Valentine’s Day is coming up and you may be thinking of an original gift to celebrate love. Usually, with traditional gifts like chocolate and flowers, you have very low chances to go wrong.
While engaging with a conversation with Julia Liotard-Vogt, Bluebell Group Business Development Director, French who has been living in Asia for 10 years, we ended up talking about how important is Valentine’s Day in Asia and how sales for gifts for this festivity often surpass other celebrations.
While talking about the product categories involved, we went back to basic. Chocolate and flowers are definitely a must, and Julia introduced us a company very well known in the retail industry for its collaborations with brands, so Retail in Asia met Ellermann Design to learn more about flowers and Valentine’s Day.
We interviewed owner and Diane Beatrice Nittke, creative director of Ellermann, a flower boutique and event design atelier.
RiA: What is the story behind Ellermann Design and its concept?
Diane: Ellermann Flower Boutique & Event Design Atelier was founded in 2011 with the opening of our first boutique in Tung Street in up-and coming district of Sheung Wan in Hong Kong.
I felt there was a need in the market for tasteful, European style flower design and tailor-made and personalized event florals. Most of the florists at that time offered compact arrangements wrapped in loads of cellophane and plastic bows.
The event designs on offer consisted of standard package solutions. Our design philosophy has always been to celebrate the beauty of the blooms themselves and to create designs that are more organic, layered, textured and unique.
From the beginning, we took a an approach of offering our customers tailor-made designs and a very personalized service. Our floral creations feature unique blooms and surprising combinations of ingredients. There is something quirky yet very elegant to our designs. We revolutionized the local floral industry and keep on inspiring and bringing fresh and new ideas until today.
RiA: How would you define the flower market in HK and how does Ellermann Design fit into it?
Diane: The flower market in Hong Kong is now divided into two main business categories: there are florists with no retail space who focus mainly in event design and corporate florals. A lot of these business are run from industrial, low-rent locations and have a lean company structure.
Those florists who have a prominent retail location mostly specialize in bouquets and do not offer event designs.
Ellermann is unique in its offering being a luxury retail florist as well as an inspirational and creative event design studio.
With our pool of talented and extremely well trained florists, quality suppliers, experience and resources, we are able to offer a broad spectrum of services and products, including workshops, floral consultancy and corporate as well as residential packages.
RiA: What is your customer profile?
Diane: Our customer demographic is a mid- to high-end consumer who looks for that something very special for specific occasions. Generally our quality and designs are at the forefront of their choice since our offer is quite exclusive.
Our retail customers are international as well as local since we have a very good online ordering service. Our corporate and project customers are regional, since we have taken our work and services from Hong Kong to other locations such as Macau, Thailand, Cambodia and across China.
RiA: Over the year we have seen flower design taking a special place within event planning and gifting, any trends you can share with us and how is it evolving?
Diane: It is true that floral design is placing an increasingly important role when it comes to event planning and gifting.
People are influenced and inspired by images they see on social media and through content they refer to when planning.
As a trend, I would mention the fact that flowers have become the hero and the centre of creative production. Flowers really have the power to transform a space and with a specific palette will create the mood or ambience required.
This trend is more organic, natural and less contrived or confined. Evolving from mere table centre-pieces or pedals to artistic installations, creating atmospheres and imaginary spaces that are quite special.
Our floral work, being somewhat conceptual, is an art form and very specific. We always work with our clients to take them beyond their expectations and we do this also with colours. We introduce bolder and more unusual colour palettes away from the safer choices of greens and whites and pastels.
RiA: How is Asia different in comparison to the Western world?
Diane: In retail business, Asia is more occasion-driven. Gifting is primarily the main criteria when buying flowers. We are working on educating the customer to feel they can buy flowers any time for themselves, alike in Europe when you would go to your local florist once a week to buy your blooms.
We offer residential subscriptions and packages so that customers can have the convenience of having their own tailor-made beautiful blooms delivered to their house.
As far as events, the budgets seem to be more elevated in Asia. We lack interesting venues like castles, country estates, parks, libraries, conservatories. We are more confined to ballrooms which could lack unique character, which makes it even more important to expand in creativity and design.
RiA: Valentine’s Day is coming up, what are the usual requests and best sellers for this festivity?
Diane: Valentine’s Day – an Ellermann customer is expecting more than a red rose bouquet. They seek an interesting and unique arrangement, more layered and textured, more surprising and very special.
Year on year we put a lot of thought into the Valentine’s collection which tends to be surprising and thoughtful, elegant and romantic. Our best seller, unexpectedly is pink, not a red bouquet.
This is due to the amount of customers who are not only gifting for a sweetheart or partner, but also for a mother or mother-in-law, or even just a friend. It is such a special day of the year, our customers tend to not be limited by budget and order the larger sizes of bouquets, even though we do have a lovely collection of smaller sizes and gifts that can cater to all.
RiA: How about other festivities in Asia where flowers have a special role?
Diane: Mother’d Day, Chinese-Valentine’s Day, Secretary’s Day, Mid-Autumn and of course Christmas and Chinese New Year are the other occasions which are important for our retail business.
SEE ALSO : Get ready for Valentine’s Day!
We are looking forward to see Ellermann Design’s creations around the city on 14th February.