Feature Designer

Beth O’Reilly AIFD, TMF : Featured Designer

As a new mom along with being a freelance floral designer and product developer, Beth O’Reilly AIFD, TMF is always on her toes and that’s without spending time with her 5 dogs, 2 horses, and sculpting. As one of the three 2014 Mayesh Design Star Finalists, Beth has been bringing us beautiful design video’s so far for the months of March and June and we are looking forward to her final video in September. We will have all of Beth’s video links below. Let’s get to know Beth a little bit better.

 

Where did you get your start in the industry and what are a few of the most exciting moments of your career as of yet?
B. I started as a “budvase” girl at the age of 18 at a shop in Perrysburg, Ohio called Ken’s Flower Shop. When I moved to Texas I worked for several flower shops as I worked my way through art school. I eventually earned my Fine Art, Sculpture Degree and found that I was so passionate about floral design and it translated so well with my 3-D Art Degree, I decided to stay in the industry and take my floral career as far as possible.
B. In 2006, I started competing and won the Texas Cup. In 2007 I was inducted into AIFD, in 2008 I received my Texas Master Florist Certification. In 2010 I presented my first AIFD Symposium Program and in 2012 I started traveling to China to pursue my career in product development for the permanent floral and home decor industry. 
B. The biggest event that I produced to date was in 2009 for The Aga Kahn. I coordinated lighting, entertainment, a fireworks display, all the rentals, linens and draping, stage decor and assembled a great team of AIFD designers. The floral budget alone was over 200k… it was a spectacular event that worked closely with my mentor and friend, Coby Neal of The Flower Studio. I worked with Coby for almost 20 years before pursuing other goals in freelance and product development. 
 
Congratulations on your new baby! As a new mom and an active participant in many parts of the industry, do you have any secrets for staying busy with a promising career and a new baby, without going crazy?
B. I think that staying busy and working as much as possible has helped me out tremendously. I love having a full plate and I do my best work under pressure and under time constraints. There is a certain sense of power and creativity that happens when you’re pregnant and I have tried to take full advantage of tapping into that… and I will say I will really miss being pregnant but I am so looking forward to being a mom. Traveling abroad while in my 2nd trimester was interesting, difficult at times but well worth it. Now I can say my son has been to China in my belly twice before he was ever born!
B. Since I don’t know exactly what to expect once my son arrives, it’s hard to comment on juggling career and motherhood, but so far I have LOVED being pregnant and working. I have been on ladders and doing event installs late into pregnancy and as long as I am super careful and feel good and confident about what I am doing, I think that working this hard has been great for me. I am hoping to spend as much time with my son as possible before heading back to my work in China. I am lucky to have a great support network close to home… but ask me how I am doing juggling everything about 8 months from now… that will be the REAL test. 🙂
 

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Give us the scoop to being a 2014 Mayesh Design Star Finalist. What are some of the highlights so far of the competition?
B. The Mayesh Design Star Competition has been a great experience. The year Mandy won, I came in 2nd place… so this year has given me such a great opportunity for exposure because they changed the rules this year. As many know, the 3 finalists get to do a series of videos throughout the year and the winner will be announced late November/December.
B. I love coming up with interesting techniques and ideas to share with others so this kind of competition is right up my alley. My videos aired/will air in March, June and September. It has been an incredible journey thus far. We actually filmed all the episodes in a 3 day period of time in October of 2013. I actually flew into LA straight from working in China so I had some jet lag to get through.. which was a challenge, but I do love a challenge. It was great to work with the Mayesh Family… they truly are a family business and everyone that works for them is part of the family as well. Learning about their business was wonderful and working with the other 2 finalists was equally rewarding.
B. Tony and Patience are true professionals and we all wanted to pitch and help each other with our videos. The 3 of us..(well I have to say 4 of us really) bonded during the filming. (Jodi Duncan was there to help us film our first video). We really did have a blast and because we are all part of the AIFD Family it made our time together even more meaningful. It was a lot of work to do in 3 days but we all had so much fun, we wished that 3 of us could all move on together… but there can only be one winner and I know I speak for my fellow competitors when I say that while each of us wants to win, we will truly be happy for whomever wins the final title of Mayesh Design Star 2015.
 
