We have three ongoing regulars that we feature on McQueens blog; Meet the Team, My Experience at McQueens Flower School, and McQueens Flower School Success Stories. Yeon Hee Lee straddles all three of these like a colossus! As a graduate from McQueens Flower School, our work experience programme, and a rising star at McQueens, Yeon Hee is one of the head designers for many of our hotel installations. We spoke to her about her passion for flowers and her journey at McQueens.
Where did your interest in flowers come from?
My mother always had plants around the house when I was growing up in Korea, and I would often help her to look after them. I was fascinated with how they grew and changed throughout the year, and started to get an appreciation for flowers and nature. After my education, I graduated in interior design, but once I began working in the industry, I didn’t find it as challenging as I had hoped. I also decided that I wanted a job that was more active, so I decided to study flower design. After completing a course, I worked in a shop for a year. I loved it so much and wanted to know more. I was very interested in large scale work, particularly hotel and events, and wanted to expand my knowledge. That’s when I decided to study at McQueens Flower School.
How was the experience?
I had such a great time there. The tutors were amazing, and I learned so much. I signed up for the four-week vocation course. The course was full-on with different themes for projects every day. I especially liked that the school is in the same building as the shop, so you get to see lots of things going on in the workroom. The course was very special and I loved every moment of it; I still keep in touch with some of my fellow students.
How did you enjoy the work experience?
I was interested in studying at McQueens because of the work experience offered. I really enjoyed working as part of the team. You have to take the rough with the smooth working with flowers, and some of the tasks you need to do can be quite repetitive, but that is part of the job working with flowers and I fully appreciated that. I loved the opportunity of working on-site in hotels, and for big events, and it was great to understand more about the business. I made myself available as much as I could during my work experience and worked very hard. I was so pleased when I was eventually offered a job at McQueens, and I have loved working here ever since.
What do you most love and what is the most challenging thing about working at McQueens?
I love working for such a big company, and the fact that it has such an international team. Everyone is very supportive, and I get inspired by seeing what my colleagues do in events, contracts and at the school, which has grown so much since I attended in 2013. The most challenging thing is the early starts. I design and install flowers for Claridge’s Hotel, so we need to be in and out whilst the guests are asleep so it’s a very early start, which is even more difficult in the winter!
What is your favorite flower and how would you describe your personal style of flower design?
I love all flowers, most florists do! But if I had to pick one it would be scabiosa. They are perfect and very delicate. It has taken me a while to discover my personal style and I think this only comes when you become more experienced. I like a natural and garden-like style of flower design, and I think the choice of foliage is just as important as the flowers! I think it is always important to keep an open mind about flower design – it feels much more creative that way.