Lori Tran on Designing with Creative Limitations

Kelly Perry - 00:00 - You are listening to the Team Flower podcast where we talk about flowers and the people who have dedicated their lives to sharing intimate world. Hi, my name is Kelly Perry. My cohost Janine Harris is with me today and our special guest is Lori Tran of Wild Green Yonder. In this episode we're discussing creative limitations and how these limitations can really drive our creative work with flowers. It's an inspiring episode with tips and stories to encourage you in your journey for flowers going. This is Lori tells her story today. We have Lori from Wild Green Yonder with us on the podcast today and my cohost, Janine Harris, hello Janine.

Janine Harris - 00:00 - Hello, Kelly. 

Kelly Perry - 00:44 - Hi, Lori. It's so good to have you here. How are you doing today? 

Lori Tran - 00:46 - Thanks for having me. I'm great. 

Kelly Perry - 00:48 - Good. Well, everybody, we are going to talk about creative limitations today. Jeanine, why don't you tell us why you chose this topic? 

Janine Harris - 00:58 - Sure. I mean, as flower professionals, we come across all kinds of limitations in what we do in our everyday life. Um, but also just with creating arrangements for people. Um, but that can go everywhere from, hey, maybe our brides are, our clients aren't very creative themselves and they all want the same kinds of designs or maybe we're hitting a creative block. Um, and I came across one of Laura's blogs where she expanded upon this very thing, so I wanted to get her thoughts on overcoming these creative lives stations. 

Kelly Perry - 01:35 - Cool. Well, Lori, before we get started, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to live flowers. I started your business, you know, how did all of that start for you? 

Lori Tran - 01:45 - Yeah, well, I've always loved flowers. I mean, how could you not yet, but I think I kind of really got my foot into the industry when I was planning my own wedding. I, that sounds so cliche. I don't like that that's my story.  I was planning my own wedding a few years ago and they started seeing, this was like right when pinterest started, so I was still one of the brides that had a binder and like cut out magazine pictures and things. Thirty one sisters like you need to get on pinterest. Okay. Just get on there and see what's going on. So I think it was through a pinterest rabbit trail or something that I found, um, say pool and that whole sort of new school of floral design, which is very organic and natural and the designers are using yard clippings and foraged materials and really unique, um, ingredients, an interesting composition. So I just felt so inspired by that and wanted to figure out how I could be a part of that. Um, my wedding flowers didn't really look like I tried to push for them to be way, 

Lori Tran - 03:00 - but in kind of doing the wedding flower thing for myself, I realized there was a hole in our marketplace where that style of design and I felt like I could fill it. So I just started absorbing everything that I could learn on the Internet, calling people. Kelly, I think I had a phone call with you, tell me how this works, how do I be a florists and that kind of thing. So, and then it just kind of grew from there. Um, at the time I was working for a real estate agent doing marketing and that kind of thing. It was just really a bottom of the barrel career situation for me at that time. Um, and I just, you know, I'm turning 30 in a couple of years. I have got to get my life together. I'm going to just be someone's assistant for the rest of my life. 

Lori Tran - 03:46 - So that was kind of also a catalyst for me to figure this out. I wrote down two things on a piece of paper, one was research, I needed to do some research about this and then two was I needed to make some stuff, so I just plowed through that to do list and the rest is history, so. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I, I continued working for about three years and was doing flowers on the side and eventually was able to go full time. So that's where I am now. Yeah, that's awesome. Well both you and Paul take part. I'm in the business. So what does that look like for you guys and what are, what are the different roles that you guys share? Yes, so my sweet husband Paul in the beginning, he really was a designer too. He focused on a lot of the tiny little details. 

Lori Tran - 04:39 - He would always do the boot and years and things like that, um, because it was just really the two of us starting out and he of course was with me on every wedding setup and that kind of thing and now that we've grown and I've been able to hire more help and freelance designers and things like that, he's a lot more hands off with the pre wedding day prep stuff and now he just works with me on the wedding day. So he takes me to get the rental van. He drives the rental van, he finds food for the staff while we're all busy working. You always find food somewhere. It's a running joke. Um, but yeah, he's always there on wedding days and then he'll help me with special projects, like if I need to build an arch or hipaa structure, he'll figure that out for me. 

