How We Bloom

World Cup Top Ten w/ Jenny Thomasson

September 25, 2023 Sharon McGukin AIFD, AAF, PFCI Season 3 Episode 19
World Cup Top Ten w/ Jenny Thomasson
How We Bloom
More Info
How We Bloom
World Cup Top Ten w/ Jenny Thomasson
Sep 25, 2023 Season 3 Episode 19
Sharon McGukin AIFD, AAF, PFCI

Jenny Thomason, AIFD, AAF, PFCI, EMC of Dallas, Texas represented USA in the 2023 Interflora World Cup in Manchester, England where she placed in the Top 10.  

How did she accomplish this feat?

“Your first step is to do something every single day." says Jenny. "Study with designers,  take workshops, go to symposium, go to conferences, buy books, subscribe to international magazines, practice. Completely absorb everything possible. Expose yourself to a wider range of floristry. Get out there and do it.” 

Listen to this episode for more valuable tips from this floral expert.

Show Notes Transcript

Jenny Thomason, AIFD, AAF, PFCI, EMC of Dallas, Texas represented USA in the 2023 Interflora World Cup in Manchester, England where she placed in the Top 10.  

How did she accomplish this feat?

“Your first step is to do something every single day." says Jenny. "Study with designers,  take workshops, go to symposium, go to conferences, buy books, subscribe to international magazines, practice. Completely absorb everything possible. Expose yourself to a wider range of floristry. Get out there and do it.” 

Listen to this episode for more valuable tips from this floral expert.

Speaker 1Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (00:09)
And the fact that I got to represent my country is such an honor, and something I never would've imagined that would've been possible when I started this world of flowers, that I would be able to represent my, my country in the international competition. I mean that, just those words in that sentence just seems so big!

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (00:37)
Welcome to How We Bloom, an oasis of flower Ideas. I'm your host, Sharon McGukin, AIFD, AAF, PFCI and I believe that every great success story starts with one simple idea. That's why we interview those who dare to do things differently, inspiring people who plant seeds, grow ideas, and bloom to their full potential. In this podcast, we listen, learn, explore new opportunities, and that's How we Bloom.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (01:17)
You are really going to enjoy today's energetic guest, Jenny Thomason, AIFD, AAF, PFCI, EMC calls Dallas Home. But, this talented Texan is expanding her career by following her dreams, traveling the world along a path of flowers. After receiving her AIFD accreditation in 2013 and EMC in 2016, this freelance floral expert has presented on the AIFD National Symposium, TPIE and TSFA Main stages. She's been a concept designer at Floramour and is a Teleflora Education Specialist. She was elected to the Society of American Florists, PFCI - Professional Floral Communicators International, Board of Directors. In 2018, Jenny took second in the Gateway to America's Cup competition. She was the USA representative in the 2019 World Floral Art Contest in China. In 2022, she took first place at the FTD America's Cup competition. Jenny released her first book, Perishable Poetics, Manifesting Emotion through Contemporary Floral Design in 2020. And her second book, Endless Fluorescence, Transformative Contemporary Dried Floral Design in 2023. Today, we are going to get the inside story of how Jenny, who represented USA in the 2023 Interflora World Cup in Manchester, England, was awarded Top 10 as an international event that Smithers-Oasis has the opportunity to share in sponsorship. We want to hear the exciting details. Congratulations, Jenny, and welcome.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (03:23)
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. It's really a joy to be here and talking with you about this whole process and the experience I just had.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (03:30)
You had a wonderful experience and that's a great thing, but it was a lot of hard work too, wasn't it?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (03:36)
It sure was, yes. Well,

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (03:38)
One thing I'm wondering about Jenny ... how does it feel to have worked so hard and brought everything together with such an accomplishment? How does that feel?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (03:52)
Hmm. Goodness. I don't think I can put it into a word, or a sentence, or even a phrase. It's all encompassing. It's the fact that I put up this big vision of what I wanted to accomplish. And when you get through all of that, you just feel, I feel really proud about myself. I feel that I did myself. I showed myself in the right light. I felt it was very important that I share my experience with everyone throughout the whole entire competition. I had my social media manager over there with me. I felt that was important that she come. She documented everything the entire time. I wanted to be incredibly authentic about what I was sharing and what people were seeing, to know that it was 100% in the moment, that was how I was doing it. So that is a good sense of pride for me. And the fact that I got to represent my country is such an honor. Something I never would've imagined that would've been possible when I started this world of flowers. That I would be able to represent, my country in an international competition. I mean that, just those words and that sentence, just seems so big. 

