Designers speak about challenges faced running their own businesses

KUWAIT: Floral design is an exquisite art form with a precise discipline based on arranging flowers of various colors in a way that evokes awe, beauty and admiration. In Kuwait, various florists came to the spotlight and floral design shops began to sprout, offering people a wide assortment of products that fit every season and occasion.

In an interview focusing on the floral design boom, Lulwa Al-Refaei, a flower specialist and owner of 'Zaina Flowers' home business, founded her project in October 2012 with the aim of providing unique boutiques for every occasion. Before starting her business, Refaei noticed her massive interest in floral design, harmonizing colors and flowers care. As result of this passion, she joined a variety of courses and classes specializing in flowers arrangement and floral design. She started to arrange for relatives and friends until she felt capable and ready to begin her own business.

After she began, Refaei struggled with finding a good and adequate commercial marketing plan that would be positive for sales. The lack of manpower also affected her. "In the beginning, I used to prepare all the orders by myself without help from others, which made me feel knackered; however, loving my business and serving my customers was worth it," Refaei said. Refaei talked about the characteristics that distinguish florists from each other. She believed that florists should be precise, because floral design needed accuracy and a talent for mixing just the right colors.

Moreover, florists should always be creative and acquire a special taste by using new and unique ideas and techniques. On the specifics of the business, Refaei said that the orders of flowers grew in Ramadan, Eid, and in the Hajj pilgrimage period. In any given event, she mostly imports flowers, but there were some types of flowers not easy to obtain like the peonies, cherry blossom, and fresh lavender. To expand the lifespan of flowers, Refaei suggested keeping flowers in a cold place, changing the water every two days, and cutting the edge of the stem in a diagonal shape. Refaei called on all florists to avoid copying ideas and forge new innovative paths to follow, affirming that copying kills the spirit of creativity.

Obstacles and challenges

Meanwhile, Mey Al-Shehoumi -- a florist, events planner, and owner of 'My Event' planning outfit -- said that she always liked organizing for occasions especially for receptions, a popular activity in Kuwaiti society. A college of sharia and Islamic studies graduate, Shehoumi said that she began to plan for people in her milieu, despite the fact that she did not study the art formally. Afterwards, Shehoumi documented her work on social media platforms, which helped her to stand out and officially launching her business in February 2016.

One of the biggest obstacles in the beginning was preparing for low-priced events, which might affected her own personnel budget if the demands were high. Another issue was that customs inspections in Kuwait might cause delay in the flowers delivery, despite the best intentions on part of the planner and exporting companies, she added.

On the 'nitty-gritty' aspects of flowers arrangement, the Kuwaiti florist said that picking the colors of the flowers mostly depended on clients' preferences. For example, if the client chose flowers of white color, then the search for plants of the same color scheme will commence, and the selection process follows afterwards, she said.

If the customer ordered a specific type of an off-season flower, the price will definitely be higher, Shehoumi explained. Meanwhile, Shehoumi said that preparing for occasions such as weddings differed from say receptions, which usually takes around 24 hours. Reservations generally increase in some periods such as graduation season and after the Hajj pilgrimage, but in contrast, there were also times of recession in summer especially in June, July, and August, Shehoumi said. On the other hand, both natural and artificial flowers were highly demanded and have the same price tag, though the natural ones -- which her shop usually sells -- tend to fade in few days. On the long-run, the beginnings might be hard, but passion for floral design makes the struggle all worthwhile, she advised. - KUNA