How a Malaysian florist’s journey to Hollywood started with RM40

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How a Malaysian florist’s journey to Hollywood started with RM40

Teo is the first and only person in South-East Asia, so far, to hold the title of American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) certified floral evaluator and judge. Photo: The Star/Azlina Abdullah If you have watched Crazy Rich Asians, you would have realised the grandeur and extravagant elements in the Hollywood movie. And that includes the floristry on set, which is the work of Malaysian florist Eunice Teo, an American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) certified floral evaluator and judge, the only person in South-East Asia who holds the title. From as far back as she could remember, Teo has always loved flowers. “I remember when I was four, my mother would do the floral arrangements for her church. And I would tell her how to arrange the flowers, back then! Since then it’s been something I really love doing,” said Teo, who is from Muar, Johor. In secondary school, she would be asked to take care of the floral arrangements for school functions and even her teachers’ houses. Teo’s mother saw that she had a knack for it, so they started selling flowers from their shop and got orders for weddings and other occasions. Right after SPM, Teo was asked to go to Kuala Lumpur to do the floral arrangements for her English teacher’s sister’s wedding. An eye-catching arrangement made with fresh flowers and succulents for Peik Lin’s room in Crazy Rich Asians. Photos: Eunice Teo A quirky creation incorporating peacock feathers. The next day, she followed her aunt to her church, and that’s where she met her first boss, who asked her to work as a florist at the former Ming Court Hotel, now known as Corus Hotel, on Jalan Ampang. She stayed for about six months, earning RM300 a month as an arranger. Teo then got a job at a 5-star hotel as chief florist. After staying for one-and-a-half years, she worked at two other florists in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, for a few years. Then when she was 26, Teo left to study floristry in Sendai, Japan, under Tezuka Yuko sinseh . Her teacher soon realised that Teo actually already knew a lot about floristry, so she taught her how to teach others. In 1994, Teo had to come back to Malaysia due to lack of finances, and that’s when she started her own business. “I only had RM40 to raise my first order. That was how my journey started. From there, it just rolled and rolled, but of course I worked very hard. I would do anything to make money, including landscaping work under the hot sun.” Teo with Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh on the set of Crazy Rich Asians. Taking a break… Teo later continued to attend a few more classes by Yuko in Japan, as well as from Belgian master florist Daniel Ost and German master florist Gregor Lersch. “I really learnt a lot from Lersch. Because of his elements and principles of design, I was able to come out and apply the […]