Necoh is the owner and lead designer of Royal Design Flowers and Events located in Philadelphia, PA. She has been married for 16 years to her husband David, and has two boys, Ethan 11yrs, and Aidan 8yrs. Together they are living in the City of Brotherly Love with their 3 tortoises, 2 fish, and a cat…
When did you first become interested in flowers and what fascinated you most about them?
I’ve loved flowers for as long as I can remember. My first memory is of orange poppies on the side of our house. I must have been six. I remember seeing the pods and peeling one open. I vividly remember the color of the poppies and the little black “seeds” in the middle. Throughout the years I’ve had key “flower” memories. My grandma’s red geraniums in pots, the next door neighbor’s green hydrangea bush, the lilacs in our backyard, and the ants crawling on my mom’s peonies. I’ve always been fascinated with flowers, their colors and textures. They’ve always been so pretty to me. Through my mom and a family friend, I even learned lots of Latin names!
After enjoying flower gardening as a little girl and teen, you began to design with permanent flowers and created floral home decor. Tell us how you got involved with that.
My mom has always been very “crafty”. Together, we made lots of homemade things that we would use at home as décor, some we’d sell. We started making these quilt wreaths. Don’t know if that’s the “technical” name… LOL. We added little silk flowers to them. Then we made flower wreaths. Fast forward 10 years. I was a stay at home mom and started crafting again. I decided to make silk floral arrangements. I sold them through home parties. It was fun!
Family and friends loved your permanent flower arrangements and began asking you to design their wedding flowers. How did you make the transition from silks to wedding flowers… and talk a little about what you learned on the job.
A friend of mine knew I was making silk flowers and asked if I could do silks for her wedding bouquets. “Sure, why not?” That’s pretty much always my answer. Whether I’ve done it before or not, I figure I can work it out! So, I worked on her wedding. A few years later someone else asked me to help her find cheap fresh flowers for her bouquets. I found an online wholesaler for her and she ordered them. That turned into me designing them for her wedding…and that turned into me becoming her “day of” coordinator! Haha!
Fast forward a couple of years to doing the flowers for a big awards banquet at the corporation your sister worked for. How did you get the contract and what did you design for the occasion?
When my sister and I tossed around the idea of my designing the flowers for her company event, I had never done a “technical” design job before. So I did lots of research…on wholesale for the industry flowers, on design techniques, for hard goods suppliers, etc. I also looked at tons photos and brainstormed a lot! I decided I would do a sort of Zen design with Lucky Bamboo, Ranuculus and river rocks. (Ranuculus was a flower I knew from my mom) I also Googled contracts and proposals. My sister made sure there would be no conflict of interest, since we were related. It was approved that I could even submit the proposal, so I worked it up with all the details and pricing! The first one was shot down. I was so excited; I was trying to cover practically the whole building in flowers! My second toned down proposal was accepted! Now the hard work started. How in the heck do I make these arrangements I’ve proposed? Well, since my motto is “Sure, I can do it” I just jumped in head first. I’m pretty creative and it all worked out great! I got great feedback and was quite proud.
It wasn’t long after the awards banquet that you did your research and started Royal Design Flowers and Events…your wedding and event business. What made you decide to “do” flowers full time as a career? Why be a florist vs being a teacher, lawyer, computer tech…ect.
After my first “professional” success, it popped in my head that this is what I needed to be doing. I’m a creative being. I’ve been a licensed hairstylist for the last 18 years. I paint, craft, etc. I’ve never had a 9-5 and have always made my own hours. Creating “beauty from beauty” was the next logical step in my stumbled upon profession. I have never ever wanted an office job or one with a “boss.”
Name 1 or 2 things you did RIGHT when starting Royal Design and name something that you wish you could “do over.”
Two right things I did when I started my business – The first was researching everything. I didn’t blindly jump in once I knew I wanted to do this full-time.
The second was getting some technical knowledge. Although it was only one book, that book helped me learn key terms and floral business ins and outs that I wouldn’t have ever learned otherwise.
One thing I wish I could change is starting off as a sole proprietor rather than a LLC. That was a new thing that I didn’t figure out till later.
What piece of advice did you really rely on when starting your business?
I’d have to say I relied on my motto, “You can do it” most. No one really gave me advice. They just gave me support.
What is your design style?
My design style is generally romantic. With a touch of whimsy
What is your favorite color scheme and flowers to work with?
I love ALL colorful schemes. All white is boring. Although, if it’s very textural, white is great too!
My favorite flowers to work with are hydrangea, anemone, ranuculus and roses. They always look romantic, fluffy and beautiful!
In your opinion, which flower is the most difficult to care for or design with?
Gardenia and Stephanotis always scare me. I just want them to stay pristine white.