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (05:09)
It does. And that's what I want you to share with our audience today. Inspiring words from you might launch someone else in the same direction. If someone's dreaming of that, but they're not on the level of skill that they need at this particular time, what would you suggest to them would be a first step?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (05:33)
I think every day is your first step. I think you have to do something every single day. I think you have to study every single day. You've gotta practice. I talk about creating unapologetically, and I think that's incredibly important every single day. If it's five minutes, 10 minutes, an hour, two hours, whatever time that you're awarding yourself the opportunity in which to do that, to just make yourself do something that isn't on a ticket sheet and isn't somebody else's agenda, something that you want to try, that you want toget better, and study with designers, take workshops, go to symposium, go to conferences, get magazines - international, get books. I mean, you really just have to completely absorb everything possible, I think, because that's the only way that you can expose yourself to this wider range of what floristry can be.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (06:25)
And, if you really have a heart for flowers, that's not a job. I mean, we are so blessed that we would do this for flowers every day, even if we were not employed to do it for flowers every day. It's just something that gives us joy.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (06:45)
. Yes, that's very true. I'm the person on vacation that I'm like, oh, look at that varigated .pittosporum. Oh, look at that ginger. Everyone's like, oh my gosh, stop . I just think it's amazing and how it's growing in nature and getting inspired by that. But yeah, it's, it's constant. I I do not think that this is a job. This is a passion. This is in my DNA, this is in, you know, my being. I I just love it so much.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (07:11)
I was working on the laptop for several hours, um, on Sunday, and my husband said, what are you so intently reading? And I said, well, we are going to Italy next week. And I said, I'm making a list of flower shops to have the opportunity to see international flower shops. I think it's fabulous. But , it's something that we just, we don't stop on, do we?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (07:35)
No, I do the exact same thing. And my family now knows, like if we're going on vacation and if they see a flower shop now, they'll point it out to me. And they'll say, Flower Shop, go ahead. Go. We're gonna get a coffee.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (07:45)
. Please leave us!  . Well, now, in your experience, what would be something like, if you were going to have the opportunity to guide someone who is a contestant next year, for example, what would be your best point of advice to that person?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (08:05)
That's a great question because there's so many ways that you could take that. I mean, there's, of course, there's preparing yourself based on the brief that the contest is giving you and knowing the theme and putting your mind in that sense. So you can really make your compositions appeal to the judges so they know that you're taking that idea of interpretation the right way. But then I also think very, very strongly and passionately about the surprise tasks because you're not able to practice everything. Mm-hmm. , they do that on purpose. They give you surprise tasks because I feel that's when the true art form of a florist comes out. Because you have to rely on everything that's in your toolbox. You have to rely on every skill you've ever learned, everything you've ever practiced, everything you're good at. And you have to be really intent on your idea and stay focused.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (09:03)
And so the surprise test, I would say is something for a new competitor or even an existing competitor to really hone in on before a competition. I did that specifically for this one, two months leading up to the competition. And I did it for myself initiall I would pull flowers out of the cooler and not pre-order them, pull containers, not have that predetermined, put myself into a room, put a timer on, and force myself to go and just make the most beautiful thing that I could with the idea of the evaluator, with the evaluator hat on. Not the, oh, this is pretty, no, this is, has to be competition pretty, which is a completely different thing. So I did that for myself for a little bit, but we're really kind to ourselves, so we pull the palettes. We know we like , we pull the containers we know we like, and so we kind of can get into like this really beautiful rhythm, this beautiful dance with our own floristry.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (10:01)
We've all had it happen. We know what it feels like. And so I did that for a little bit and I thought, okay, now I need to get out of this beautiful dance and I need for other people to like come in and really turn this whole thing on a head for me. So I worked with some designers at the shop. My fiance Charles, he was the one who was grabbing the surprise packages for us and grabbing the flowers and grabbing the containers and putting us in a room. And we didn't have a brief on it. And he said, this is what it is. Go and would time us. And so I did that for, about two weeks with a couple designers in the shop. And then I went outside of the designers in the shop. I actually went to some different cities and, stayed with some designers and we did just that.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (10:42)
They did the surprise packages for me. And we, we worked together. They were on one side of the bench. I was on one side of the bench and we timed it together. And it was just to have that sense of urgency, but decisive creativity. And then also the energy that I was getting with that other designer next to me that I knew I was gonna get in the competition. 'cause you feel it, whether you, whether you know the designer's there or you feel the audience being right there. So you kind of have to have all of that, I think, into play. If you're just designing in your studio and you're solo, you're gonna really miss, um, that other component that's gonna be kind of up against you. So practice surprise packages,

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (11:25)
. And I also think that, I hear you saying "learn to trust your talent."

