Jaclyn standing in front of a floral art design at Symposium

2012 AUGUST NEWSLETTER: Special AIFD Article by Jaclyn Gough


Jaclyn standing in front of a floral art design at Symposium

Jaclyn Gough is a graduate of the Dundalk Community College for Floristry in Baltimore, MD and is the recipient of the Eulalah Overmyer Scholarship through AIFD.  Jaclyn currently resides in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and works for J Morgan Flowers.  We asked Jaclyn to write about her exciting experience attending her first ever AIFD Symposium, “Caliente!”  Enjoy!

Ever since I was a floral design student in college, it’s been a dream of mine to attend the AIFD (American Institute of Floral Designers) National Symposium. After graduating in 2010 from Dundalk Community College in Baltimore, MD for Floristry, I told myself to do whatever needed to be done in order to get there. The thought of being around thousands of gorgeous blooms, hundreds of top of the line designers in the industry and the continuing education that would be given made me itch to find my way. To my surprise, that dream was about to come true when I found out in 2011, just before moving to Florida, that the 2012 Symposium “Caliente!” was coming to Miami, FL. After moving, I talked with a designer who lives in North Carolina about how excited I was to attend my first National Symposium; but due to tight funds, I was unsure how many floral arrangements I’d have to create in order to make my way to Miami. Janet Frye, AIFD eased my mind and mentioned applying for a scholarship through the AIFD Foundation, Inc.


Jessica Morris & Jaclyn Gough - AIFD Scholarship Recipients

Fast forward to January, my application for the scholarship was mailed and I patiently waited until May when I received an e-mail stating I was the scholarship recipient of the Eulalah Overmeyer AIFD Fund. At first I didn’t believe it was my name due to being in a state of shock, filled with excitement and overwhelmed with joy and happiness inside! Truth lay right in front of me and I couldn’t be more happy. From that day on I kept a “countdown” on my calendar and on July, 8th it was finally here! I packed my bags and made sure my tool box was ready with my floral life in there that includes one important member of my floral family; my Red Swiss Army Knife, that I’ve had since I was 17. I cut my first stem of Baker Fern and Carnation with that knife! My toolbox goes with me EVERYWHERE. You never know when you’ll need to cut a few stems and I knew there would be a lot of that going on in Miami!


Friends on the last night of Symposium

Through Janet Frye I signed up to be a volunteer as my way of giving back to help anyone and everyone I could. Starting from day one, I helped lay plastic on the design room floor, set up for the PFDE (Professional Floral Design Evaluation) which is a design evaluation performed in quest to become AIFD and was a monitor in the testing room, a task I gratefully accepted. I also helped many designers for their presentations, some of which included creating Christmas themed chairs of Curly Willow, Christmas foliage and Red Berries for “A Fresh Look @ Christmas” by Paul Miller and assisted in the floral production for “Nature’s Way” with Dan Firth in the middle of the week. Working with Dan reminded me of when I built my pond back in Baltimore for my mom and how the placement of flowers mimics a landscape design. While backstage designing, I looked up from the ground only to find my former floral design teacher, David Shover, AIFD which was a very special moment for me. David had a huge impact on my design career and through his excellent teaching and being there to help me every step of the way when needed, I was assured I could go far with my passion.

On Thursday, I met Master Dutchman, Pim van den Akker who was brought back to Symposium by popular demand and what seemed unbelievable, was believable as I walked down from my hotel room to head out for dinner and found him out front. The feeling inside was and still is indescribable, but felt so real after watching tons of videos, seeing gorgeous photos from him, then meeting him face to face. It was my honor to accept the request of him for me to assist him in the design room with his stage floral and material preparations.


Jaclyn making a mossy mixture in a blender!

From working along side Pim, I learned how to create structures from material such as Panty Hose, leaves, bamboo sticks and how to create really fine reindeer moss by blending it in a kitchen blender! Pim is among many who treated me with such respect and showed me one amazing time at my first Symposium.

Each day there were shows by different designers , lunches in the afternoon and two formal dinners; one where many wore flowers to compliment their attire. A friend of mine, Laurel LeMaistre, CFD, Nhmd created a gorgeous floral skirt and headdress out of Dendrobium Orchids and Monstera Leaves for me which seemed to be quite the eye candy of the evening. During Induction/Awards night, the Scholarship Winners took the stage to accept their awards. I cannot express enough the feeling I had when I walked on stage in front of hundreds of floral designers and the past and present Presidents of AIFD. I was living in the moment and loving every bit of it! Walking to the stage I was a bit shaky at first, then after accepting my award, inside it felt like the calm after a storm knowing that one day I will walk the stage again.

One inspiring component of Symposium was the abundance of floral supplies and fabulous product showcased in the Partners Expo. A couple names that were there include, Mayesh Wholesale, Virgin Farms, Oasis, Acolyte, Transflora and products from DesignMaster. From the moment walked down the stairs and saw the room I felt like a child trying to rush into the toy store! And, well in my opinion it was a big toy store filled with gorgeous products, many to touch and try out and of course the fabulous floral displays with their creative flair.

After being in the design room all week I decided to take the last day, Monday to attend shows and classes starting with “In Step with AIFD” which covered the steps one must take in striving to become an accredited member of AIFD. For more information on becoming accredited or for educational information go to www.aifd.org . Following that were outstanding stage presentations from various designers and then there was ” Afternoon Tea With Friends “, one of my top favorites! After modeling off a piece of floral attire for the Foundation, I headed to see the breathtaking show by Ian Prosser AIFD and Grace Ormonde ! Later, I attended PIM 101 featuring Pim van den Akker. Even though I really did get my own slice of Pim 101 working in the design room, his class showed many techniques on creating different objects. Plus, I actually got to sit down this time! AIFD is truly a wonderful group of floral family and friends who made my first experience one I will never forget.

Jaclyn with Leanne Kesler, owner of the Floral Design Institute in Portland, OR

Below are my TOP 5 reasons to attend a national floral symposium.

1.  Meet many new people & designers !

- The moment I finally met Leanne Kesler, AIFD of Portland Oregon, I couldn’t believe it. She is a sweet woman, with a heart of gold and excellent knowledge of floral artistry. I watch many of her educational videos that can be found through the Floral Design Institute web site. Nothing can compare to the bonds you will create with others and the memories that will stay forever.


- Where else can you get behind the scenes and really experience floral production from the ground up with amazing designers ?! Sign up now to become a volunteer through Janet Frye, AIFD for 2013 Symposium :)

3. Networking

- Talking with the best of the best designers in the floral industry from around the world. Speak face to face with wholesalers and get to know your sales reps. up close in person, instead of on the phone ;)

4. SHOWS & Programs !

- Sit back and relax while watching the leading top floral designers in the industry show off some of their best work on stage and educate the audience. Be prepared to be WOWed !


- Symposium provides all to rev up our creative engines and DESIGN ! Seeing larger than life creations, how they are created from the ground up and all the high vibes from those around, it just doesn’t get much better !

Now, what are you waiting for … mark your calendar for June. 28th-July. 2nd, 2013 … National Symposium is going to VEGAS! Come and share your PASSION for flowers and artistry with the rest of us. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

A special thanks goes out to the AIFD Foundation, Inc. for helping make my floral dream come true and to the uBloom team for allowing me to share my first experience with other uBloomer’s out there.