One of my favorite aspects of social media is getting to discover new people, businesses and ideas I would have never known about without that digital connection. In particular, I love seeing how certain trends, concepts and pursuits can cross borders (and oceans) and how they’re interpreted abroad.
The world of floral design has exploded in the last decade, thanks in no small part to studios like Saipua and Emily Thompson, and new florists are popping up left and right, devoting their time to growing and arranging amazing flowers. I’ve been following some of my favorites for years now, but I’m always on the hunt for great new designers and last week, I found one.
Eunyoung Lee is a designer from South Korea who studied abroad in London to get ready to open her own studio, From the Ground. Her photographs take my breath away and her way with flowers, even after less than a year of being open, is so sophisticated and elegant. I’ve spent the last week liking all of her old photos online and trying to find out more about her, so I figured I should just write her an email and see what happens. Thankfully Eunyoung was excited to talk, too, so we exchanged a series of emails about her business (“I have traveled far to become someone who I want to be“), her philosophy on flowers, and everything else in between. I found her work, and her insight, so inspiring and I hope you will, too. Thanks so much to Eunyoung for joining us today! xo, grace
Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?
Eunyoung Lee: Over the past few years, I had the opportunity to work for several flower shops in Korea and England. However, the more I worked for someone else, the more I was eager to have my own studio. I wanted to have my own studio filled with my favorite flowers and things. That’s it. Very simple. So as soon as I came back to Korea, I looked for a studio for several months and finally opened FROM THE GROUND last November.
Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was and how you knew it was what you wanted to do?
EL: I remember the day when I made bouquets for the first time. It was not that easy as I expected to be, but I was able to concentrate 100% on it for two hours. I really enjoyed playing with flowers and I thought this might quench my thirst for art.
To be honest, I didn’t always think of florists as artists, but I was fascinated by the fact that florists can do work related to art such as designing bouquets or making arrangements [with so much creativity].
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
EL: My father also has been running his own business for over 15 years. When I talked about my floral studio for the first time, he said, “Even though it is a very small business, the entrepreneurs should have philosophies of their business. In my case, learning by doing is my philosophy, thus far.”
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
EL: Looking for a studio! I spent several months looking for it under pressure.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
EL: It has been only six months since starting the business, but the biggest lesson I have learned so far is to “just do what you love.” I’m trying to only do what I love because when I do, I feel so happy and confident.
If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?
EL: Haha. This is quite an interesting question. Three more hours per day… I would go to the gym and exercise because florists need great physical strength and energy.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?
EL: Well, reducing the time meeting my friends? After being a business owner, I usually spend the most time in my studio on my own. I rarely am able to take holidays.
Can you name your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your business experiences?
EL: This is the moment. Believe it or not, Design*Sponge is the one and only design website I visit. I was over the moon when I read the comment about doing a story on FROM THE GROUND that Grace left on my Instagram account. The only thing I can say is – “Wow… this is amazing!”
Are there any businesses or business owners you look up to or look to for guidance in your field?
Has failing at something or quitting ever led to success for you? Walk us through that.
EL: Upon graduating from the university, I was interested in becoming a fashion editor at that time. I gained employment with a fashion magazine and managed to work for W Korea fashion magazine as a fashion assistant. Although I had various experiences and learned many things during my year and a half, I always wanted to be involved in more creative work.
To be honest, this has been my dream for a long time. I really enjoy art but I was never sure I would or could do work related to art. After lots of thinking and planning, I decided to study floristry more systematically at a college in England and spent a year there. After that, I resigned as a fashion assistant and became a florist. I have traveled far to become someone who I want to be.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
1. Follow your heart and intuition.
2. Overcome your fear.
3. Do not waste time living someone else’s life. Your time is limited.
What’s the first app, website or thing you open/do in the morning?
EL: Instagram. I love seeing other people’s pictures because I’m a bit of a photography-obsessed person.
What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?
EL: Almost everything is hard as a first-time entrepreneur, building a business alone. I’m not an organized person, but sort of a spontaneous person. I simply love playing with flowers and taking pictures of them. I didn’t expect how much paperwork, accounting, stock control, etc. Being my own boss means I have to do everything all by myself. (I don’t have any staff members to work with yet.) Particularly, marketing is the most vulnerable thing to me.
You can check out more of Eunyoung’s work on Instagram right here!