Today’s wedding florist interview is with Janel Bailey Keen, Creative Director & Lead Designer of Vivid Expressions LLC, based in Norfolk, Virginia! Enjoy:
Tell us about yourself and your company.
Since 2006 Vivid Expressions LLC has offered our region’s most intriguing and artful Event Consulting & Design services – providing professional event consulting, floral design, decor, and unique creative services to Virginia, DC, North Carolina and beyond. I am a professional, formally trained Fine Artist turned highly-admired Event Designer, Floral Designer, and Event Consultant. I have a Bachelor Degree in in Fine Art (1995) and 2 certifications in Floral Design. What sets Vivid Expressions apart? It’s the 1st in the region to present clients with beautiful Watercolor Illustrations of their client event designs such as bouquets, ceremony site, tablescape and event reception site and, once approved, we bring those image to life!
Read the full interview after the cut!
Actually, I didn’t start Vivid Expressions as a floral company – it started as a planning company. I like many in this industry I fell in love with Weddings after planning my own wedding in 2003. However, unlike many who got into this field after their own wedding, mine took place hours after the Governor of Virginia issued a “State of Emergency. Yes, my wedding took place only 2 days after Hurricane Isabel completely devastated Virginia. Can you imagine? We faced 2/3s of the state (including the area where our wedding was held) experiencing statewide loss of power, flooding, damage, and dozens of other heartbreaking obstacles.
Despite all those crushing challenges, we had a successful and lovely wedding. Even our guests were amazed by the event and remarked that it was, “The most beautiful wedding they’ve ever been to”. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was not easy at all and in many ways very humbling but the experience helped me realize how to utilize quick thinking, organizational skills, the ability to effectively communicate, pool my resources, identify reliable vendors, and use my own extensive experience and creative talents to execute a wonderful wedding.
It also gives me a unique perspective. I mean, I know what this day truly means to a Bride and Groom. I know what can go wrong and how horrible it feelings to experience worry and disappointments on what should be one of the most fantastic days of your life. And if I can help someone not go through what I went through I wanted to be a part of that. I think this is where my dedication to creating the most amazing, breathtaking and heartfelt experience for my Brides and Clients comes from. And so, after 3 years of intense research, training, development, and experience, in 2006 I launched my planning company which did a little bit of design as an add-on. After a few years, I realized that as much as I loved helping Brides through the process my passion has always been the design aspect. I then received 2 certifications in floral design and in the past few years have flipped the focus of my company into an Event Design and Consulting Studio.
As a formally trained artist, I love visually telling a story. Conveying concepts, emotions, memories, themes and stories through visual expression. As an event & floral designer I can use fresh flowers, wire, ribbon, wood, paint, fabric, crystals, metal, and so much as art mediums to create stunning works of custom commissioned art for each client. Design flowers and décor allows me to create art that a couple and their loved ones can experience.
No two couples are the same and neither are their love stories. We’ve helped couples who got engaged in Hawaii bring Maui to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, helped a couple travel to Japan transform Virginia Beach ballrooms with flourishing cherry blossom trees, and transport a couple and all their guests wear flapper dresses back to the Jazz era with décor, custom props, and details like programs printed like newspapers with children dressed like “newsies” passing them out to guests yelling, “extra, extra read all about it”. One of the most amazing parts of my job is being able to help create and witness a different fantasy come to life every weekend.
That’s kind of like asking an artist what is your favorite color. It just depends. Every flower can feel so different. Each flower has its own personality for example; Roses are a soft, delicate and feminine classic, Orchids are exotic, dramatic and striking, Calla lilies are sleek, graceful and contemporary while Protea are unique, bold and eclectic and finally Anemones are whimsical, playful and flirty. How can you choose?
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding florists just getting started?
It’s so important to have the support of colleagues in business. Notice I said, “Colleagues “and not competitors. Yes, I have colleagues, not competitors. My advice is to be confident in what you do, embrace your uniqueness, don’t compare yourself to what others are doing, and know that not every Bride/Groom is YOUR Bride/Groom. Once you do this you will never feel like you have to compete with anyone but you’ll work with colleagues that will support you as much as you support them.
What are your favorite trends when it comes to wedding flowers?
Copper along with other metallic tones is very popular. Muted, antique, and neutral tones flowers like champagne, beige, caramel, blush, dusty rose, contrasted with rich jewel tones like wine and burgundy. Last but not least greenery – lots of lush, full greenery in varying tones and textures.
What tips or advice can you give to couples who are ordering their wedding flowers?
You’re not ordering flowers. When I hear someone say “ordering” I just envision shouting into a speaker at a drive thru. Your wedding designs should reflect everything about you and your wedding day experience and that means your designer should understand you. Your love story, your style, your preferences, your likes, your dislikes, and how the floral elements they create will work in the overall visual experience of your wedding. Your flowers should be as unique as you are and the best way to do that is to start your relationship with your florist as soon as possible so they can help you create custom solutions to fit your needs and desires.
Thanks Janel! For more information about Vivid Expressions LLC, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to their website.
Do you have any questions or comments for Janel? Add them to the comments below!