Name: Meredith Waga Perez
Education: Parsons School of Design in New York City and Paris
Job title: Co-Founder of Belle Fleur Floral & Fragrance
What she does: What woman doesn’t love receiving flowers? Like lots of girls, Meredith Waga Perez has a love affair with all things floral. But instead of receiving a bouquet, she’d rather be the one to design and arrange it. An expert flower arranger, Meredith co-founded Belle Fleur Floral & Fragrance, a boutique business in the Flatiron district. The company specializes in designing bouquets and events in Manhattan. They also recently launched a collection of fragrant candles, room sprays and French-milled soaps. “Working closely with the top fragrance houses has been quite exciting and we are currently in development to debut our line of personal fragrances in 2013,” says Meredith.
How she got her gig: Like many other little girls, Meredith dreamed of becoming the next great American designer. She studied fashion at New York’s elite fashion school, Parson’s School of Design, but she quickly realized that the fashion world wasn’t for her. “I went back to my roots and continued to nurture a childhood hobby: floral design. I’m so very lucky that I followed my instincts and passion 17 years ago,” says Meredith. “In retrospect, it was pretty daring considering that I had absolutely no experience, but I had total conviction to make a go of it.”
In full bloom: “I was absolutely flabbergasted when we received word that The White House was interested in burning our scented candles, Orange Blossom Pomegranate in particular, at one of their State Dinners,” says Meredith. She jokingly admits she wished she could have hand delivered the cases of candles to the White House herself!
Wake up and smell the roses: Meredith’s day starts at 5 a.m. when the New York City flower market opens for business. “I love walking down West 28th Street right before sunrise and putting my nose to the most incredible blooms in the world. It’s a wonderful way to begin the day,” says Meredith.
Nip it in the bud: Helping to plan weddings can be a pressure-filled job. Meredith diminishes her stress with Maison du Chocolat truffles, reading her daughters bedtime stories, and going to a bistro with her husband for escargot. “I obviously have a lot of vices,” says Meredith.
Hopeless romantic: Meredith admits to being a true blue romantic. She loves working with brides and helping them design the perfect floral arrangements and displays for their weddings.
Never a rose without the prick: As expected, Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year at Belle Fleur. “On rare occasions, we receive phone calls from men sending flowers to both their wives and their mistresses,” says Meredith. “I just can’t get used to this notion… not for all the money in the world.”
Get schooled: If you’re looking to get into the flower business, Meredith recommends attending classes at The Flower School in New York. “When I first started in the business, there were no classes to learn this trade,” says Meredith. Students can take classes with Master Designers, including Meredith, to learn everything there is about the floral art form. “I would also say that visiting other floral shops around the globe is a wonderful way to develop relationships with people in the industry. With every trip that I take, whether it’s business or personal, I make a point of stopping in floral boutiques to talk shop and become inspired,” says Meredith. If you can’t afford to travel the world, then check out your local library. Meredith advises young students to peruse floral design books for inspiration.
Petal Power: Like most industries, the flower market is oversaturated. In order to succeed on your own, you need more than just a good eye – you need several emerging skills, including becoming tech- and social media-savvy. “You must be a forward thinker on how to differentiate yourself in an uber competitive marketplace, but most of all you must be a floral enthusiast, being madly in love with the art of gift giving,” says Meredith.
Can’t buy me love: Meredith has learned that if you focus solely on making money with your business, you’ll never truly be happy – or even successful, for that matter. Meredith says, “To not be motivated by the ideals of success, but instead focus on the art of transforming space, awakening the senses, transporting messages through gorgeous blooms… To sum it up, money doesn’t grow on trees, flowers do.”