If there’s one thing Neville MacKay, CAFA, PFCI, loves, it’s storytelling. (Well, and flowers, obviously.)
The longtime author of Canadian Florist’s “Neville on the Level” column is wrapping up his first book, a compilation of his greatest hits from the magazine, and already working on another. For his second book, the owner of My Mother’s Bloomers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, wants to convey the vast emotions flowers communicate. To accomplish this, he’s crowdsourcing.
“I want to include as many personal stories as I can,” he said. “Look, we all have them, and they’re all meaningful! What’s yours?”
While MacKay’s first book is intended for those in the industry—and includes the typical zingers and levity Canadian Florist readers have come to love—his second project (yet to be titled) is “for everyone.”
“I want to show that flowers aren’t just beautiful,” he said. “Flowers are tied to so many feelings and memories. They’re very important parts of our lives.”
Years ago, MacKay started asking customers, “What’s your story? Why do you love flowers?” Their answers have warmed his heart and, at times, completely shocked him.
For instance, one of his regulars exclusively buys red roses. She explained to MacKay that her late boyfriend refused to buy them for her because he associated them with a horrible ex. One day, after her beloved had passed, she was standing in line at a bakery when a woman tapped her on the shoulder. “Excuse me,” the stranger said. “I’m a medium and I see a man throwing red roses at you.” Smiling through tears, MacKay’s customer asked the woman to tell the male figure, “Don’t worry, I can buy my own now.”
Another customer had given a bouquet to her sister who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. “She didn’t recognize me, but she could name every single flower in front of her,” she said.
An Anglo-Saxon woman who married a Chinese man talked about her decision to mix white carnations and yellow roses in her bridal bouquet to illustrate how nicely the races play together.
One couple fessed up to stealing a bird of paradise—“so striking!” they said—from hotel property on a trip to Montego Bay. Another woman recalled the corsage she got for prom—her first gift of flowers.
“I’ve gotten some brilliant stories from all around the world,” he said. “It’s been great to see the emotion come in. From the womb to the tomb—whether you’re hatched, matched, or dispatched—flowers are there. Can you imagine how much fun it will be to curl up on the couch and read this?”
“A lot of people have floral design books,” he continued. “They’re great inspiration for those of us in the industry. But I wanted something more inclusive for consumers.”
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