Curious about the event industry – Read this

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You may have noticed that up there, in the left hand corner of this page, under the floral and fauna logo a sentence reads ‘aspiring event designer & creative individual’. I feel like this blog has captured the ‘creative individual’ parts of me well, the ‘aspiring event designer’ claim however, not so much. I feel that this claim to fame has been hovering in mid-sentence without any concrete declaration for the last few years so I thought I would write a short post about what being an aspiring event designer means and how I am currently achieving my goals.

To achieve dreams, the hard yards and ground work has to be achieved first and foremost. I am a strong believer that if you haven’t built a solid foundation then how do you expect a beautiful house to withstand the test of time? So for the last three years I have been living and studying in Auckland. Auckland University of Technology offers a Bachelor of Arts in event management and it is with this degree in mind that I picked up, packed up and moved to Auckland. I think university is equally about the experience of creating home in a foreign city and networking with like minded, talented individuals as much as it is about learning and ending up with a degree. That being said, I want to write the next couple of sentences to briefly describe my degree incase any young hearted individual out there is considering a career of similar taste.

The core papers AUT offers in this degree follow along the lines of event production, event planning, an event perspective, contemporary issues in event management and cooperative learning – an industry/internship based paper. Of course this will be muddled up with other minors and majors, for example, I chose to do business and sustainable design.

The majority of my lecturers were solid in both their understanding and teaching skills. The frustrating thing about University is that as far as I understand you don’t have to have achieved a teacher’s certificate to lecture, you just have to have done the research. Unfortunately this sometimes affects the quality of a paper, although I only had two relatively bad tutors, the others were top notch, knew their stuff both academic and practical, and were everything from quirky, charming and downright hilarious. The core event papers were definitely catered towards big/mega events, Fifa World Cup, The Olympics, Cultural and Sporting Events.

Because I am a creative individual who was attracted to small events because of their personal nature, I found this difficult. However, I do think that this learning and knowledge will give me an edge in the small event design industry and give me a point of difference as opposed to someone who is simply just creative. It will be interesting to see how I can apply event knowledge such as creating an operation manual or feasibility study, risk management plans, event evaluations and business proposals to a small intimate wedding or product launch. Nonetheless learning and gaining knowledge is such a privilege and asset that it will be up to me to work aspects of these skills into small event designs.

If you are just starting to get curious about studying events or have been for awhile I would suggest work experience or even creating your own experience before jumping head first into a student loan. Previously I volunteered with two event design companies. Both were really different, one focused on large corporate design and the other was a small Auckland based prop hire / design company. It wasn’t until my second year summer break that I fell in love and found a little floral studio based in Brooklyn, Wellington. Here I found that I was desperate to learn and soak in the creative brilliance that I was sure was in abundance. Working for this company over the summer really solidified my choice of study. If I can encourage one thing to any other aspiring event designers it would be to put value in industry experience, classroom learning and personal ventures.

I am currently in my last year of this degree and the little floral studio I just mentioned above has very generously and lovingly arranged for me to work for them and complete my co-operative industry learning paper. To be able to work in an environment that is creative, encouraging and safe is a massive blessing. If you can find the right people to guide you, inspire you and correct you, you are on the right track to success. Also a quick note, make sure to look for authenticity. In the last couple of years I have heard of and come across people who leave out the ‘aspiring’ in event designer and just claim their interest and hobby as professional. Although there is nothing directly wrong with this, and I have met many a wonderful individual who has turned their passion into their work, there is also great value in experience and authenticity. Find a boss, mentor or future employer who understands that they themselves are always learning. And if for some reason you can’t seem to get your foot in the door do not be discouraged, people are busy. Be different, be genuine, honest and excited and business owners will see your radiance & remember it.

If you are still cautious about University and/or are curious about event design, then have a little look at the list of books below. At University the supplementary reading lists are as long as the towers outside my first year apartment window. They are also very expensive and very intense. The following is a  short list of books I have/ or want to read in regards to events. I also want to extend an invitation to any curious creatures to flick me a message if you wish to hear more about starting out in the event design industry. I have only just tipped my toes in this industry and although my practical knowledge is small my encouragement is abundant.

 

  1. The Accidental Creative – How to be Brilliant at a Moments Notice – Todd Henry
  2. Reflections of a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in life – By Andrea Michaels
  3. Confessions of an Event Planner – Judy Allen.
  4. Special Events: A New Generation and the Next Frontier by Joe Jeff Goldblatt (University recommended reading).
  5. Into the Heart of Meetings; Basic Principles of Meeting Design – Mike Van Der Vijve

 

Photo credit Moon flower photography x

 

 

Raw Banoffee Pie

One of the beautiful girls at work had a birthday which she almost kept hidden, and yes we may have been late but we still took time to celebrate, and what better way to celebrate than with a Raw Banoffee Pie.

