On Tuesday May 21, 2019 the society for the advancement of floral design (SAFD) presented their final program for the season. The featured designer was the amazingly talented Nicola Parker AIFD, CFD, TMFA.
Nicola is a 19 year veteran of the floral industry . She is a former president of the Allied Florists of Houston and has served on the board at TSFA as well as currently serving on the board for AIFD . She is a tireless volunteer who is committed to education and the advancement of our industry. Nicola is a Texas Master Florist Advanced and was proudly inducted into the American Institute of floral design on July 1st 2015.
The subject matter of her program was a cause and subject near and dear to her heart. Nicky is heavily involved with the Memorial Day Flowers project. It is a project funded entirely by private donations through which a group of dedicated volunteers sets up shop at the Veteran’s cemetery and distributes fresh roses to families visiting their fallen military. The attendees are given 2 beautiful fresh roses. One to lay on the grave and one to take home in remembrance. It is a beautiful project that contributes in the healing process and ensures our heroes are not forgotten. The volunteers will even place a rose on a grave for those who can not attend. The project has grown by leaps and bounds in the 8 years Nicola has been involved and this year the list of donors and suppliers has exceeded 15,000 roses for the cemetery. The project has really captured media attention and we have seen Nicky proudly discussing it on multiple TV and print interviews due to her generous sponsor Texas Mattress Makers.
Nicky’s program that night focused on floral designs that could be used in homes to keep these memories alive and honor the brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Nicky’s designs were beautiful, patriotic, poignant and heart - warming. The ladies of SAFD loved her engaging commentary as she showed beautiful designs and explained the corresponding mechanics as well as the thought process and inspiration behind each piece. An added bonus was Nicky generously sharing new techniques and styles in a context which the attendees could take these ideas and use them in their own shops and homes. This is the true mark of a professional educator.
The designs were all composed over 2 days at Towne Flowers where owner Courtney Stewart opened her shop and supplies in a generous show of support. The designs were all unique and beautiful. Some were purely floral and some were accessorized with patriotic accessories that fit them beautifully. One design was a submerged piece that featured an asymmetrically staged ghost wood with a grouping of callas. The piece was based in glass where the focal was a piece of oasis submerged in water, river stones and gravel. The foam was cleverly wrapped in aspidistra and a pave’ of blossoms served as an intriguing focal.
Another design was a set of birch poles in different sizes held in a patriotic container with quick concrete.. one tree was composed by attaching a large oasis filled iglu…. Aspidistra leaves, loquat foliage, salal and Italian ruscus were then artfully arranged to resemble a large tree. The structure was then suggested as a memory tree with notes and pictures attached to flowing ribbons. A beautiful, sentimental and interactive way to honor a loved one. The companion piece featured a metal sign honoring the fallen with accents of roses, chrysanthemums and delphinium blossoms.
One design that really brought forth emotions was a triple basket beautifully based with nandina, magnolia, birch bark swirls and gorgeous bleached thistle. the designs focal was a lantern meant to house a mechanical candle that could offer an eternal flame for our deceased. Another crowd favorite featured a parallel vegetative design in delphinium, red roses, rice flower and dramatically arched Italian ruscus to increase flow, rhythm and an absolute wow factor. Nicky used this piece to demonstrate how foliage manipulation was imperative in bringing the absolute most amazing visual impact even in the simplest of designs.
Nicky’s finale piece featured a beautiful armature made by Dutch designer Pim Van den Akker made at a class she attended at the Texas Floral Forum. It resembles a dream catcher with graceful swirls of bleached flat cane and midollino. Strategically placed callas made a crescent shape around a focal made with a painted braided palm. Nicky’s designs ran the gamut from traditionally simple to artistically complex. There truly was something for every budget, every taste, and absolutely every memory. After the program all the designs were raffled off to the attendees who were all super excited to receive these sentimental works of Art. Thank you Nicky for your beautiful program and your amazing talent and generosity. Our industry loves you.
Alex Torres was gracious enough to write this article for AFH Magazine, but I, Nicola Parker, want to thank him for helping me with this program and for his unending support and beautiful designs that he created for the program.
"I had an incredible day, The Houston Area Flower Wholesalers KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK, we will be distributing 17550 Rose's on the graves at Houston national cemetery on Monday for Memorial 2019! I love Houston Texas and all of the wonderful people who make this happen." exclaimed Nicola Parker AIFD, TMFA.
With 8 successful Memorial Day flower distributions at the Houston National Cemetery, Nicola Parker and her merry group of floral friends and new patriotic friends, successfully gave away 17550 roses in 2019 so that family visiting their loved ones grave site could leave and rose and then keep a rose for themselves.
Parker works tirelessly during the year leading up to Memorial Day to secure corporate sponsors as well as individual donors for the roses. Remember this program for next year if you're looking for a way to celebrate and remember the life of a Veteran. Thank you Nicola for your service!