Lori Tran - 05:22 - And um, and of course he lives with it. I work out of my home. So he, he's around it all the time and always eager to give his two cents and advice, which is usually appreciate it, sometimes not, but uh, yeah, but it's been great to have him kind of as a, as a partner in this and he just kind of lets me run the show and helps me out wherever he can, which is nice. That's awesome. You guys make a really fun team as well

Kelly Perry - 05:51 - . Like jeanine said in one of your blog entries you wrote about floral limitations and you mentioned that the arrangements that you have kind of a, a shortage of materials, maybe you're using leftovers from project or something that oftentimes end up being your favorite creation. So walk us through a time when this happened to you and um, tell us a little bit about what your limitations were and you know, maybe what ingredient you would normally have that was missing and um, how you just prepare and, and start and walk through it. 

Lori Tran - 06:22 - Yeah, yeah, definitely. Um, I love that blog post. It was about a farm tour that we did this summer at one of our local flower farms. And for me, the challenges using more local ingredients, so that's kind of what that blog post was related to, which I think is fun. Um, but as far as, um, limitations in my design work, I love creating things with leftover flowers, so whenever we have a wedding and there's always like a random three quicksand roses, leftovers or something like that, hiding in a bucket and the garage. Um, and so I always want to do something with them. I don't want them to just rot in the bucket. So that's why I create all these leftovers style arrangement. So with those arrangements, there's usually almost everything is missing and there'll just be a couple random roses, maybe a sprig of greenery if you're lucky. 

Lori Tran - 07:14 - Um, that kind of thing. So it's just kind of like, how can I put this into an arrangement with what I have? Um, I think one of my favorites was, I think it was last winter and all I had were those quick standard says, ironically, um, I think I maybe had like five or six quicksand roses and I had nothing else. I had no other ingredients. Um, it was the dead of winter, there was nothing in the yard I could grab really except for dead things. Um, so I just went in for just a bunch of dried out, did things from the yard, from a couple fields by our house, that kind of thing. So I found like these little this'll pods and some dried stuff, I'm not even sure what all it was. It just looked like interesting textures, one of the outside. And so I just combined those with the quicksand roses and I was able to find enough things that kind of embodied that different elements that I want to have an a centerpiece. 

Lori Tran - 08:10 - So the roses kind of served as a focal point. And then I brought in some dried vine that really gave the peace movement, lots of grasses which gave at texture and kind of helped with the movement through the arrangement as well. And then the soul pods were kind of another focal point through the piece. Um, and it was a really interesting color because everything was dried. It was this really Beigey tonal, creamy color Palette. Um, which is very different from everything that I was doing for weddings, which is a very green and lush. So, um, that was definitely my favorite and that one kind of started my love affair with dried things. So then I started drawing flowers that I had leftover, seeing how I could incorporate those with things. So, um, that was my favorite, but there's tons of leftover arrangements on my end. Hashtag, leftovers. Um, and sometimes they turn out great and sometimes they don't make it to instagram. 

Kelly Perry - 09:14 - That's totally fine. I think that that's one of the ways, you know, to be more creative is to put yourself into a situation that is maybe not ideal or that it's just different than what you've done in the past. And so I think just the practice of, and really, really, I think it's a discipline of after you've done a wedding and you're tired, you go out there and just look at the three things that are remaining and just, you know, like let the flowers kind of poor back into you a little bit, you know, and to um, take that walk outside. One of the things that I think is so interesting, I've been asking a lot of designers about what do you do whenever you feel burnt out and um, something that they seem to share in common, is this going back to nature, like go back to the garden and I'm just sort of observe and see what's there and I mean that's exactly what you were doing. You had those three things and you went out into those fields and you took time to notice and just to be aware and to be there in the moment. And I think that that's a really good practice for all of us to have. I know it's obviously not always possible, but whenever you're feeling tired, it's a good too good a field walk is a good walk to go on. 

