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Arranging Joy - Interview With Fleur Boutique, The Bloom Room, With Every

While floral arrangement has become as one of the latest and classiest hobbies in Singapore, many do not know that there is more to just putting flowers together. We caught up with 3 passionate florists, who took time to shed light on what goes behind these beautiful flower arrangements and their journeys to become a florist.

Eliz, Fleur Boutique

How did you get started on floral arrangements?

I entered the floristry industry when I was 17 and still schooling. Having no experience and background at that young age, I started from the bottom, literally cleaning up, heaving heavy bags of floral garbage and pails of water. From having zero knowledge and zero interest in floristry, I started to learn about conditioning flowers, slowly trying a hand at doing hand held bouquets and then arrangements. Soon, I realised I had fallen in love with flowers. Between school and work, I continued my part-time stint all the way from Poly Year 1 till I graduated from University. Like everyone else, I followed the mainstream route to find an office job and landed one doing corporate relations in a major bookstore. Not before long, I found myself yearning to go back to floristry. I decided then to do it full time in order to learn more about the business and to further hone my skills. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and this is definitely true for floral arranging. I had a great mentor who taught me a lot from day 1. Over the years, I saw myself growing as a florist. Unfortunately at that time, I couldn’t afford to start my own floral studio so I decided to switch to another industry I was familiar with - Advertising (I’m a Mass Communications grad by the way). One of my goals was to save up and be prepared for an opportunity to pursue my dream. My three years in advertising was a valuable experience and an important journey that led me to where I am today. 

Over time, I noticed how the floristry landscape began to change. Floral arrangement trend started moving towards a more free-form, rustic style and it seemed like more people were starting to appreciate good floral design. Online businesses also began sprouting. Jumping on the bandwagon, I took a chance at Facebook business in 2014 and started accepting orders from friends for their weddings, as well as every day bouquets and arrangements. In March 2015, I decided that I had to do this full-time to grow the business. I left advertising and made official Fleur Boutique. It excited me that I could finally spread the message and appreciation for good floral design.

5 years ago, what did you see floral arrangements as?

Floral arranging to me was a skill, an interest and an art, and still is the same to me today, with a deeper conviction. It’s a skill because it’s something you can pick up and improve on; it’s also an art because it takes trained eyes to appreciate the thoughts and skills behind each arrangement. Like other forms of art, there are fundamentals and technicalities to adhere by, while at the same time injecting creativity. It’s an avenue to express and evoke emotions, with every design telling a different story. I was, and am still awed by the diversity of feelings conveyed with every slight variation in choice of flower, colour and movement.

What are your parents/friends' first comments when they hear about your plan to be a florist full-time?

Everyone’s happy for me because they know that I’ve been doing this for a long time and importantly, they know I am doing something I enjoy. Friends tell me that I am so lucky to be able to do what I’ve dreamt of and I definitely agree.

What is the most memorable thing a customer has said to you?
This happened years ago. A customer actually called back to ask for the person who had done her order (that doesn’t happen often so I was worried if something bad had happened). When I answered the phone, she thanked me and said it was so well done. The arrangement was just like what she had imagined and her friend (the recipient) liked it so much. I was elated and very touched by her kind gesture to call back and express appreciation. (This customer had brought her own box and came with a specific request as to how she would like the arrangement to be done.) Even now, I’m thankful to have great customers.

A recent bride said to me, “I know I’m going to love the bouquet you’re going to do for me even before I see it." I was really touched because how often do you have people telling you that?! She is so appreciative, always telling me that I’m a star. I’m just really glad to create flowers that speaks of her personality for her big day and being able to ease her worries because I know wedding preparation can be very tiring. There are many aspects to be taken care of, and if the flowers can be nailed perfectly and done smoothly, then at least it would have been one thing off her mind.

Describe to us your daily routine. 

Now that I am working from home, it makes things a little easier. I have my breakfast at home, then check on emails. Sometimes I would go to the nursery to choose and pick up my flowers or have them delivered on days when I have to stay in. Once the flowers are in, I begin conditioning them before I commence on doing the arrangements.

