An innovative bent of mind laced with an entrepreneurial instinct can turn a hobby into a profession. Gauri Rane tracks the budding career in floristry.
For a layperson, the beautiful floral art may mean an expression of a creative mind. But halt. Behold it through an expert`s eye and the different forms will come alive, communicating a silent power of flower that floods your moods, moments and memories.
The floral art industry in India is at a take off stage. It has grown by 20 per cent in the last five years, according to Kamini Johari, a floral art tutor. It is attracting quite a few enthusiasts like Rajendra More, a second-generation flower merchant, who has been in the blooms business for close to two decades. More took formal training in floral arts at the Institute of Floral Design (IFD).
“Formal training,” he says “taught me the correct technique.” And the business skills he picked up during the course helped enhance his profits by 30 to 40%.
Interestingly, majority of the workforce in this budding industry comprises unskilled migrant labourers. Seema Jhaveri, director, IFD, stresses on the need for skilled professionals who can carry forward the art. Comparing local florists to karigars, she says, "Unskilled florists can replicate floral art forms but they lack the technique and the ability to create unique and innovative pieces.”
Experts opine that there is a need for structured approach towards learning about flowers, their preservation and maintenance, and embellishments, etc. “This helps in taking your passion forward to create business opportunities” Jhaveri adds.
The Indo-Japanese Association (IJA) at Mumbai conducts weekend classes in Ikebana floral art. IJA spokesperson Vandana Kale says, "Students who want to take up Ikebana as a career profession have to pass the assistant teacher level and the teacher level programmes."
One has to appear for the Ohara School of Ikebana Exam to obtain a certification from Japan. Others get the Indo-Japanese Association certification post course completion.
Jhaveri explains the various forms of floral arts. Ikebana for instance, is a Japanese form, and is all about flowers arranged in angles. The European art that draws inspiration from the Georgian and Victorian era, comprises all classical styles (the rounds and triangles). The Western art is more of the designer`s innovation. “The artist has absolute freedom of expression,” she says.
“A designer adds his thought and effort to flowers to transforms it into profits," informs Jhaveri.” "Floral art is not just arrangement of flowers. It is also about coordinating colours and textures, finding variants if the preferred one is not available, etc., which is what the course teaches you,” explains Johari.
As the art gains popularity, many pursue it as a passion, something that takes them off their routine stressful life. "Many of our students are housewives, professionals belonging to different fields, doctors, lawyers, dermatologists," informs Jhaveri. While the flower career is yet to gain momentum, it may provide an elegant alternative to those who seek a new meaning to life.
Ashwin Rajpal, owner Rajpal Creations
“I`ve been a fashion designer for over eight years. For me aesthetic and design sense is an innate quality. But there was a time when I reached a saturation point and needed to fulfill my creative desires.
My first flower arrangement was for a cousin who wanted to send someone a floral gift. Instead of simply placing an order, I visited Dadar flower market and right from selecting the flowers, to arranging them and even adding embellishments, I did it all by myself.
In search of creating innovative designs, I took up a course in floral art, which not only taught me the technique but also gave a heads up on the tricks of the trade. I learnt to look at flowers beyond their aesthetic value. Through various networks I have got some good assignments to my name. Being a new entrant to this sector I can say I have got a good start to my profession.
Floral art as a profession is definitely a lucrative option since Indians use flowers in almost every phase of life. Be it a naming ceremony, a wedding, godh bharai or any event, flowers and hence, floral artists are always required.
In 2011-12, India had about 253.65 thousand hectares area under floriculture. The loose flower and cut flower produce was roughly about 1.652 million tonnes and 750.66 million tonnes respectively. During the same period, India exported 27.14 thousand tonnes of floriculture products worth Rs 423.42 crores world over. The major destinations India exported its products to were USA, Netherlands, Germany, UK, Japan and Canada.
Where to learn floral art?