Last month, someone I knew passed away. I needed to send a wreath and looked around for a florist. I chanced upon Brenda’s shop and decided to buy one from her. From that date, I have been in touch with Brenda. I asked her if she would be interested in being interviewed for this column. We both wondered how storytelling would feature in her work. I shall leave it to you to read her answers below to find out. Without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing you to Brenda James …
Aneeta: Brenda, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Aneeta: Let’s start with a little about you. Where were you born? Where did you grow up and where do you live now? What did you do for a living before starting your new business venture?
Brenda: Right, I am proud to say that I am a product of the charming town (well city actually) that tin built,Ipoh. Born, lived and outgrew much of my awkward, gawky years there before going away to study in the UK. Then, I relocated to Kuala Lumpur.
These days I work primarily with flowers but before my bold foray into blooms, bud and things related, I worked for many years in the heady and exciting world of brand and corporate communications.
Brenda: Floral fetish? (That would have made a more interesting story admittedly). Truth be told, flowers have long been a hidden passion. Whenever opportunity arose to work with them, I volunteered, mostly for friends and for fun and for free, I hasten to add.
After many years in branding, the stirring feeling of wanderlust (for want of a better term) just kept getting stronger and after 6 years I made the decision to take my savings and open the doors to what materialised into Nook Flowers, my little floral bastion.
Brenda: It wasn’t the first name on the rather short list. My sister and I were seated at our dining table and after going back and forth on the pro and cons and appropriateness of some of the names on the list – we decided we were not satisfied with any of them. It finally dawned on us to call it ‘nook’ because when the idea to go into our own business came about, we kept saying, “we should open a nook of our own”.
Brenda: I like this question. In my previous career, I worked on a lot of events and many of these events were built around themes that were conceptualised to tell a story, be it a campaign or a product, each event had its own story. This time around, with Nook we support many a story too – brides comes to us with concepts for a fairytale wedding, or a classical shindig or a chic modern do and with lush flowers and our unconventional ideas we help to complete this tale in an aesthetically pleasing way. What we do is specialised and niche but it plays a vital role in the final and complete look of the story.
Aneeta: From experience, I know that when I write a story/tale, there is sometimes a more interesting story behind the story itself. My question, therefore, is this: when you prepare for a project for some clients, have there been interesting stories about how you came to be involved in the project in the first place? If so, can you share these stories with us, please?
Brenda: Nook Flowers has been lucky. For a boutique that’s only 6 months old, all our events so far have been through referrals. I’d like to think that its a result of many people or organisations that are happy enough with our standards and product offerings that they’ve gone on to share news of our existence with others.
Having said that, when a client comes to us with an event or wedding, I always like to start off with a chat and from that chat I am able to glean enough details that would help me come up with ideas that are distinctive and crafted to represent the look and feel of the event perfectly. While I may have a hundred different ideas of my own, it’s important to listen to what the client wants and from there develop a concept that work in synergy with their needs.
Brenda: With flowers, one is limited only by one’s creativity. There is no right or wrong look and it’s amazing what can be done with them. For example, even the most mundane of containers can be used as a base for some amazing creations. Take an old rusty kettle and make an arrangement that tells a story of how you went for a walk in the countryside and came back with a bunch of wild flowers growing on the river bank. Or take a glass box fill it smooth rocks, cover it with just enough water and float dendrobium orchids on them for an oh-so-in the moment-urban chic look. Not to sound clichéd but just think out of the box. In itself a flower is nature’s masterpiece, with such a ‘tool’ at your disposal how can you not create something wonderful.
Brenda: Well, if I may, I’d like to add that we have a website and from here, people have an idea of the kind of work we do. Here’s the address: http://www.nookflowers.com
Aneeta: Brenda, thank you.
Brenda: Absolute pleasure and thank you for having me on your wonderful site.
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