WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A FLORAL DESIGNER?
In the Philippines, All Saints Day is a very special day when we offer flowers, candles, and prayer to celebrate those who have dearly departed from us. A close family friend asked me for help creating a bow, so I started making thousands of bows – beautifully designed, each one special and different. I then added blooms of dendrobium orchids to turn them into flower arrangements. From then, I knew floral design could be something that I would want to do for the rest of my life. I started spreading the word with friends and family and before I knew it I was getting orders for flower arrangements, as well as creating them for my church – where I was a youth leader. From then on, I knew I had found my calling and so started to educate myself and surround myself with like minded individuals and mentors.
In 2016, I migrated to Canada and got a job as a head designer for a floral and décor company. I worked there for many years and had the pleasure of being part of hundreds of weddings and special occasions for many families. It’s an honour. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company closed. Though it was a difficult time, it inspired me to start my own company with my new business partner Pam Nigro. Together, we started Vogue Weddings & Décor Inc. This time in my life really taught me that there will never be a perfect moment to do anything. Sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith and trust that great things will happen. You cannot fear failure – this is my philosophy in life.
YOU’VE BEEN SHOWCASING INCREDIBLE DESIGNS WITH FLEURS DE VILLES SINCE 2018 - WHICH HAVE BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE AND WHY?
My favourite is the design from my first Fleurs de Villes show in 2018. When I saw the ads for the show, I immediately emailed the organizers expressing my interest, but unfortunately the spaces were fully booked. Fate intervened and a few days later, a spot opened up so I jumped at the chance! I worked day and night for 5 days straight, and even had a colleague tell me that I was in over my head as some of Toronto’s finest florists were being showcased. Rather than being discouraged, this just motivated me even more to create something spectacular and prove the naysayers wrong. And that’s exactly what I did, winning the “Best in Show” Award! This was one of my proudest moments and it taught me that even when you are up against adversity, even when you think you are not good enough, you must never give up. Show up, try your hardest, and your efforts will pay off. You always have to believe in yourself.
IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH A FLORAL EXPERT, WHO WOULD IT BE, AND WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO LEARN FROM THEM?
This is an easy one - the legendary Preston Bailey and Bart Hassan, both FTD Interflora World Cup Champions. I would love to be able to learn from them and how they create some of their masterpieces. From Bart, I’d love to learn about balance and how he designs such intricate pieces of art.
WHICH FLEURS DE VILLES THEME HAVE YOU FELT MOST INSPIRED BY?
One of my favourite themes was the ROSÉ theme in 2021. I had the chance to create a floral tribute to Sophie Scholl, a German activist hero who was a key member of the White Rose resistance group during World War II, bravely opposing the Nazi regime's atrocities. After researching her, I felt so inspired and honoured to have been chosen to share her story, and myself and the team at Vogue Weddings & Décor took on the challenge of recreating a photo of her wearing a cardigan and baby collar dress. We used approximately 40,000 sunflower seeds in her dress, woven lily grass for the cardigan, and white roses at her feet to capture the spirit of this remarkable young woman. This is a story not to be forgotten.
WHO INSPIRES YOUR WORK?
Though not from the world of floral design – my mother is by far my biggest inspiration. She is my number one supporter and has played such a significant role in my life and in my career, always encouraging me to do my best, be my best, and never forget to help people along the way. It is from this grace, that I always know how special it is to be invited to work with people during their life’s most precious and important moments. It’s truly an honour to be chosen to be part of a special day – you are forever bonded, and forever in each other’s memories. This feeling is one of the greatest feelings in the world and can’t be replicated.
WHAT'S THE TOP FLORAL TREND YOU ARE SEEING NOW?
Right now, I am seeing a lot of combining faux and fresh florals. This allows designers to create something cost effective for clients, but not lose that WOW factor that everyone is after. When mixing faux and fresh, mechanics and techniques are key - you need to ensure you find the right mix and balance to create something remarkable.
WHAT'S THE MOST UNUSUAL OR CHALLENGING DESIGN BRIEF YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN?
I once created a float for a festival back home in the Philippines called “Panagbenga” which means a season of blooming. It took me three full days to create the structure – I did not sleep! I was so tired that once I was done with the float and delivered it to the parade, I fell asleep under a tree and actually missed the entire parade. But I know it was worth it!
YOU HAVE RECEIVED MANY ACCOLADES AND BEEN FEATURED IN ESTEEMED PUBLICATIONS - WHICH HAS BEEN THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU?
Every single publication that I have been featured in has truly been an honour. Each one holds a special place in my heart for different reasons. But, if I had to pick one, I’d say that my feature in Maclean’s Magazine really jumps out (May 2021). This was during COVID. I was approached by the magazine, and the resulting feature included a Fleurs de Villes design from that year - one so detailed and intricate, I even surprised myself. In a way, it was a much needed distraction from everything that was going on in the world. I used over 1200 stems of Statice, hand placing each one-by-one to create a butterfly pattern. Having this work featured and seeing my name beside it was so overwhelming. As an artist, this credit never gets old – being given the opportunity to showcase my talent to the world truly is an honour and one that I do not take lightly.
IF YOU COULD ATTEND A FLORAL FESTIVAL OR BOTANICAL GARDEN ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
The Rose Parade in Pasadena California US. I have always wanted to be a part of this festival and experience what it would be like to design one of their floats. I would also love to participate in Fleuramour in Belgium, and also create a piece for the Singapore Botanical Garden!
HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE FLOWERS INTO YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
Flowers in general make me happy and bring me joy. I use them in all parts of my day and personal life – whether it be setting a table or placing them around the house to exude positive energy. I also love floral designs and patterns in my clothes – designers such as Versace and Dolce & Gabbana who use florals in a lot of their designs are my favourite, and I take a lot of inspiration from them. Currently I am building an art piece at my house – a floral mannequin that I am going to use as a floor lamp stand.
IF YOU COULD CREATE A FLORAL ARRANGEMENT INSPIRED BY ANY BOOK OR MOVIE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Definitely the movie Titanic. When I think of this movie, I think about the grandness of the boat, the water, and of the love story between Jack and Rose. When I think of how I would design this, I think about shades of blue – the immense water – which could be created with ocean blue paper in between a sea of white baby’s breath. I would create the actual Titanic with charcoal hanging on the ceiling one by one using fishing line. I can already see it. And of course, behind the creation will be the song – My heart will go on – playing in the background for maximum effect. I would then use a variety of flowers to create Jack and Rose and depict their love story using roses and soft colours.
HOW HAVE YOU GROWN AS A DESIGNER SINCE WE FIRST MET YOU AT OUR INAUGURAL TORONTO SHOW IN 2018?
I am a non-stop learner. I am always studying and researching different techniques and mechanics. As a floral designer, you constantly have to keep up with the latest techniques and trends. I learn and take inspiration from everything that surrounds me. It’s a non -top journey and I feel like I have grown so much over the years and really found my niche as a designer. I went from working at a company to now co-owning Vogue Weddings & Décor which gives me a lot more creative licence to try new styles and be innovative. It also gives me more opportunity to work with my clients and partner with them to design their dream day.
WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT WORKING IN TODAY’S FLORAL INDUSTRY?
In my opinion, this business and industry is one of the most rewarding career paths I could have imagined for myself. You are able to meet so many different people and touch the lives of many. They invite you into their lives and you learn a lot about them, their families, their dreams, ideas and desires.
But then – everyone you meet wants something different and has a different idea of what beauty means to them. That means you really need to keep up with trends and how the industry is changing and evolving over time. An exciting idea for the industry would be to see the creators at Fleurs de Villes participate in a reality TV competition!