What difference do you wish to make with floral arrangements?

I hope to inculcate and grow the appreciation for good, beautiful floral design. An aesthetically beautiful floral arrangement should be well-balanced in colour, form and texture. This is an important aspect of giving flowers because what you give reflects what you think of that person. As ladies, the flowers we carry should reflect who we are, especially on our wedding day. This is why creating bespoke flowers is our mission at Fleur Boutique. The same applies to our every day flowers - we encourage people to understand their loved ones more; to make each bouquet a thoughtfully-crafted one. I believe our souls are influenced by the beauty of flowers and nature, and with this in mind, we strive to make the world more beautiful one bouquet at a time.

What would you tell a budding florist? 

Contrary to what most people think, being a florist is not exactly the most glamorous job. In fact, it entails a lot of hard work and sweat. We often have to carry heavy stuff, get our hands dirty and work long hours before others see the prettiness of our job. Be prepared and be passionate in order to make it through, because the satisfaction comes at the end when you see your works and knowing that your customers are happy. 

If our readers would like to make a purchase with you, are there any perks for them? 

Pre-order your flowers for Mother’s Day and check out with coupon code [FLEUR4MUM] to receive a 10% special discount.

*Valid only for orders to be delivered on 7th & 8th May 2016 (Mother’s Day & eve of Mother’s Day)
*Coupon expires 6th May.

bloomroom.sgI used to be a magazine journalist, prior to starting The Bloom Room with my husband, Kevin. We started out in a claustrophobic, windowless storeroom in an industrial building. It wasn't the best place to start a flower business, but we persevered. We didn't start with a huge capital. Instead, we used our meagre savings and I took on freelance writing assignments to pay the bills. Eventually, we moved to Joo Chiat in 2013 and have since established a presence in this neighbourhood. 

How did you get started on floral arrangements?

Floral arranging comes as second nature to me. My mother's a florist as well, so I practically grew up in her flower shop. When I was waiting for her to be done with work, I would make tiny bouquets with bits of flowers and leaves that she had trimmed from her arrangements. In my teens, I took over the keying in of invoices and delivery orders because my mum doesn't know English. I also tagged along to nurseries and cold rooms to pick up blooms and helped at wedding set-ups. When I decided to start this business, my mother taught me all the floral techniques, and I practised and practised to gradually developed my own style. 

5 years ago, what did you see floral arrangements as?

Years ago, I felt that the floral industry was an ageing one with the proliferation of those tacky rose-and-baby's breath bouquets. So, when I started, I consciously inject a sense of youth and optimism to my floral designs by using bright colours and quirky blooms. I'd describe my floral style as pretty, youthful, off-beat and organic.  

We're always experimenting with ways to revitalise the floral industry. From paper-wrapped bouquets to mason jar flowers to subscription flowers, we have played a major role in popularising these trends in Singapore. Our latest collection, flowers in enamel mugs, is a quirky take on table centrepieces. You can check them out here

What are your parents/friends' first comments when they hear about your plan to be a florist full-time?

Incredibly supportive as my mother's a florist and many in my family run a small business. So they fully understand why I'd prefer to run a creative small business instead of taking a corporate job. 

Describe to us your daily routine.

It's usually a mad rush in the mornings for me - I still craft most of the bouquets/arrangements myself. After sending both morning and afternoon batches out for deliveries, I settle down to the nitty-gritties of running a small businesses. I could be dreaming up new floral designs, working on the web development improvements for our webstore, brainstorming marketing strategies or discussing collaborations - all at the same time. My life pretty much revolves around my work. But when I'm off work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two dogs. 

What difference do you wish to make with floral arrangements? 

I usually rush from task to task. But when I'm crafting flowers, I often find myself taking a step back and seeing the beauty in all the different blooms - the textures, the colours, the fragility of it all.  And then I learn to breathe again. Our society is getting more and more stressful, so it's great to see how flowers can help our customers lift their moods and take a step back from our stressful lives. 