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (11:32)
Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You have to really know that's, that's what I say about, you know, getting your toolbox and know what you've practiced and what you know. It's, it's trusting your talent. It's being very decisive when you have an idea. You have to really stay with that idea. It's really obvious when you look at some designer's pieces and surprise package. And you don't even have to know who they are, but you can look at it and go, there's two ideas there, or there's three ideas there because you could see how it's not cohesive. Mm-hmm. , there's not that dance. Mm-hmm. , you know what I mean? When you have just one idea, it, people walk up to, you walk up to it with that one idea and it's almost like it arrests them. They pause and they're just trying to figure out like, oh, that's really, that's really intentional. 

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (12:25)
It's easier for them to communicate with that particular artwork than when they have to discern the different spaces in it, I think.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (12:34)
Yep. Absolutely. I agree with that 100%.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (12:37)
So what was the most exciting moment when you realized that this was going well for you? Did you look at a design and think, "oh, that was what I was striving for?" Did you feel a completion that you felt like, where did that come from? Because it was magic .

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (13:01)
Yeah. I would say that the surprise packages that I did, both of them. The first one, it was a table that they gave all of us. We had like 15 minutes to look at it and decide what we were going to do. And as soon as I figured it out in my mind- that's what I was going to do. I thought, yep. And I just nodded my head, that's what I'm doing. And I stayed with that idea the whole entire time. There was a little bit of a hiccup in there, but it didn't matter. I stayed with that idea the entire time and as soon as I got done, I stood back and I just like, it felt right. And then my other surprise package was actually on stage, the semi-finals. It was all of us 10 up there. And the surprise package was to make a spiral hand-tied bouquet, which the Interflora World Cup is a European design competition and a spiral hand-tied bouquet is indicative of European design.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (13:52)
So of course that was gonna come up. So when that came out, I thought, I know exactly what I'm gonna do and I'm so comfortable with it because I do it all the time. And when that got done, I was like, I said to myself in my head, "I made it." I know I made it 'cause I felt so good. And then the other moment that was amazing was after I did my ring, which is for the wedding above the clouds, there's literally a video that my mom took. 'cause she was over there. And as soon as I got done and they called 3, 2, 1, go. And I stood back and I threw my hands up and I clapped my hands really hard. And I was like, Yes!

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (14:25)
. It was like, it was victory.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (14:27)
Isn't it funny how intuitively, you know when it goes right, when it's great, you, you have that feeling just like you can have the sense of "Oh no!" When it isn't going well. But it's interesting how intuitively we can be our own evaluators.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (14:45)
Yeah. I think that even happens in the flower shop. Take it out of competition world. You know, when you're doing a design and you're just struggling with it. I always tell people, if you're struggling, stop, take it apart and redo it. Mm-hmm. 'cause it's not right. Mm-hmm. , or conversely, if you're building a display for your sales floor and it comes together so quick and you stand back and you're like, oh, that's stunning. Versus you really finding it. And then it's like, again, take it apart. It's just not right. Just do it again. We know when it feels right. Yeah. It's just nature.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (15:15)
And holidays, for example, you put in such long hours in a retail flower shop and everything's going well, and then suddenly it's just like a moment ticks and everybody starts making 'ugly.' We've reached that point! Leave this and come back tomorrow.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (15:31)
Come back with fresh eyes. Yeah. 

