Florabundance is the wholesale flower place where I buy most of my flowers. Joost (pronounced yost) Bongaerts, a fun Dutch man who owns the place, approached me about holding a floral design workshop/convention on the ranch where I live. There would be a whose who of designers, an amazing photographer, top bloggers and TONS of flowers. Here is a link to Florabundance's blog entry talking about this event http://www.florabundance.com/blog/
Some of Florabundance's amazing flowers
How could I say no?! I got approval from the owners and off we went! He cajoled a lovely local event coordinator named Zohe Felici of Felici events into helping to put it on and so with our to-do lists in hand, we got busy! Joost wasn't kidding when he said the presenters were the top in their field.
First up was Ian Prosser of Botanica Florist, a designer from Florida.
This man was beyond amazing! He has designed events for some of the biggest names in Hollywood as well as the inaugural balls for Presidents Clinton and Bush... aaannd a reception for Queen Elizabeth!!!! He was completely unassuming, quietly confident and extremely gracious! He is from Scotland and had that marvelous Scottish brogue. He could have asked me to deliver the moon to the barn so he could put flowers on it and I would have found a way. He also had a fabulous sense of humor as so many of the Scots do. I gotta find a way to go over there! You know I rather like Men in kilts! (not that he wore one darn it!) He had us laughing to the point of crying! His son Jordan who helps run the business was there too and helped with their presentation. Jordan even got involved in the photo shoot that was part of the event by becoming our groom. Ian's whole family is involved in his business from his wife to his kids. Just lovely!
Next up was Holly Chappel from Virginia.
Again an amazing designer!! She too has designed for the white house creating their Holiday decor this last Christmas! Her work has been published pretty much in all the magazines and again has an incredible list of clients! Her style was so akin to my own, I love her free form, wild and natural look! She spoke from the heart, sharing her life and business with us.
Some of the designers working under Holly's direction
I think she is made of something stronger than the rest of us. She and her husband Even run their business and raise.... wait for it.... 7 kids!!!!!!!!! And they seemed perfectly sane! Of course 7 free laborers probably helps... oh wait 7 college educations are probably a bit more expensive than hiring help. Like I said I haven't a clue how they do it. Her husband Even was also there and couldn't have been nicer. He builds all the props, does lighting and draping, computer work, raising the kids... basically a super man. He spoke fondly of his man cave with his fishing rods, guns and.... sewing machine! I think one of the lessons of this workshop was that you have to have a sense of humor (helps with the mothers of the brides : ) and these folks had it in spades!
Ian, Holly and Even couldn't have been more lovely.
Holly Chappel and Alicia Schwede
They were totally open with all of us discussing everything from how to design, to profits (or lack there of..., not for them, but how to keep us from suffering that fate), writing bids, trends, horror stories (sorry you'll have to pay me a lot of money to hear those...) and success stories. Ego was absolutely NOT present! They completely won my heart as well as everyone there!
A couple of our attendent designers with the bouquets they made.
We also had the privilege of listening to Alicia Schwede and Chuck Graham of one of the top flower blogs called Flirtyfleurs as well as Kelly Oshiro of sbchic a seriously up and coming blog. They spoke about social media and got us all fired up about blogging (obviously I do that.....), face booking (not yet but soon...... ), tweeting (still not sure about that......), and instagraming (totally hooked, addicted, over-the-moon about it!!!). They spoke about the business benefits of all of the above and like the others opened up their hearts, minds and businesses to help us learn. Alicia, Chuck and Kelly are also top designers in their own right. I tell ya, there was no lack of talent at this event! Alicia has a beautiful book out called Bellla Bouquets of which I am now a satisfied owner. Ian! When is your book coming out?!?!?
In addition to these amazing folks we had a phenomenal photographer who captured it all. Her name is Genevieve Leiper and she has shot for Martha Stewart herself.
Unfortunately you will have to suffer through my pictures as I don't have hers yet. I doubt I needed to say that as one look at my shots and Martha would have laughed herself silly! They are obviously not Genevieve's. I definitely need to stick to flowers!
Genevieve in action with one of the models from the workshop
I got to pull out and use all my props from my rental business Vintage Vignettes. I had little lounges all over the place, my barn wood tables, vintage china, candelabras, pews, benches, TONS of candles... I basically emptied my house, and storage into the barn and on the beach. I gotta tell you my two arbors never looked better though. Part of the fun of this workshop was that Holly and Ian got everyone into teams and then had them create two ceremony arbors and the reception's feasting table.
arbor number one
Arbor number two
One of the big joys is that we all got to sit at that beautiful table we decorated and enjoy a lovely gourmet catered meal (by Pure Joy catering) instead of schlepping our tired bodies and all our nasty buckets and gear back to our delivery vans, picking up Chinese on the way home and collapsing on the couch as we normally do after events.
That part was super cool! We even had a proper cocktail hour with appetizers on the beach!!!
Unheard of I tell ya! Can you tell I enjoyed myself!!!
A really lovely thing that Joost lined up was at the end of the event The Dream Foundation came out and collected all the flowers. They are a wonderful charity that works with terminally ill people to grant these precious folks their dreams and wishes.
Their delivery van getting loaded.
These flowers ended up at various places like Hospice and senior homes.
This is Shelly Schulte (above), one of the owners of the ranch. She is a big volunteer at the Dream Foundation and a lovely lady. That van was packed! They had to come back for another load!
Our class of designers, our teachers, and Joost. We each got to make a beautiful bride's bouquet so here we are proudly holding them! (that's me on the bottom row second from the right).
All in all it was a wonderful experience! I learned a lot, met a bunch of incredibly lovely designers, both the presenters and the attendees, and got to enjoy Dos Pueblos' barn and the beach like a proper bride does (well we still had to work). And I only needed a week to recover!! Not too bad!
Hope you all are having a lovely winter!
Blessings to all of you!