Ten years ago, Carole Delavelle moved from France all the way to Macao, a city she knew little about at that time. “When I first came here, I noticed that there were a lot of flowers around in the city. People will buy flowers for holidays, visiting temples, or worshipping ancestors,” Carole said. But whether it is the floristry design in flower shops, decorations, or just flowers she saw in the city, they all differed greatly from that in France. That’s why Carole decided to establish Oulala Flower, a floristry design company, to bring a floral revolution to Macao. “It’s fair to say that I have changed the ecosystem of Macao’s floral design industry in the past ten years,” she said in confidence.
It takes ten years to become a professional talent
Carole’s confidence is built on solid experiences. Before settling in Macao, she was already a renowned floral designer in France with over twenty years of experience. She had previously designed for the Cannes Film Festival, and high-end fashion brands such as Dior, LV, etc. When she was still a kid, she had shown a knack for art and fondness for floristry. Her goal is never just about opening a flower shop. “Ever since I was a kid, I have always wished that one day I would be able to share my experience with students in a classroom,” she said. “This is very important for me.”
After completing the study at the Floral Design School of Paris, Carole spent ten years travelling around France to learn from famous floral designers. “Getting a diploma is only a start. We also need to learn from practising our art. The more techniques you learn, the better you can realise your design,” she said. “That said, from studying the floral art to being able to practise it, it takes at least ten years to become a professional floral designer.”
Pushing for innovations
Macao had never been in Carole’s plan ten years ago. But a destined encounter with The House of Dancing Water’s producer, Franco Dragone, changed her course of a career. Franco invited her to work in Macao and design the theatre play’s stage decoration. Carole had never been to Asia before but she took the offer nonetheless.
It’s in French people’s genes that they value freedom and independence. “I arrived in Macao in November 2009. After working for some time I started to think about starting my own business because it means a lot to me to be independent,” Carole said. Oulala Flower was then kickstarted. Carole admitted that the business faced many challenges in the initial stage as she didn’t speak Chinese or Portuguese and only knew some basic English. Good wine needs no bush. Carole’s sharp floral sense and exquisite taste set her apart from the crowd very quickly. “I will provide customised services for my clients according to their choice of flowers. I will never have the same design for my clients,” Carole explained proudly. “I come up with different ideas for different events. That’s why customers will come to me.”
Besides catering to local clients, Oulala Flower also provides design service for overseas events in Taiwan, Japan and more. Oulala Flower’s main clients include high-end hotels, international resorts, jewellery brands and fashion brands. “Everybody knows about the French floral design. We only use quality flowers and we know how to work magic with them,” Carole said, explaining that French floral design pays attention to both classic elegance and modern elements and does not put flowers of different colours together. French design emphasises on the distinct textures of the plants. “I don’t do design works that involve balloons and Hello Kitty. It’s just not my thing. If you don’t like my design, you can always find other designers,” she said. “I know not making compromises can make me lose some clients, but there are also clients who come to me because of it.”
Educating future floral designers
Oulala Flower also provides floral workshops for the public and cooperates with the Institute for Tourism Studies to set up floral design certificate courses. The tuition fee is cheap in comparison to similar courses in Hong Kong. Carole recalled that when she just came to Macao, there wasn’t many flower shop in the city and they sold very similar products. She wished that through providing more learning opportunities for people who are interested in this industry she could bring changes to the market. “I think I have taught over a thousand students in Macao for the past years,” she said in an amazed expression, counting her students. “Many of my students opened their own flower shops or do relevant work in the casinos or hotels after completing the courses. So I have changed their life to some extent.”
Carole not only needs to make perfect designs for her clients but also teach students her knowledge of floral design. When it is very busy she would stay up for two or three consecutive nights. But she never complains about her work or the challenges she faces because she is doing something she loves after all. “I only had a 20kg luggage with me when I first arrived in Macao. Although I haven’t become rich after these years, I am very proud of everything I have done and achieved here in this city,” Carole said.
Rua de Sacadura Cabral, No. 9C, Macao