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (15:34)
You said earlier that you "love the feeling of the adrenaline when, when you are in design zone." Can you speak to that?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (15:45)
Yeah, I do. There's not many things in this world that you can get that natural adrenaline that that natural rush. And I think when you can get that with nature, when you can get that with flowers, it only makes it more powerful. So yeah. When I'm in the zone and designing for competition, or if it's just doing it at the shop and have to do it in a time crunch and it comes together really beautiful, that adrenaline rush that you feel that, that that buzzing right. Is something that you can't get from anything else. And I absolutely love that. I love that. And I love it with my fellow competitors too, in that sense, because we all step away from that moment of the timeframe of the competition, and we're all feeling the same thing. Like, we're we walk 10 inches higher, you know, , we just, we're just up in the clouds. And to have that and to share that sense and that energy with other people is really, it was a gift.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (16:43)
And to have that connection to people that you may not have met before, you may never get to see again, but in that space of time, you're so interconnected.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (16:54)
Oh my goodness. Yes. You would think that we were all like best friends. I will say that every single one of the competitors and their assistants were such a joy. We truly, and I'm not just saying this because I wouldn't just say it, but we truly were just rooting each other on. Mm-hmm. We wanted each other to do so well. There wasn't any one person that walked around like they thought they were better than anyone else. They, we really just wanted to cheer for the winners.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (17:24)
Don't you think that's because, you know what an investment of talent and time and confidence goes into creating designs on that level that you just, you admire that in the other people regardless of the outcome because you know how it feels.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (17:43)
Yeah. I think that we are very sensitive to that and to each other. There is a lot of emotion mm-hmm. and time, as you said, psychologically, mentally, physically, I mean all, all the things. And so just cheering each other on for what we know took, you know, six to eight months sometimes a year to put this composition together, to show everyone in the world what they could do, what came out of their mind, what came out of their heart and their passion and the way they interpreted that task. It was very, it was very interesting. And I personally did not walk around and see anyone's until the first four tasks were done. I was lucky enough that I was on the end and I walked behind all of the booths every time we went back to the work room and came back because I wanted to stay in my zone.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (18:35)
Mm-hmm. . Yeah. I didn't wanna be influenced by, "oh, well so and so's doing this this way. Maybe I should do it that way." Mm-hmm. It goes back to, you have to be really intentional and focused about what you're going to do, otherwise you're not goint to be able to express what you want to express. You're gonna be clouded a little bit. So I didn't get to see everyone's until we were the end of day two. And then I went by the morning of day three and really like got in and like investigated all of them and I was just blown away. So much talent in that room!

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (19:05)
And evaluators, I think can tell when you have drifted along someone else's line as well. So it's so wise to stay intentional because that's the only way yours can communicate your message only

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (19:20)
I think so. Yeah, I agree. I see that with people that are in competitions where there's not walls up. Like in our competition, there were walls up, so we were kind of in like our own cubby mm-hmm. . And the person across from us was like all the way on the other side of the convention hall. So there's no way we could see them. But when you're in a competition space and there are no walls and it's just table next to table and you have the ability where you really could turn, or even when you're testing for AIFD.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (19:46)
That's what I was thinking.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (19:48)
Yeah. You're in a room and there's no walls and you are table next to table and you can look forward and see someone, you can look sideways, you can look backward, you could really do that. But as soon as you do it, we're human, we are influenced. Mm-hmm. . Absolutely. You just, you really just need to put the blinders on and just do you .

