like for people who are interested this is a twenty-one billion dollar industry, the floral industry, and I think— and I was reading too the Vera-floral certification you guys are expecting I understand that you are going to certify more than a billion floral stems this year. So the numbers are pretty staggering so anyway we will be right back with Gerald Prolman who is the CEO of Organic style and also OrganicBouquet.com and we’ll be right back on green talk radio, thanks everyone
Sean Daily: Alright and we are back on green talk radio, topic today is organic goods and flowers and all things organic farming really. And my guest to talk about that is Gerald Prolman CEO of organic style. And Gerald, I wanted to give you an opportunity, we wanted to hear a little about organic style magazine. Now, that is a magazine I think is going to be familiar to a lot of people out there listening in, it certainly was to me. When I first heard about the re-launch of it I didn’t realize kind of what had happened there, it sounds like, and correct me if I’m wrong, what I read was that you guys had expanded into the lifestyle market and you had made an acquisition from Rodale Publications, who I think was the original publisher of this magazine. Tell us about that decision, both in terms of moving into lifestyle and growing from—expanding from flowers and also the decision to purchase the magazine and what you are doing with that.
Gerald Prolman: Ok. Well, as I mentioned before the original vision of the company was to be an eco-lifestyle company marketing an array of certified products that are all produced in a responsible way direct from farmers and artisans to consumers that was the idea, it—I thought it was going to take about a year to develop flowers and then expand on that to other categories. It actually took seven years to develop the eco-floral market and once we were able to get things going and we’re generating sales and the interest started taking and we are having thousands of visitors a day to our website well I thought this is a good time to expand into the other categories into really carry out the original vision of the company. And, I was searching for a brand and I was a huge fan of Organic Style magazine and of the Rodale Company in particular. And there’s actually quite an interesting story which I would like to share a lot of people don’t know that J.I. Rodale who is the founder of Rodale, they’re the largest privately held publisher of heath and wellness books and magazines in the world. You’ll recognize them as men’s health and women’s health and prevention magazine they put out twenty-five million magazines a month around the world. But it all began with J.I. Rodale in the late 1930s and he was one of the first people to start writing about the negative impacts he perceived to be coming from agrochemicals. And those early writing evolved into what became Organic Gardening magazine, which is one of the oldest magazines in America today
Sean Daily: Wow.
Gerald Prolman: And from that he built an empire so J.I. Rodale actually coined the word organic.
Sean Daily: Huh.
Gerald Prolman: In terms of agriculture. And several generations later his granddaughter Maria Rodale, who is the chairman of Rodale, put out this magazine, I think it came out first in 2001, and it was really a tribute to her grandfather because she viewed him as a stylist environmentalist. And she wanted to show that organic could go to the next level. It didn’t need to be kind of scratchy hemp clothes it could be--.
Sean Daily: Kind of like an E. Schaugaard of Patagonia kind of figure.
Gerald Prolman: Exactly. And so Organic Style was a tribute to her grandfather in that concept and, they really did quite well. They got lots of subscribers and many people were buying it on the news stands. And then, around 2005, they made an internal decision to pull it from the market for the time being. I guess because the market hadn’t caught up just yet, and they just parked the brand; so it was sitting as a dormant brand. Maria Rodale is a customer of ours and I called her on the phone, just by chance, and I said what are you doing with Organic Style magazine? We need a name for our company and we want to introduce a magazine. And I made an offer to purchase it and they accepted and we were very grateful. Then we launched organic style in the end of ’07. In January, we reintroduced Organic Style magazine but as an online magazine and--.
Sean Daily: So it’s online only, not print, now?
Gerald Prolman: Just online, because that’s what we are all about.
Sean Daily: Yeah, it’s greener, that’s for sure!
Gerald Prolman: [Laugh] Yeah, its greener. And so the whole point of Organic Style magazine is this is a window to our world. Where you get to meet our growers and growers we’re not necessarily working with, you can meet growers you can meet artisans, you meet humanitarians, environmentalists, and people who can inspire us to make conscious purchase decisions and make this world a better place.
Sean Daily: Yeah, well, very cool. So what is the editorial—I’m curious abut the editorial side because I run an online publication myself that’s obviously about sustainable editorial. So I’m just curious about what is your vision? Are you changing it from the original magazine? I mean obviously the format the media has changed, but in terms of the editorial voice and the content. What is your vision for the magazine? Is it changing at all? Are you are pretty much going back to what was being done before in 2005?
Gerald Prolman: Its quite different than the earlier publication. Because, well, first of all we make no secret about we are a commercial company called organic style.com and we have things for sale.
Sean Daily: Now, that’s kind of what I was dancing around there, too. That you guys are selling products, and that’s a big difference is…
Gerald Prolman: Yeah. So we sell products. However, we have a place to sell products in the magazine called the Organic Style Boutique and we’re very clear that his is a selling place and the rest of the magazine is information that’s valuable to your life. And its just good information and what we are trying to do is this is just an expression of the original vision of the company which is to make a connection between source and consumer. So you can have a relationship with the people that produce the products. I find these stories really fascinating and, again, it’s a window to our world. Our premier issue says “Eco-Roses from a Person Who Matters”. So, on the cover is this young lady and she is one of the employees at our partner rose farm in Ecuador, and she’s the cover girl. And you can actually see the person who actually grew your roses, and you can feel really good knowing she’s earning a livable wage, she’s working in a healthy environment, and this is just a positive environmental and social initiative all the way around. And you get to learn where stuff comes from, and that is really what I found most interesting about this business in the first place.
Sean Daily: Yeah. It really harkens back to the early part of your career you described earlier; of taking the supermarket buyers out to the farmers and having them meet them. Essentially that is thematic for you, and that’s a very powerful connection. So, yeah, appreciate that.
Gerald Prolman: So yeah, so I’m—we’re putting things in the magazine that is just information [laughs]
Sean Daily: So you see--.
Gerald Prolman: Helps other people, too. For example, people talk about oh this chocolate is to die for. Well, our article was “Chocolate to Live For”!
Sean Daily: Yeah.
Gerald Prolman: And we have the artisan who produces our chocolates, does it with organic and fair trade chocolates and we tell why that’s important. And you get to meet him. Or we have a discussion on fashion, or about color, actually where colors come from. Its all the things you don’t stop to think about typically. And realize there is constant negative impact to the environment with all these consumer products we buy day in and day out, and the whole idea is to in a very positive way to give valuable information so that people can practice responsible purchasing.
Sean Daily: Well, that is all the time we have today but I have really enjoyed having this conversation and hearing the story, I mean all the stories, from your wife Raquel Bitton, and we wish her best of luck, by the way, in her career. I understand she has performed to sold-out crowds at Carnegie Hall and recorded albums and so forth. So our best to her, and again appreciate having on—having you on the program today and we wish you great luck with the new magazine, which I have read and I have to say was very impressed with the quality of the editorial end as well as the aesthetics of it. So, congratulations on that.
Gerald Prolman: Thank-you Sean, and thank-you for having me on your program.
Sean Daily: Yeah. My pleasure, so our guest today has been Gerald Prolman, who is CEO of organic style they’re an online magazine and eco-boutique for people seeking inspiring products that uphold the well being of the planet and humankind. Their flagship floral brand is www.organicbouquet.com, widely recognized as the worlds pioneer of organic and eco-flowers. This is Sean Daily from Green Talk radio and we’ll talk to you next time.
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