Fleur De Force

Interview by Annabelle Fernandez
Photography by Jovian Lim

A florist business named after a dinosaur is far from conventional. The same can be said about Ching’s floral creations. A former engineer, she has been arranging and assembling all manner of blooms into works of art for the past 15 years, championing her signature raw, rugged style right from the start—cheesy red roses, be damned.

Have you always been interested in flowers? Was being a florist something you dreamt of growing up?

As a child, I liked handicrafts, drawing and playing around with colours. A tree could be red, for example; it didn’t have to be green. I wasn’t drawn to flowers per se, but I grew up in a kampong, surrounded by greenery and plants. We’d watch the morning glory flowers bloom, and slowly fade at night. We’d feast on rambutans, after watching them flower. Everything was about nature and life. Having grown up in that kind of environment, whenever people gave me bouquets after that, I could never appreciate them. I like flowers in their natural form. Plus, handheld bouquets used to be really ugly, mostly consisting of red roses wrapped in cellophane paper. I can’t bring myself to do those kinds of bouquets.

How did you end up becoming a florist?

I was in electrical engineering for eight years, and I was happy with what I was doing. But the day before my wedding, I saw the floral arrangements my florist had done, and I was horrified. I dismantled all the flowers—which I had chosen in the first place—and rearranged them all, from the car to the hand bouquets. That was the turning point, the moment I realised this was something I could do. Some of my friends started ordering bouquets from me, and one of them suggested turning it into a full-time business.

Do you think your previous field has helped you in your current one?

My background in engineering has helped me a lot with the fundamentals and technical aspects, such as how to secure flowers onto a wall; how to balance weight, distance, etc. And, because most of my peers were men, I also know how to help them when they are ordering flowers. I point out things to help them understand their girlfriends’ needs better. They all automatically—or at least, they used to—go for red roses. Instead, I’ll ask about her age, her favourite brands and movies, what kind of clothes she normally wears, etc. But some guys don’t know the answers to anything.

Read more in The U Press N˚8 (Singapore edition).