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (20:07)
Yeah. That's what I was going to say. "Do what you do!" Now, what inspired your particular designs for this event? Was there one catalyst of thought that you thought, oh, I really want to deliver this message? Or did it come to you spontaneously?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (20:27)
? So there was a theme for the World Cup. The theme was called "Our Natural World" Mm-hmm. and really wanting the floral designers to focus on sustainability as much as we could and keeping our idea that we need to be really friendly to our Mother Earth. So the three planned designs that we got to do one design was for our forest canopies. One design was for ocean waves. And, then one design was for a wedding above the clouds. So for the forest canopy, ocean waves and wedding above the clouds I really wanted to take the idea of what that would be on a fantasy level. So if you were in a canopy, how could it be the most like fantasy? I'm in a dream canopy. So I took that all the way to the nth degree. I made these massive tendrils, some of them nine feet long, nothing but spun raffia that I hid water tubes in.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (21:26)
And even the frame was spun with raffia. And so everything in that was 100% organic and it looked like almost childish. It was very playful, Dr. Suessous. It was bright green and all these really other vivid colors that kind of came popping through. And the front was kind of open so you could walk into it. And I just, I loved it. I had a fragrance. I went to a fragrance house and I said, I need the smell of the forest. And we made the smell of the forest that I put down on the floor. It really kind of pulled in all your emotions, you know. And then for the ocean wave, it was the same thing. I wanted the, the fantasy idea of what a wave would look like, but I did that in the way of color. So I brought in all of these beautiful aquamarine colors and peaches and corals and pinks and lavenders and blues and just a really beautiful rhythm to it. And then for the ocean wave or for the final one, the wedding above the clouds, it was for something to be carried by the arm, wrist, or hand. And I decided that I was going to make a ring. And so I made a ring handmade with this resin and I used grass and I dropped resin on that. So it looks like water condensation and the whole thing just like floated. It was very ethereal. So yeah, I just wanted to keep the real fantasy, playful idea of what those concepts would be all the way through.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (22:49)
And this sounds fabulous from the aspect of getting there and being able to pull it all together and create the design that's in your head. Tell us about how it is to do the procurement ahead of time and to, to get your dreams on paper. And then do you get a lot of what you ask for? Or is it like sometimes where maybe not Guide us down the practical side of it.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (23:16)
Sure, so the ideas for the brief all came from them. We all got 'em in January. And so at that point, your mind is going a million different directions. How can I do this? How do I wanna do this? How big do I wanna make it? What material do I wanna use? What voice do I wanna say? What is the mission? What is the, and all the things. And you kind of, it's just like a pinging pong ball. You're bouncing all over the place. And I just sat down and I sketched. I sketched for a good two months, months mm-hmm. and just threw out all these ideas. I just kept throwing things against the wall to see what would stick. And I would come back. I keep coming back to similar ones. And after a while I was like, okay, I need to, I need to really decide what I'm gonna do.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (23:58)
And I went to Sweden and I stayed with Per Benjamin for a few days and we just talked the whole thing through. And he let me throw things against the wall again, . And, we would, we would play with different ideas and we would run through 'em and then we'd come back to different ones and do all that. So that was really great to be able to sit down with somebody who's done the competition before, but to be able to really like brainstorm all of that. And so coming back from that trip, I really knew where I was gonna kind of focus. And then from that it started the actual implementation of making them. So I got the raffia for instance, for the canopy. And I just started messing with the raffia. Messing with the Rafael. I'm messing with the material, how can I make these tendrils? And once I figured it out, I was like, fantastic. Okay. So one took me 45 minutes. .

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (24:51)
Now I need to make like 27. And then I need to get a frame built. So I need to hire the welder and then I need to draw that. And then I have to wrap the frame. And so that in itself, the canopy took me about 60 hours, I think by the time all that was done. And then the wave was all deconstructed Manzanita built on top of a metal frame as well from the welder that I taped on with white tape. But little by little by little, the wave took me about 80 hours. So I mean there's a massive amount of time in these things. And then it came to, now I have to flower them. So I was really blessed. Hilverda was my flower sponsor and I ordered my full procurement to be delivered to Dallas four times before I even went to Manchester.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (25:42)
And not all of it came because not everything that you can get across the pond, you can get here, they won't let it come anymore. Mm-hmm. . So certain things, certain grasses, certain berries, certain twigs we couldn't get here. So I got as much as I could and I just played with it. And I played with the placing and almost like paint by number. Like how would this work here? Take a picture. How would this work here? Take a picture. I mean my studio, you should have seen it. There was just things everywhere. , like crawling over stuff. So those two pieces, those had to be shipped over a month before. Those were my biggest pieces. The canopy was 6'x6'x8' tall. And the wave was a table for two, which was like 6'x3'x8' tall. So those things had to be put on pallets and had to be shipped over. So when we left those away, those got shipped. That's when I had a month, that's when I started doing my practice on my surprise packages. 'cause I couldn't touch those ones anymore. Mm-hmm. , I just had to keep my mind going. And then the ring actually didn't get made until the week when I left.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (26:44)
Oh, Wow.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (26:45)
And I never practiced the ring. So that was kind of like a surprise package when I was there. So I got to do it for the first time because it was a one of a kind made just for this. It wasn't something that I could have practiced and then taken apart. 'cause everything was with cold adhesive. Mm-hmm. . So it would've ruined it. So I really just had to like go with my, my feeling on that. And that one turned out really wonderful. But when I got there, then it was, okay, here's the pallets, here's the boxes. They've been gone for a month. I haven't seen them. Are they gonna be okay? Because all my tendrils for the canopy had water tubes in them. My whole entire wave had about 80 water tubes, 90 water tubes already on it. I shipped it with all of that because there's no way I would've had time to put it on.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (27:29)
And there's so much at that point that is out of your control.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (27:34)
Oh my gosh. Completely out, even though we put on the outside of the box "fragile", and an arrow "this way up", you know, that doesn't mean that accidents don't happen.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (27:42)
Or, that they do it , you know,

