We were honoured to have John Grima of John Emmanuel Floral Events come into the Koch & Co head offices and create some absolutely stunning floral arrangements using our artificial flowers and containers.
We were in awe just watching him create these amazing floral creations.
Watch our interview with John to learn about his background and how he started in the florist industry.
He talks about his master classes and what it is like to work in the wedding industry and in John’s case, large scale luxury weddings and events.
John Emmanuel: My name is John Grima, of John Emmanuel Floral Events. We specialize in large-scale luxury weddings and events and have been doing it for quite a few years now.
Koch: How long have you been in the florist industry?
John Emmanuel: I have been in the florist industry ever since I was 13, so that makes it about 27 years now. 27 years and still loving it, still very passionate about the industry. I have had experience in retail, we were in retail for about 15 to 16 years, and then we decided to just step out into the weddings and events industry and really push that. Yes it has been amazing.
Koch: How did you get into floristry?
John Emmanuel: My aunt and cousins are florists and I use to go and help them on a Friday evening. They use to do weddings from home and they started me out. I just use to prep flowers, wire flowers. I started off doing little buttonholes and corsages, little flowers or posies and baskets and things like that, and that’s how I got into it. It definitely developed a passion, so at the age of 13 I was doing that. I finished my Year 10 Certificate and the next day started my traineeship.
Koch: What does Koch offer to the marketplace?
John Emmanuel: Well I think Koch is definitely an industry leader. They have so many innovative products, always scaling new products, looking at what the industry needs and able to deliver, which is really awesome.
Koch: How do you support the industry?
John Emmanuel: I support the industry by way of master classes. So we offer a few master classes a year now, which have been amazing and we’ve been doing it now for two years and the response has been totally awesome. We also work with training institutes such as TAFE and allow their students to come into our work room and on our locations to do work experience with us. It’s actually quite honouring and inspiring, even for myself to have students just come in and just get so much out of what we can teach them and real-life experience which is amazing.
Koch: What goes on in a masterclass?
John Emmanuel: So our master class is a three-day intensive, and it’s a total hands-on experience. So from creating elaborate centrepieces, to smaller tablescapes, to backdrops, ceiling installations, whatever we’re doing at the time, but what it is, it’s allowing other florists to come in and immerse themselves into what we do. We speak about design, we speak about pricing, logistics, business side of it and social media. So we go into all aspects of it within our masterclass, so it’s a full immersion of what we do. It’s a really great experience for smaller florists even, who aspire to do the larger jobs, just to come and experience it. The feedback has been phenomenal.
Koch: How important is education in our industry?
John Emmanuel: I think education is paramount. Honestly I was a self-taught florist for the first eight years of my career and it wasn’t until I went and did formal education that I really learned so much more, like in the ways of principles and elements of design and all the little techniques that really allows you to perfect your craft. So for the basics absolutely, I think you should be doing a TAFE course if you want to get into the industry, but also as seasoned florists you know, we’re always learning new things. So my thing is, if there’s enrichment classes or master classes like what we’re doing or anything like that, I think even seasoned florists need to get onto that, to continually learn and improve themselves and improve the industry I think.
Koch: Where do you get your inspiration from?
John Emmanuel: Definitely social media and my style I think is, probably more to the American wedding, the luxury American wedding. So I look to quite a few American designers for inspiration, and yes social media definitely, American weddings definitely and also building on our own knowledge.
Koch: What is the key to giving you customer the perfect wedding?
John Emmanuel: So for me, it’s about understanding their needs, what looks they’re trying to achieve and giving them what they want, so that would be my answer to that question.
Koch: What are the challenges you face when preparing for a wedding?
John Emmanuel: I think time frames can be very tight. Sometimes with some weddings we have an hour and a half to set up a $30,000 – $40,000 wedding and 30,000 to 40,000 we’re talking flowers, not the rest of the décor, so time frame I think is definitely a challenge. With fresh product, it’s weather and conditions, say for instance my workroom is totally controlled, so air conditioned, cool rooms and things like that. When on location it’s important that our weather and temperature is perfect, otherwise you can have some dead flowers or we need to know how to handle that situation. They’re probably my two main challenges. I think with the years of experience there were a lot more challenges in the past, however of late, we’ve worked them all out and there’s lesser and lesser challenges now, which is really really awesome.
Koch: What is latest floristry trends in wedding industry?
John Emmanuel: Foam free at the moment seems to be massive and on smaller scale weddings that’s fine, but you know when you’re doing large installations like us and we have a few hours to get in, you know we still use a lot of floral foam and that is basically so we can get the speed, we can get the consistency as well, but definitely I think a big floral trend at the moment is Oasis free or Foam free yeah.
Koch: What is your favourite part of wedding work?
John Emmanuel: That’s easy, my favourite part is when the bride walks into a reception room and sees it for the first time and her reaction it’s absolutely priceless. You know we pour so much into our weddings, so many hours making the flowers, but there’s also hours that go in before we even touch a flower. Like with the consultations, doing site visits, meeting with their wedding planners as well. So weddings just don’t happen, it’s definitely a process and when you put all that time into it, it’s just when you see your client’s reaction, honestly all the stress, the hours and everything just makes it worth it, like it’s so rewarding.
Koch: What is the name of your luxury range?
John Emmanuel: So the name of the range is under the same brand, John Emmanuel Luxury Artificial Range of Wedding Flowers.
Koch: Could you please tell us a bit more about it?
John Emmanuel: Okay, so basically the way this started was, we realized that 30 to 40% of our enquiries that were coming in were artificial. People asking and enquiring about artificial, so there’s obviously just a hole in the market, there are a lot of people out there doing it, but we just wanted to do it the John Emmanuel way. So we’re really excited about it and I think over the years, a few years ago there was a bit of a stigma against artificial flowers, but now the quality has come so far and we’re going to see that a bit later on with what I use with Koch flowers, but now they’re absolutely beautiful and they’re so realistic these days.
Koch: Is bigger always better?
John Emmanuel: Absolutely! I have a little bit of a snobby quote, you know people who say, less is more, I believe those who can’t afford it. So you know it’s a little bit cheeky, but with the top end weddings that we do, it’s definitely not less is more, for me in our style it’s more and more and obviously with more it is more. It still has to be done tastefully and it has to be done a certain way, so while I don’t believe less is more, when you’re still delivering more is more it needs to be done the right way.
Koch: John, thank you very much for coming in today.
John Emmanuel: Oh my pleasure, thanks for having me.