Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Las Vegas- "Savage Botanicals"

This program was presented at Symposium by Joyce Mason-Monheim AIFD,PFCI, AzMF and each of the dresses was designed by a talented floral designer in the Arizona area: Melanie Burnett AIFD, Diane Gonzalez AIFD, Katherine Gonzalez AIFD, Cathy Grim AIFD, Ikuko Hashimoto AIFD, Sharon Petelle Kantor AIFD, Patti Klawans AIFD, Claire Ortloff AIFD, and Ann Peckham AIFD.  OUTSTANDING JOB LADIES!!!. The inspiration for the program was the controversial designs of Alexander McQueen. These pics are courtesy of Flowers& Magazine, a well known and highly distributed industry magazine.

"Woodland Warrior" A reinterpretation of an Alexander McQueen original. This features over 8,000 artificial hypericum berries hand sewn into the fabric. 

"Autumnal Ruination"
This gown features groupings of artificial leaves, branches, and grasses.  It was even more vibrant in person onstage at the show, but the picture here shows more detail than what my camera could capture in a darkened stage show setting.
"Petals & Plastic"
More than 12,000 white plastic cable ties (aka zip ties) in three sizes were used to create this dress.  It was AMAZING in person because the texture was so unique, the color almost opalescent.  It featured a train that I would estimate to be over 8' long.  On the bodice and hat are magnolia and gerbera petals.  Interesting to note, all of the dresses were heavy, this one at over 40lbs! 
"Life Cycle"
A combination of ferns, succulents, mosses; this was probably the most "wearable" of the dresses.  The water lettuce skirt mimicked the multiple layered dresses that are so fashionable right now.  I loved the texture of the hat, although I was not in love with the shape.  However, I can certainly appreciate and applaud the amount of work and labor these very talented designers poured into their creations!
"Birds of a Feather"
This was one of my favorites.  Actually it was hard to pick a favorite, but this one dress triggered an immediate reaction.  Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds".  And I mean that in a good way.  It was one of the first horror movies I ever watched, and even though it is a classic, it is still creepy.  If Tim Burton did a remake, I imagine the movie poster would resemble this dress.  The feathers and fabric were awesome.  The birds in this dress are actually supported on a back brace, similar to what the show girls of Vegas wear to support those huge headdresses.  The bodice is constructed with the underside of magnolia leaves.
"Mechanical Meringue"
This is the little black dress redesigned.  Over a thousand nuts and bolts were used to create the sequin effect.  See the gears spiraling out from the dress? Plastic toy gears spray painted!  Love it!

"Crown of Horns"
This dress features a back brace for the antler headdress, (yes those are REAL antlers) and to contrast, softer materials of lace, goat fur, spanish moss and ginger petals. 
"Insect Awakening"
For all you butterfly lovers out there-this dress literally moved.  It bounced and fluttered all the way down the runway.  The movement of the butterflies on the ends of the midollino stems was perfect. 
"Spanish Lace"
Each of the "tendrils" you see are handmade from aluminium flat wire in copper, gold, red and brown.  Each and every single swirl by hand. I loved the panel in the back of yellow cymbidium orchid petals which are also the bodice of the dress.  Very feminine and pretty!
"Hortensia's Addiction"
Hydrangea. Lots and lots of Hyrangea. Voluminous layers of it. This dress was BIG and beautiful.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Flowers cost what?

Running a small business is very hard work.  And a constant battle of Profit over Costs.  So every flower we sell has to cover:

flower cost
delivery charges from our suppliers
property taxes
utilities (water sewer electric phones internet)
employee pay
payroll taxes
computer system
paper/office supplies
cooler maintenance
floral chemicals (processing chemical, storage chemical)
enclosure cards
card holders
tissue/wrapping paper for the flowers (carry out )

...and the list goes on.   That is a lot of expenses that take a chunk out of the "pie".  Not to mention our product is perishable.  If we don't sell it, it gets thrown away.  If you look at the list above, that's not just the flower cost we are throwing away but the potential to pay bills.  Every flower shop owner's goal is to run out versus throw it away.  That is why it virtually impossible to carry every type and color of flower known to man in the store at all times. 
Our costs are higher than the big box stores on product alone.  Most big box stores carry a wide variety of other products producing profits and covering their costs, flowers are just another item to sell.  Big box retailers are ordering hundreds of BOXES of roses (for example) where as the small store is only ordering 1 to 2 bunches.  A bunch of roses has 25 stems.  A box contains 150-250 rose stems.  Big Box retailers are buying at such a high volume/quantity the growers are giving them a better price.  That is why grocery stores charge less than small business owners. 

I am running a rose special this week.  I got a box of roses versus 1-2 bunches.  The grower dictated what colors I received in the box, I didn't know what colors until I opened it.  The stems are 40cm long instead of 50-60cm. (you pay more for longer stems...longer stems equals more weight, more weight equals higher freight costs) This is why I am able to offer a sale on the roses.  I try to run specials when I can but the mixed boxes are not always offered, or not offered at a price that makes them a "deal" .  

