This little story is super hard to write. Even as I start to write the post, I am unsure of how this post will turn out and how much truth I will dare to tell. I also worry about how it will be received. The whole story is rather unbelievable, joyful, painful, and unimaginable. On 11/14/14 in Palm Springs California, I created my first chicken wire egg bridal bouquet. I was creating the bouquet for designer Kelly Lanza of Studio DIY.  Her wedding was on the following day 11/15/14. Kelly worked for our studio years ago, and she is a dear friend of mine. Because of this, we talked about her wedding for years and getting to design for her big day was a dream come true. The wedding would be held in Palm Springs no less, whoot whoot!!  I had the good fortune of designing at Kate Lee Minelian’s studio of Studio Kate.  She is one of my beloved Chapel Designers. Both Kate and my daughter Abigail were witnesses to the design and I am beyond thankful they were present that day, as having witnesses has been a blessing. Kelly had a very specific design request for me and even after 22 years of designing, I was unsure of how I was going to execute her wishes.  I openly admit that her very specific request caused utter panic for me. Kelly explained she wanted an open, horizontal bouquet and she announced that she wanted “to see signature star blooms.” What the heck does that mean? I thought maybe she wanted a small bouquet or not a regular “Hollyish” bouquet, but she said loud and clear, “oh no, I still want it to be big and Hollyish but I need to see those blooms”. OMG!!! Pleasing my brides is essential and it’s equally crucial when the bride is a friend and a designer. Kelly knew exactly what she wanted and she could clearly see her bouquet in her head and I knew I had to deliver. My love for Kelly and the certainty that there had to be a way caused me to create my first egg. Up until this point, I had always tried the crossing of stems concept but was uncomfortable with the way the design collapsed when brought together with tape or ribbon. I also didn’t like the fact that the stems were not supported. While the flying ranunculus is a sexy look, it is not structurally sound. I began to imagine a form or something holding the stems wide open and my egg form was born.  The egg form grid kept the blooms separated so that each stem could shine and be seen and not smashed together. As I was designing I was screaming, “it’s working, it’s working.” I honestly cried with relief as the beautiful bouquet was born. I can’t even begin to explain what this moment felt like, but everyone present knew something big had just happened. You could feel it in the air and Abby caught this silly picture of me as we all realized magic had happened.

The first egg bouquet that I created is posted below. This design landed on the pages of Martha Stewart and was photographed by Katie Stoops. In fact, that first year of creating bridal bouquets with my egg mechanic, I had two bouquets grace the pages of Martha.

The next thing I did was share this new knowledge with my friends the Chapel Designers, like within 24 hours.  Chapel Designers is a collective of floral designers I founded eight years ago. They were the first to know about and embrace this exciting new development in floral design. In January of 2015, I was scheduled to teach at Florabundance Design Days. On the morning of my presentation, I had a quick phone call with my confidant and best friend Amy McGee, founder of the Botanical Brouhaha Blog. She is also the manager of Chapel Designers. We discussed my fear in sharing this concept outside of our trusted world of  Chapel Designers as this mechanic had become an intricate part of my teaching platform. I asked for Amy’s advice and we discussed the fact that it was not very Hollyish to hold my knowledge, love, or passion back so I made a conscience choice to share my new design idea outside of the Chapel Designers network, and I quite honestly said a prayer I would not be hurt. As I taught the class, I joked about the fact that it was literally the first time I was teaching this in front of non Chapel Designers and that I had actually only made the mechanic a few times. As I stood there teaching the piece, I have to admit I was afraid that people would stand up and say “oh yes, I have been doing that for years,” or “that is an old school mechanic,”  because at this time I was still unsure if I had created something new or if it was something maybe others had thought of as well. By this, I mean the exact same shape and form I had created, because I obviously knew that people designed with armatures. I actually even asked “has anyone done anything like this before” but not a person said a word. In fact, the students began gasping and getting really excited. There were nearly 50 designers in attendance who tried my new concept and deemed it an overall success. All types of designers were present; those that run retail shops or studios, event designers, AIFD designers, and other educators. Not one person said they had ever seen anything like it before. The students that day became a testament or witnesses to the journey of the Holly egg. I was interviewed that day about my teaching process and I specifically asked that my mechanic not be released on video or in print as it was my teaching platform and belonged to me and those who invested in their businesses via educational opportunities like Florabundance or Chapel Designers. This was not because I don’t believe in sharing, but because I believe in protecting the rights of people who hire me to teach and of those students who invest in their businesses. Something has to be sacred, right? The next stop for the egg was my NYC Chapel Designers conference March 2015. Here I shared the mechanic again and once again it got rave reviews. It was also in NYC that Designer Robbie Honey who is classically trained in European floral design announced that the “egg is brilliant.” Honestly, it wasn’t until that very moment that I dared to believe that this was the real real deal and this mechanic was truly mine. Of course, I knew it was my thing, because it had been created out of my mind’s eye, but I was never sure until that moment that it wasn’t somehow a repeat of another designer’s exact same idea and form. In the image below, I am teaching the mechanic in NYC. This image was taken by photographer Lauren Carnes. Please excuse some of these weird Holly pictures. I am only sharing them because they are a testament to this journey.

