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emc designer floral education May 16, 2022

Interview with Sue Tabbal-Yamaguchi

On the EMC Mastermind Experience coming up in Fall 2022, floral design and learning.

Sue Tabbal-Yamaguchi AIFD, CFD, EMC is the owner of Suvexpressions, a floral event company in Hawaii. She gained her EMC in 2016 and is a member of the EMC Core Team; also, now acting as the Alumni Ambassador and the lead contact for the ‘Mastermind Experience’ based in Brugges in the autumn.  This is going to be a very busy and exciting year indeed for her as she is also involved in running a lei-making workshop entitled “Spirit of Aloha: The Art of Lei Making” at AIFD 2022 Roots in Las Vegas with Brenna Quan AIFD, CFD and Lois Hiranaga AIFD, CFD; demonstrating the traditional methods used for creating this symbol of love, friendship, celebration, honor and greeting; prior to appearing on the stage with Brenna Quan AIFD, CFD and Lois Hiranaga AIFD, CFD, to present “Cultivate, Celebrate: Neotropical Hawaii”. This event will realize the achievement of one of the major goals that she has set herself, another being her greatest dream assignment to create a design in Europe for Fleuramour. Her ultimate personal goal and mission is to be able to show and present to the world that Hawaii is special and that the flowers and foliage that are found there are also special, different, and very precious.


She was born on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, so completing her EMC qualification broadened her knowledge and understanding of the creative world of floral design. Within the qualification, designers are introduced to new design styles, shapes, colour combinations, techniques, materials, and creative ways of using those materials. The EMC programme shows its students how to look at flowers closely by discovering the differences in their personalities, emotions, and possibilities, thus learning to use them to their fullest potential and creating a culture of engagement for all floral creatives; in pursuit of enhancing their potential. EMC also aspires to assist in building a society stimulated by the same growth and ambition as the global floral industry. It is within this community that Sue has grown creatively and is now a member of the EMC core team, the Alumni Manager, and the lead contact for the forthcoming ‘Mastermind Experience’; and it is this exciting and sensational event that has allowed me to put questions to her and learn so much more about her and her emotions, hopes and aspirations for those attending.

What sparked your interest in flowers and floral design?

When I was little, I would pick flowers from my yard and make things for fun. I enjoyed it. Then after I opened my retail shop in 1992, I was asked if I could sell flowers. I didn’t know where to start so I just looked into it, made some arrangements and, through that I fell in love with flowers.  Soon after that, as I grew in confidence and people began to ask me to do more, I started doing weddings and events.

What influenced you to gain qualifications in floral design?

It was my own desire to learn how to be better. It was important to me personally, just for myself, not for anyone else.

I started taking classes, learning about other designers and their craft. I quickly realized that there was far more to it than sticking flowers in a vase!

You graduated from EMC in 2016.  What was your personal experience of completing your Advanced Class and graduating in Bruges?

My experience was one of a kind. I just felt numb at first as it was so intense. I learned so much of myself in the final exam that I became very emotional.  I realized that there is so much more to design. So many more mechanics and techniques and that it is ok to go out of the box to be different and create.

Did you make contacts and friendships then which have continued, despite physical distances around the world?

I live on an island so I try to meet as many people as I possibly can when I travel. When I have taken classes, I have met some of the most wonderful, humble, passionate people that love to share and help.

Have you ever attended Fleuramour ?  If so, what resonates with you from that experience.

Oh yes, I have attended Fleuramour. It is the best place to be. There are so many creators, designers, and teachers there that willingly share their talents. It’s the place to come together and share the love of flowers and designs. They never compete to be better than the next as they cheer each other on and celebrate one another, be proud of our ability and creativity.

You are now the Alumni Ambassador for EMC.  What does that mean to you?

Gosh, I am so proud to be one of the EMC alumni!  I am not the person that knows everything, but I love it when we all come together and learn from one another. It is never being better than the other person. It is where you know your faults and you are comfortable asking for help or suggestions.

Tomas has so much patience when he teaches. You can tell he has so much passion in his art and teaching.

As Alumni Ambassador, you are now the lead contact for the ‘Mastermind Experience’.  What opportunities do you think this will bring to the Alumni?

Thinking about this opportunity gives me chicken skin! When I graduated it was like, ok what now?  The ‘Mastermind Experience’ will take you to that next level. To surround yourself with like minded people that just want to learn and create. To be better at what you do! My final exam was emotional and the whole experience was so overwhelming. The ‘Mastermind Experience’ will take you to experience new levels of creativity in a more relaxed atmosphere which, for those who attend, will be a great experience.

There is a very interesting and exciting program arranged for the eight days, in Belgium and Paris.  What do you think that the alumni should gain from the different elements of the Experience?

It is not about what they should gain, it’s about what they will gain when they attend. Honestly, my first time to Europe was overwhelming, it was all so new!  New people, new places, new ideas. Imagine going to the ‘Mastermind Experience’ and experiencing, learning, and seeing different things. This has been planned to help you be better at what you do and who knows, you might see something or experience something that you have not done before.

Going to Fleuramour; visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris or similar collections of art; gathering more supplies of the type that we cannot get in the US; being surrounded with like-minded people, plus having the classes with Tomas in person, is priceless. The list goes on and on.

What memories, learning and knowledge do you hope that this group of conscious creatives will take away with them from the Mastermind Experience?

I hope that with the ‘Mastermind Experience ‘it will open up new ideas, new Inspirations, new techniques, new experiences for all attending, and that, when it is over, they just crave for more.

Read more about the EMC Mastermind Experience, here.

by Sara Marie Andrews EMC

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