Event Design Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Curious Lola

Curious Lola

Make a Branch Chandelier with Moss Kokedama / Embrace the Hoarder Within – Video

branch chandelier with moss kokedama detail- main image

I must admit, not becoming a hoarder is something I struggle with. One could say that one perk of being an event designer is that you can keep all the pretty things on a shelf, and call it ‘rental inventory’ rather than a crazed obsession. Luckily, this photoshoot embraced my hoarding tendencies. We went deeeep in the bins to pull items for this unusual branch chandelier with moss kokedama.

This chandelier is featured in our Moth Fairy Waits for Spring Photoshoot; a charming photo story about a subterranean moth fairy who is bored out of her mind for spring to get here already. And she’s a hoarder collector, too. Stay tuned for the feature of the entire shoot:)

You don’t have to load your floral chandelier up with trinkets (but I dare you) as the grapewood branch frame is a versatile structure for whatever goodies you decide to use. Plus the kokedama are super fast to make and impactful… and just fun to say. The moss wraps the plant rootball so moisture is retained- so with a little attention, your branch chandelier with moss kokedama with endure.

Do you have an extra string of pearls or charming trinkets laying around? Great. Got a bird? Put a bird on it.

Maximalism is a thing.

Our friends in hoarding collecting at Vintage Ambience supplied us the quirky bells and whistles for the finishing touch!

branch chandelier with moss kokedama detail- crocus

This little cutie crocus right here is a kokedama. No worries, we show you how to make these in our video (link below). Kokedama are one of our go-to methods for adding plants to arrangements or elements. And the moss ball (pssssht), the moss ball is the ticket to foam-free flower arranging. Well… one of the tickets at least. a good ticket. Like…a window seat.

Anywho, if you’ve been following our DIY trail (i.e., our DIY Foliage Cage Centerpiece and our DIY Floral Frame), then you might have noticed that our Hoarder Fairy has exceptional taste in decor– however, we may be biased.

branch chandelier with moss kokedama feature

 

branch chandelier with moss kokedama detail

Maidenhair fern, daffodil, and jasmine. 
branch chandelier with moss kokedama detail

Raise your hand if you collect fungus!!! No? Really? Just me? Well… lemme tell you. You’re missing out.

So, what to do now?  Swing on over to our Youtube Channel to watch our five minute tutorial! Then make your branch chandelier (it’s easier than you think), some kokedama, and go nuts. Show me how it turns out!

Branch Chandelier You Tube Link Image

Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! That means you are my favorite.

Perhaps you’d like to be a part of our inner circle. Yes? Yay! Type in your email! You’ll also get access to our hour long floral centerpiece video. You can watch it while tending to your fungus collection… or  as you convert all your houseplants into kokedama.

Here is how we used it in our recent photoshoot.

And this is pretty much how I feel right now if the rain doesn’t stop. Srrrrsly.

Designing Events, With A Pinch Of Wonder

I was going through images last week and came across this book arch we created a few years ago. I always thought this was so cool, and people went crazy.

designing events

With wedding madness in full swing, I thought the book arch would be a good reminder of how powerful this business can be.

Much of the time we get caught up in running the business:

  • Has everything been ordered?
  • Is everything ready to go?
  • Are all the subcontractors prepped?
  • Is there enough staff?
  • Etc.

And for set pieces like the Book Arch:

  • Do we have the materials?
  • Do we have the welding equipment?
  • Are we sure it’s going to be stable?
  • How does it look?

It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane–albeit necessary–aspects of getting the job done.

When I come across images of events that really worked–and that had such a wide impact on people outside the event–it is a good reminder of the purpose of what we’re really doing: we’re adding that wee pinch of wonder that makes the difference between a serious yawner and a “I can’t stop gawking at how amazing this is” experience.

When we’re at our best, we take a profound moment in someone’s life and insert a bit of magic. It’s incredible what can happen when everything lines up.

Tips To Communicate With Your Designer

Recently, a fellow designer asked me the following…

“How do you help your clients feel less intimidated in telling you their ideas.”

Whuuuuuh?

I was blown away. It had never occurred to me that people might be intimidated to tell their true thoughts to the designers they hire.

Once this designer said that, I immediately thought how dangerous this situation could be.

To let a free-associating, visual stimuli addict run wild is just dangerous.