Lori Tran - 10:29 - Oh yeah, yeah, definitely. And definitely I let stuff sit for a few days after the wedding. I'm not coming in like, oh, I need to make this now. Things are almost dead when I'm using them, but it's just for the exercise of it and, it's practicing, really.

Kelly Perry - 10:50 - Exactly. Yeah, It's hard to come up with new ideas or new things when a wedding is actually taking place and that's why I think these moments that you're describing are so important for us to be able to have that little bit of pause in between because those are the places where we make the quote unquote recipes that will appear next year, you know, in something after you've had a chance to dry all of your fields, grasses to get them ready. 

Lori Tran - 11:16 - True. And it's the time like the wedding work or any event work is just so time sensitive and to take all the time in the world to make one centerpiece. Is it really, it's a training session, like how does this material work in this way? Is there a better way to construct this and how can I incorporate this with other things? So, um, yeah, I think it's really valuable. 

Kelly Perry - 11:43 - Yeah, I do too, Lori. 

Janine Harris - 11:44 - So I also want to know what kind of limitations have you come across in your own business? 

Lori Tran - 11:51 - Oh Gosh, there's so many, I would say, well, right now for me it's space. Um, that's a huge limitation for me. And the size of jobs that I can take on because I work out of my house right now, so it's kind of like you'd have to be creative with your workflow and um, so I work with everything almost in shifts, so I'll do kind of two ingredients here or there and then move those out, move other ones in. Um, I also kind of the way by hiring works with my designers so I can really only have one other designer with me. So we try to spread the workout over a couple days versus trying to cram five designers in the room and get it all done on Friday. Um, so those are some of the adjustments that we've made. I'm also partially making things, so anything that's larger will kind of green it out here, like start the base and then finish it on site. So that helps. Um, but I think it's really interesting to see what other florists are doing because it seems like space is a problem for a lot of people have. And to kind of see the interesting little inventions they've come up with for like storing things and putting things in the van and stuff like that. For me in the beginning. Oh go ahead. 

Kelly Perry - 13:06 - No, I was just going to say, I was just going to say if you're ever in New York flower school, New York has a little tour that they do and they take you to all of these flower shops inside the city and some of them are huge warehouses and they have tons and tons of space, but a lot of them that are downtown or show so tiny. And so if you're looking for inspiration about like, how can I set this up? One time I saw this cooler that was like, I don't know, like four by four or something. You would not believe there were all of these shelves that were. They all like would come out off the wall and like layer on top of each other in this like tetris style. I mean, it was just like, it was really, um, it was extremely creative and they worked with the limitations that they had and they totally made it work and um, you know, the workspace that they had to put weddings together and things like that. 

Kelly Perry - 13:53 - It was one, you know, four by eight table, but they do massive, massive projects and so it's just interesting and it is exactly what you're talking about where there's like a, there's a flow to it and there's a, this is coming in now, this is going out, this is coming in and this is going out. Um, yeah. So there really is, there's a lot that you can accomplish and it seems that having a big space would solve all the problems, but every, every thing has its own problems, right? So. Oh yeah, I can't, I mean I'm pumped for both of you to have to have a bigger space. We struggle up there with trying to record, have film space and flower space, but thanks. But again, it's just not, it's not happening simultaneously. We're like, you know, have a little system for how it's coming and going and stuff. 

Lori Tran - 14:40 - You make it work. It's, it's incredible the things that we turn out of this little room, it's such a small room. Um, but then I see my friends that are also kind of dealing the same issues and it's like, well I have a spicket downstairs so I'm like one step ahead to go upstairs to get my water. So it's like everybody has something that they're having to work around. So I was going to stay in the, 

