Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recent Weddings

I apologize for not updating my blog with recent wedding pictures for so long. I've been saving pictures for the upcoming new website and I wish to surprise you all with new images of many beautiful events we had this summer. But demands are so high that many brides want to know what we are up to and wish to see some of the weddings we did recently. So, here's a sneak peek of several weddings I will be including in the new website. There will be many more to come, stay tuned and I will keep you posted when the website's ready.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Long Time No Blog!!

Hello hello! I apologize for not posting for so long. Many brides asked for my updates and wanted to see more recent wedding images.

This summer has been a very exciting time for me. Other than all the beautiful summer weddings, I attended the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) national symposium in Kansas City in July, again got myself soaked in all the inspirational educational programs, and met new flower friends from all over the world. AIFD is "the floral industry's leading non-profit organization dedicated to establishing, maintaining and recognizing the highest standard of professional floral design." It is a place where a group of floral professionals gather in the effort of "advancement of the the professional floral design through education and leadership." There were many talented floral artists, all best of the best international designers from the floral industry.

Another special thing I did during my visit to Kansas City was that I took the AIFD Accreditation Evaluation Session (AES) hoping to become an accredited AIFD member. So I had been practicing the entire June (yes, on top of my busy weekly wedding schedule!) because I knew AIFD has very high standards. There were two parts of the evaluation process. We first had to pass a written exam, then a floral design exam which was 4 hours long. Within those 4 hours, each candidate got the exact same amount of flowers and materials to create 5 designs in different categories - sympathy design, wedding, arrangement, flowers to wear and designer's choice. We didn't know what exactly we would be asked to make for each category until 2 hours before the actual exam during orientation. For this year's AES, we needed to make a casket spray for sympathy design, a bride's bouquet for wedding, an art gallery opening design for arrangement, a groom's boutonniere for flowers to wear and we could do anything for designer's choice. On average, we had approximately 48 minutes per design. It was not as easy as it sounds because a candidate needs to obtain at least 20 out of 25 points in order to be approved for the AIFD accreditation, with no single category below 3.75 points. The highest score for each category is 5 points, the lowest score is 1 point. There were 7 judges from different parts of the country so each judge may have a different eye for good designs. And they were certainly not looking for anything ordinary or sellable, but designs that demonstrated solid design principles and extraordinary creativity. To be honest, I've been stressed out all summer - before the exam, practicing every week and studying all the design principles based on which the judges would evaluate; and after the exam, awaiting the results, wondering how I did.

It was truthfully a great relief last Saturday when I received the evaluation results. I am thrilled that I am approved for the AIFD accreditation, and I also obtained my Certified Floral Designer certificate!

I shared my thoughts with some of you during this process but did not write about this in the blog because I wasn't sure how things would turn out. I sincerely thank my family, friends and clients for all the kind encouragement and affirmation. Your support gave me much courage to carry on pursuing my goal and dream to become a floral artist. Thank you very much!

Here's my table.
My Art Gallery Opening Arrangement on the left - horsetail bamboo "cage' with flowers interlocking. My intension was to create a constrained form for an abstract splash of colorful flowers, just like paints on a canvas. My bridal "bouquet"which is a floral purse on the right.My Designer's Choice design which is a floral hair piece on the left & my boutonniere design on the right. Me wearing the Designer's Choice floral hair piece & the sympathy casket spray (an inspiration from Yin-Yang opposites).
Note: Starting 2010, AIFD is transitioning its accreditation process to PFDE (Professional Floral Design Evaluation) which is similar to AES. If you are a floral designer and wish to obtain your accreditation or to become a certified floral designer, please visit AIFD's website for more details.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May Prom

May is the Prom season. This year I had so much fun designing Lowell High School's senior prom table centerpieces. I love working with their student committee, they were so open to all of my ideas. I intended for the centerpieces to look elegant and fun with whimsical touches that bring out their "When You Wish Upon a Star" Fantasy theme. The ostrich feather design is my personal favorite.

Venue: Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, San Francisco
Client: Lowell High School, San Francisco
Colors: Purple, silver
Theme: "When You Wish Upon a Star"

Client's Comments: "It was really nice working with you, the centerpieces were amazing! So many people gave us compliments about them. I'm really happy with prom...A lot of the students wanted to take the centerpieces with them, so we decided "sure, why not." Who is going to blame them for wanting to bring home a piece of prom? Thank you so much and I will definitely recommend you to next year's senior prom committee. Thank you!"