Name a mechanic or supply that you rely on most when designing in order to make your flowers perfect.
I love Bind-wire and UGlu dashes. Between the two, nothing will come apart!
What is your FAVORITE floral design to create?
Hmm, I think I love pomanders. I’m waiting to design a reception full of them!
If you could design flowers for a famous person/celebrity…who would it be for and what would you design?
I would design for any celebrity who wants a huge wedding. I’m dying to have an over-the-top opulent, no holds barred wedding!
I’d have curtains of orchids, huge pomanders, cascading centerpieces on wrought iron towers, and lots of hydrangeas. Sounds crazy, but I’d make it work!!!
What was your FAVORITE wedding to design flowers for and why?
My favorite wedding was a lavender, purple and silver wedding that the bride gave me carte blanche(within budget)
I used purple and white hydrangea, lavender roses and stock, silver brunia and feathers in the bouquets. The bouts were lavender roses with feathers. The centerpieces were pilsners with submerged stock in lavender water with led lighting. I surprised the bride with custom ribbon with repeats of her wedding monogram and wrapped the vase with it. It was romantic, fun and beautiful. It was actually in a Photo Friday feature on uBloom.
I also have to include my cousins wedding. It was small, intimate and my choices! The wedding flowers were so romantic and soft. They were my gift to the couple and I truly put my all into it! A little labor of love.
Have you had any weird or unusual floral design requests from your clients?
When I first started out someone asked me if I could design with wisteria. I had no clue how to get them and if they could even be used cut. I suggested hyacinth. It was a no go…. LOL!
How do you create an emotional connection between your clients and flowers? In other words, how do you show your “I don’t really care about the flowers” clients the real importance and value of flowers for their wedding?
I realize that some people just have flowers “because they figured they had to.” I try my best to show them flowers and designs that will match their personal design style so they will feel more connected to them. And if they’d prefer, I incorporate non floral elements, like lighting, found objects, wire, etc. If they like it and I can find it, great!
How has uBloom.com helped you as a designer and business owner?
uBloom has been instrumental to me as a designer. Since I don’t have “school training” the videos have been key. I had never heard of a glamelia or composite rose before. But with J’s video on them, I was able to create beautiful red composite rose bridesmaid bouquets! And Leanne helped me with the scary Gardenias! I think this website is a blessing for all florists. There is not one element that I don’t appreciate!
What is your favorite part of uBloom?
I am torn between the professional forum and the videos. They are both fantastic.
Is there a floral design you have always wanted to create but haven’t yet? What is it?
I haven’t been asked to make a floral monogram yet. I am dying!!!! (But I did make a floral fedora for a funeral.)
As a wedding flower professional, what advice do you have for brides who are choosing a florist and flowers for their wedding?
Shopping around is fine, but you usually do best going with your gut feeling. Lowest price doesn’t always mean best for you.
What do you wish brides knew about flowers and your job as a designer?
A florist/floral designer doesn’t just throw flowers together and charge crazy high prices. There is so much to do to make just one bouquet. If they just saw the prep involved! We put our hearts into every design and want them to be cherished and valued.
What marketing techniques do you use that are successful and attract clients to choose Royal Design Flower and Events?
Starting out, I knew no one would find me unless I paid for advertising. So I paid A LOT to be on a top wedding website, but it has paid off. Also, I designed my website, and somehow I rank high on Google. (I’m not sure how I did that) So much so that I recently cut back on paid advertising. Now that I’ve become more established, word of mouth gets me clientele as well.
You have done flowers for LOTS of weddings…so, if you had an unlimited budget, what would be your DREAM wedding to create?
I think my dream wedding would be an Indian wedding. I haven’t had the opportunity to do one yet. I would have reds, oranges and golds with touches of peacock blue. I envision masses of cascading flowers. There would be thousands of roses and cymbidium orchids with beading, crystals, and wire. I would love for the reception to be at night with hundreds of candles everywhere. There would be a spotlighted area for the couple to recline at with a draping fabric backdrop, hanging Moroccan lanterns, and silk embroidered pillows everywhere. Yummy!
What do you love MOST about being a floral designer and what is the hardest thing about your job?
What I love most is being a part of people’s happiest day.
The hardest thing is being such a BIG part of people’s most important day!
When you aren’t designing flowers for your clients, what things do you enjoy doing?
I have to admit, I like taking long naps……
If you could splurge on your business, what would you buy?
I’m growing out of my studio, but I can’t quite afford a larger one with larger rent right now. I’d love a bigger studio or even better, my own little building to house just my company.
Name something you have always wanted to do or experience. (go to college, travel, skydive, learn to paint, etc)
I wish I could travel. I want to see South Korea, Fiji, Japan, New Zealand, among many others.
Finish this sentence…”If I wasn’t designing flowers, I would most likely be….”