How A Trip To Netherlands Sparked A Plan For A Business That Is Thriving Today


Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and birthdays – on these three occasions, the importance of flowers are glaringly clear.

Yet, on normal days, we often take the beauty surrounding us for granted. Have you ever stopped to take a second look at the flowers and plants found in indoor places? Have you wondered about how these spaces would look, and feel, if it were empty?

Flowers can bring to life a dull, unhibited space – and in more ways than you can think of. In fact, local artisanal florist Bloem aims to show you just how you can do it.

I had the opportunity to interview Sukri, the brains behind the brand, to get to know more about the artisanal florist industry. To my surprise, Sukri was formerly from from the marketing and communications industry.

Making The Switch

For more than 20 years, Sukri was both as an agency consultant as well as an in-house media and public relations support for various local SMEs and large MNC organisations.

“I helped clients to run comprehensive integrated communications programmes and have worked for technology brands like HP, Microsoft and Dell.”

While those jobs paid the bills, Sukri sought for a more fulfilling role – he wanted to artistically demonstrate a latent passion and a hidden talent which he had for as long as he could remember.

“I had an insatiable hunger to create and a desire to delight the soul so that I could communicate in the old fashion way.”

His choice of medium? Flowers.

“Flowers can convey what the soul wants to say in a non-verbal way that is unique and deeply satisfying – that is, if you can appreciate it.”

To Sukri, flowers are a way to express a desire to touch another human being. It has the power to connect, comfort and console.

Bringing The Idea To Life

He then shares a personal experienced that kicked off Bloem as we know it today.

While on a trip in the Netherlands in 2013, he found himself drawn to the prized tulips that decked its open spaces and commercial display.

“I was inspired by the history and diplomatic impact of this lucrative trade which dates back to 16th century when Tulip was imported to Holland during the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey).”

When Sukri returned to Singapore, he was determined to bring more colour to life. “I just had to share the diversity of flowers which I was exposed to,” he says.

Thankfully, his loved ones were receptive to his enthusiasm. With much encouragement from his family, friends and colleagues, Sukri became confident of his ability to create flowers that could ‘talk’.

And so – Bloem, which is also the Dutch word for ‘flower’ – was born.

Off To A Rosy Start

One of Bloem’s earliest projects was to support an Australian fashion designer’s booth display. This display comprised of her bespoke leather purses, satchels and pouches at the Blueprint fashion show in 2014.

“We had to feature the product and bring out the Australian character using flowers that are representative of the country and its arid landscape.”

In order to do so, they applied Australian blooms like Banksia and Protea which are characteristic flowers native to countries in the southern hemisphere as a backdrop to feature their authentic creations.

To date, Sukri’s most memorable experiences include having Bloem’s creations featured in Her World Bride magazine two years in a row.

As with most entrepreneurs, the process is equally as important as the results, if not more important. When it comes to the joys that he’s experienced while working at Bloem, Sukri shares that it’s the joy of creating something new each time.

“Working with flowers gives you a positive energy and everyone is usually happy working together.”

He follows with a statement that I’m sure many in the industry can concur.

“The visual satisfaction is priceless when you create something that is pleasing to the eyes, and when people appreciate the work that you do.”

Interestingly, this is also one of the challenges the team faces – there is never a boring day at Bloem.

Braving Through The Winds

Sukri reveals that “difficult clients are an everyday thing.” While this would be considered a nightmare to many, the Bloem team remains driven – they strive on fussy clients because it’s a way to take their bespoke services to an unexplored level.

Sukri shares with me yet another personal recount.

“Once, there was a bridegroom who wanted two olive trees in the middle of the banquet room at the Halia restaurant, then located at the Raffles Hotel. He wanted them on a few of the VIP dining tables, and requested for real trees as he wanted to grow them when the event was over.”

To those without any prior floral knowledge, this may seem like no mean feat. However, Sukri shares that there are various difficulties in acceding to these requests.

Firstly, young olive trees are hard to come by because they do not thrive in the Singaporean weather, so the team had to think of alternatives that had the same silhouette and form.

On top of that, the restaurant did not have very high ceilings, but the bridegroom envisioned the set up to be green with foliage as though the outdoors had been brought in.

“We had to think of a clever way to bring this vision alive by substituting foliage with more tropical leaves, like the giant leaves of the monstera and philadendron.”

They fulfilled his last request by having the tree potted in a terracotta pot, then wrapped with cloth so that it stayed hydrated and nourished throughout the event.

Afterwards, the bridegroom got to take the tree home as a symbol of a new life with his bride.

Looking Forward

Since it’s beginning, Bloem has grown their team of petal-smiths to approximately 10 people. To ensure that these petal-smiths understand the style and approach of Bloem’s presentations, everyone is individually trained by Sukri.

In the future, Sukri looks to hold more regular workshops to make people understand the language of flowers, coupled with plans to expand into the region.

“Most of all, we want to inspire budding talents to join our team to become a bespoke flora service that will be the envy of the industry worldwide.”

In closing, I can’t help but ask Sukri the cliché – a few words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. He reply is simple yet down to earth, which I believe many can benefit from.

“Pursue something that comes naturally. Originality and authenticity are key ingredients for creators. To get better at your craft – be open to feedback and listen to the views from other so you can continue to get better and perfect your craft.”