Hamidah A. Karim, founder of De’Bunga is a Singapore-based floral designer certified by the American Institute of Floral Designers and member of the Official World Flower Council. Over the years, she has developed her unique creative direction, expanding the use of flowers in table centrepieces and bouquets to adorn bespoke wearable art.
At the World Flower Council (WFC) Summit in London in the 2011 Hamidah A. Karim won an award for ‘Best Floral Design for Wearable Art. In 2012, she was honored with a couple of prestigious awards including first place in the Floral Designers Society (Singapore) (FDSS) 8th International Championship Floral Competition, as well as Design Excellence Award at our local Singapore Garden Festival.
In 2016, she participated in Guinness World Record in attempt to contribute to the making of the World’s Largest Floral Chandelier for NPark, Singapore. Through her floral arrangement, she was invited to represent Singapore in Cali, Colombia for the World Flower Council (WFC) Summit, 2014. She has also done a presentation for a media event at CaliberLink by Workforce Development Authority (WDA) in 2012, where she appeared in the local news, namely Channel News Asia (CNA) and Mediacorp Suria.
LadyBoss spoke to Hamidah on her passion and accomplishments.
Q: Tell us about your business. How long you’ve been doing it, and who your customers are?
A: Débunga is a private limited company that has been an established in 2014, and I am the founder. I’ve been in the floral industry for more than 15 years and counting.
Débunga specializes in exquisite and bespoke floral design for private and corporate events. Our services range from bouquets to product styling and floral arrangement workshops.
We offer our services to a wide profile of customers, ranging from many ages, for many different occasions. Every design is crafted intricately and can be served as keepsakes for any occasion.
We carry out floral trainings and workshops for floral enthusiasts, floral arrangements for weddings, bouquets as gifts for graduates during Commemoration Ceremonies and special occasions such as Mother’s’ Day, and more.
Q: What sparked your interest in Floral Design/Art? Tell us more about your inspiration behind your floral creations.
A: I have always been in love with flowers and hand crafted floral arrangement – and I have decided to make my passion my profession.
I learnt more in depth about Floral Design as I realised how Paper Qualifications are extremely important. So I went for certification and add that into my portfolio.
My dream is to be recognised internationally, and I am happy that I got the opportunity to do so during my journey as a professional floral designer. In 2011, I joined the World Flower Council (WFC) as an official member and in 2014, I became a Certified Floral Designer by the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) (Chicago).
Recently, one of my floral artworks got selected and featured in the International Floral Art 2016/2017 by the publisher, Stichting Kunstboek, from Belgium.
With the floral creations and achievements that I have accomplished, I want it to be a motivator and a reminder to my three daughters to seek your passion as your profession. And age is certainly not a limit for us to achieve our dreams.
Q: What are your popular products/workshops that you run?
A: I create custom-made/bespoke floral designs that would suit my customers’ needs.
The most popular services sought for are the wedding and engagement floral arrangements for our couples who are looking for something creative and unique. Couples would specifically seek for intricate details in the hand bouquets and table floral arrangements, which can compliment their wedding gowns, suits and ambience. I am enthusiastic to be planning the best floral design with couples for their big day.
I am also involved in conducting monthly floral workshops for Muslim Kidney Action Association (MKAC) beneficiaries since January 2016. I enjoy sharing my passion with the public and I believe it is important to always give back to the community and to do what we love.
Q: What were you doing before entrepreneurship? Tell us about your background and how it helps you with what you are doing now?
A: Before I embarked on my journey as a professional floral designer, I was an Assistant Travel Manager in a local travel agency company over the span of 26 years.
“Flower design has always been my interest and floristry is an avenue for me for enjoyment or to express myself, no matter how busy I am with my full-time job or family commitments.”
After much consideration, I knew it was time to make my passion my day job and dedicate more time to my passion for floristry. My passion for floral design has encouraged me to enrol in floral competitions both locally and abroad.
To me, I value the exposure and creative environment that I get to experience during a competition. I believe that taking part in floral competitions hones my skills and craft in floral arrangements.
“Entering competitions is just another platform for me to showcase my artwork and techniques.”
In 2010, I obtained a Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Graduate Diploma in Floristry Management. My profession in floristry began to flourish further afterwards. In the same year, I took part in the Fusion Flower International Designer competition in the United Kingdom, and clinched a bronze award under the Bridal Design category.
Throughout my journey as a professional floral designer, I have been blessed with countless opportunities to interact with people from all over the world, to put my passion at work, and also to share my passion with the public.
I have been occasionally invited to do public demonstrations and to write articles about my floral design, for corporate events or special workshops and events. Back in 2011, I was given the opportunity to showcase my floral design at local competitions, and also alongside Malaysia’s popular celebrity, Dato Chef Wan. I have also been invited by local magazines such as Sutra Magazine and ‘Majalah Nak Kahwin?!’ to contribute write-ups on my floral designs.
Q: What’s the idea behind DeBunga? How did you first come up with the idea?
A: Débunga means “pollen”, translated from Bahasa Melayu.
To me, Débunga represents the inner beauty of one’s soul and the potential for growth and evoke the wonderment with flowers. I hope to inspire the beauty of flowers through floral art and design.
Q: How do you maintain the quality of your designs/flowers?
A: It is essential to have quality supplies and tools as it will be a lifelong investment in my floral career to maintain only the best.
Q: In terms of sales & marketing, how do you reach your customers, and what works?
A: Débunga uses social media marketing to reach out to the consumers of media in online platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Through our social media accounts, we post videos and pictures of the floral arrangements that we create for our customers.
We also like to share about stories of people who inspired us during our floral trainings or workshops, and also people who share the same passion for flowers as we do, on our social media accounts.
Q: Where do you see the future of De’Bunga? Any plans in the near future?
A: In the future, I would like to expand my business into a more diversified market and reach greater heights.
Q: Tell us about your Number 1 business challenge?
A: Some of the business challenges that we foresee are high operating costs in securing different flowers from overseas suppliers, mass market mentality expectations of some customers who want standard floral offerings, and high operating costs in Singapore.
Q: As an entrepreneur, what motivates you personally?
A: My strongest source of motivation is my vision for the future. For myself, my family, and my community. When I realised I could use entrepreneurship to achieve the change I wanted to see, that was all the purpose I needed.
Q: What would be your advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs keen in starting a business?
A: They need to have the right mindset, to be able to brainstorm interesting ideas that they are strongly passionate about, and to have a strong support system especially from their loved ones.
Be unique and don’t be afraid of competition!