What happens when you send two of the country's biggest name designers to van Vliet in Birmingham with buckets of Colombian flowers and a fabulous florist audience? A day of amazing designs and giggles, that's what.
In fact David Ragg and Laura Leong produced over 30 designs at our last roadshow, leaving dem-goers enthused and inspired having shared shed-loads of tips and techniques.
"What fantastic demos from Laura Leong and David Ragg!! I enjoyed every minute of it! And what a choice of stunning Colombian roses!" - Lisa Turner
Be it the plainest of carnations, a magnificent rose or... get ready for it... bright blue chrysanths (!), our designer duo impressed the crowd and rose to every challenge despite any prior flower misgivings.
Designs ranged from the completely commercial – colour blocked cars and chrysanths in grouped containers – to Laura and David's celebrated designer style, all working their materials to the max and proving you don't need a bulging budget to do beautiful blooms.
"A variety of designs and so much inspiration. Worth the trip to Birmingham." - Winship Teresa.
Van Vliet's sundries department took a bit of a battering thanks to a creative use of all things from glittered twigs and festive stars to snow-ball spheres and tartan squares. So yes you've guessed it... the day had a Christmas theme but proved you can make money from everything and anything than a plain red hand-tied.
Once again Caroline compered with enough oomph to leave her audience shouting the Colombian tagline from the rooftops... flowers that are "BRIGHTER, STRONGER, LONGER!" as well as taking time to explain the very special work carried out through Florverde, Colombia's world famous kite mark of social and environmental excellence.
Having worked in flowers all his life we knew David wasn't kidding when he backed up the claims that Colombian really is quality, saying "their roses are spectacular, they're what Colombia is really famous for".
"9 day old Colombian roses in Laura Leong's design are still going strong! What a great quality!" – Lisa Turner
And yes their designs were saleable, but they were also fresh and innovative. David said, "We've got to think outside our comfort zone... we get a lot of overseas students in my shop, and I've got a feeling they'd really take to the vibrant dyed flowers. Sometimes you have to get out of your 'flower snobby side' and occasionally remember that it's not all about me, it's about what the consumer wants."
Full of tips in both design and business, Laura adds "but just remember to advise your brides against blue roses because what you don't want is a dyed wedding dress!", whilst carefully twisting wires into delicate Christmas stars and then passing them around so the audience could take a closer look at the mechanics. Her hand-made wire bouquet collar caused a real stir, as she was happy to share all the ins and outs of her techniques.
Back on the topic of business, David jokes "Maybe I should just get a t-shirt made saying 'I'm in it for the money!!' Because it's true, it's so easy to lose sight of that when you're naturally a flower lover, but you can't forget about running your business."
"Just got home after a fab day here. The Van Vliet house was lovely with stunning flowers and sundries. The demonstrators were fab and I am looking at a lovely frame design I won in the raffle. Thank you" - Jan Sanchez
And with Laura creating designs with mark-up in mind... "This one is all about its empty space, and you can see it only uses a small quantity of flower", the day offered inspiration for creative and business brains alike.
Covered in glitter (Christmas has well and truly arrived!) but content and inspired by all things Colombian, we'd like to thank our star designers, the van Vliet team who worked oh-so hard to put it all together, and our wonderful audience for going out of their way to get there. Not only did you make it all worthwhile but we managed to raise nearly £300 for Help the Heroes as well.