How did you discover a love for flowers?
I credit my love of flowers to a lifetime of watching my mother fuss over her garden — I grew up surrounded by flowers. Even at the age of 85, my mother can hardly walk but she still tends to each and every one of her flower boxes on her balcony, all of which she planted herself. She cares for them and talks to them. Somewhere along the way this love transferred to me.
What were you doing before you started Plaisir Cadeaux et Fleurs?
I was working in real estate in Dubai. Around 2009, I played around with a few other business ideas before deciding to get into what I love the most — flowers. Floristry was always a hobby I pursued on the side — my dinner party tables have always been famous for the flower settings and around the house, and I had a dry flower business in Canada.
So what’s your French connection?
I am French-educated and lived in the South of France at a boarding school, from kindergarten, all the way up to high school and was surrounded by French teachers and culture. The French influence is evident in pretty much everything I do from the name of my store to the name of my youngest daughter Isabelle! Also our style of floristry is French floristry where flowers equate to pleasure.
What makes French floristry different?
French floristry believes a home without fresh flowers is an unhappy one. Abundance is another aspect of French floral design. Think of fields of lavender as far as the eye can see — bouquets packed full and brimming blooms are a French design staple. Fillers play a large role in making a beautiful French-style arrangement but greenery is used sparingly.
Tell us about roses...
Roses have a language of their own and express a variety of emotions. White roses stand for purity, innocence and charm. They also denote sympathy. Lilac roses represent love at first sight and enchantment, and peach or coral roses express gratefulness and appreciation. Orange roses stand for excitement, energy and enthusiasm while green roses express abundance and renewal.
What do you enjoy most about being a florist?
I love both working with flowers and with clients. When a client appreciates our work, it means the world to us. It energises us as a team. Working with flowers gives me the artistic freedom and lose myself in creativity — often, I lose track of time and realise it’s 5pm and I haven’t had either breakfast or lunch.
What have been some unique stories behind the orders you’ve received?
We once had a client purchase 10 of our largest arrangements, all with red roses, but the recipient refused to accept them and wouldn’t allow us to deliver them to her. We had to use our feminine touch and some psychology talking to her on the phone before she was convinced to allow the delivery. The couple were clearly in a fight but we managed to bring some peace and harmony into their world with those gorgeous arrangements.
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Considering that flowers eventually die, is there merit to the fact flowers are overrated?
Absolutely not! When you receive flowers, there is nothing that replaces the feeling of being thought of — flowers mean someone is thinking of you enough to want to add beauty to your daily life. I always say, flowers die in a few days, yes, but same can apply to food — food is enjoyed and digested in hours, but does that mean we don’t eat, or don’t go to our favourite restaurant. I believe the ultimate romantic gift is a box of flowers with a beautiful and heartfelt hand-written note.
Your personal favourite flowers...
Peonies, hydrangeas and garden roses because they’re delicate and exude femininity.
Have you had women buy flowers for men?
Almost daily. We have women who buy flowers for their fathers, husbands, boyfriends almost daily. However, men never buy flowers for themselves. They always buy to gift them to a lady.
What’s the etiquette for sending flowers?
White flowers are both for weddings and funerals, but memorial wreaths and bouquets must have a black ribbon; a man should never send red roses to a woman he isn’t romantically involved with.
Tell us about how the florists at your store are romance specialists?
We call ourselves romance specialists humorously, but there’s a hint of seriousness to this self-given title as we not only advise on the style and design of our arrangements, but we also compose eloquent hand-written messages expressing the client’s wishes with finesse. We often hear back from clients the next day saying how touched the recipient was.
What has been the most romantic gift or gesture you’ve received?
Once a friend sent me flowers from London, although he knows I own a flower boutique myself. The florist never receives flowers, so I was touched by this gesture.