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” —Lao Tzu
Allied Florists of Houston is approaching an important milestone in her existence. Few organizations in our industry have lasted as long as we have and remain to tell the stories. In the life of every organization though, comes a time for new beginnings, and as Lao Tzu said, that begins with just one step.
I hope to see each of you at the end of year meeting on June the eleventh at Southern Floral Company, as the board unveils our first step into this New Beginning for Allied. We are grateful for the legacy that has been created and hope to add to that legacy through our fresh new approach. As you know there is often pain involved in growth and change, but we hope that you will be a part of the needed changes that are coming for this great establishment.
It is our goal for the coming years to continue to provide the awesome opportunities for education, networking and fun that Allied was built upon as well as reach out to new and education hungry designers from across our region. Through the years we have partnered with Texas State Florist Association to serve the floral communities of Texas, provide scholarships and network opportunities and the coming years will be no different. As our organizations have changed, so also have the roles we play in interaction, but the bond between us is ever strong and TSFA continues to support and encourage our board and leaders as Allied continues to seek direction in our current path of strengthening and maturation.
We know that the future is bright and ripe for our industry and our organization and we hope to continue to bring quality, exciting chances for you to learn, grow and be inspired by the programs and competitions we sponsor. Will you come and take that first step with us toward our “New Beginning”? Will you be the change that is needed to help us continue to grow? I hope so, you are an integral part of our group and we want to see you grow along with us.
As I always say, Keep blooming…And go out and make something beautiful today.
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Inspired by Design- AFH Member Debbie Lyon
I wove flat cane through it then placed three pieces of sansaveria on it with some umbrella grass stems. After that I placed the bridal veil in and worked it through the design. Last I placed 24 roses around the structure. The inside is completely empty. I used some gold mesh around a hoop. I then just crossed wire so that it sat on top of the vase. It’s actually a hand tied.
Richard D. Kimball, 79, of Kilgore, passed away on April 28, 2019 in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Richard Dana Kimball was born in Plainfield, New Jersey on January 14, 1940. He attended elementary school in Marshall, TX and then his family moved to Kilgore when he was in 7th grade. He graduated from Kilgore High School, Class of 1957. He attended Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, TX and also attended Stephen F. Austin State University and studied Business\Economics. After college he served in the United States Air Force Reserves for a short period. He worked as a florist and was the owner of Kilgore Flower Shop for many years. He later worked as a custom designer for floral and horticultural printing sales with The John Henry Company. He was first married to Janie Brashears Kimball Sweeney, mother of his daughters in Kilgore in 1964. He later married Kathleen “Kaki” Quarles Kimball in 2007. He was an avid fisherman and loved the outdoors, kayaking, architecture and horticulture. Richard was a member of various Allied Florist Associations including a lifetime membership in Houston Allied Florist Association. He was previously a member of the St. Lukes United Methodist Choir. He relished building and remodeling his home in Kilgore with Kaki while customizing every nautical nook and cranny possible!
A while ago, I was watching a national television program where an “expert” was giving advice to a florist on how he should manage his business during a downturn. It wasn’t the advice I would have given or the advice others I know in the industry would have offered. I suspect the show’s producer had never run a business and was ill-equipped to evaluate the expert’s advice. It was evident that the expert did not know much about a flower shop operation.
It started me thinking that there are quite a few advice-givers, psychologists, financial experts, and others who are not well chosen for their expertise, doling out advice on major life decisions.
Turning to experts in certain fields – marketing, accounting, profitability, etc. – can be valuable. The trick to truly expert advice is getting to know the person with the information and making sure the expert knows the subject and understands your circumstances. The floral industry is unique and challenging. That is one reason why Teleflora has such a wide variety of business publications. Each of the three magazines – Floral Finance, Flowers and Profits, and Retail Florist – provide inexpensive, practical, and industry-specific advice. All three publications cost less per year than a single visit by a consultant.
The harder part is then being open to whatever advice is offered. Right?
Let’s face it; good advice is often tough to follow.
I learned the value of listening without prejudice from a wise friend. During one meeting, he challenged me to look around the room and make a note of everything that was red. I did. Then he asked me to close my eyes and he tricked me. He asked me to tell him everything in the room that was yellow. I couldn’t name one thing until I opened my eyes to see a bright yellow folder on my desk and the yellow gold pen I held in my hand. The lesson? We see what we are determined to see. Likewise, we hear the advice we want to hear and not necessarily the advice we need to hear.
There was a time in our industry when shops could afford to carry a little extra payroll. There was enough profit margin – it all worked out in the wash. Those times are over. Today, you must run by the numbers: total payroll should not exceed 30 percent of sales for any given month. Anything more and you jeopardize the security of the entire team’s livelihood. Make the right choice. Staff to match your sales or increase your sales to meet your staffing. Either way works but you can’t afford to linger in the middle.