What would you tell a budding florist?

Always strive for originality, be prepared for the tough labour and say goodbye to soft hands. 

If our readers would like to make a purchase with you, are there any perks for them? 

We're happy to offer first 50 Naiise readers a 15% discount off our Mother's Day collection. Just key in "naiise15" during checkout!

Natalie & Kristle, With Every

Can we have a little backgrounder of yourself?

With Every was co-founded by Kristle & Natalie, working out of Kris' home kitchen 15 months ago. We are a floral studio based mainly online, but have a workshop studio in Ubi. We view floristry as an art and hope to change up and encourage people to play with, encounter and experience flowers in a different way - from buying flowers, to learning about them at our intimate workshops and events. We also try to create memories, feelings and experiences for our customers with every arrangement we send out. We chose the name With Every to be vague so that it can be easily inserted into any context that flowers can be a part of, be it a regular or special day. It is a marriage of two simple words that start a string of thoughts, conversations, and ideas. We love that it's playful and holds a lot of possibilities. It holds a lot of meaning to us.

How did you get started on floral arrangement?

Nat: I always enjoyed making my own arrangements since young for the home, and started after helping friends with their wedding flowers.

Kris: I have always loved receiving flowers and tend to dry my bouquets to keep them for a little longer. In the Spring of 2013 with the help of my friends, I did up the flower decoration for my solemnisation and fell in love with floral arrangement ever since. 

5 years ago, what did you see floral arrangements as?

Thats a really good question! Growing up, we viewed floral arrangements as visual works of art but were only meant for a particularly special occasion as it was seen as a luxurious item. Now, we really appreciate and value the hard work that goes behind creating an arrangement. We're also inspired by our travels overseas to flower markets and florists who carry wider range of more interesting blooms, and that's what we try to use and provide in Singapore.     

What are your parents/friends' first comments when they hear about your plan to be a florist full-time?

We're thankful and grateful both our parents have always been very supportive of our creative endeavours, they have advised us to exercise caution but are very encouraging and hopeful for us! Our guy friends are very happy to have a go-to florist on speed dial, haha! 

What is the most memorable thing a customer has said to you?

We have been very blessed with supportive customers who make the effort to give us feedback and send us messages saying that they liked the flowers. Definitely the most memorable gesture was a really sweet and caring couple who provided a table for all her vendors so that we could attend their dinner after the setup. We spent a good one hour after the wedding ended drinking and making merry with the couple. It was a really memorable night for us and we were so lucky to meet such a sweet couple.

What is the weirdest request you ever had?

One customer once indicated in his preferences as "not too hipster please". So we tried our best version of the more classic rose and baby breath style. 

Describe to us your daily routine.

Our day starts early at the flower market to buy and personally handpick the flowers. We often buy a whole pack just for one particularly show-stopping bloom - we just can't help it! Next will be to get the flowers cleaned and readied for arrangements, and sending morning orders out by 10am. Sweeping and mopping is literally a daily chore. As we're a small team, we have to handle customer enquires, emails and text messages in between it all; some days if we're packed with working on orders, we'll unfortunately only get to clearing our emails in the evenings. The evenings are also when we meet wedding couples, and work on wedding proposals, quotations, and website maintenance. Fridays and weekends are packed if we have wedding work, and hopefully we find time in between for collaborations, new ideas and events.

What difference do you wish to make with floral arrangements?

We believe flowers can lift the mood of any space or person, make the everyday beautiful, and the special days even more spectacular. We also believe in the healing properties of nature and would like for everyone to be able to enjoy a little bit of flower power in their everyday lives! It's a simple gesture of beauty and love that never fails to touch people's hearts.

What would you tell a budding florist?

Going through it now, you really need more than just the love of flowers to be a florist. We would say that flower arrangement takes up probably only a quarter of the actual job scope. Floristry is really laborious and requires lots of stamina as you'll be on your feet the entire day, conditioning, carrying, cleaning and packing. Most of the work is unglamourous even though the final product looks so beautiful. 

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