Other than being a 2014 Mayesh Design Star Finalist, what are some of the other projects that you are working on or looking forward to?
B. I just did a spread for the April Issue of Florists Review which I am really excited about. I got the cover and 5 pages on couture wedding trends inside the mag. That was such a fun shoot. I worked with the local Austin models, photographers, wedding gown boutique, and a local rental and event company to pull off the shoot. It was such an amazing energy and everyone involved gave their all and their best to make the shoot a success. When this kind of energy and talent come together on a project, something magical happens.
 

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When designing for yourself or others, do you have a preferred flower or design style for either?
B. Creativity and good solid mechanics are the most important thing to me when designing. The design style itself is something I like to change up. Working with and developing new trends is probably what drives my style the most. I think it is important to be inspired and inspire others with floral design. Keeping things fresh and new and DIFFERENT is so important in this industry. Within the last few years the trends have been strong but as far as creatively different, they have been lacking so I have found it fun to challenge people (the consumer especially) to try something new and move away from things like burlap and mason jars. There are so many possibilities in floral design that evolving and creating new ideas in design are so important. I love to discover new materials and I always have a new favorite. Right now it’s twisted and curly allium… Mayesh carries it. I also love the new novelty carnations in the muted tones. Some of my faves will always be orchids though. Who can’t resist a fabulous phalo or vanda?? Not me! 😀
 
What are you looking forward to for the future of the floral industry?
B. The floral industry has been undergoing major changes since the inception of online drop shipping florists and grocery store availability. Because of this market disadvantage, one of the biggest areas that florists have to excel is within the niche of highly specialized services like special events.
B. In my years of producing decor for special events of all kinds, I am finding it harder and harder for the floral designer to carry the respect, authority and creative direction that we once held. Our experience over the years has made us quite capable of maintaining this professional footing, but as of late (especially in the major event cities) that professional clout is wither being taken from us or slipping away from us without a fight. Event Coordinators have risen in the ranks of event professionals over the last decade and they seem to be diverting a lot of authority that we used to maintain with our clientele to themselves. They are becoming the authority and the go-to creative person when it comes to event decor. I can’t say I blame them… we have allowed this to happen and in many ways we didn’t anticipate things ahead of time and fight our own ground.
B. I think it is really important for florists to hold their footing, even if that means they integrate event planning and coordination into their repertoire and staff. This becomes very hard to do in some event networking circles because the florist is so afraid of stepping on the toes that might refer them, they are scared to hold their ground and be the professional event person they have worked so hard to become, in essence lowering themselves to a mere tradesman in many capacities. Business is business and it is time we stopped being afraid to be bigger and better than ever before and take control of the areas that we are perfectly capable of managing. We have stood by for decades and watched as everyone who saw an opportunity wiggled their way into the fruits of our industry.
B. The small florist (the one with all the history and design experience) has been consistently left by the way side for cheaper end products or by letting others appear as the authority instead of themselves. I believe it is past time where we should be standing together as a solid front to preserve our history, knowledge and livelihood. Our legacy is being threatened at every avenue.
B. Creative design for many consumers is not enough, and we need to be able to step into the professional roles being sought after by the public, even if it means that we become or employ event coordinators in our own small businesses.
 
Beth O'Reilly's Mayesh Design Star Video's

March 2014 - Floral Perspective: Dipped In Gold With Beth O'Reilly AIFD

March 2014 Mayesh Design Star Video


June 2014 - Floral Perspective: Outside the Vase With Beth O'Reilly AIFD

June 2014 Mayesh Design Star Video


Entry - Beth O'Reilly AIFD Designs A Living Picture For Mayesh Design Star 2014

2014 Mayesh Design Star Entry Video


 
What major changes do you expect to see in the coming years?
B. I would like to see young designers and seasoned designer move away from the popular loose gathered design. While these are popular on pinterest and in many circles… there is no technique or design being showcased. Young florists especially are falling into a trap of getting by with very little knowledge of Principles and Elements of Design. I would like to see a shift towards highly skilled compositions. I think it is possible for us to move in this direction.
B. In my experience trend forecasting, florists have a unique ability to dictate many trends in wedding, event and home decor. When pushing trend forward ideas, it takes research, aesthetic and keeping a pulse on what is popular in the marketplace. With these skills, we can drive trends in the directions that help our business and profession grow. Sometimes just coming up with a new idea, pushing it out to our peers and the public through social media can have great effects on building trends “WE” want to see. If we see our ideas and designs as viable and popular, the general public will as well and consumers will follow suit by buying into the trends that we are discovering and pushing. So, I guess, more than predicting what is ahead… I challenge everyone in the industry to put forth this kind of authority and professionalism and MAKE their own predictions… with impeccable design, mechanics, principles and elements, as well as showcasing trends that we think are viable and profitable in the future, we stand to regain a lot of territory that was once considered ours. Let’s not wait for some other industry to dictate it for us. Seize The Day!
 