Lori Tran - 15:07 - in the beginning, my limitations with the business we're experience and I think that that's a roadblock for a lot of people. They think how I don't know how to do this, so I just, I don't even know how to start. And it's just a matter of practicing with leftovers and things like that to hone your skill or reaching out to somebody and asking them questions or looking for videos online. Hello, Team Flower. You know?  Team Flower didn't exist when I was starting out so I was just had to figure it out myself. And I think if you want something bad enough, limitations are really to me, excuses for why you can't do something. So, um, I don't know. And I think also things that are limiting as is your client work and when you get asked for the same thing a lot by clients, um, and they keep showing you the same pictures over and over again and like how you can be inspired and come up with new things. And I think that you can always present new ideas to a client. They might not always accept them or want to do them, but each time that you're given an ivory and blush wedding is the chance for you to, how can I reinterpret ivory and blush? Um, so you know, that arrangement they made with quicksand roses was technically a blush arrangement, but it was combined with beige grasses and browns and darker tone. So it took on this new dimension, even though it was technically blush. So I'm also looking for inspiration beyond the industry is kind of Nice, really important. So whether it's fashion industry or interiors or are, you know, there's just so much inspiration out there and in seeing how other people are using color and what combinations are coming up with, I think those are a great way to be inspired and, and not feel as limited that you're constantly turning out the same work. 

Kelly Perry - 17:06 - Do you have some favorite places to look? Are, you know, if somebody was looking for, is there like a magazine that you really love or someone on instagram or like, um, where would one go to get them exposed to some of these other things? Art Museums? What are some of your favorite places you've ever been that were just super inspiring? 

Lori Tran - 17:30 - Oh, outdoors 

Kelly Perry - 17:33 - obviously, but also art. I love art and I love finding new 

Lori Tran - 17:36 - artists and seeing how they use color and for that I just look online, I'll go to, I'm like Saatchi gallery or something like that to try to find new inspiring artists or even instagram. There's tons of amazing art out there. Um, I also love, love fashion industry. My background is in fashion. I went to school for merchandising and I'm so looking at some of my favorite designers is really inspirational, especially with color. So, and instagram again, is a great, a great place to just look up any designer your heart desires and see what they're up to. Um, and I feel like the fashion industry is always three steps ahead of kind of what the rest of design industries are doing. Um, so it's kind of a nice predictor tool. What's coming up. I needed, um, pantone color of the year. Hello. Purple and designers have been using this lilac color for a little while now that I've been following. So it's interesting that it's now color of the year. 

Kelly Perry - 18:36 - Yeah. Well, and it's so fascinating. I, I studied merchandising, I was interiors in fashion merchandising for a little while until I switched over that one summer and then had to do summer school to get my teacher's licensure. But I was in that realm for a little while and I think it's so interesting in the fashion merchandising, we were talking about it. Um, and I think that some of this, you know, there, there's always these transitory skills that come over, but one of the things that I'm thinking of is, you know, the high, high end designers might come out with something in there is this trickle down effect to the things that really stick and really resonate with a lot of people. You will find in Walmart. Like I'm thinking of those really expensive old school felt letter boards. You know, those were something that you could only get for like 100 bucks a while ago and now it's trickled down and it's in the dollar section at target or wherever. 

Kelly Perry - 19:30 - And so it's interesting because, um, you know, there are different levels. There's always, there's always different clients, like there's different needs, there's people out there who want that really first, like if they want to have the first thing that comes out, you know, that are looking for that really high end design. And then there's um, middle of the road and they're like, yeah, that's cool. But it's maybe not as extreme. It's like tailored down a little bit. And then you get to kind of the masses that Walmart aspect of it and so there's always different stores and business models that are serving all of these different clients through the trickle down with that. But yeah, it ties back into fashion for sure. And we can learn a lot from it in terms of our flower businesses and what we're doing there as well. 

Lori Tran - 20:14 - Yeah, definitely. I think another good way to kind of unblock yourself creatively and hopefully get to do some of these exciting things that you are wanting to do is creating those things for yourself and putting it out there in the world that this is what I want to be making. I mean, because if you're constantly just sharing work that you've done for weddings than it is kind of redundant and the same if you, if you are in that block, um, but if you can take leftovers and do something interesting with it or just buy a small order of flowers and do what you want to. Because the average person is not creative enough to visualize what you mean when you say, I want to make you a mixed dried arrangement, I want to use these grasses, you know, what does that look like? So, um, you know, by me experimenting with some of those elements and dried elements, I was able to do a wedding this past fall that was really heavily dried flowers and it was one of my favorite weddings that we did this year and it was all kind of born of experimentation and talking with the bride and showing her different ingredients and how we might use things. 