A little information on what drives pricing on flowers from a small business prospective.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Passion- Las Vegas, Part 2

"Tool Belt Diva" was one of the programs presented at Symposium by Cindy Anderson AIFD, CFD, PFCI.  It was a great program incorporating all the interesting materials you find every day at your orange, blue or red home improvement store. She took commonplace materials and created fabulous designs :
These are wooden shims or similar wood product It produced a really cool texture and color scheme

an acrylic base with copper tubing

This is a type of drainage pipe, secured with cable ties (!) really cool lines and use of materials

Can anyone guess what this arch is made of? You might be surprised....
 it's window screening!!!! I'm stealing this idea Cindy! (Thank you!!!)
 Clear Acrylic panels create table top centerpieces that have height but are still transparent to table guests. 
I had the opportunity to talk with Cindy's husband who assisted with this part which was awesome because I have being trying to construct my own mannequins off and on with difficulty.  He was able to give me some ideas on how to overcome some of the issues so hopefully I will be adding "people" to the window displays in the near future.

 Cindy is very creative and shows a lot of dedication in the detailing of her work.  This faux chrysanthemum flower is made up entirely of florist flat aluminum wire.
A rosette with a decorative accent in the center.
PVC pipe with LED lights accented in the end of some of the pipes.  Very cool wall panel.
There were a few more designs I didn't post because the pictures came out a little fuzzy.  I am still learning the ins and outs of photography from my great photography friend  Julie Napear and battling low light in the gallery ball room where the designs were located post program. 


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Las Vegas - Free Time

So in the "off time" when I wasn't at shows, my husband and I explored Las Vegas and the surrounding area.  If you have never been to Vegas, it's definitely an experience.  And off the strip is a whole other place to explore if you find the time. 

Hoover Dam is SO much more impressive in real life.  Movies and pictures do not do it justice.  The sheer size and architecture is amazing and should be truly appreciated in person.  See those dots where the river narrows? Those are kayaks.  This was taken on top of the dam looking down.  The water is unbelievably clear.

Just before the dam overlook is the Lake Mead Overlook.  Lake Mead (which was formed as a result of the dam)  is BEAUTIFUL

 Where we were standing at the overlook to the lake, these little guys were scurrying around in the shade of the ledge.  They resemble chipmunks with bushier tails.  And they were scaling the walls of this canyon, darting everywhere...it doesn't take much to amuse me.

This was the view from Henderson/Boulder City driving back towards Las Vegas:
We also explored the Las Vegas Speedway:
Again, much different angle from the infield versus the stands/Live TV. And yes, we did a ride along in one of the NASCAR cars.  (170 mph- OH YEA!)

So just wanted to share a few things to explore besides the strip...more posts to come!

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Passion- Las Vegas" Part 1

So I haven't posted in a little bit, mainly due to being in Las Vegas for the annual AIFD Symposium.  It includes programs, new products, runway shows and designers from around the world.  So I tried to get as many pictures as possible to share with you, (but also condensed so you aren't sifting through hundreds of pics of the same arrangement from different angles) 

First up is my good friend Jim Dempsey AIFD, CFD 's program: HAND | Craft- Design to Distinguish yourself.  It explored how we (floral designers) must work to distinguish our work, our art from all the other floral companies that offer flowers to the public.  I would LOVE to be able to create some of the wonderful things Jim designed for the show, like these hats.  This one is linen with rosettes and this collection of branches decorated with reflective discs.  Now remember- this is for the stage, to be seen up close and far away and it's the CONCEPT.  It's to showcase the handwork and craftsmanship in the design, not always a literal prêt à porter (ready to wear) design.
You can see the length of the hat a little better here.

This is a hand-woven dress by Jim, with metallic accents and also with a boa of floral material to compliment the dress.

This dress is made with preserved/permanent botanicals of hydrangeas attached.  The picture really doesn't do the color justice as it was so much more vibrant in person.

This is a Derby Hat to me.  Or a Royal Ascot Hat, or some other equally affluent social function that requires a decorative hat.  I loved this hat.  Hmmm...maybe Jim and I can do a Christmas exchange this year :)  Just kidding.  But when you saw the detailing of each of these pieces up close it was very impressive!  I, who does not own a sewing machine and sweats it out sewing buttons back on my kids coats, was very impressed to say the least.   Every one of these took a lot of time and patience and I applaud Jim for sharing his handiwork with everyone in Las Vegas!

This is a nosegay that accompanied another hat (not shown here) Which is made with a new product that I will hopefully be able to carry here in the shop in the future.  I don't have all the details of the product with me at the moment but I will be sure to blog about that later.  There was much more to Jim's show, I am just showcasing a few things here to give you a taste of what's to come in the future blog posts concerning Symposium.