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (27:45)
Or that they do it! Yep. Or that they do it. So when we got there and we got into the back area where everyone was preparing things, we saw the boxes there and it was like Christmas, like first day we could make sure that our boxes were in our area, but we couldn't unwrap them. We couldn't take the box off. We just could put our stuff there and make sure it was there. So we knew the boxes were there. They didn't look smashed . There was one side of one that looked like it did take a little bit of a brunt, but that's all we could do. So to go back and sleep. And then the next morning got there as early as I could and then we could take it off and took off the cardboard and took off the bubble wrap. And not one water tube broke.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (28:27)
Oh, yay. . What a blessing. Did you see anyone have a different experience? Did anyone not receive their crates or have difficulty with what happened inside them during transit? Did you see anyone with that difficulty?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (28:46)
You know, if they did, nobody showed it.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (28:47)
Good, good, good.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (28:49)
Nobody showed it. There was, there was one country that the flowers for them, there's a little bit of a mishap. Their flowers didn't, didn't show up. And so all the other competitors were pulling together extras and gifting that to that country. I mean, we really wanted everyone to. Great. But as far as the containers and the shipments of props, nobody showed that they were sweating if they were.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (29:16)
, The unbroken rule, never let them see you sweat . Now, you've told me wonderful experiences, but if you had to name one worst moment, and it can even be something as simple as when something dawns on you, I've got to do this. What would you say was the worst or the most difficult or the most challenging moment depending on how it went? ?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (29:44)
Yeah. The, the first surprise package that I had, the table that everyone had, I mentioned that there was a mishap and there was, so you're not allowed to have power tools in this competition that are older than a year. And if they are older than a year, it's something about the rules as far as the power is concerned, I think coming over. So if it's older than a year, you have to buy a new one. And if you buy a new one whatever country you're in, you have to prove something with some paper. I don't know, there's a lot of background information. So I just decided I'm gonna get a drill when I get there. I'm not gonna worry about traveling with one. We're gonna go to the handy store. We need to pick up this and this and this. So we're gonna add a drill to the list.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (30:29)
So I picked up a drill and for the first surprise package, you didn't have to use a drill, but in my idea, I wanted to use a drill. I wanted to cut holes through this table so I could have my, my material shoot all the way through. So it created a lot of tension. Mm-hmm. and a lot of impact. And so that was really important to me. So I grabbed this drill that I've never practiced with before. And I put my drill bit on and I started going down and making these holes in the drill bit. And then I decided I wanna change the drill bit into another one where I could put in the water tube and I couldn't get the drill bit out.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (31:01)
Oh no . No, no

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (31:06)
I gave myself about 30 seconds where I was trying and I was trying, and I used power tools all the time. I don't know why, but it must just be because it was from their country. Mm-hmm. something else different. And I couldn't get it after 30 seconds. I thought, you know what, it's not meant to be, just don't do that part. You're fine with everything else you did. Just keep going. Yeah. Keep going. Don't let this shake you. And I didn't let it shake me. And I kept going. And when I got done, I was so happy. That drill bit did not come out.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (31:36)
See, it works out for the best. That's why I prefaced with worst and then changed to most challenging. 'cause sometimes when it's challenging, that's when you get those really great results.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (31:48)
Yeah. Yeah. And it was, it was really wonderful. 'cause if that drill bit would've came out and I would've used the second drill bit, I would've spent more time trying to make the drill work for the water tubes than just implementing everything else I needed to do. Yeah. So it was better.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (32:04)
That was, that was a great synchronicity, wasn't it? . "I need to be stopped. Thank you for stopping me," .

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (32:14)
Yes, exactly. Thank you .

