Any bride knows that the devil is in the details when it comes to your wedding.
Despite giving what she thought was a clear brief on her flowers for her own big day, Youki Nakahara was left holding brightly coloured bunches and no trace of her soft-hued, ‘romantic blooms’ request. Understandably, she felt let down. “The bouquet that I received for my wedding was completely off brief and there was nothing I could do about it,” says Youki.
Youki was determined to never let that disappointment happen to someone else. So, she became a florist. With no background or faith in her capacity to take up a creative career, Youki decided to study floristry to see if she had the goods. “I had to go to school to really know that I could do something creative,” the previously ‘uncreative’ florist admits.
The choice to study proved to Youki that she was capable of a creative career and gave her enough confidence to know she had what it took to go it alone. “I built up knowledge and experience, then I went on to start my own business.”
In the seven years since she established Sugar Bee Flowers, Youki has styled for magazines like White and Hooray, has had her work featured on prominent websites like Polka Dot Bride and made endless brides happy with her unstructured, romantic creations.
Using the digital realm as her most effective base for making her brand visible, she’s able to directly reach future clients by connecting her business to their very specific needs. “I was a home-based wedding florist to start with so online was the only outlet to let people know that I was there,” Youki explains.
Using Instagram as an effective branding tool, Youki believes her posts build “excitement and trust” with her current and future clientele. It’s also the best way to show people what they can expect from partnering with her for an important event. “Instagram has really helped to grow to the next step. Due to the creative nature of the business, sharing beautiful pictures is so important, and adding location of where the picture was taken [wedding venues, for example] really does help attract future couples who are getting married there.”
Considering that she created her business as a result of a failure, Youki knows that never repeating that mistake from the business end is fundamental: the key to which she believes is communication. “Good communication definitely is the key. Having a meeting to understand the style that each client [wants] is crucial, and keeping in touch throughout the planning is something we keep in mind,” she says. “Also, as a part of active communication, I always send a sneak peek of the bouquets the day before the wedding. This way, the clients have a chance to view what they can expect for their special day, and it’s also very exciting for the bride and for us too!”
And with a business that depends on seasonal offerings, Youki has to keep several plates spinning when it comes to fulfilling the brief of her clients. “I will try to only suggest flowers and foliage that I know will be available at the time of the wedding at the initial meeting,” she explains. Having a client who trusts her instinct is also a major part of the process. “If [what they want] is not available, clients will be confident in our choice as long as we have the trust from the clients. I feel like our client base is very flexible, trusting and open.”
Although Youki knows that the planning and ordering of flowers as the most fundamental part of her job to execute her briefs successfully, she knows the value of a good, dedicated team. “Keeping my staff happy is [a] very important and fun part of my job too,” she says.