People could be wasting money, ending up with a design related to my favorite color of the day (orange) mixed with the origami something I made out of my pastry napkin from my morning coffee mixed with the slick detail from an airstream lunch trailer. However cool that may be, it may not relate to you. Somewhere down the road, you may look at my design and suddenly think…

“What the hell is that?”

Nobody wants that, so here are some tips on how to communicate with your designer to ensure you don’t have any “what the hell is that?” kind of moments.

Inside Every Designer’s Mind

In order to prevent such disaster, allow my to explain how a designer’s mind may work (ahem).
And this doesn’t just go for me, but most designers I know (and, therefore, it applies to every designer everywhere).

We view everything as if it has some useful information. For that reason we inspect how things are made, how colors change in different light, how long it takes for a pumpkin to rot…  All potentially useful information. These things zip around, running into things, tripping over each other, or sometimes just waiting. They are in there because we know that one day we will be sitting in front of you.

You will say something that will connect with something else and BANG, a great idea for you.

Or so we think.

Your Willingness To Be Open With Your Designer Is Critical To Your Happiness… Seriously

I’m not saying you won’t be happy on an existential level. You still might be happy, deep down. But you might not be happy when you see the results… know what I’m sayin?

Sometimes an essential part of design is just figuring out where your brain is at.

What will freak you out and what won’t. In that case, we may throw out a lot of ideas. Don’t worry, we will not jam pack your event full of nonsense. We’re just gauging your reaction.

What Can I Do?

Over the years, I’ve gained confidence that I am pretty darn good at nailing someone’s design boundaries and style. But what makes this process better for both of us is the following:

  • Bring images of rooms, clothes, events, flowers, hairstyles, vacations, whatever that reminds of the vibe you want to achieve. It can really be anything that helps us learn about you.
  • Tell us what you love, and tell us what you DON’T love and why. (it’s okay if you don’t know why)
  • Come with an open mind.
  • You can’t hurt our feelings, so just be direct if you have any reservations about a path we are taking.
  • Let us know what your priorities are.

That’s it, pretty simple. If you bring an open mind along with some of the above items, you can be sure your design experience will be that much closer to dream-making–and not of the nightmare variety!

Things I Wish I Knew When I Began my Event Business: Part 1- Marketing

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Photo by Raney Day Photography

Starting my own business has been the best education I’ve ever gotten. When I first started, I gobbled up all the advice I could from in person meetings, books, online- I’d even frequent a coffee shop that I knew had amazing flowers delivered so I could stick my hand into the arrangement and visualize how it was made. I’d then go home and try to create something similar. Some of that early education and advice made a lot of sense and I’d hear it over and over- like ‘don’t discount your services.’ However as someone trying to break into a new industry, I found it hard to be firm on anything for fear of losing the job.

Now that I feel established, I’m pretty happy with where things ended up and are going, BUT a few of these things I wish I had implanted into my being from the get go. I wish I’d tattooed it on my palm and looked at it every 5 minutes. Who knows what difference that would have made, but I can only guess that I would have discovered and marketed my strengths better earlier and shaved off at least a year in my journey toward profitability. This is the first part in a series of tasty bits I’ve learned over the year for those of you starting in, not only the event or floral industry, but any creative industry that relies heavily on community building. Part one involves marketing.


 

So, from me to you, striving entrepreneur, here are some marketing tips I know for sure.

“There are more ways to spend money than there are to make it.”

The number of ways there are to market yourself is overwhelming and in the beginning, most can sound like a great idea. With pockets light and desperation high, many marketing ventures may seem like a sure way to get more business. The fact is, if you are new, you may not know who your ideal client is yet and you probably don’t have lots of moolah. Most of these marketing options are little pirahnas that can turn your zest and meager resources into a skeleton in no time. My experience is that most are not for you and nothing is more discouraging than throwing money at something that yields so-so results. Here’s my checklist  of questions to ask to see if any marketing endeavor is a good fit:

Do I know them? Have I read their publication, been on their tour/ show, know of their business? Used their resource/ product? If the answer is no, I postpone until I can assess. Also, if I don’t know of them, it makes me question how they know of me. Are they looking for just anyone to fill a spot and if so, are they equally as blase about curating their audience?

