The Lunar New Year is here!

Gong Hei Fatt Choy to all who celebrate!

Here's to a prosperous year filled with happiness, blessings and gorgeous flowers! Travel safe and enjoy the holidays, folks. 

Nook Flowers reopens for business on Tuesday, February 4th, 2014.


Lunar New Year

'Hua kai fu gui' translates to when flowers bloom, prosperity comes. Here's a selection of some of our designs which take into account cultural significance and symbolism. Where possible, we have used locally sourced flowers and foliage in these creations.

This week's Lunar New Year themed lobby centerpiece for K Hotel. Composition features red pussy willows, mokara orchids in yellow, mango and orange shades, yello caspia and multi textured foliage.

Festive pops of colours in this design which features pussy willows, birds of paradise, mokara orchids and song of Jamaica. The little red dangling lantern adds an old fashioned touch.

Corporate styling based on a contemporary CNY theme for Malaysian Airlines (First & Business Class counters).
The arrangements feature a mix of yellow ping pongs, carnations sprays, gerberas and gold branches.

Curly bamboo adored with lucky knot stands tall among gerberas and red pussy willows.
[Note: Although white is not a favoured choice for traditionalist, this arrangement was custom made as it reflected the client's corporate colours.]

Curly bamboos and willows. This combo piece is best used in a mix and match style in living areas or common areas at the office. 

A melange of crab claws, yellow ping ponds and orchids for the lobby and reception counters at  K Hotel.

This 360 degree view composition is perfect for a side board or free standing table.

Red crab claw sentinels stand watch over a flourish of gold ramsey orchids and red anthuriums 'bows' on a bed of jadeite greens.

Red crab claws takes centerstage and is paired with anthuriums, carnations and berries.

From your Floristas,  Xīn Nián Kuài Lè and Happy Holidays. 
Be safe when travelling to be with loved ones.



Pantone Reveals Color of the Year for 2014: PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid

Global colour expert PANTONE announced that Radiant Orchid has been named Pantone Color of the Year 2014 and it’s the hot new colour trend.

PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid- 
Expressive, exotic Radiant Orchid blooms with confidence and warmth
According to Pantone, "While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”

“An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.” (click here for the full press release)

Radiant Orchid is part of Pantone's Spring Colour Guide for 2014 
A SEASON OF COLORFUL EQUILIBRIUMDesigners take a modern twist on the traditional for spring 2014 by pairing soft pastels with vivid brights to create a colorful equilibrium. Inspired by a mixture of blooming flowers, travels abroad, and strong, confident women, designers use color to refresh, revive and defy conventional wisdom.

At Nook Flowers we’re naturally excited about interpreting this shade in our unique creations. Here’s a look at of some of our compositions featuring the season's hottest colours:

Vase with yellow lilies, sterling purple roses, mokara orchids and eustomas.

Lilies, cymbidium orchid and glossy loops of bear grass in 2 shades presented in a narrow rectangle vase. 

This basket was inspired by Audrey Hepburn's quote - "I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles." 

This free-form willow basket is bursting with pink-hued blooms - roses, eustomas, cymbidium orchids, alstromeria and sweet williams with trailing ivy.

Fun and flirty with mums and mini cymbidiums.

Inspired by Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue' we created this Rhapsody In Purple - multi-hued basket of lilies, roses, orchids, eustomas, caspia and cordyline with fresh burst of green from Song of India and rain forest leaves.