Next stop, the London Chapel Designers Conference in April 2015. Here crazy things happened again!! And once again in spite of my confirmation with Robbie Honey and all of the members of Chapel Designers and the other workshops I was teaching at, I always worried that maybe this wasn’t unique or special. You know, that voice of self doubt. Let’s just say I have a really loud self doubt voice inside of me and here I was teaching this in the motherland of floral designers, England. Once again, I was embraced with an overwhelming resounding YES!! At this conference things got really wild, like super fast and exciting. We were creating a table scape that would be photographed for our shoot and I suggested we make larger eggs for our centerpieces. The form created was larger than the rim of the vases we were designing with, so right there in London town, we started calling the centerpiece form a pillow and the “pillow” for centerpieces was born. While we sailed through the designs and loved how they looked, we really were not sure of what was happening. It wasn’t until we went to take the flowers out of the vases (so that we could return them to the sundries merchant) that we realized what we had created. We had made a completely intact design that could be lifted off of the vase and literally thrown around the room without falling apart. This had me running to a tall elevated vase and I quickly created my first elevated “pillow” design or elevated design without foam. I have provided the images from those designs, both photographed by David Wickham Photography. Once again, I knew something magical was happening and that we were witnessing a change in the industry. Everyone there knew it and felt it!!

Over the next year I continued to teach the mechanic wherever I went and it continued to get a resounding YES. Never once did anyone say “I know about this mechanic”, or say that they had ever seen it before. Fast forward to Florabundance Design Days January 2016. This is where the egg got it’s final blessing. Here I taught alongside Hitomi Gilliam, and as you can imagine the honor of this was something I will never forget. At this conference, I shared the evolution of the “egg” into the “pillow” and the mechanic was once again greeted with a resounding “YES”, and here I got the final stamp of approval. It was here that Hitomi stated that she had never seen anything like this before in her 30 plus years of floral design. That was it for me, no more doubting. I would let go, be grateful, and rejoice. I knew she had seen it all and I knew she was one with the utmost integrity. If Hitomi was calling the mechanic a “game changer”, I knew for sure it was.  There were many of the same people at this conference that had seen me teach the “egg” in January of 2015. Once again I told several people that I did not want to photograph or talk about the mechanic for editorial work. Because I was not directly communicating with the publications at the workshop the mechanic was photographed and featured in Flowers & magazine largely because they had received bulk images to use from the conference. This however was not a true concern because there was no real description of the mechanic and I was credited for the concept. Fast forward to the summer of 2016 and all of a sudden my phone is blowing up with emails, texts, and private messages. I wasn’t sure what was happening but everyone was trying to reach me. The big news was that the “egg” mechanic for making bridal bouquets had been released into the mainstream by another source and it was even being called an “egg”. This was of course very disappointing because the “egg” mechanic was crucial to my teaching platform.  When I teach, I am very careful to share where my knowledge comes from. I always credit the teachers that have given so much to me. Sharing their names as I teach is second nature to me. I carry them all with me; Ariella, Gregor, Hitomi, Francoise, Robbie, Shane, and Paula. I can’t and won’t stand before anyone without sharing the names of others. I have to admit this was one of the most painful days of my life. It was painful for so many reasons. First, it was totally my fault in that I had been meaning to create an online class for many months. My CD’s had begged me to do it and to take ownership of the egg. However, I was too busy making a living doing my weddings and trying to make our new farm work so I didn’t act (totally my bad). Secondly, it was painful because I am incredibly naive and expect others to live by the same code of ethics I choose to live by. This kind of behavior is something I can’t even conceive of or even imagine. What I have learned is that some people are about business first, while I choose to put people first. Neither is wrong or right, I just do things a tad bit differently then most. It’s really important to me that I show constant gratitude to the people who are influencing and making my life better.

