Through knowing Karen I’ve been opened up to a whole new world of floral design I never knew existed. Great to watch what she is doing for brands in this space.
What’s your story?
I’m a global nomad and grew up in the Middle East countries of Bahrain and Dubai. For the past 2 decades I’ve lived in Singapore. I’m a passionate floral designer and a published author, specialising in floral training for the hospitality industry and floral project management for brands. I’ve been labeled a Third Culture Kid (TCK), a Trailing Spouse, the Colour Lady and most recently a Floral Queen. Whatever the label, I remain focused on my floral journey.
What excites you most about your industry?
It has to be the amazing opportunities that excite me. Experiencing diverse floral cultures, the floral fashion shows, the partnerships. Watching new trends and techniques emerge around the world and being able to share the scope of using flowers as part of a brand to create an ambience of affluence or a touch point in a customer experience. Best of all I get a buzz from showing my clients how to leverage the power of flowers in their businesses.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I feel extremely connected and at home here in Asia. I touched down at Changi Airport in the fall of 1994 . Some of those years I spent in Jakarta and the rest have been spent living and working here in Singapore. During those years I’ve explored the cities of Manila, Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing and the many islands of Indonesia, including Bintan, Bali and Lombok – just to name a few. Asia is vibrant, well connected and fast paced with diverse cultures. I love it!
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
As a female expatriate, I think it has to be Singapore. It ranks high on the list of easy places to set up a business as well as being safe, efficient, easy to get around and has easy access to one of the best airports in the world. The infrastructure is efficient and in the past few years more co-working spaces have become available and some incredible networking groups have emerged. These are all good ingredients for creative entrepreneurs like myself.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
It came from Daniel Priestley, the entrepreneur and best-selling author of ‘Become A Key Person Of Influence’. When we met, he was incredibly insightful about my business and opened my eyes to the fact that I was sitting on a mountain of wealth.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by a host of amazing people from so many industries and professions both in my own community, networks and everyday life to iconic leaders in our global world. American business woman Mary Spillane is one of those people who stands out. An expert in communications, business and development, performance improvement and personal branding, she was also the founder of Colour Me Beautiful (CMB) and author of several books. I had the privilege to meet her when I qualified as a CMB Image Consultant in 1994 and I think she deserves a special mention here because two decades later, even though I have changed professions, fundamentally, my floral business and life still revolve around image, colour and style.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learnt the importance of brand storytelling and how to create short, impactful videos. It’s opened up a whole new creative world to share what I do and being a ‘gadget girl’ it’s introduced me to some new tools and Apps which have blown me away.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I believe everything happens for a reason and you can’t run if you haven’t learnt to walk. So I have no regrets about my journey. It has given me time to grow, to listen and to learn and now I have entered a new phase, to go forth with confidence and share.
How do you unwind?
I adore photography and love being behind the lens. Getting lost in a visual world of colours, textures and shapes, people, flowers and architecture is one of my favourite pastimes.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Only one? There are so many wonderful places to visit and am known for my frequent small breaks to re energize, but if I can only choose one, I have to say I love the Thai hospitality. I recently traveled to Hua Hin, a beach resort and home to the King and Queen of Thailands summer palace. I found the boutique hotels fascinating, the temples calming and we even had a trip to the Hua Hin Hills vineyard, a most unexpected find.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Whatever your thoughts about Lady Gaga you can’t ignore her success in turning her followers into fanatics. In the book Monster Loyalty, Jackie Huba, a marketing expert explores her fan philosophy and isolates 7 lessons that any business can learn.
Shameless plug for your business:
A mentor once told me that it doesn’t matter what I do, but whatever it is, be the best. I believe that at Karen French Floral Designs, our products are second to none. In the next few months my new book ‘Hospitality, Flowers and Brands’ will be published and it’s a book you can’t ignore. It focuses on 5 key areas: Image, Impressions, Inspiration, Investment and Implementation, to create flowers that WOW! If flowers are part of your brand and you’re in the business of hospitality stay connected!
How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected]
Author Website: http://entertainwithflowersandflair.com/book/
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is the owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries and he is also the CEO of Entrevo Asia, a company that runs 40 week Growth Accelerator programs.
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