Who have been some of the more interesting designers you have gotten to work with so far and who has inspired you throughout your career?
B. I have had the wonderful opportunity of working with some of the best of the best.. and vicariously learning from afar from some designers that I truly admire. Every program, every event, every AIFD Symposium or local convention is an opportunity for me to learn and be inspired from other designers. This is something I think is very unique to our industry.. we have the capability of creating a community like no other.
B. My first mentor and really the man who taught me SO much in my early career is Coby Neal. I have also learned priceless information from my colleague and friend Michelle Perry-White, whom without her, my experience working in Asia and product development would never have been the same. Kim Morrill, Sharon McGukin, Susan Standerfer… my fellow “Pearl Sister’s” have also been a great source of knowledge and inspiration.
B. As a Past President of the AIFD South Central Region, I have been influenced by some of the most professional and talented people in the industry… Suzie Kostick, BJ Dyer, Frankie Peltiere, and the great Marie Ackerman, to name a few. I also look at designers like Hitomi and Gregor as the true artists in the industry and I am always striving to put forth work that speaks the same language of art and design as they do.
 

BethCallaTower

 
Do you have any countries that you dream of presenting or designing in?
B. I would love to present in Europe… anywhere in Europe. In 2008 I got a scholarship from the World Floral Council of Holland to take part in a special program that toured the Netherlands to learn more about Holland product. It was such an amazing experience, I ended up traveling to Paris and I would love to return in a professional capacity in the future.
B. I also would like to present to Asia, as I think Asian countries look to the US for inspiration and with a great curiosity. I feel they would be very open to learning design techniques rooted more in the western thought and culture.
 
What kind of presentation would you treat them to?
B. European design is very different than many designs and techniques in America, I think it would be fun to highlight Western aesthetics. Because I am a sculptor as well, I always love to incorporate my own distinct techniques and mechanics that I have learned through 3-Dimensional art exploration. Mixing the 2-Western culture and aesthetics with more sculptural type of design would be exciting to me. 
 

Beth #2

 
How important do you find setting goals, and what are some goals you are working on right now?
B. Setting goals has been huge for me. It lets me know how far I have come and gives me a sense of perspective of where I am going on this endless journey in the art of flowers. I have been lucky in that every goal I have ever set for myself in this industry has come to fruition.
B. My next goal would be to work as a consultant, helping small flower shops realize the next step of being highly profitable and stable business in the present economy. I would like to continue my endeavors in researching and developing trends for our industry as well as writing for industry publications. I think all designers have a dream of one day publishing a book on floral design… All of these things are on my present bucket list.
 
You walk into a floral market anywhere in the world and you are allowed to pick any flowers you want. Tell us what you grab and why.
B. I am a visual person so I would pick the materials that speak to me at the time. The biggest, the most lush… maybe it’s the mutant double headed tulip that I am drawn to or the stem length of the vine maple. Whatever is at the peak in season is usually what I love to work with. Peonies the size of my hand, Dahlias the size of a dinner plate, Eremurus as tall as me, these are the kinds of material that I am drawn to. I also like to play with texture and unusual or new materials, for the reason I love green trich dianthus, things like twisted waddle or materials that are unique to the particular region I am in. For instance, if I was in Hong Kong during orchid tree season, I would love to work with them as the focal of a design. It’s hard to say exactly what I would pick, but these are the types of materials I would be drawn to intuitively. 
  

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Wonderful responses from a wonderful lady, Floral.today loves the passion in her answers as you can also find it in her design work. Make sure to check out all Beth’s video’s as a view counts as a view and support #TeamBeth on all social media along with your other finalists #TeamTony and #TeamPatience. Watch out for Nature’s Bounty in September as Beth’s final Mayesh Design Star Video. We appreciate Beth and all she has and is doing for the industry and look forward to all that is to come from this great designer.

Until next week, 
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