Stepping into Valen Fleur, which is located in the slick and classy Palais Renaissance in Orchard, is like taking a breath of fresh air and being transported into another dimension especially as you stand amongst his beautiful creations.
Valen Chia, 52, started his florist company in 1996. 22 years ago. However, he wasn't always sure that this was what he wanted to do with his life.
Growing up, Valen struggled to figure out what exactly it was that he was passionate about and tried out a variety of jobs to get a sense of what he liked.
“I tried sales at one point. I tried doing accounts. I spent some time as a makeup artist and operations manager at a hair salon too,” said Valen.
It was while Valen was at the salon that he stumbled upon what is currently his life’s passion.
“The hair salon I was at needed flowers for the reception table and I was asked to do it. So I went to a wholesaler along Thomson road, picked the flowers myself and arranged it. It actually turned out really nice.”
Impressed by his work, he was asked to continue with the floral arrangements and his love for flowers thus started growing.
“There was also a florist at the former promenade building who used to guide me and give me lots of tips too,” Valen said with a smile.
After spending a year doing flower arrangements at the hair salon, Valen decided to quit and to pursue his new-found passion of being a florist.
He started out as an online business and operated out of his home for the first five years of his career.
“I was very lucky because many of my old hair salon customers followed me and started ordering flowers from me to support my business. Then they would tell their friends about me and that’s how my business started to grow.”
After about five years spent operating his business out of his home, he decided to explore what the world had to offer and went to China in 2004.
“There was a shop there which needed florists and needed help starting up a shop. So I went over and helped them.”
This was despite Valen not being very good with his Chinese and needing help from his colleagues to translate most of the time.
“China was amazing. It was quite cheap to source for the flowers so I was able to make quite huge arrangements. They also had many events going on almost every day so there was a lot of business. People there also always wanted something new and so I got to experiment a lot with designs which I really enjoyed.”
However, Valen decided to come back to Singapore when he mother had to undergo a knee surgery and needed his help.
Upon coming back, Valen decided to open his first shop in Orchard hotel. He then moved his shop around four other times till he finally landed at his current location in Palais Renaissance.
One of the main things that set Valen Fleur apart from other florists is the fact that he sources and picks his own flowers personally.
“I'm not a morning person but every day I’ll wake up at 5.30am to go to the wholesalers and to select my own flowers personally. I’m just very picky and I want the best.”
The florist is usually at his shop by 7.30am and is ready to start the day.
When asked what the most difficult part about being a florist was, Valen laughed and said it was in getting the flowers to do what he wanted.
“Flowers, being natural, sometimes just don’t listen. Sometimes they don’t bloom in time or they aren’t in season.”
However, Valen has a very unique way of handling these kind of issues.
“Sometimes I’d offer a replacement flower. However usually, I would personally look up reputable florists nearby within the same price range and recommend them to the customer. I’d much rather lose a sale then to deliver less then perfect arrangements.”
When it comes to his arrangements, Valen describes himself as a chef with flowers.
He enjoys being experimental and plays with what’s popular at that time, flowers that are not easily accessible, and what colours he feels work together. He has even experimented with fruits and vegetables such as celery at some points.
“I do not like doing the designs on my website all the time because it's so repetitive and there isn’t that much room to be creative. I prefer it when my customers give me a budget and generally what they like or expect and then give me the freedom to design something for them.”
While Valen does say that his job can get challenging at times, he also told us that it was really passion that kept him going.
“I love my job. I’m passionate about flowers and the art of it all. That’s what makes it easy for me.”
Photos: Valen Fleur
For more florists who do bespoke bouquets, check out these five florists!