Is their audience/ guest list full of the exact people that will be hiring or referring me? For me, that means other event professionals, venues, catering managers, or in the wedding industry, couples. Not the couple’s parents or friends, not somebody who works for a company that I’d like to work with, not their administrative team, not even the executives- but the people who are wired to look for the exact service I provide. People who will see me, appreciate the work, and have the authority to hire or refer. For everyone else, I am just ambiance. 

How will I be seen? I need a bold presence. If I’m asked to join in on a marketing event, I need to be there to make an impression face to face. If it’s online or in print, I need it to read loud and clear that it is my company. Just being mentioned onstage at the beginning of a dinner for which you’ve just donated 30 centerpieces and in the program at the bottom of someone’s purse, isn’t going to cut it.

Is their audience big enough? If you don’t have an audience established, you rely on those of your partners. Make sure the folks you are partnering with have a large following. It shows that they either spend a lot of effort to reach out to and engage people, they provide a great service, or both! For example, if you are considering being part of a wedding tour and there are 400 expected attendees, maybe 100 of those people are in a position to make a decision to hire you. Maybe half of those people are ready to ‘see’ your particular service as something relevant to them in their particular process, and for maybe 1/10 of those people you are a great fit for in style, price point, etc. Even still, maybe you only get in front of 1/2 of those people to make a memorable connection. So out of 400, maybe you get 2-5 inquiries. Of those, 1 or 2 are a good fit for YOU and turn into jobs.  That is about typical for me. Depending on the audience and the effort expended on the event, it may or may not be worth it. The exception here is work done for other companies, event pros, and organizations that I know are avid cheerleaders for my company. We will always go out of our way to help those with whom we love to work with and who consistently refer us to their clients.

Keep in mind that for online marketing, you have even more of a need to make a memorable connection and most likely less people in 1. a position to hire you, 2. at a time in their planning or mental process to hire you, 3. in line with your style and offerings, 4. a good fit for YOU. So your audience will need to be much bigger to dish out lots of moolah.


 

Here’s another thing I know for sure:

“The thing you are selling, may not be the thing they are buying.”

When I began, I was a floral designer that sometimes dabbled in larger construction and installations. I thought people were buying my floral designs because I was a good floral designer and because my prices were reasonable. I was incorrect on both accounts. When I started, I’m pretty sure most everyone was a better floral designer than I was. It wasn’t for another year or two that I felt like I had gained some mastery. I don’t even like to look at photos of my work during the first year and a half or so. What people needed and were buying was the following:

  1. Our project management process: I was a proven manager with a documented process that put people at ease. Where event managers and planners had been burned with products and teams that did not meet their expectations, I could help them visualize what they were getting, and better still, could offer documentation that they could show their managers. They were in the know, they had a part in the design process, and because of that, I made them look good to their higher ups. Without a giant portfolio of great work. This one thing opened a lot of doors.
  2. Uncommon designs: They knew that what they were getting from me was pretty different than what else was available. We gave them choices and they got to decide what they wanted.
  3. Versatility: Our clients hire us because we can make or know who can make pretty much anything. Our best clients now are those people who came to us because they wanted something different and had no idea how to go about it. They also like that when SH** goes down (and sometimes it does), we fix it. Done.
  4. Our Story: People like that we hire artists. They like that we will research a wild idea. They like that we are a bit scrappy. They like our dedication to local and sustainable materials. They like that our workshop is 1/3 woodshop, 1/3 floral studio, 1/3 strange gallery. It’s 80% chaotic, 0% pristine showroom; and 100% an inspiring feast for the eyes. For whatever reason, our story fit with their organization’s story, or more likely, our story resonates with the person on the other side of the table.
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Photo by Raney Day Photography

Look at your own set of skills and promote them, even what you may think is boring but always shows up in your process. I’ve seen people geek out over checklists, or maybe your potential client happens to be a clean freak and you can promise a clean install…You never know what people’s pain points are. Chances are they aren’t hiring you simply because they like the line item on your invoice.

This is the first part of a series of 10 conversations about the struggles faced in the early parts of business development. If you’d like to make sure you get the other 9, sign up for our mailing list below! You will also be able to download all 10 topics for free so you can put them in a place to remember. (tattoos not required). Sign up below!

If you liked the message here, the kindest thing you can do is share it with others that might be experiencing their own startup struggles.

 


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