"To be the best, you need to surround yourself with the best."
As a young entrepreneur, one thing I truly value is the power of knowledge. I crave to learn something new and challenge myself every single day.
This past September, I had the unique privilege of attending one of Karen Tran's Master Floral classes. Karen Tran is one of the the wedding industry's premiere floral designers. In fact, she won the 2013 Wedding Innovator of the Year, and (get this...) now has her own double tulip line in Holland named after her (production starts in February 2014)! Karen is an industry leader and her breathtaking weddings designs leave everyone's jaws on the floor.
Because I enjoyed my experience with Karen so much, I am going to give you a rundown of the event! First up is Day 1 of our Master Floral Class in the beautiful La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, California.
Day 1 of class found me awake at 4am, due to both my giddiness and the fact that my internal clock was still on East Coast time. I had butterflies waiting in anticipation for the day to begin! I had admired Karen's work for so long that I couldn't believe that I was actually going to meet her!
Our work area over-looked the Pacific Ocean and the view was simply spectacular! It was a bit cloudy in the morning but in the afternoon the clouds cleared up and we were able to take in the full view. Walking into our work room, the entry had white draped ceilings and white and black checkered flooring. I could tell this was going to be a glamorous affair!
At breakfast I was introduced to the other participants, and we learned about Karen's background. We had a few ladies from Canada, from Texas, and another that flew all the way from Holland. It was such treat to learn about how everyone got started, where their business names originated from, and their experiences with the daily struggles of being an entrepreneur. It was great to know that all of the ladies had undergone many of the same successes and challenges that I am facing growing my career and brand name. The conversations made me feel like I had known this small group of ladies forever. After an intimate breakfast, it was time to talk flowers!
As we were being seated, we were pleasantly surprised with our custom hand painted agendas made by Momental Designs! Aren't they beautiful?! Karen said that we would see Momental's custom designs throughout the class and especially on the menu card and seating cards of our glamour night (stay tuned for the AMAZING pictures in a couple of days).
First up; learning how to make one of Karen Tran's signature high centerpieces. Karen carefully walked us though the importance of movement, texture, variety in the flowers we choose for centerpieces. Coming from a wedding coordinator background, I had very minimal knowledge of assembling floral arrangements. I soaked in every word she said and took copious amounts of notes as she went along.
Fun fact: Do you ever wonder why most high glass centerpieces have water in them? It is to add weight to the centerpiece so they won't fall over. To ensure a sturdy structure, Karen goes up to all of her tables and purposely bumps into them with her hip. As she did this in class everyone gasped! But she explained that it is essential if we are making something to this scale that we do the same to ensure if a wedding guest accidentally bumps into the table that the centerpiece won't topple and fall. Excellent tip!
After we learned the basics, she let each of us take a stab at it. Creating fluidity throughout the piece was harder than it looked! You could totally tell where Karen's arrangement stopped and where mine began! It was great being in such a small setting because she was able to make edits, suggestions, and give us quick tips as we were arranging. This one-on-one time made the day even more special.
One major pitfall that I was taught to avoid was to never clump similarly shaped flowers together. Take hydrangeas, roses, and peonies. They are all the same round, ball shaped kind of flower. If you start clustering them together you will notice that the centerpiece will take shape of a ball. Instead, try using various textured flowers to make the piece interesting to the eye and always vary the length of the flowers coming out to create a continual movement. Karen kept saying that you want the flowers to come out at you.
Being only 5' tall I thought, oh I'll just stand on a chair to do my section of the centerpiece... I was extremely wrong. We learned that you always want to be designing at the viewpoint of your guests. For high centerpieces the guests will be looking up at the arrangement. So give it the feeling that the flowers are cascading toward you vs. out perpendicular to the floor.
The #1 Tip I learned from Karen Tran: Keep your workspace tidy!
The number one tip I learned at the master class was to always be respectful of the space you are in and keep your work stations tidy. We always worked with a trash bin right next to us to discard any excess stems, leaves, and thorns. How many times have you started a project and there just are pieces of it everywhere!!! (My hand is raised) Growing up, any time I had art class my workspace was a mess and a half! However, venues and prospective customers take notice even when you are on-site doing work. During the master class, we did not have a single petal left on the floor!
After finishing our high centerpiece we took a little lunch break at George's at the Cove Restaurant and returned for found two: Making our Own Bouquets!
Karen opened the floor up and said "You may choose whatever flowers you want." I thought... really?! Any flowers I want?! I was in heaven! We had tulips, orchids, hydrangeas, calla lilies, gardenias, roses and many more to choose from. A handy dandy tip we learned was to always design a bridal bouquet in the mirror. That way you find it's true "front", seeing what it will look like from the photographer's point of view. You can then feel when the width of the collection of stems are getting too much for a bride to hold.
I simply love the smell of gardenias and absolutely wanted them in my bouquet! The trick with gardenias is that they can brown really easily after handling. This is due to the natural oil we have on our hands.
Quick Tip: Squeeze lemon juice on your hands when handling gardenias. This will keep the petals from browning and last longer!
We also learned Karen Tran's secret tips on how to keep bouquets looking fresher for longer. Want to know the secret that left the other florists in class in awe?... Take the class!
It was a fabulous first day of class! I enjoyed chatting about social media strategy and best practices working with other wedding vendors.. Blooper of the day... remember how I woke up at 4am anxiously awaiting the start of the day... yeah well it turns out that I wore my romper backwards all day long... haha awesome! Stay tuned for Day 2 of Karen Tran's Master Class in a few days!
What do you think about my bouquet? Comment and Like below!