For a good three years of my life starting from when I was seven, my ambition was to be a teacher. I would play teacher to my stuffed animals and set them in front of me in neat rows while I “taught”. The novelty of school wore off by the time I was in Primary 3 and I wanted to be something else. I wanted to be a florist after my parents brought me on a trip to the flower nursery and I remember falling in love with tulips that day.
For a good three years of my life starting from when I was seven, my ambition was to be a teacher. I would play teacher to my stuffed animals and sit them in front of me in neat rows while I “taught”. The novelty of school wore off by the time I was in Primary 3 and I wanted to be something else. I wanted to be a florist after my parents brought me on a trip to the flower nursery and I remember falling in love with tulips that day.
During our Skillsfuture courses, we get to spend a full day or two with the participants and by the second bouquet, we get to know one another’s stories. The one thing in this life we know with certainty - you either watch change happen or you make it happen. It is beautiful to watch someone step out of their comfort zone, be humbled enough to learn something new from someone younger because they want to change their lives. Some do it for more time with their family, others do it for the love of flowers.
In all workshops, we discuss how to buy flowers in Singapore, how to ascertain if they are fresh or old, and how to prepare them for use and care for them in our hot weather. Many felt that flowers are a stupendous waste of money because they wilt quickly in Singapore. For the same amount of money, many have reasoned why not get something practical or durable. But are they the same? Yes, you can surely get another pair of shoes or another tote bag instead, but can they offer the same joy and beauty as these fleeting flowers? Call me biased, but even now when I see flowers daily, they still awe me when I see them bloom. I also see them wilt a lot, and some days they fall apart with no warning. We tend to want to hold on and hoard, but flowers have taught me how beautiful fleeting impermanence can be. The fleeting flowers of Spring, the maple leaves of Autumn. And they have taught me it is alright to lose some because there was going to be more.
We then walk through the elements of floral design like colour theory, texture, shape, and form as I share the creative process behind every bouquet. Because we brand ourselves as a boutique florist, a better florist, many of our customers call us to discuss a bouquet order. The few questions we ask a lot are - what’s this for, what’s his/(mostly) her favourite flower, what’s his/her favourite colour and sometimes, how old is he/she. Mostly birthdays and anniversaries, but sometimes I learn their life stories. (Digressing a little, I have never thought to be a florist also meant I am easily invited into my customers’ lives, and how their stories have started to change the way I look at life, but we shall leave this for another day.) With this information, we choose what goes into the bouquet in accordance - colour first, shape and form second, texture third. I always tell students to be disciplined when they go to the flower nursery because this discipline goes a long way when your florist business pays your bills.
Centrepiece with the prettiest garden flowers I did during a class in London! Never had the chance to work with this colour palette in Singapore yet.
Weeks past weeks we repeat the theory part of the course syllabus and that can sometimes be demanding on a Saturday or Sunday morning for us. Most of my students will see me drinking a lot of coffee through the day because repeating the same stuff every week can be daunting without the caffeine boost.
My favourite part of the course comes when the students start creating their own pieces. I would do a demo teaching the fundamental techniques, flower facing and placement, but the best part is watching the students create something that is an expression of themselves. The most satisfying classes are the advanced classes where students come back for one-to-one sessions and create free-form arrangements which require more familiarity with flowers and some eye for good design. We teach them how to create bouquets that look like they were just picked from the garden and table centrepieces using urns that look natural and airy. These are hard to teach because they are far from the mass-loved arrangements which are bursting with flowers. Counter-intuitively but putting less is always harder. Look at the lovely works of our students below!
When we started Fleuriste, we never thought teaching would hold such importance to us. Being a bespoke florist in Singapore has greatly enriched my life - I get to send out well-wishes, kind thoughts, and gentle consolation through flowers. And being able to teach has elevated that satisfaction. The overwhelming sense of pride I get when I see students leaving Fleuriste achieving more than they might have imagined coming in is priceless.