Lori Tran - 21:23 - Um, but it probably never. I think originally the design plan for that wedding was all greenery and very lush and vines and smilax and which is beautiful and I do that a lot, but it was kind of like how can we make this more unique and more who you are, um, versus just what's beautiful but what's been done before. So, um, yeah. And that's making things with leftover. 

Kelly Perry - 21:50 - Oh really cool. Well, how would you encourage our listeners before we sign off today to learn from their own limitations? Maybe a few, a keystone tips are just thoughts that you have to share. Anything really that you'd like to share with our audience before we sign off for today? 

Lori Tran - 22:08 - Um, I just think if you ask yourself, you know, when you're thinking about a limitation, is this really a limitation or is it an excuse? Like, am I being lazy and saying, Oh, I can't do that because of this or is it truly something that you need to figure out? Um, I dunno. I think that excuses are really easy to make about why we aren't doing certain things. It might be hard or scary or are uncertain or something like that. Um, I love the quote, creativity is born of limitations. I think that when the world is your oyster, you have crisis of choice and it's too hard to decide what to do. So having those limitations is, is helpful in deciding whether it's about your business. Like, well, I only have this small space so I'm gonna like, this is how I'm going to do my workflow, um, or I only have this budget to work with for this client. So this is what we're going to do, which is more creative, you know?

Kelly Perry - 23:11 -  I do, I love, I love what you said about that. The limitation can actually be like the, it can be like the starting place. It can be, um, to the place where you're building everything out. It can be a comfort in some ways if you reframe it because you're like, wow, this is, this is what I have. And so now where do I go from here? 

Lori Tran - 23:29 - Oh yeah. I mean if you go to the grocery store and there's five types of peach jam, it's like, which peach jam do I buy it? But if there's only one peach jam, it makes it a lot easier. Right. To choose. So if you're indecisive like I am, having limitations is a good thing for sure. Yeah. 

Kelly Perry - 23:46 - Really good. Really awesome. Well Lauri, um, how can people connect with you? Tell us your instagram handle and your website and all those kinds of things. 

Lori Tran - 23:54 - Yeah. My instagram is my first and last name. So it's Lori, l o r I underscore tran, t r a n. My website is wildgreenyonder.com, with dashes in between the letters one day I'll get wildgreenyonder.com without the dashes.

Kelly Perry - 24:13 - So, it's wild, dash, green, dash yonder. Okay. 

Lori Tran - 24:15 - Dot Com. Yep. Exactly. Um, I also have a little side creative project that I'm working on. It's just kind of a creative outlet and we do workshops and things like that. It's called wild west, so it's a collaboration between Wild Green Yonder and my good friend calling west. So. And if you want to find wild west, we are w l d, underscore, w s t on instagram. 

Kelly Perry - 24:42 - Cool. Yeah, I love that account. That's a great. That's a great account actually to follow for anybody who's looking for that kind of like mixed inspiration media because you guys are sharing all kinds of. 

Lori Tran - 24:54 - Yeah. And that's all it was about. We just were so inspired by things and it seemed odd. They didn't really fit with our individual businesses like this doesn't really make sense to put this photo of George Harrison sitting cross legged and upon. Does that make sense for me with my wedding clients? But it's just kind of all inspiration. Very colorful driven, quirky and interesting and really fun. So, um, yes, that's what I'm up to and where you can find me. 

Kelly Perry - 25:25 - Wonderful. Well thanks so much for tuning in. Everyone who's been listening here today. We wish you the best in your work with flowers. Know that the work that you're doing is so important. And Lori, thank you so much for coming on and for talking with us today and Virginia for putting all this. This was fun. Yeah, absolutely. All right, well we'll see you later everyone. 

Kelly Perry - 25:45 - Until next time. This podcast is brought to you by two u flowers in online learning community focused on educating, connecting, and empowering world slide with you're a professional farmer, florists getting started, a war. Just love flowers. Oh, come to the party. If you'd like to know when you podcast episodes are released to receive funding, video tutorials and articles, signup for our pen pal club. It's free. Visit teamflower.org and click on resources.

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