Holly Chapple & Francoise Weeks

An Interview with Floral Designer Holly Chapple

In Floral Industry by Seamus2 Comments

I’m thrilled to be able to bring you some snippets of wisdom from the ‘Flower Mama’ herself, Holly Chapple!  Holly was gracious enough to take some time out from her super busy schedule to speak to me and it’s perfect timing as she is bringing the Chapel Designers Workshop jointly with Francoise Weeks’ Woodland and Floral Couture Workshops  here to our sunny  shores in early June.  

Chapel Designers workshop Australia 2014

Chapel Designers workshop Australia 2014

While speaking to Holly, two things become very clear – she is passionate about teaching and mentoring other designers to be the best they can be and she is passionate about family and community….
Holly Chapple NSW 2014 workshops

What initially drew you to becoming a floral designer Holly?

It happened sort of accidentally.  

I grew up in a family that were landscapers and we had a garden centre.  So all of my life I’ve been around a garden centre, or growing or farming all of my life.  And truthfully I really didn’t think I wanted anything to do with it as a young woman because we were set the more ordinary tasks of ordering the plants and waiting on customers etc.

I made my first flower arrangement before going on a date with my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time.  It occurred to me that I should take flowers to what we were going to so I went out, gathered them and put them together – this was my first bouquet.
Later, once we married, we ended up on a property that we’re still at today, and it is loaded with lilac, hydrangea, spirea, and blossoming branches amongst other gorgeous things!

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So I started designing for a flower and garden show that my parent’s business was participating in and people saw the designs and started asking me if I do wedding flowers.   And I just jumped in and said yes, even though I had no idea.  It just naturally developed from my property and my heritage and also my desire to stay home with my children.  

Now Mother’s Day marks the start of our 22nd wedding season.  So it’s been a long journey, but we are so in love with what we do.

You can definitely tell that you and Francoise love what you do.  You can see that you put your heart and soul into your work creatively and that shines in the finished product.

I used to not know that what we are doing is special until I started really paying attention and you do see a difference, after all these years, we are still so very much in love with what we do and a lot of care goes into each piece.  I say we touch and love and fluff the flowers over and over and over again before they go out to an event.  We also use a lot of materials from our property and from local growers and I think that makes a difference too because each of the designs has something special in it that’s not so ‘cookie cutter’.  

Holly Chapple & Francoise Weeks

Holly Chapple & Francoise Weeks

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How has social media been a help or a hindrance with running your business?

It’s helpful in that I never believed that any of this would be possible – to excel as we have.  As a housewife, staying home, taking care of my children, growing my business, I could only see my community around me.  I never dared to dream that it would become something that would allow me to teach and travel and grow and all of that is a direct result of social media and communicating with my peers.  It’s also one of the reasons I have never become bored with what I’m doing.  There are endless possibilities now because of social media.  

The only danger that I see in social media is to be careful not to compare myself to everyone else.  We need to be grateful and proud of the things we are accomplishing each day and use it as a tool to meet other designers and grow my offerings or my knowledge but I won’t compare my followers to someone else’s followers or my accomplishments to another designer.  

I was speaking with Ariella Chezar a while ago, and at the time she didn’t do social media of any kind.  She asked why I make such an effort to have a social media presence and I told her, ‘I’m Holly Chapple, I live on Stump Town Rd, in Lucketts Virgina, there would not be a chance of anyone ever finding me if I hadn’t started doing all of this (social media)’.

So what can we expect from yours and Francoise’ fabulous workshops?

Francoise and I have decided that this will be a Chapel Designers Workshop – so that means that anyone who attends these workshops (providing they are a business owner who is actively doing weddings and events with a website and web presence) will be brought into the organisation of Chapel Designers, which will give them access to all of the designers in the group, discounting that we have for product, and just day in and day out, support through our private forum.  

Some of the 'Hollyish' work you can expect to learn about.

Some of the ‘Hollyish’ work you can expect to learn about.

During the workshops, we intend to show both my style and Francoise’ style.  A lot of people look at Francoise work and they think it’s so exotic or perhaps not commercial, that you couldn’t sell it to an average day in and day out bride, but the reality is that the mechanics behind what Francoise does – good mechanics and creative mechanics can be easily converted into day in and day out designs for a floral studio.  For me, weddings are my primary focus.  We do about 170 weddings a year.  I manage typically five to seven weddings a weekend, and so everything that we do is typically fluffy, pretty wedding designs.  So some of the mechanics that are taught by Francoise can be applied in the work that I do and we will show how that crosses over.  I will also be showing how I do bridal bouquets and it’s a little bit different – a mix of old school with today’s more modern styling brought into it and I will cover elevated designs.  I will also cover the day to day running of a large floral design studio for weddings and I will cover a bit about the business structure as well.

You touched on the Chapel Designers forum, as we are so far away from the States, what are some of the other benefits to Aussie florists becoming a Chapel Designer?

Okay, so there are few resources and discounted items that may not be available to our designers in Australia, but the day in and day out support – talking about hiring, managing, building, designing – that’s all universal. It’s very typical for someone to come into the forum and say, ‘My employee did this’ or ‘I don’t know how much to charge for that’ – so back and forth we help each other.  Sometimes it’s even day in and day out stuff like ‘I’m feeling burnt out’ or ‘Someone’s sick in the family’  – so those types of things get addressed as well, so it’s just a constant support system.  

It’s really great to know that there are people all across the world willing to help and cheer you on.  Michelle ( Van Eimeren of Affair With George) is already a Chapel Designer and, I don’t want to speak out of turn, but I think she is looking forward to developing a network and camaraderie getting stronger with the addition of more Australian florists to the Chapel Designers. 

Michelle Van Eimeren and Francoise Weeks.

Michelle Van Eimeren and Francoise Weeks.

The other benefit of being a member is that we can help each other with events that you might need an extra pair of hands for.  A plea might go out saying ‘I have too much work, who can come and help me’ so there’s a ready next work of like minded designers that can help support you or you can refer extra work as well.

What are you looking forward to most (other than the workshops) during you visit to Australia?

Yes, other than the workshops and catching up with Michelle, I’m looking forward to seeing the different types of product you guys have access to.  I’m obsessed with Zig-Zag Wattle – I drive my wholesaler crazy asking for it all the time.  I’m also looking forward to making new connections with all of the new Chapel Designers and expanding our community.

Thank you Holly, for your time, willingness to share about yourself and our industry and we’re looking forward to seeing all of the painfully beautiful designs that you and Francoise will be bringing to us!

For details on the upcoming Australian Chapel Designers Workshops – click here.

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Seamus is Tesselaar Flowers' digital marketing manager. He's a creative marketing geek, writer, musician & accidental flower lover. He helps small businesses with websites and web marketing. If you need any help regarding the Tesselaars website you can contact him on seamuse@tesselaars.com


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