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A recipe from the talented Elenor Ozich was used to create this scrumptious cake. When it comes to raw desserts I am always hesitant at trying new things. I believe there is an art to this delicacy and even after witnessing this talent first hand for two years at Mondays Wholefood, I still only make a few trusted and trailed recipes. For this one I substituted almond butter with peanut butter and decorated the top with flaked fudge not cacao nibs. It’s a solid beautiful recipe, the only thing I would comment on is the texture. It may have been because the blender I used wasn’t top notch, or I didn’t blend the cashews for long enough, but the cashew-vanilla layer was still a bit grainy-fast melting. I also think I’ve reached the point in which I need to introduce/try different flavors in my raw desserts. I always stick to vanilla, caramel, coconut, salted or chocolate.  Perhaps a cherry ripe, cranberry & pistachio or mint will be more satisfying. For now though, here are some pretty pictures of this Raw Banoffee Pie, which may have a slice or two missing.

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Creating delights such as this make me home sick for Mondays. However, celebrating today, and planning, crafting and dreaming over the last week of the things this floral season promises to be full of, makes me feel even more certain that my heart belongs in Wellington at this Grey & white signed florist studio, with three hilarious women and one little puppy who is almost as scrumptious as the cake above.

 

 

Seeking the Hectic

It dawned on my at exactly 11.24 pm last night that although I am surrounded by the art of slow living, I have not the faintest hint of how to implement the ideal. It seems that when my life is busy, moving and organized chaos I know how to make time to breath, relax and reflect. But when life hands me breathing space with no full schedule, no due dates and no commitments I am in a fluster to seek out the ‘hectic’.

I have not yet been back in Wellington a week and I am already hunting for a second job and feeling like a bit of a failure because I haven’t yet found a house to call home. Most flats in Wellington that are affordable are home to mold or moss and the sun seems to have forsaken them.

I can not seem to grasp the fact that I have time, that I am financially stable and it is okay to take some time to just be. The problem with this is that I think my generation has forgotten how to relax. Not only that but we do not know what to-do when we have time? I have been blessed with time for the next few months and all I can think of is getting rid of that time by committing to different ventures or simply scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feed for days on end.

So how does one learn to live slowly when it feels un-natural and uncomfortable? I would applaud any tips you happen to throw my way?

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Where I am & What I am reading

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Little bit of a disclaimer: I have literally just arrived back in Wellington and realized I never published this blog post about stressful mornings. So I am sneakily publishing it now.

Gosh writing has definitely not been at the forefront of my thoughts this last month and I am starting to feel the sway of unnoted thoughts cluttering up my head. I am moving back to Wellington so soon I can count the weeks on my hand. I am overjoyed to reconnect with my city and to fall in love with countless cafes who seem to have changed so much in the space of there years.

This time however, I am only in the city for two weeks. I am here to reunite with my Twig & Arrow family and to try and be a helping hand as they create a floral dream of a scene for a high profile wedding this coming weekend.  I am currently rugged up in ripped jeans, an oversized T-shirt dress, sprouting messy, half-straightened hair. I am about to chow down on a plate of salted caramel and almond waffles with banana, because apparently bananas are good for PMS, and because it sounds insanely delicious, and because I have been mentally deep breathing for the last hour in an attempt to tempt peace into my body. This morning was a bit of a subtle nightmare. Okay, maybe a bit of an overstatement but for those who are planners and organizers you will understand.

I am a morning person and my mornings work wonderfully like clockwork, mostly. This morning I slept in so all the tasks I had mentally set for myself were in flux. Shower, wash my hair, try and make my hair not suck, pack my bag with protein filled snacks so I don’t get cranky, make my wonderful boyfriends breakfast and pack him a good solid lunch, finish decorating my birthday cakes for the girls that evening, tidy the piles of clothes on the floor and lastly and most most importantly make the bed, I had given myself two solid hours for these little labors but ended up with about an hour. It is so ironic that the book I am currently loving and which I packed this morning in my haste is Doctor Libby’s ‘Rushing Woman Syndrome’.

If you haven’t already read this I highly recommend it. It is an epic realization that how most of us are living is detrimental to our health and that the art of slowing down isn’t just a trendy fad, its a very real solution to a serious problem. I haven’t been able to loose weight for the last three years even though I have been exercising like crazy and eating relatively healthy. This book has been a complete treat for me in understanding some basic anatomy and getting a grasp on how stress causes so much more then simply getting pissed off that I couldn’t make my bed this morning to perfection. It is absolutely crazy that we each have our own body full of organs with intricate-amazing systems yet the majority of us don’t even know what the nervous system does, gosh I didn’t even know what organs made up my gut, I thought it was simply my stomach.

So it is because of the amazing knowledge in this book that I am currently able to sit here while the chaos of the morning rush unfolds around me in this busy cafe, breath deeply and hold onto the fact that although I have just turned 23 I am still barely an adult and still have room for mistakes and growth.

Three thoughts & three years

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Two things come to mind when I see this photo. The first is that I really need to invest in a pair of well sized jeans. The second is that this photo was taken nearly three years ago. Three years in Auckland is quickly coming to an end and each year has been significantly different.