Monday, May 18, 2009

Luncheon at the University Club

Today I had the opportunity to meet with several other A-list wedding vendors for lunch at the University Club in San Francisco. There were Beverly from Especially Yours Chaircovers, Jubilee from Jubilee Lau Events, Gloria From Gloria Wong Design, Barbara from University Club San Francisco, Nancy from Nancy Liu Chin Designs, Nicole from Nicole Ha Floral & Event Design, Annie from Annie Siu Floral & Events and me. It was a fun gathering with delicious food, thanks to the University Club chef and Sonya from Butterfly Cakes! Each of us shared a little bit about our background and how we got into the wedding industry. Some of us have very similar experience starting off with our own wedding or by helping family & friends' weddings. After gaining more experience and building on a strong portfolio, we ventured into the path to start our own business. I really enjoyed listening to everyone's story and getting to know the personal side of these vendor friends. After our lunch, Barbara gave us a tour inside the club. University Club is very unique venue at a prime location (Nob Hill). And the best part is, their facility rental fee is unbelivably affordable - starts from $1,000! We all thought it must be one of San Franicsco best kept secrets.

Here are a couple snaps from our luncheon. From left to right: Beverly, Nicole, me, Barbara, Jubilee, Gloria, Nancy, Annie & our special guest of the day - Annie's cutie Eason!
Delicious cake by Sonya from Butterfly Cakes.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May Wedding

I can't wait to share with you a beautiful May wedding we just did. I love the fantastic view of the church surrounding as well as the breezy garden near the water where the reception took place.

Venue: Old St. Hillary's Wildflower Preserve, Tiburon/Landmarks Art & Garden Center, Tiburon
Style: natural
Colors: green & white, with accents of baby blue
Bride's Comments: "Thank you so much for your sweet email and for the amazing decor!! You were fantastic. I still can't get over how beautiful everything was. We will definitely refer you to anyone we know who is planning to get married..."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Power of Facebook

It took me a long time to decide to start a Facebook account for Poppy's. I know it's a powerful networking tool to help me stay connected with the world. But I feel that I have a full plate already and I am afraid I won't be able to stay on top of it (like I am always behind on my blog updates...) But recently I see something about Facebook that I never thought of. I reactivated my personal Facebook account after a long deactivation (more than a year!). I was clicking through my personal Facebook account friends list and I realized several of my past clients had new additions to their families! I am so excited for them. I disappeared from the virtual world for a while, and when I am back, voila! Everyone's having babies. It is a strange yet amazing feeling to see how our relationships change from time to time - at first we were strangers, then we were floral designer & clients, now we become friends. I feel that I was part of an important milestone of their life and now witnessing their family growth puts a big smile on my face.

So I have decided to sign up for a Facebook account for Poppy's. I wish to connect to more past, current and future clients. Share with me your updates! I love to hear baby news, new jobs, recent travel experiences...etc. Sometimes I imagine twenty or thirty years later, will some of my clients come back to me and say "oh Laura, my daughter is getting married and I'd love to have you design her wedding flowers". Wouldn't that be interesting?

Congratulations to Ying & Jay, Michelle & Solomon, Amy & Tony, Wendy & Victor, Wendy & Wesley, Teresa & Terence, for your respective new family additions!

Check out Poppy's Facebook page today and sign up to become a fan!

April Weddings

Here are a couple fun weddings to share...and thanks to our April brides & grooms sending me these kind words and thank you gifts after the wedding. Thank you for letting my team and I be part of your wedding, it was my great honor!

Venue: Brazilian Room, Berkeley
Style: modern chic
Colors: pink, brown

Bride's Comments: "Thank you so much for being our wedding florist! The flowers were absolutely beautiful. I especially loved the flowers for the ceremony. I thought the cherry blossoms really brought out the natural beauty of the place, and I loved the way the altar arrangements looked...Everything was so amazing! We will be sure to refer you to our friends!"
Venues: St. John's Presbyterian Church, San Francisco/Cliff House, San Francisco
Style: simple & understated
Color: orange

Bride's Comments: "...All the flowers were just beautiful! I loved that you used the two different types of tulips for the evening. And we received SO many compliments on the reception arrangements, especially the fishbowls. I'm glad we bought the vases, because many guests took the arrangements home since they liked them so much! One of my aunts even said she didn't realize orange could be such a pretty color until she saw your tulips. The tulip & lemon slice design for the welcome table was my personal favorite. Your designs were clean and modern, and a little whimsical -- which was exactly what I wanted!!I've already given your information to one bride...my mother and I will definitely refer you to any other brides we know in San Jose and Sacramento. Thank you so much for being part of our day!!!"

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Poppy's Life

I am trying to be a better blogger and post messages more frequently, but my busy schedule is hindering me...I know you must think, yeah whatever, excuses.

So this morning I want to tell you a little bit about my life and things I've been working on.

If you read the about section of my website(by the way, I've been working on a new website, it's been months since last December, again I was busy so it won't be ready until a bit later...), you know a little about my background. But let me elaborate more here.