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (32:18)
Now do you have the goals for doing this again? Or is there something else on your horizon that you're thinking, Hmm, I might like to do that?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (32:30)
I definitely want to do this again. Yeah. I definitely, I don't know if it's this specific one mm-hmm. . Um, there's many, I mean, we know there's many, many competitions in the states all the time. All different floral associations. But yeah, I think that I really do enjoy this idea of competitive floristry at a really high level. It really is, is forcing me to become an even deeper floral artist. Mm-hmm. Than what I've been able to tap into thus far. It's an avenue to do that. And so that's really exciting for me. I think that absolutely that is on my horizon.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (33:08)
That's great. Now, do you feel that the competitions that are international, is that more challenging to you than ones that are national? 'Because you have to get there and jet lag and getting your materials in unknown spaces. Do you find that that is more challenging or do you find it's the same national and international, you're still invested?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (33:31)
I feel that the international competitions that I've been a part of, which is the one I did in China, and then the one I just did in Manchester, those competitions, it's a different game. Mm-hmm. , there's these people are creating sculpture, pre-planned sculpture pieces that we really don't see an avenue for that in the states yet. Yet. It may, it may be coming, but I remember when I went to China, it being my first international competition, I walked in and I really thought, oh, I'm not, I'm not playing at this level yet. , because there were people there. I'm ... no joke, there was one sculpture. I talked to this man, $60,000, he spent on this sculpture for this competition.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (34:23)

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (34:25)
I just thought that's unreal. Like, how?

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (34:32)
Did he pay that personally or do they have sponsorship for those expenses?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (34:39)
It's probably a sponsorship. I will say that is one reason that I was really reaching out to different individuals there. That's a reason I reached out to Per and I talked to some other previous contestants and I did all the surprise packages with different designers, is because I was trying to accumulate this sort of team that I could talk with through this whole process. There is the opportunity for other countries, they have teams.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (35:06)
Mm-hmm. , they do, that's correct.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (35:07)
When they, when they put a competitor that's representing their country mm-hmm. , there's a group of people around them to support them and to help them decide what they're making. Mm-hmm. , how they're doing it, what colors they're using, you know, because they want their country to win. 'cause it's expensive. Uhhuh, I mean, just to put a contestant into the World Cup, just to put the name in and say your country's doing the sponsor has to provide $10,000 and that's a lot of money. Sometimes it's the country providing this money. So they have a whole team around them. Yeah. We don't really have that. So I think that's where it's a little bit different. I don't know if that person that had that sculpture was them or their sponsorship or their, their country, but it's, it's another playing field. Mm-hmm. for sure. So I think that that sense to, to loop it all back around, I think in that sense it's much more challenging because we don't have the opportunity to have that experience here in competitions in the states. Where I think it's a level playing field is when we get into the decorative tasks and the surprise tasks mm-hmm. things that we do as florists all the time. I think it doesn't matter what continent you're on to do that. Mm-hmm. , everyone has to bring their a in.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (36:27)
We have seen that international team concept for many years at AIFD. You know, a lot of the internationals arrive with an entourage. And I've always been amazed by what the potential expense of that is.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (36:44)
Can you imagine ? I mean, you show up with, with 10 people and 40 suitcases,

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (36:50)
and they have to be fed and they have to have a place to sleep.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (36:55)
Have to have a place to sleep. Yeah. I mean, absolutely. But it's, that's a big opportunity for some people. I know that I'm on the coordinating committee for symposium next year with three very other talented gentlemen. And we have the wonderful responsibility of deciding who's going to be our talent on main stage in the workshops and the lectures and all those things. And I just reached out and talked to the World Cup winner Nicholas from Germany, and I said, we would love for you to come,

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (37:28)
And what did he say?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (37:29)
We would love for you to be on that stage. He said, the most beautiful thing, if you give me a minute, I'm gonna actually read it to you. Oh my gosh. I was like, oh my gosh, that's so sweet. Let's see. Long story short, he says he is coming.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (37:47)
Oh, good, good, good.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (37:49)
From Nicholas, he said, "thank you so much for your lines. For sure, I will come. It's like a knighthood to be invited from AIFD to the States.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (37:59)
Oh, how cool. Isn't that very cool. How kind of him!

