Q&A with Yolanda LaGuerre, Floral Design Instructor

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For someone who is a tireless entrepreneur, the owner of YL Event Design, and an NYBG Floral Design Instructor, Yolanda LaGuerre still knows how to enjoy life. Not surprisingly, she finds it to be a strong advantage in the party business! Here she shares with us her trend predictions going into 2014, industry advice, and how she came to discover a career in flowers.

You say you started your floral design career at age 15?

That’s correct. I lived in the city and took full advantage of living so close to one of the best flower markets in the world! With a sheet of oak tag, a pair of scissors and a marker I made myself business cards with my name, beeper number, and tag line, “Designer willing to do anything,” and passed them out all over the New York Flower Market at 5 a.m. every day! After a while I got my first break and freelanced with many designers for a few years before attending NYBG.

Have your aspirations for your career changed over the years? If so, how?

In the beginning I just wanted to work as a freelancer for fabulous designers, doing over the top events and making lots of money. I knew how to make pretty designs but I didn’t know the elements and principals, or how to identify some varieties, so I decided the next step was getting formal training at NYBG.

Before I was finished with the program I knew I no longer wanted to be a freelancer, and with the guidance of my instructors at NYBG I opened my first of three retail shops. After a few years, one of my NYBG instructors referred me to teach Floral Design. Again, with the guidance and confidence from my NYBG family I taught floral design for a few years and even began competing in design competitions.

Today, my aspirations have evolved yet again. I have devoted my life to this industry and will research and come up with innovative techniques and share them in my classes, lectures, and books. I’m actually working now on a resource book for budding floral designers (pun intended) on what steps to take to become a successful Floral Designer. Topics will range from owning a retail shop or studio to freelancing and finding jobs.

What do you enjoy most about event design? What is the hardest part?

I really enjoy the fact that no two weeks in my life are ever the same! I meet so many different people and have the privilege to visit great places and beautiful venues! To be a part of someone’s “once in a lifetime” event and make their vision a reality is just an amazing feeling! I design a dream world for my clients, creating lifelong memories for them and their guests.
The hardest part is the pressure of hoping nothing goes wrong during your event. I have never gotten desensitized to the importance of the event I am working on and handle each one with the utmost respect.

How are the needs of corporate clients different from private clients?

The thing to remember is that designing an event for a private client is often a very personal and intimate task. These events are milestones for the client, and together we spend time choosing each type of flower, the perfect vessel for the floral arrangement, staging, etc. Private clients want to feel safe with the designer they hire and most of the time that means I will have frequent lunch meetings, sometimes simply listening to the love stories of couples getting married.

Where a private client will hire you based on emotion, the typical corporate client will hire you based on your reputation because they do not have the time to micro manage the décor. Corporate events are typically fundraisers, award galas, or product launch parties. We have one consultation in person where I have one shot to “wow” them and gather all the necessary details to design the event.

Finally, what new trends are out there in floral design?

While the 2013 Vintage look is still popular—and when it comes to wedding work it will always be a popular style—what is trending for 2014 is refreshing and new! You will begin to see designers create a more Art Deco style with elegant accents of mint and gold. Glam is back! For those looking for a more natural style, “Eco Chic” is a biggie for 2014: polished shells, pods, and birch combined with pastel colors designed with flowing lines and simple containers. Keep your designs clean!

For those considering the Floral Design Certificate Program, Yoli LaGuerre’s next class will be Floral Design Fundamentals: Form, an introductory class open to everyone.

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