Kally Ellis: my fascination with roses

It has been a magnificent experience working with REN skincare developing the McQueens Morrocan Rose Otto Body Wash. From the initial concept to the delivery of the final product, it has been a real pleasure to examine in detail the enduring appeal of the rose and the compelling story of the Moroccan Rose harvest. McQueens founder Kally Ellis shares her particular fascination with roses and her top tips for conditioning and care.

McQueens founder and MD Kally Ellis at our REN launch event celebrating roses
McQueens founder and MD Kally Ellis and the REN team at launch event held at McQueens Flower School

Roses have had a particular fascination for me for all my life. When I was a child growing up, my mother had a huge garden with all kinds of rambling flowers and a wonderful lawn. My three sisters and I spent countless hours playing outside in the summer. Roses were a favourite of my mothers and those bushes took pride of place. Long before I ever entertained the idea of working with flowers, I was gathering flowers and foliage and bundling them into containers to be scattered around the house. Who could ever have guessed where all that would lead?

I vividly remember the fascination I had with roses: their form and colour always looked like perfection to me. The transformation of the flower from a closed bud to full bloom is pure wonder to a child. My sisters and I would dissect flowers and gather the petals to make brightly coloured confetti and delight in the heavenly fragrance. We even tried to transform the petals into a perfume of our own!

Scent is an intrinsic characteristic of flowers, especially roses. Our natural reflex when handling a rose is to bring it to your nose, close your eyes, and breathe in that heavenly perfume. With some contemporary roses varieties, the scent is less strong, sacrificed at the expense of the flower’s longevity. We now have many tremendous varieties that can stay perfect in a vase for up to two weeks, but sadly, at the expense of the scent. They might look amazing but they don’t have the sweet fragrance that you would expect. For me, I’d rather a rose looked and smelled like a rose, and thankfully there is now a return to traditional rose cultivation where the scent is deemed every bit as important as the flower’s staying power.

I am a massive fan of English grown garden roses and we always stock them at McQueens when they are in season. They aren’t cultivated as intensely as other varieties that are available, so as a result, they have a much ‘wilder’ garden rose appearance, and a heftier price tag, too. But the scent is heavenly and they fill the shop with a powerful fragrance that, for me, is a trigger for childhood memories; I am transported back to my mother’s garden once more.

When REN suggested a collaboration with McQueens using Moroccan rose, it was always going to be a ‘yes’ from me! Roses represent an exquisite and luxurious experience, and I am thrilled to have been part of this journey. I was fascinated by the Moroccan rose harvest story, and as I am a huge fan of REN, I knew that the end product would be outstanding. My sister Eleni, a graphic designer, was even part of the team, working on the label for the finished product. 

I was delighted when I sampled the final product after the collaborative development with REN, and I’m very proud to have the McQueens name on such a wonderful range. I can’t wait to share it with my family and friends – and of course, my darling mother.

The simple beauty of roses
The simple and eternal beauty of a rose

Kally’s Top Tips for Looking After Roses 

Roses need a little care and attention to keep them looking at their best. Follow these simple steps to keep your flowers looking fresh and fabulous for longer.

1) Remove any surplus foliage by stripping the leaves and thorns from each rose. This will make handling much easier and avoid any damage due to the flowers getting tangled. Be sure to remove all leaves from below the waterline of your vase. Leaves in the water will quickly degrade and pollute with bacteria – and that means your roses won’t last nearly as long as they should.

2) Condition the roses carefully by removing any damaged petals. Roses have outer guard petals that protect the head as it opens. Often these add a bit of charm to the rose – I like them because they look natural – but if they’re damaged they won’t be doing your flowers any favours. Strip them away!

3) Trim a few centimetres off the bottom of the rose, and cut the stem at an angle. This will maximise the surface area and enable the flower to drink up more water, keeping them in top condition. Roses have a woody stem formation and the bottom of the rose will dry very quickly when taken out of water for even a short amount of time. This makes rehydration very difficult, so freshly cut and straight into water is a must! We recommend using the flower food given by your florist, too. This halts the build up of bacteria, improves vase life and will keep the water looking fresh.

3) Changing the water and recutting the stems mid-week will really help extend the life of your flowers, and allow you to enjoy them for as long as possible.

Click here for more information about Ren Skincare