Continuing education, the conscious act of always improving yourself and your skills, is a personality trait of every great problem solver. The curiosity of knowing why always leads to knowing how, and knowing how solves problems and helps you to be as creative as you can possibly be. Toward that end, everyone at Design In Bloom has an annual requirement of at attending at least one class or workshop to improve themselves. I typically manage at least two or three, but then I'm the ringleader here and should be setting a good example.
One of the workshops I was able to attend this year was the Flora & Fauna Fashion Show, hosted by Virginia's own Holly Heider Chapple at her farm just north of Leesburg, Hope Flower Farm. When I first moved to Virginia in 2008, I didn't know a soul in the floral business south of the Mason-Dixon. Nowadays it may seem intuitive to Google the area and see what's what, but 10 years ago, it was still kind of a new thing to have that kind of access to who's who. My first hit was Holly - and I was blown away by her website and photos. When you see someone else designing from the heart with passion, you have an immediate affinity for that person. It's like seeing someone riding the same motorcycle, wearing the same shoes, ordering the same drink, you just know you have something special in common. Having followed her for years on social media, I finally got to meet the woman who had become a heroine to me, and not just meet her, but be welcomed into the fold as one of her own. Our industry wouldn't be the same without her.
The Chapel Designers are a like minded bunch of floral designers from around the globe. Core values of superior design through education, strong businesses through best practices, and fellowship through flowers tie all of us together, we're kindred spirits. In a time where there is so much divisiveness in the world, Chapel Designers bring the best and the brightest together to celebrate our industry.
The Flora and Fauna Workshop and Fashion Show was held over 4 days this past spring at Hope Flower Farm and included a roster of first rate instructors. You can find the names and biographies by heading to ChapelDesigners.com. Over the course of the workshop I acquired new skills and found new ways to look at materials, adding more tools to the big old case I carry around with me (metaphorically speaking). It's so incredibly delightful to be with so many kindred spirits and work toward a common goal, this builds friendships, which builds networks. What an amazing way to reimagine an industry!!!
Photos! I am sure you want a peek at what we created during that week. We'll get to that, but first, you should know this event culminated in a charity luncheon to benefit cancer charities Along Comes Hope and Team Mathias. The event took place in Holly's old dairy barn on the property, complete with feed troughs down the runway and hayracks on the walls. It was a magical event, with cancer patients and survivors wearing the designs and walking the runway. Here's a small glimpse of what happened in those magical 4 days. Enjoy!
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