As many of you are aware, we were featured at this year's Decorex SA in Joburg.
Let me just allow that to sink in for a moment.. and I'll go ahead and pinch myself again. Little Paper La Fleur being featured at SA's biggest lifestyle/design show of the year! Wow! I still can't believe it. I can't believe my 'almost' 2 year old business is being sort after by amazing people like Anita Bloom - Creative director for Reed Exhibitions.
So When Anita contacted me to join their 'Creative Collection' hall - I was thrilled and a little... no, a lot taken back!
Let me level with you quickly. I am a down-to-earth, young go-getter, who is just happy if I sell a few of my flower creations a month. We have a two woman business (not this huge, well established corporation) and we work out of a cottage that was converted into a studio/working area. That's it...
What I've recently realised is, you don't need the fancy office, the corporate wear, big fancy cars etc for people to notice your talent. It's the product at the end of the day that does all the talking - not the behind the scenes or the fact that most days I work in my slippers!
Putting aside the extreme excitement, I was honestly - terrified! The brief was a wall arrangement to showcase the 'Creative Collection' colours, outside on the entrance arch. Go ahead and read that again... outside on the entrance! Guys I work with paper, a material that bends if the wind blows too hard!
So, paper flowers outside, how bad can that be? They'll be up for 3 days and it will be all over. Wrong! They will be up for an entire week! Still not getting why I was so freaked out? You know in the morning when you start your car and there's a slight layer of dew all over it? Yes.. it's not just cars, it's everything that's outside that gets covered in dew! How on earth am I going to protect these flowers?
I'm the kind of person who's more like "I'll make a plan when we get to that point, let's just worry about the now!". No time to worry, it's time to get planning!
What goes into planning a feature?
- What do we want the overall feature to look like?
- What flowers will we choose to use?
- Who are we sourcing our paper through?
- How many flowers do we need to make?
- Details? It's all about the details!
Paper flowers are amazing, they can take a little boring area and make it magical - but I don't want to do the same thing every other 'paper florist' is doing. I'm constantly asking myself "what makes us different from the rest?".
So we had two main ideas:
1. We wanted the arrangement to have depth. Not just all stuck flat to a surface.
2. We wanted the arrangement to have shape. Almost like the flowers were a 'creeper' kind of plant, that's big at the bottom and thins out at the top.
After a brief discussion on what the basic idea was, we started cutting! During the process of making our flowers, we thought it would be awesome to design a flower to commemorate Decorex! Our 'zebra' looking flower is now new to the collection!
Life is a little bugger though, who thinks it's funny to throw a spanner in the works when everything is going so perfectly.. we had a few spanners thrown at us for sure! During all the flower cutting and building, I realised that it would take me forever to put up each flower and detail, one for one. At that point I also realised that this is a hired out venue.. which means basically you can put up anything you'd like, using only prestic!
So how do I get flowers attached to a wall quickly and get them to stay attached? Hmmm.. after a lot of ideas were thrown around with Anita, we eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to go to site and meet with the lovely people who look after Gallagher Estate.
After a few cups of amazing coffee, I was ready to come face to face with our little issue and find a suitable solution that would keep all parties happy! And then I saw the arch... the larger than life, 5 meters high, 8 meters wide concrete arch. I think I stood still, staring at the arch for a good 5 minutes with my mind going a million miles an hour before I could suggest anything. Strange to think that this much effort goes into a paper flower feature hey? But it's never just about the flowers, dare I say but there might even be a little engineering involved!
In the end, we decided it was best for all if the arrangement was hung near the top of the arch using eye bolts and steel wire. We then designed our arrangement to be assembled into 8 pieces - this way we could build our arrangement in our studio and not standing on a ladder at 5 meters high! Shew!
In total it took us 16 days - normal 8 hour shifts, sometimes even 10-12 hour shifts to complete the project. We used over 2000 sheets of paper.. that's like over 3 kms! Our flower quantity was over 300, with 180 details including butterflies, leaves and petals.
The end result - was it worth all the paper cuts, blisters, shoulder knots, stress etc? Hell yeah it was! We are so proud of how the arrangement took shape and the response we've had so far! Even if nothing comes from this whole experience, we as a team (again, of only two!) learnt so much. We tested new techniques, pushed ourselves and pushed the boundaries of making paper flowers! We also learnt how to ensure our flowers can actually last outside - that's a big one! Maybe now we will be able to offer patio/veranda arrangements? Who knows?!
At the end of the day, I have yet again learnt the same lessons - Never give up, no matter what happens. If you want it bad enough, you'll make it happen. You will never know what you're capable of, if you don't step into unknown territory... such a cliche', I know!