Meet the EMC teamOct 21, 2022
Flowers can change your life!
With Gina Thresher, EMC Teacher
Gina is a vivacious, bubbly, and talented floral designer based in Seattle. She is involved mainly in wedding and events floristry at the moment, along with online teaching and a wide range of workshops that she runs in her studio and other venues as requested , plus mentoring for EMC students and teaching as required. She has just returned from teaching at the symposium in Arkansas, which she found very enjoyable and invigorating, with great audience participation. Unlike many people, she did not grow up surrounded by flowers. She actually studied for a degree in invertebrate biology.
Her love of floral design began when she decided that she would do the florals for her own wedding. This not only sparked her interest, it became a total addiction – it was what she wanted to do from that moment on.
Having started working with flowers, and becoming more and more passionate about them, it was not long before Gina was asked to do weddings, with which she was not confident but went on to produce designs with which her bride was very happy. In 2007, she was becoming recognised in her local area for her skills, but she also realised that there was a lot more to learn and started attending classes at her local community college. It was then that she realised how much more there was to her chosen career than she had realised initially.
Gina has been studio-based until now, completing many weddings and events, but also providing bouquets, funeral tributes etc., for her local community. This has grown to such an extent that she is now hoping to open a retail outlet to fulfil this particular aspect and will continue her wedding and events business from the studio. She is also giving many workshops and short courses, some based in the studio, some in the local community, and also many in the homes of clients. Since the pandemic, she has been using technology far more, and now has a good following on Instagram and other areas of social media, including some online demonstrations and teaching. She is already taking a lot of bookings for the Christmas holiday period, including for wreath and table decoration workshops.
She feels that, if you have an open mind, it is possible to learn and gain inspiration from anything and anyone around you; but for her personally, she wanted to gain formal training and qualifications, which was why she initially enrolled in the local community college before going on to gain her AIFD.
It was after completing and gaining her AIFD, that she and others were encouraged by Arthur Williams AIFD EMC to find out more about the European master Certification. She realised very quickly that this was the obvious way forward for her but said that the difference between the two qualifications was like having to learn a totally new language, including the theory behind the practical work and the range of techniques that were available to the floral designer. She took her Foundation Course in 2017, in San Francisco; completed the Practicum element and went on to graduate following her Advanced course in Bruges in 2018, and has never regretted her decision to take this journey through her floral education.
In 2019, after she has qualified, she became a mentor, really enjoying the chance to support new students on the first steps of learning through the EMC. At the same time, she was also starting out on her own, training people in floral design, many purely for their own personal enjoyment.
Then the pandemic hit!
Once she understood the enormity of what had happened, she turned it to a positive, as did EMC. She rapidly learnt a lot more about using technology to be able to teach online, keeping everything relevant, taking videos and learning how to edit them too; whilst mentoring more students for EMC as they took their EMC Foundation course online. She realised how useful this is a tool with which to teach students if you are unable to meet face to face. Although she is very aware of how important it is to be able to have teaching in person, with it being very important for creative people to have actual hands-on experience, the fact that you can replay the videos etc if you do not understand something immediately or if you wish to revise a certain element, is really invaluable. She has just completed an eight-week training course to refresh her knowledge ready to teach on the next Foundation course and to work with a new pod of students.
Gina feels that it is very important to let others know how you felt at the beginning and how far you have come; especially when the ‘light bulb’ moment occurs. It is definitely not the right way for a lot of people to go, especially when they are more interested in floral design as a form of hobby, just for enjoyment, as the progression through EMC is hard work, but so worthwhile for those wanting to grow their creativity. In the past, she would never have believed that she would be able to stand in front of groups of 250 of her peers, talking about and demonstrating how to manipulate trends to your benefit, discussing confidently about flowers; and being able to answer a myriad of questions from the audience at the same time. This is the experience, knowledge and passion that being an EMC graduate has given her.
She feels that people would recognise her work at the moment as being very soft and romantic, with lots of garden roses, jasmine, and vines; with EMC giving her a good understanding of how to make her floral expressions very feminine and romantic, but also providing her with a well-rounded education in using the ‘Ws’ to provide her clients with what they will really like and is suitable for their event. She provides florals for a diverse range of events and venues, many out of doors, including farms, a brewery, and also in hotels and in private homes. She feels confident in adapting her style from country garden, through rustic to elegant and formal designs as required.
Gina has already aimed, within her current five-year plan to have her own flower shop and this should be a reality within the next few months. At the moment, her weddings and events are usually within a thirty-mile radius of where she lives but would like to see this grow, so that she will be working across a much bigger area, possibly also freelancing globally. She also intends to carry on with the teaching which she thoroughly enjoys, maximising the opportunities available to her online, as well as face to face.
It is important for students to realise that we have all struggled at some point with the journey through EMC. If it was too easy, you would not have accomplished much and would not feel that you have achieved a lot during the course. We have all found it stressful at times and quite hard, but that gives you the most important feeling of fulfilment, and the strengthening and understanding of your creativity at the end of it.
by Sara Marie Andrews
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