The first year of my degree was focused on finding community. Creating a family and surrounding myself with like minded individuals. It was also spent trying to live up to expectations I had of my life and trying to balance love and life between two cities.

The second year of my Auckland journey was spent learning and stumbling around the art of friendship, and learning about health and nutrition. Submerging myself in the whole foods world and falling in love with the Mondays Whole Food’s philosophy and ivy covered cafe.

My third year has been the most challenging. Over the summer I found a home in the events and floral industry in Wellington. The move back to Auckland however, has seen a loss of community and my exceptionally high expectations both externally and internally start to crumble. The awesome blessing in this, is that I get to rebuild a healthier, more realistic understanding of who I am, what I believe in, how I would like to carve my life, and the types of people I would adore to surround myself with.

Three years has seen so many choices, so many learning curves and so many new experiences.

It is so important to record these snippets of life so that in another three years one can find another photo and reminisce and reflect and I really really hope in my case, laugh and feel proud about how far growth can take oneself.

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Christian expectations are like Ivy

Christian expectations are like ivy

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My life currently feels like a bramble branch. Last summer my boss forced me into the thickest of a blackberry bush in the hopes I would return with a bounty worthy of a wedding bouquet. I’m only slightly joking, I wasn’t sacrificed to the berries but we did go foraging for blackberries, and the talented hands that pulled me constantly back to safety created a bouquet worth billions.

A twig of blackberries is how I see myself at the moment. There are so many sharp edged thorns on the stem of my life and I am just in the early stages of seizing a stem stripper and gently but firmly de-thorning my life of everything that is guilt or failure related and which sadly can be narrowed down to the influence of religion, Christianity and Christian expectation.

Let me attempt to explain. I was raised a Christian, some may say born a Christian. It is a conversation that can be linked to that of nature vs nurture. Some could say without much argument that because I crawled with Christian influence I now walk with Christian influence, or simply have a greater chance of adopting this faith as my own because it is comfortable, familiar and welcoming.
I have had 22 years of church, religious activities, friends and community. It is not a bad thing and I am in no way badmouthing the wonderful way in which my trooper of parents brought me up. They guided me and loved me the best way they knew, and somehow I inherited their grace, compassion, empathy and unfortunately my father’s stubbornness. But what I wish down in my soul is that I didn’t inherent or perhaps unconsciously adopt, is the expectations of a Christian life. I have spent the small years of my adult life trying desperately to live up to this unrealistic expectation of a Christian and it has been bruising my heart and brushing so often against my shoulders that I even stumbled into saying goodbye to one of the few things in my life that was well with my soul, simply because I felt guilty that it didn’t fit into my predetermined image of what my life should look like.

It would be incredibly unjust to blame the church and that of Christianity solely for these expectations. People are flawed and church is a mix of the motley and the amazing. It is imperfect yet a place of comfort and community to so many people I have the pleasure of knowing. However, aspects of this constitution, this religion have painted expectations I no longer want. The perfect relationship, the expectation to give more, put others before yourself – regardless of how acknowledged a false hood that is. To look your best on Sunday morning, know everyone’s name that walks in the building and have coffee and conversation with a new person every second day of the week. I could list a few more but am in danger of bitterness.

For the last two years when I pictured what my life should look like I picture countless Instagram pages of young Christian couples, who showcase the bounty of their lives. People, places, pleasures, hardly ever pains. Social media is a dangerous place for comparison and competition and is an entirely different conversation to have, but let’s just acknowledge that unrealistic expectations no matter where they have stemmed from lead to unhappiness and a hell of a lot of thorns.

The cafe in which I work is covered in ivy. The ivy has nestled into every crack, under every windowpane and has even begun to claim the toilet bowl. Ivy roots take hold in cracks and crevices of buildings and common or English ivy can cause damage to brick and wood. The beautiful plant can easily work its way between boards, opening the joints and damaging the structure. If pulled off the tiny roots can permanently discolor and damage most surfaces. Yet at the same time it is insanely beautiful and can turn the mundane into the extraordinary. This image always comes to mind when I think about Christianity.

I often day dream of a faith which was built on a blank slate. That was entirely my own. A relationship with God not one with the church, religion or social media, and this is what I hope to have. I am on the journey of kicking out religion and adopting spirituality, because as I wrote months and months ago,I would rather have a relationship over religion and I do now think it is possible to have one without the other.

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You are enough

I am the most terribly inconstant and unreliable blogger on the internet. So it is of no great surprise that when life decided to roll up her sleeves and sock a punch in my general direction, my writing was for a little while there forgotten. I read somewhere that humans tend to write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospect. The following is somewhat half way between those two spaces.

The main thing that has been bothering me are the exceedingly high expectations of a Christian life, intended or unintended. I have tried to capture my thoughts and I will post shortly in the hopes of explaining this and my absence. I will save the long rant for that space. One thing that has never wavered, yet I find myself constantly coming back to, is that you as a person, your whole entire person, is enough.

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