This week’s Friend launched Cotton Cloud Manila, an online start-up that curates dried flowers. The arrangements done by Cotton Cloud are perfect for adding a touch of aesthetic to your space, a birthday present, a wedding bouquet, or a thoughtful gift you can send to a friend.
In this entry, she talks about how it all started, the creative process, and learning the ropes to keep Cotton Cloud up and running. I especially enjoyed reading about where she draws her inspiration from, particularly the one where she would actually take the time to converse with her suppliers.
I get so many questions and statements like these — “since when did you become so interested in arranging flowers?” “you don’t seem like a business-kind-of-person” “why dried flowers?” and honestly, I’m as surprised as they are and I usually have no idea what to answer but to just flash them with my big smile.
The idea to start up a business was largely due to the seemingly infinite boredom being on my 5th month of lockdown with no prospects, mind-numbingly finishing my master’s, and the fact that I got laid off from my corporate job since the start of the pandemic. So, while endlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across these several dried flower shops —- at first, I became an enthusiastic customer. I bought dried flowers for my mom, myself, and my friends. Then eventually, doors started opening left and right, until I was given the opportunity to actually start my own. I was hesitant at first, obviously. I never really had that ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ but the chance was too good to pass up — I was cornered! I couldn’t have possibly said no, it would have been such a shame to not even try.
Thus, I was thrown into this exuberant world of start-ups. I had to learn everything by myself, I had no idea how to arrange flowers or whatsoever. Although, I did have a background in photography, marketing, and a good eye for aesthetics — I had to learn finance, logistics, and everything else that comes along with it, the hard way. YouTube tutorials and Pinterest inspiration boards were my life line. I learned everything from the Internet and from the skills people choose to unconditionally share.
My primary inspiration came from cotton flowers — they’re simple, cute, and plump little buds that started as a trend in South Korea. I remembered first seeing one while watching a KDrama series called “Goblin” (which I subsequently became obsessed with). From then on, I decided on the aesthetic I wanted my arrangements to have: cutesy, rustic, and timeless — I was ready to share my first collection.
After releasing the first collection, I knew I had to innovate. I had to cater to the people who were not as into cotton flowers as I am. So, I looked for inspiration elsewhere — I realized arranging flowers is similar to a painting process (especially when you literally have no idea what to paint), artists would go to museums, or out in nature, or to a new city. And from there, they draw inspiration from other artists, people, or the scenery, and that’s exactly what I do. I realized that nothing is truly original or organic, everybody is inspired by someone or something else.
Another way I get my inspiration from is talking to my suppliers and farmers and asking them if they have any new flowers or I would just look at their catalogs. Then, when I see a specific flower that I like, I build the whole arrangement in my mind or I sketch it up. It usually starts with one centerpiece and I build the look around it. For example, the pink scabiosa above is one of my favorite flowers, it smells great and it looks stunning — I would then take colors that will compliment it’s peachy hues and create a bouquet or arrangement with the scabiosa flower as the focal point. I find all very intuitively, very much how like an artist paints a picture. It all comes from the heart, that’s why my slogan has always been “lovingly curated dried flowers”.
If you would ask me a year ago if I had any intentions of starting a business, I would have said absolutely not. I was focused on a different trajectory, my master’s degree in international politics isn’t even remotely related to business management or whatsoever. Product design, product development, logistics, finance — these concepts were all outside of my comfort zone that I had to learn along the way. My small business is still pretty young and I still have a lot of maturing to do, personally and creatively. It’s true when they say that, ‘growth never comes from our comfort zones’ — stretching and expanding will never be easy. It will be difficult and it will feel like an uphill climb, but there’s one thing I know for sure — whether will it be a success or a failure, it will be worthwhile.
Next post for Friends on Channel Maddie is on Tuesday, 08 December 2020! ❤️