When choosing a career path, we consider a lot of things — our interest, skills, priorities, and monetary rewards. These are all essential in building your identity and achieving your fulfillment in the future. We can never deny that we have all dreamt of becoming a doctor, a lawyer, or a popular celebrity, but our goals in life change over time. Living in a world where everyone is being defined almost entirely by their career, finding your true calling will never be easy.
While there are people who are fortunate enough to have been given the chance to focus on the things that bring them joy and satisfaction, there will always be people who are torn between passion and practicality. Finding your interest and discovering your talents marks only the beginning of our self-actualization, and pursuing our creative calling is not always favorable. In this article, we want to share a message to all our readers that despite failures and doubts, we should always open ourselves to opportunities that could pave the way to our end goal. Patience and knowing your self-worth is the key to cultivating your inner creativity — it will take time.
In an exclusive interview with John Robert Nogoy, founder and CEO of JOHN ROBERT FLOWERS — a flower shop and event styling brand based in Tarlac City — we have learned that the life of a florist is not always glamorous as you may think. It is not always spectacular as the sets of luxurious flower arrangements you see at their storefront — there were disappointments, failures, and a much-needed life reset.
Before becoming one of the well-known names in local floristry and event styling, this 24-year-old young CEO acknowledged failure as part of the business. During our one-on-one interview, John Robert talked about his passion for flowers, his journey as an entrepreneur, and on finding his true creative purpose.
What attracted you to floristry?
With my interest in fashion and arts, I felt that there’s always been an interconnectedness allying flowers and fashion. The visual connections between the two worlds — colour, shape, texture, composition — gave me a great love in working as part of a creative team. I believed that working with seasonal flowers makes one more ingenious and it gives you the process of creating self-expression and communicate with feelings.
How would you describe John Robert Flowers as a brand?
John Robert Flowers is the purveyor of all things florally merged with positive emotions curated in splendid boxes and hand-tied arrangements. The brand offers a bespoke arrangement of flowers, potted plants, events, weddings, and production design services. Its aesthetic style is reflected in the visual identity of Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement, with formal display according to stern rules. This ties into principles of minimalism, line, shape, form, humanity, aesthetics, and balance. Combined with the interest in fashion and arts, I was able to produce this brand with a meticulously curated catalog of versatile and contemporary floral arrangements that would suit all major occasions.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I was just arguably pretty young, no enough funds and connections in the business and it was my first actual entrepreneurial effort. But I am determined that I have the skills and supreme standard for the work I delivered, and I think these brought me to the series of work I had in fashion and television. Humbly speaking, I was able to work as a set designer with the creative people in Philippine Fashion Week, got the chance to rub elbows with the celebrities as I became one of the official flower providers for ABS CBN Ball last year for their awardees, and toiled as one of the set designers for multiple brands and magazines. And these made me realized that I can take up space in the industry for my dreams and aspirations in life.
What flower represents your personality?
I think the flower that best personifies me is the Peony. It is most appreciated by romantics who enjoy their delicate beauty. For me, this flower has a home that is warm and welcoming, full of antiques and memorabilia of porcelains, paintings, and mirrors. It is the same with my characteristics as a person — emotional, caring, and passionate.
Describe a typical day of a florist in a busy flower shop.
I guess this is one of the things I love so much about my job. Each day is different. Some days, I could be at the shop conditioning flowers the whole time, while the next could be down the city for deliveries. Typically, I’m already up at 6:00 AM to prepare and drive from our house to the shop for an 8:00 AM opening. And then the following day, it could be a market morning for my flowers. I have to get up at 3:00 AM and be at the market by 6:00 AM.
Despite this crazy early schedule, I think I begin to love that certain time of the day when the city is still sleeping, and people are bustling around getting fruits, vegetables, and flowers. As a team, we are constantly feeding through new ideas for shoots or upcoming events, briefs and brainstorm all our creative thoughts and ideas. Definitely, there are lots of conversations going on throughout the day.
My work as a florist is not just about in a dreamy land of flowers, rainbows, and sunshine where everything just smells so damn good, well, I guess it’s like most of the time it’s exceptionally long hours, early start of lugging heavy buckets of water from one to another, sore hands, fighting the elements of extreme heat or cold, racing in the events for production. Parts of your body hurt the most wherein you can’t really resist plus your hands are constantly blistered and covered in rose thorns. But, as they say, you have to take the good with the bad, and I won’t trade my job for anything else. Florists are bloody resilient!
What is your message to young entrepreneurs?
In 2017, my mom was slowly becoming my patient because she was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. This has put me in a situation where I have to juggle life responsibilities and pursue my passion and dreams. The following year, I had experienced a serious heartbreak that led to feelings of my identity loss. I found myself lacking interest in the things that excite me and my work. I didn’t feel good about the process of my daily routine and that made me question my talents and skills, wondering if I even deserved to make a real living as an entrepreneur.
Our thoughts can put us in prison and incapacitate us. Although this may sound extreme, I think it is necessary for any person’s growth that, whatever life throws, they have to hit rock bottom to find out what they are made of and of course, become strong as they can be.
Thus, for those young individuals who are experiencing the peaks and valleys of life, let your pain, struggles, and brokenness bring the opportunity to help you believe in a higher purpose. Do things on your own so you can truly listen to your thoughts, make decisions that are not influenced by anyone else, and be inspired by yourself, your strength, your abilities, your battles, and your stories. Also, always believe that your journey now is about loving yourself and changing your own life.
How did the pandemic affect your business? How did you adapt to the new norm?
As I adapt to the current situation, I tried to work on my creative juices and was able to emerge it with creative solutions such as offering a new line of hand-painted potted plants, which I think, is timely and relevant to cope up with stress and problems that we’re facing in this time of uncertainty. Innovating products by using sustainable preserved flowers because in these hard times, I think, there is nothing we can offer rather than the beauty of the flowers to enliven the house for years. And lastly, since mass gatherings and big events are restricted, we’ve come up to our new intimate wedding packages and car boot surprises. Therefore, we can still serve our clients, join them in celebrating their milestones at the comfort of their homes, and make them feel the relevance of flowers during this pervasive time.
Do you think success and happiness go together?
Happiness contributes towards positive attitudes, which motivates people to undertake new goals and be successful in achieving them. Happiness plays an important role in my life and I believe that it is the key to a favorable success.
Trust the process.
To young people, your passion gives you the power to innovate and to serve. When we are involved in things we are most passionate about, we gain satisfaction. Setting a goal can be easy but finding your true creative calling and identifying ways to bring it into your creative life is the demanding part.
We have to always remind our younger generation that life is not a race to win, and learning should be the motivation, not the validation from other people. In life, we tend to get tempted to rush things while not giving ourselves our chance to grow in every opportunity we have. Don’t get misled.
You must have the courage to suffer and to commit mistakes as it will give you the clarity to identify the reality and to work on your wellbeing. [You] have to know what do you want to be known for beyond your skills and job titles. [You] have to learn how to let go of what’s holding you back — the pressure, the fear of failure and risks, the self-doubts. [You] have to practice setting goals for yourself no matter how small they are. You have to believe that we all deserving to have the creative lives that we desire.
Don’t be discouraged.
The beauty of each person lies in their ability to create, share, express, and to take up space in society. Success and fulfillment in life come from people who know their mission and their purpose. Instead of searching for perfection, focus on your goals and your ability to create something amazing. Your journey is going to be painful and demanding at times, and there will be times you are to going question yourself and your existence — and that makes your quest more meaningful.
For those of you who haven’t found your creative purpose yet, don’t be discouraged. Trust the process.