Floristry is not a work for me... It’s my whole life, says top finnish florist Pirjo Koppi
Pirjo Koppi known as the 'Pink Lady' - world-famous florist's champion, designer, author of books and winner of the 3rd place in World Cup in Berlin 2015 and in Europa Cup in Genova 2016. In an interview, she talks about her beginnings with floristry, projects and plans for the future.
Horti Advisor: We still remember your performance in Essen last year. Viewers always remember people who stand out of the crowd. You are called by many 'Pink Lady'. Undoubtedly, it is influenced not only by your creations, but also by your mentality. Do you think your personality helped you influence your floristic success?
Pirjo Koppi: It's difficult to say… I have my own character and I am who I am… A quite spontaneous person. Maybe my pink & crazy concept is easy to notice.
HA: You are a positively crazy person. Certainly, it seems to us and many other people that you infect everyone in your surroundings with this warmth and energy. Do you agree with this opinion?
PK: Ooo, it’s nice to hear. It would be great and big honor if it's like that. I like to be in interaction with people. Life is not serious and I can laugh to myself.
HA: Do you have your favorite slogan that motivates you to act?
PK: You are never ready. Every day is a good day to learn something new.
What was your beginning with floristry like? Where did the idea to choose such a career path come from?
PK: When I realized that floristry is my passion, I wanted to learn about it and everything related to it as much as possible. I just wanted to and still want to develop. Competition is an essential element to learn more… Not only about floristry, but also about yourself and how to work under pressure.
HA: Do you think your childhood influenced who you are now? Have you always had contact with nature?
PK: Yes, absolutely! I have always had an imagination and created all kinds of handicrafts, such as jewelry. Nature has always been close to me.
HA: You undoubtedly stand out from other florists. Your work attracts attention. How would you describe your style in floristry?
PK: I like working with different shapes. I would describe my style as playfull and funny.
HA: In your profile at www.floos.org, we can find information that 'floristry is something natural for you, like breathing'. Could you elaborate on this statement?
PK: I started my adventure with floristry in 1992, so it has been a big part of my life for a long time. Currently, I would say that floristry is not a work for me... It’s my whole life.
HA: Where are you looking for inspiration?
PK: I find inspiration everywhere: nature, flowers, colors, architecture, fashion, music, etc.
HA: I have the impression that you like to challenge yourself. Where does so much energy and strength to act in you come from?
PK: I want to develop and I like to learn. I think this is the main reason that leads me on. Taking part in florist competitions is a great way to grow.
HA: When and where was your first florist show? How do you remember this event with time?
PK: It was a Christmas show in 1993. I was then a floristry student. It was a great experience. I was a bit nervous, but I felt that floristry was my destiny!
HA: What do you consider to be your greatest success?
PK: The 2015 Fleurop-Interflora World Cup changed my life.
HA: You are the 3rd place winner in the Fleurop-Interflora World Cup 2015 and Europa Cup 2016. Undoubtedly, such achievements give you wings. How do you feel with such great achievements? Certainly, such achievements increase self-confidence and drive further development.
PK: I don't consider success as achievement. I consider it a success to do what I love to do and to achieve new goals in the right place and at the right time. By being successful, I gained many opportunities all over the world. I have been able to carry out amazing projects that I would not have had the opportunity to participate in otherwise.
HA: Your works differ from traditional schemes. I think you are a tremendous inspiration for many people. Would you call yourself a flower designer of the 21st century?
PK: That is lovely to hear! I just do what I believe in without thinking whether I am this or that kind of designer. It is absolutely wonderful to receive positive feedback and to be an inspiration to someone and maybe encourage people to pursue their dreams in floristry.
HA: You have conducted workshops and shows in many regions of the world. Among others, in Estonia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Singapore, the United States, Japan, South Korea and many other countries. Which of them do you remember the most and why?
PK: I have been given a great opportunity to work all over the world and have always loved flowers, people and traveling. If I have to choose only one country that stuck the most positively in my head, I will bet on Japan. Japan interests me a lot, intrigues and inspires me.
My partner school in Tokyo, Linoka Kukka, is my base in Japan, which has launched many different interesting projects there. I also studied some Japanese and learned some songs in that language as well.
HA: You are also the owner of the 'Kauklahden Kukka' project. How do you remember the beginnings of running a florist?
PK: We bought the flower shop because of the COVID-19 emptying our calendars and making traveling impossible. I really love having a flower shop, the work is really varied and there is a lot of it!
HA: In addition to workshops, shows and running a flower shop, you are also the author of the book 'Beautification with Floral Jewelery'. Could you tell me more about this project? Where did you get your inspiration and how long did it take you to publish your book?
PK: I have been fascinated by floristic jewelry since my studies in floristry in 1992 and I have always experimented with it. The thought of creating a book was born slowly and it was always supposed to be a book about floral jewelry.
Previously, flower jewelry was most often shown as part of wedding designs. I felt strongly that there was a place and a demand for a book about floral jewelery on the market. I published the book myself, and it took over a year to complete.
HA: Are you planning to release another publication? If so, can you reveal more details?
PK: In the future yes. I have two different projects at the moment with my colleague Tiina Koskinen, but at this stage I cannot tell you anything about them yet.
HA: Do you have a favorite plant or type of plant material that you often use in your arrangements?
PK: I love different flowers. At the moment we have glorious and wonderful nerine at our shop. Soon the season for hyacinths begins for real and it is something I really look forward… The fragrance of hyacinths is heavenly!
HA: Finland is located at latitude 59-70o N. Are such environmental conditions conducive to the cultivation of plants and, therefore, how floristic education in Finland looks like?
PK: Commercial cultivation has generally decreased in recent years. During the seasons we have a great selection of local Christmas flowers such as poinsettia, amaryllis and hyacinths. In spring, locally grown tulips are a big thing in Finland!
Florist education in Finland looks very good. Both the florist education and the master florist education are of high quality and of a high level.
HA: How would you rate the changes in the floristic industry in recent months? How is the floriculture industry in Finland doing with the current epidemiological situation?
PK: Many people suffer from this situation depending on the location and customer base. Florists who depend heavily on passers-by are struggling. People work remotely and there is very little customer traffic. In the current situation, florists with pre-ordering customers and customers of online stores have done better.
Due to COVID-19, the availability of some products has decreased. Some florists have had to lay off workers, while others have hired more people.
HA: Do you always have fresh flowers or occasional compositions for Christmas, for example, in your home?
PK: I always have fresh flowers at home in every room. Also in the bedroom. Flowers bring happiness and I really like having them.
HA: Do you think anyone can achieve great success in the floristry industry?
PK: Yes! Everyone can achieve a success. It requires a lot of time, work and a solid background in the form of a team. The current trend is to have everything here and now. It just doesn't work that way.
HA: What would you like to say to our readers?
PK: Flowers and floristry are a really positive thing. During this pandemic, it's absolutely great to make your loved ones, friends and yourself happy by giving flowers whenever the opportunity arises! I wish you all great moments with flowers and floristry!