My green Valentine
Gerald Prolman -- who as CEO of Organic Style Ltd., helped build what has become the multibillion-dollar organic produce sector -- has now set his sights on steering the entire floral industry toward stringent ecological standards. No small vision for a guy who, just a few years ago, barely knew a gardenia from a gerbera.
Prolman is widely considered the pioneer of what has turned into a market sector worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Organically grown flowers are one of the fastest-growing segments of the organic market. In 2008, Organic Style expects to ship more than 20 million stems of organic and eco-certified roses, with an additional $100 million dollars worth of sustainably grown flowers in the pipeline.
“By 2015, you won’t be able to purchase a non-certified sustainable flower in the United States,” Prolman predicts. “Public consciousness about environmental issues is at an all-time high, and never before has there been such a powerful alignment between the growers, marketers and consumers.”
Prolman has been busy, busy. A tireless and often sleep-deprived entrepreneur, he has initiated multiple projects that have put “green” flowers on the map, including: conceiving the need for and initiating Veriflora, a sustainable certification that boasts more than 45 farmers and expects to certify more than 1 billion stems in 2008; hosting an international floral symposium in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Environment Day; producing a musical tribute to the environment by gospel singers; creating the first eco-luxury online retailer; and, just this month, relaunching Organic Style magazine, which his company purchased from Rodale Publishing last year.