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (38:03)
Isn't that wonderful? Yeah. So Nicholas, uh, our World Cup winner, if the stars align , Nicholas will be on main stage at symposium this next year in Orlando, and he's gonna share with us his artistic voice and his journey through World Cup and talk about the pieces that he made. And I'm sure many, many other things that we have no idea. Yeah. I'm really excited about that.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (38:30)
That's fabulous. Fabulous. That was one question I was going to ask you. You know, know when Bart Hassam, did all the plant materials then plants, which were already up-trending, but his capacity took it so far, plants just became the rage. Did you see anything, and it didn't have to be a winner or top 10, but in all of the design capabilities, did you see anything that you thought, oh, there's a trend emerging. Anything catch your eye?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (39:03)
There was one bouquet that was fussing the idea of science with flowers. And I thought that was really compelling. I could say that my bouquet with the, the resin and the UV light to get the water droplets is a little bit of science with flowers. But this other designer used magnets, little tiny magnets on the bouquet itself and on the back of the flowers and they popped together. So I thought that that was really interesting and very much a contemporary way to look at floristry, industrial, almost uhhuh. I think if I'm gonna say anything about the future of flory, that the inclusion of science into it may be a really cool avenue to discover.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (39:53)
Perfect. What about any unusual color harmonies or the absence of color or the explosion of color or anything that just from a a color perspective caught your eye?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (40:08)
There was one booth that focused on more of a nighttime palette as opposed to a daytime bright, crisp, cheery nature. I really enjoyed that idea of the, the nocturnal colors with queers. So

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (40:26)
That's very cool. Anything textural that you saw? Any kind of blend of textures or unusual textures used or anything texture is such the richness of design? It would just be really cool to identify something forthcoming.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (40:44)
I think because the theme was our natural world that it lends itself to a lot of that.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (40:51)

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (40:52)
So we saw a lot of gourds being used as water vessels. We saw barnacles being used as water vessels. I saw, oh, I saw something that was so cool. I took a picture, it stopped me in my tracks. It was bromeliad leaves the colored parts of the bromeliad leaves taken off and then cut clean on the bottom and then rolled and sealed to turn into water tubes.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (41:18)
How cool.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (41:20)
It was so cool. And there was tendrils made of this. So it was just ways that we used our natural elements in textures, maybe, maybe a little bit more, um, unassuming, I guess the bromeliad thing was that way for me, very unassuming to cut that bromeliad and use it that way. And now I want to practice, like did they use wax on the inside to seal it? Fid they use glue on the inside? Did they, what did they use on the inside to seal it? I'll probably reach out and ask her. Actually, I have her contact information

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (41:53)
And, and here's the cool part of that. You are looking at it saying, oh, how did they do that? I need to practice that. And someone else is taking something from your designs and saying, how did she do that? I need to practice that. And then all of the audiences and all of us online are looking and saying, "oh wow, there's a technique" I need to try. So it, it just grows the thought across the world of what the opportunities are and, and how we can just naturally celebrate the, the beauty that the earth gives us.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (42:30)
Yeah, for sure. This was a great opportunity to do that. And I was so blessed, again, to have the, the chance to have the platform.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (42:37)
Well, we were cheering for you and we were excited for you because top 10 is quite an accomplishment.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (42:44)
Yeah. I made the final number, the final tally was eight, and I believe that's the highest any American has gotten. Okay. And if not, has gotten in a really long time. But yeah, it's up there for sure.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (42:58)
Very good. That's very good. Well, is there any last bit of advice you'd like to leave for our audience?

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (43:08)
Yeah, I would just say that you can't say, oh, I should've done that, or I wish I would've done that, or I couldn't do that because, because I think you always can. I think you just have to get out there and do it. Even if it's just something little, something small practice for yourself. Or if you wanna go a little bit bigger and you wanna get into your, your local, maybe it's a garden club in your neighborhood, just to practice with those people because you're not ready really to kind of put your foot in the water yet for the national, or maybe it is the national or maybe it's your state or something. But I think if you're really interested in what this can do for you, where it can take you, how it can open up your mind and your own floral art competition is such a great way to do that. So just little by little I would say dip your toe in and see if you like the temperature of the water. And if you do, then you just gotta jump right in and swim.

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (43:59)
Be brave.

Jenny Thomasson AIFD: (44:01)
Yeah. Be brave. .

Sharon McGukin AIFD: (44:04)
Well thank you so much Jenny, for being with us. We just really have been excited by your achievement and how much interesting detail there was in the background that we couldn't get that from just looking online. So thank you for sharing that to our audience, Smithers Oasis, north America, Jenny and I want to thank you for joining us today. If you've enjoyed this episode, please share it with a, a friend and be sure to hit subscribe. You don't wanna miss the inspired solutions. Our upcoming guests will share with you for your personal or business growth. If you have topics or guests you want to hear, please message me. We'd love to hear from you. Until next time, I'm Sharon McGukin reminding you that like the unfurling petals of a flower, we grow by changing form, soaking inspiration in like raindrops absorbing energy from others, like warmth from the sun. This growth opens us up to new ideas and that's ... How We Bloom.