Monday, June 7, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: Parties and Petals Event & Floral Design

I had the pleasure of meeting Sharmila Gokel-Garg, owner of Parties & Petals Event and Floral Design a couple of months ago after stumbling upon her website.  I was immediately impressed by her creative flair and  amazing designs.  I sent her an email to request a meeting, and found that she was very pleasant to be around, amazingly talented, and super-dedicated to her craft...all the things that make for a wonderful vendor.  From that chance meeting, we formed a working relationship and genuine friendship as we support each other in our business endeavors. That is why when I came up with the idea for "A Themed Occasion", I knew instantly that Sharmila had to be a part of it.  I have been so pleased with her creative input, willingness to jump in and help in any way she could, and overall support thus far and can only hope that it continues!

Check out this candid Q&A session with the fabulous Sharmila, and make sure she is your first choice if you are in need of a floral/event designer!  Also, you can check out some of her work live and in-person at "A Themed Occasion" Saturday, June 19, 2010 from 2pm-5pm at the American Rent All Showroom.

                                               Name: Sharmila Gokel-Garg
                                               Location: Los Angeles, CA
                                               Company Name: Parties & Petals Event and Floral Design
                                               Years in Business: 2

How did you get involved in floral design? 
Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed entertaining.   I would invite friends over for various themed-parties or pounce on the opportunity to plan a party for a friend or family member.  I would get so excited about planning the menu, concocting specialty drinks and most of all, the d├ęcor.  Then one summer, I moved to San Francisco, where I worked for an extremely busy Event Design company.  I had so much fun conceptualizing the decor, going to the flower mart to select the flowers and designing floral arrangements-even when we worked through the night.  I knew then that I needed to find a way to make this my career.  Flowers bring joy to everyone’s life.

What did you do prior to this?
I worked in an assortment of industries before starting Parties & Petals, ranging from Marketing/Advertising to Retail.  In the last decade or so, I received my Masters in Forensic Science and worked as a Forensic Scientist at a Crime Lab, before moving to an Independent Film Company where I worked in the Accounting/Finance department.  Totally random, I know!

How would you describe your style?
A previous client once described my work as sensual, lush and vibrant.  I like that description.  I think I would also add creative, unique, fun and modern.  I like working with non-traditional items, textural flowers and I love color! 

What makes a client choose Parties & Petals over your competitors?
I think that we offer beautiful, creative designs at reasonable prices, with unparalleled customer service.  I am incredibly meticulous and involved in every step of the process.  My client can be assured that I will not only deliver his/her vision but that I will give it 150% of my effort.  Client satisfaction is paramount.

What would you say is your biggest source of inspiration?
Other than the flowers themselves, I would say travel.  I love learning about and immersing myself in different cultures and traditions across the globe.  There are very few places that I am not interested in visiting.  Of course, I also have my favorites that I can visit time and time again, which makes it hard to choose a destination.  One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to shop for knick knacks.  Nothing compares to the rush from finding that perfect, unique design item that you can’t find anywhere else-something that no one else (or very few) has.  Not only do these items personalize an event, but they create interest and encourage conversation. 

What are a few ways that couples can save when it comes to wedding flowers?
There are a few ways to save when it comes to wedding flowers.  Most importantly, you should choose a florist that is reliable, dependable and trustworthy.  If this is the case, your florist should be able to translate your vision into something that is affordable.  You should trust him/her to suggest alternate blooms that fall within your budget, as much of what you see in magazines or on television are quite costly. 

I always recommend having different types of centerpieces.  This not only adds interest to the room, but also allows you to have centerpieces at different price points.  You can have that over-the-top arrangement you saw in a magazine on some of the tables, with lower, lesser-priced arrangements or candles on the other.  Also, groupings of flowers in different vases are very pretty and tend to require less labor and therefore are usually less costly.

Another idea, depending on the timing of your event and venue, is that it may be possible to use some of the wedding ceremony flowers at the reception.  Often, the flowers from an arch or structure can be placed on the sweetheart, cake or some other table.

Besides creating beautiful floral arrangements, what else fills your time?
I love spending time with my husband and our new puppy, Madison, exploring new restaurants, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

What’s the most valuable advice you would give to a couple in regards to choosing a florist for their wedding?
Pick a florist whom you feel understands you and your style, one whom you trust to deliver on your wedding day.  People sometimes think they need to choose a florist whom they have read about in a celebrity wedding magazine or seen on television.  There is no question that these people are talented, but they may not “get” your design aesthetic or personality. 

Also, while your florist may not have an exact picture of what you are looking for, he/she should be able to understand what it is you are looking for and to come up with design concepts that fit your budget and scheme.  We all know vendors that are only out to make money.  While nothing is wrong with making money, you need to be cautious of people who will take advantage of the situation, and inflate their prices, simply because they can.

If you were not a floral designer, what would you be doing instead?
I would be living in Italy doing whatever work I could find to support my lifestyle, preferable something that involved travel. J

Is there anything else you would like to share?
The most important thing to remember when planning your celebration is that it is supposed to be fun and reflective of you.  Flowers can elevate it to the next level, making it lovely and unforgettable, but they will not make or break it.  Don’t feel pressured to make them more fabulous than the last wedding you attended.  Be true to who you are and your personal style. 

Here are a few pictures of Sharmila's work:

For more information on Sharmila, check out her website, and don't forget to become a fan of Parties & Petals Event and Floral Design on Facebook.

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