Being an only child in the family, my mom invested alot of money and time helping me to define my interest at a young age. She sent me to private art courses since I was little and I learnt oil painting, watercolor, pastels, charcoals, pencil sketching, sculpture, and Chinese brush painting. When I was in elementary school I won some drawing awards; and my high school student work was once displayed at the old de Young Museum and the Dublin Gallery. At that point, I thought I would become an artist for life. My high school art teacher encouraged me to move forward and challenged me with more competitions and I began taking some courses at Academy of Art and California College of Arts & Craft (today's CCA). But my Dad had a traditional thinking that it is difficult for full time artist to make a living, so he "redirected" me to the field of architecture. To be honest, it was not my first choice but I wanted to please my Dad and with a 3 year scholarship from the American Architectural Foundation, I went to Berkeley majoring in architecture.

When I was at Cal, I studied abroad to France. I stayed with a French family and studied architecture in Lyon for 6 months. Immediately after graduation, I worked at a prominent architectural firm in San Francisco, building hospitals. My first assignment was the replacement project of the Laguna Honda Hospital. Soon after I started this job, I knew it was not what I wanted to do for life. In 2003, I discovered another interest outside of architecture. My best friend asked me to do her wedding flowers and decor. It awakened my resting creative genes! I had so much fun and had decided to explore more about this new hobby. I began taking floral design classes at the City College of San Francisco and interned under other local floral designers. Meanwhile, more friends and family asked me to help out at weddings with floral decor. I started building a floral portfolio and by all means, it was much more interesting than my architectural portfolio!

Then I got married and had my first child in 2006. During my maternity leave, my boss urged me to get back to work, that's when I made a very important decision of my life - I quitted and decided to launch a floral design business of my own. It was not an easy decision but with all the encourgement from my husband and friends, assuring that I will do well in this field with my passion and sense for creative designs. And that was the official launching of Poppy's Petalworks. My husband picked this name for my business because Icelandtic poppy is my all time favorite blossom. I love its papery texture as well as its vibrant colors. Have you seen how an Icelandtic poppy bursts out of its shell within a short period of time? And just like the Forrest Gump chocolate theory, you never know what (Poppy color) you are going to get. That's what life and Poppy's Petalworks is about - come unexpected, filled with colorful surprises.

You think it wraps the story? Not yet. In 2008, I attended the American Institute of Floral Designers' (AIFD) national symposium in Chicago for the first time and it was truly an amazing experience. Came back fully inspired, I had a much clearer direction of what I want to become - a floral artist! I am a big adirmer of international floral masters such as Moniek Vanden Berghe, Geert Pattyn, Daniel Ost & Elly Lin. This may be the farthest dream, but they are my career goal. One day I want to have a floral gallery of my own with weekly exhibitions, host some workshops and teach some lectures.

With this well defined goal, I am working hard to follow my dream. This year, I will challenge myself to pursue the AIFD floral design accreditation in July. Meanwhile I am working on submission of my floral art work to an international floral art publication in September. I am also interested in participating at the inspiring Bouquets to Art again next year. Of course, I will continue to keep up with the latest American and international wedding trends as well as my floral design skills so I can provide my clients the best quality of service.

Personal life wise, I am a full time mom (well, when there are no weddings) so my 3 year old keeps me busy most of the time. He will be starting preschool this fall and we may move back to the city for convenience. Once my little one starts school, I will have more time in my hands and I will try to write more blog posts and share more exciting news with you all. For now, stay tune for our new website image which should launch soon. Hopefully. haha.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

de Young Museum's Bouquets to Art Opening Gala 3/16

I had a wonderful time at de Young Museum's Bouquets to Art Opening Night Gala on Monday. I bumped into many great friends - my former floral instructors, old pals from school and friends from the industry.

At the Opening Night Gala, there were approximately 20+ floral gowns made to reflect the current Yves Saint Laurent's fashion exhibition at de Young.

I made a floral dress inspired by an evening gown from the YSL couture collection. The original was a black lace dress. I crafted mine with hard glue embellished with natural skeleton leaves to create the look of transparency(for the presentation, my model wore a silk underdress). The floral gown was finished with white phalaenopsis orchids, wax flowers, and a pair of red rose petal bows on the side. I purposely reversed my dress to white because I want my gown to be an inspirational piece not a straight replica. I want to translate the YSL fashion style into a petal language. To my surprise, together with matching headpiece and glove, my floral dress turned out very much like a wedding gown!
A matching headpiece
Me and my model Susanna
I really like the glove I made to match the dress. This can be a nice floral accessory for brides to wear.
There were many other dresses I like by other talented designers. Unfortunately the museum was too packed without enough room for mannequins...it is a pity that we can't show off our floral costumes during the Bouquets to Art week. So I can only show you pictures of what were presented at the Opening Night Gala.
Models at the backstage -
Of course you can still visit the museum for its current exhibtion of floral art. Bouquets to Art ends this Saturday at 5:15pm, don't miss it!
Have a peak at some extraordinary designs from Bouquets to Art...
The gorgeous bark dress on the right is by my friend Leila Simms. You can see how it relates to the painting behind.
My floral design instructor, Jenny Tabarracci, created the beautiful succulent urn on the right.