Of course, I do know that chicken wire was and is commonly used, but I never once stated I created chicken wire or the use of it in floral design. It is this specific form, the “egg” that I believe is my concept. On many occasions people have stated that the mechanic is old and referenced Constance Spry, however the only image anyone can show me, is one of Constance Spry shoving chicken wire deep into a bowl which is not the same at all. There was so much tension over the “egg” in many of the floristry forums, which was more than I could bear. Because of this, I did not openly share in the Chapel Designers closed forum about what was happening. I did not want to alarm my friends or to have them come to my defense in public florist forums where I knew they would be attacked and belittled. Over the next few months, I saw the mechanic fly around the internet. It was discussed and marveled at in florists forums everywhere and everyone was singing the praises of the concept which once again validated its worth. I saw the comments and I had to watch as if I didn’t exist. To take credit for the “egg” would have discredited someone else. As time passed more of my students, friends, and colleagues saw the chicken wire egg concept coming up everywhere and being discussed. Some of those dear friends tried to recognize me as the creator of the concept which caused truly unbelievable comments, accusations, and attacks against my friends, which is exactly what I feared. I do not blame the people that attacked us as they were not privy to all that had happened prior to the egg being released to the public. I hope these images will stand as a record of the history of the “egg”. While all of this was incredibly hurtful, the good and kind friends I have, made a stand for me. One that I am so grateful for. Once again the amazing Hitomi Gilliam came to my rescue. In November of 2016, Hitomi created a video stating that she had learned the mechanics of the “egg” from me. She stated that it was not in fact an old school mechanic, and in this video she calls the mechanic a “game changer, one that she wished she had thought of”. This show of support will always be one of the most remarkable moments in my life. In one moment, she undid a million hurts and wrongs, and she showed me I could I still believe in others and this industry. Just as this was about to die down and I finally swallowed what had happened, the drama over the egg starts again.

In December of 2016, I finally reserve one precious day for my mother. No lie, one precious day. I am always so crazy busy with weddings and the family, that I need to get through the whole season before I can spend an entire day just with her. Her only request was that I take her to my Daddy’s grave (I can’t even believe this story myself), so that we could lay wreaths. I was in the car with my mom for nine minutes flat, when I received an accidental text from one of my friends/colleague, (a friend that has seen me design and teach the “egg” style bouquet repeatedly ) a text that is intended for someone else and it said this….

“Holly will soon post an online video of how to make the bouquet holder out of chicken wire, and how to make a bouquet with it! Wonder how that will effect the patent?”

Needless to say, seeing that my friend seemed to be in pursuit of a patent on my concept was yet again another moment of disbelief. If you are anything like me, you may be sitting on the floor right now. I still can’t believe any of this happened to me. Remember I am Holly, just a mom, one that has been designing for 25 years and yes, some amazing stuff has happened to me; however this just doesn’t happen in the world of floristry or over an egg. As I now say, my eggs have been getting me into trouble for a long time. I can also assure you that lots of egg jokes will come about over the next few years, but just imagine in that moment how I felt. I have loved and given to this industry. I have believed in everyone unless they have given me cause not to believe in them. Some of you may wonder why I chose to tell this story. I am even having doubts about sharing this, but in all honesty, the truth is already out there. Many people have witnessed this entire story unfold. There were always friends, colleagues, students, and photographers documenting every bit of this so it’s not a secret. Ultimately, I want to set the record straight, I want to document what happened in my own words, on my own platform. I want to start again fresh. I want to let go. I want to be free of this. I want to enjoy the gift that I was given. I want to celebrate that for one fleeting moment God or the Universe gave me an idea that was valuable and worthwhile. I want to forgive, move forward, rejoice, and I want people to realize that this stuff can happen to anyone. I must never ever forget that I need to protect my business and my concepts, and act with diligence. The gifts we are given are meant to be acted upon, if we don’t move forward, someone else surely will. Moments after receiving the above text I turned towards my future, but that is another post for another day.

  • Kate Minelian Says: (10.23.2017 | 10:12)

    Beautiful, honest and brave, just like you!
    Love you, Holly Chapple

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