Malaysian Circle: Everything’s Coming up Roses for Nook

"Accidental entrepreneur" Brenda James on the early days, local floristry and giving back to the community. 
By Sharmila Ganapathy
Brenda James freely admits that her foray into entrepreneurism wasn’t by choice but by accident. “I’m an accidental entrepreneur. For the better part of a decade I was in the branding and communications line. I got to a point where I wanted a better quality of life. So when I left I resigned without a job and subsequently got a lot of calls for ‘comfortable’ jobs and I kept going for interviews and coming back from them not feeling happy,” she says.
While this was going on, a location opened up in her neighbourhood, catching her attention. “I thought I’d go see it. I was leaning towards flowers but I like a natural look in floristry and unfortunately the look and feel at the time here was always big bouquets but full off paper and plastic. So it was just not something that I enjoyed. So then I couldn’t help thinking that if I liked this, there should be a lot of other people out there who would share the same taste. So I thought why not give it a shot?” she explains.
Why flowers? “Most of my adult life was spent in PR [public relations]; I joined as an associate and, by the time I left, I was a recognised consultant. I really didn’t know much about the industry outside that. It’s just that when I left I didn’t feel drawn to stay back in the PR field. My journey in that industry was finished. I’ve always been creatively inclined and like working with my hands; as for flowers, it’s something I did for fun and for free, for friends. I was taught from an early age by my mother to work with arts and crafts.”
She adds: “There was no other florist in the neighbourhood and it was a growing neighbourhood, so a florist seemed timely. I made the decision then did it. I said yes first and then figured it out. Once an opportunity passes it’s never going to come by again so you need to seize that. I think it’s something any entrepreneur will tell you.”
That was five years ago. Today, the effervescent 37-year old is the founder and principal florista of Nook Flowers, a successful boutique floral and event design firm based in Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur. Among Nook’s clients are a local airline, a hotel, financial service providers, institutions, property developers and event management companies.
“We have retail premises for people to walk in and buy flowers. I also work closely with event companies where I create thematic floral arrangements for their clients. As a floral designer you’re constantly coming up with different designs as part of event floristry,” she says, adding that she spends about 60% of her time on event floristry and 40% on the retail business depending on the time of the year. For example, during Christmas and Valentine’s, Nook hardly does any events because of the huge demand for flowers.
According to Brenda, the most enjoyable part of the business is the people—the customers. “I like to think that when you’re working with flowers, it’s softens people. Until now I ask the drivers how are the customers when they receive the flowers? I still want to know (their reactions).”
Even events, tiring and laborious as they are, are rewarding. “When you’re working with fresh flowers the stress factor is there, there could be various reasons you may not be able to land your hands on what you want—it could be the weather, could be problems importing flowers but at the end of the day the satisfaction is there, it’s very nice—then after that all you want to do is to just go home and sleep for a while!” she laughs.
Exceeding expectations
She recalls her early days as an entrepreneur. “I started from zero and I had never owned a business before. Other than an inherent talent in the early days maybe I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into.  A month into the business I was ready to tear and toss my business plan—my idealism had gotten the better of me. Subsequently when I spoke to friends, they said it was the same thing. The thing is you get so excited about it, you don’t temper it with reality,” says Brenda.
What’s more, she opened her shop in 2008 when the financial crisis was going on. “Flowers were expendable, not a must-have. So in the early days, working with perishable stock that is not moving as fast as you wanted to move; stock is money. These were all challenges in the early days. You learn how to market yourself better. That’s when I drew on my PR background. You learn how to create better awareness of yourself and your business.”
During the early days of her business, the plucky Brenda used to bring flowers out of her shop in buckets and wave at people walking by. “I just continued to wave, people started waving back and slowly people started coming into the shop.” She also leveraged on her network of event management specialists. “When you’re a new business especially in a creative line such as this, people are not that sure so it was important to us that for every job we did, we exceeded expectations. And when that happened it gave clients confidence to want to use you. I was constantly pushing the bar on doing creative things. And social media was free, so there was nothing to stop me from putting up pictures because people notice your work through pictures,” she explains.

“We’ve never bought an ad,” Brenda says with a hint of pride in her voice. “I’m a through and through PR girl because word-of-mouth business is what works in my industry. About 80% of my business is through word of mouth. Every wedding I do is a referral from one bride to another. The fact that they go on to recommend you–I take that to heart.”
Today, a subject close to her heart is locally-grown flowers. “One of the most important propositions for me is pushing the local agenda. Malaysia has a wealth of floral offerings and this is underappreciated. Our first choice is to use local flowers. From day one I made it a point of explaining to customers this is what we offer, so over the last five years education has seeped in nicely. I want to push local flowers appreciation from a design perspective. I may not grow them, but I sure know how to “Zen” them,” she quips.

“I’m also really big on sustainability. One of the weddings I did was for a couple called Tracy and Laurent, I chatted with them about concept of doing a wedding based on zero wastage. They really liked it. I used to go down to the mamak shop at the corner to ask them for condensed milk cans—we presented the flowers in these cans. We used fake moss made from recycled bits of bark. The bride carried a bouquet of all local flowers. Guests had little plants for them to take home and grow. On the backs of the chairs we used old jam jars tied up with ribbon and stuffed with flowers. It is one of the happiest weddings I’ve ever done. The couple started off as customers and became friends—definitely one of the perks of the job,” Brenda enthuses.
Giving back
She also believes in giving back to the community whenever possible. In the past Brenda has taught floral design to Myanmar refugees at a developmental centre in KL. Nook also supports a local community choir- The Choir of the Philharmonic Society of Selangor, where proceeds from the show go to various charities. “Whenever the choir has shows, I introduce the choir to my customers. Many customers have gone on to watch the shows. It lets me link things I love most—flowers and music.”
Her advice to someone starting out as an entrepreneur? “When we all prepare business plans we’re all very optimistic (laughs). Be prepared to chuck that out within the first few months of starting a business and come up with something a lot more realistic. You make a mistake, fine. Forgive yourself, but don’t make the same mistake again because that means you never learn from it. The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is keeping yourself motivated. That’s where your network of trusted family and friends will come into play. It’s really important, I feel very blessed in that sense. Always have that trusted circle you can fall back on. Things will always happen out of your control. You just have to learn and roll with the punches.”


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