We had the good fortune of connecting with Sae Kim and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sae, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
One thing about the floral industry that outsiders are probably unaware of is that the work we put in goes far beyond the event date. We spend months calculating mechanics, floral costs, labor, sustainability and more. We have to be knowledgeable in floral seasonality which helps us gauge which flowers will be available on our clients future event date. We spend the month prior putting in the floral order (making sure every piece is available) then we spend the week prior preparing all mechanics, shop detail, personal details and have everything ready for the arrival of the flowers. Once we receive them we prepare all the flowers individually and have them in perfect condition for designing. We spend days designing and once the event day arrives we create detailed timelines for each project area. We work with mother nature in gauging the appropriate time to have the flowers outside & after finishing we go back and strike (clean up all floral related items). Our work isn’t finished once the event is done, we have to then clean & put all items away and make sure the shop is ready for the next event. I also want to mention that the cost you see on an invoice goes far beyond solely the cost of flowers. You are paying for materials, rent, electricity, water, labor, creativity and more! This job is grueling, labor intensive, stressful but it’s one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my company, Ophelia Floral Company, because there is nothing I believe more than love. The notion that I could be a part of someones celebration of love meant everything to me. I had every doubt in my mind before taking the leap. A million excuses ran thru my mind, “how do I even start a company?” “what skills must I learn?” “am I a business woman?”. But even with these doubts I knew that creating with flowers would bring me happiness. My life has always been an assortment of implusive-careful-decision-making (makes sense doesn’t it)? There’s a very adamant voice in my heart telling me my deepest desires yet on the other side my worrisome brain telling me to hold my horses and follow a proper guideline before jumping the gun. Perhaps you can relate? This was the case before starting my business. I decided to listen to my heart (and also took some notes from my brain along the way). I learned that more than anything in the world I wanted to feel “alive”. It’s much too easy to live a life that you/society believes is the right way to go about things. Get a stable job, have a sustainable income, get a 401k (and don’t get me wrong all that is very important) but I want to have a job that ignites every inch of my body, that illuminates my mind and has me craving for another project. I want to feel the challenges of life when reaching for a dream that can seem unreachable. I want to take myself out of my comfort zone and feel the joy of being connected with human souls. Because frankly, to me, being alive means feeling experiences you may hide from and finding the softest pulls of human connection that inevitably bring you closer together. That to me, is a life worth living.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Just recently I went to Orpheus Park in Encinitas and grabbed a couple of to go pizzas from Buona Forchetta. We sat at the park and watched the dogs run around, they seemed very happy & free. We had a couple of June Shines (my favorite is the midnight painkiller) and watched the sunset on that grassy hill. It was a really amazing night & will probably be engrained in my memory forever. In my opinion being around family/friends, enjoying each others company while eating food is the best time. My hometown is Oceanside (I’d like to argue it’s the best city) and if you’re looking for something to ease your nerves I’d recommend walking the oceanside pier during sunset. The pier is lit up once the sun goes down and you can grab yourself a milkshake and some chili cheese fries at Ruby’s while watching the fisherman catch some fish.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The San Diego floral community is kind, loving & welcoming. When I started my journey 3 years ago I was able to make some amazing connections which guided my learning experience. I started off working for a legendary flower wiz, Linda Jones, and she showed me all the old school ropes. I learned about mechanical detail, flower names & really just dipped my toes into this business. She answered all my questions and made me feel so comfortable in being vulnerable with her (when you first start out it’s easy to be nervous, timid and afraid – I felt all three) and Linda gave me the confidence I needed. Then I started to research some of my floral aspirations. I went online and found some established floral designers that I admired and reached out in hopes of working together one day. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Siren Floral Co., Plenty of Petals, Bloom Babes, Blush Botanicals/ParkerandPosies, Studio Palma, Native Poppy and by having the privilege of doing so I’ve grown exponentially in my floral knowledge. Without this floral community I would be truly lost & I thank God for these friendships all the time.
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