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“You can always challenge yourself to become better than yesterday,” says Tomas De Bruyne of EMC - European Master Certification, a floral program where creativity meets business.

Design visionary, Tomas De Bruyne and business strategist, Christi Lopez joined forces with the goal of growing participants to their full potential. Tomas, based in Belgium and Christi in northern Virginia, offer floral education without borders. Including:

  • Certification program.
  • (ICE) the Infinite Creative Effect.
  • DUOlogue, April workshop in Miami.
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Photo: EMC

What inspired their desire to develop design potential in others?

EMC co-founder and director, Tomas De Bruyne, recognized a world-wide floral community searching for more. He helped develop a curriculum for students exploring their own potential. “That's why we come up with a curriculum, saying ‘yes, you can be your own teacher.’ You can teach yourself in a certain language and that's the language of design.”

“What attracted me to the program was learning more about European floral design,” says EMC shareholder Christi Lopez. “I soon discovered the program was more global than that.” Christi learned to design with her own creativity, rather than just learning concepts, or copying something, in order to understand how to put together different floral designs.

“The curriculum is written by experience,” Tomas explains. As a young designer, Tomas was in search of his own growth. In striving to be better, he could not find the right educational experience or classes. Traveling the world as a designer, he learned to educate himself. He now shares his acquired floral knowledge with EMC students.

Remain relevant to clients

Tomas cautions students to remain relevant to their clients. The first thing you should decide in your flower shop is “Who do I want to serve? What do your clients want from you?” Tomas suggests that clients don't want to hear simply that you are a color guru. “What does a color guru bring to the table for your clients?” he asks. “How can you translate that to commercial success?”

According to Tomas, it's all about communication. “Clients want you to express their desires, expectations, and emotions through your flowers.” Color, form, botanical, and so on. “It is cool to follow EMC artistic wise,” explains Tomas. “But, it also makes a difference financially. You're going to make decisions that are more efficient and save you money.”

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Photo: EMC

A global community

With over 200 alumni worldwide, Christi describes the group as “small, but mighty.” The Foundation curriculum has been translated into Spanish. A Chinese translation is in the works.

“People reach out to EMC from all over the world, and that makes the program very interesting,” says Tomas. “Because we learn from each other, from all the different cultures.” People bring to the table how they see design and the process of making florals. “It teaches us. We learn from each other, which enriches us all.”

What is the process to attain EMC accreditation?

The main program we offer is certification,” says Christi. It's divided into three steps you can do at your own pace.

  • Foundation
  • Practicum
  • Advanced

Students set a goal and take the classes needed to accomplish it. Originally, the information was delivered in six days. During Covid, Foundation changed to an online eight-week system. Advanced is ten days in Belgium. “We've found that a curriculum that combines working online with coaches, weekly interaction, assignments, discussion, and critiques produces stronger designers who gain valuable feedback on each of their designs,” explains Christi.

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Photo: EMC

How do you measure the success of a student? “Basically, what we do in Foundation and Practicum is prepare students for Advanced. Because, first you have to learn the musical notes before you can start playing your own music,” Tomas explains. With blended learning, they discovered students were more prepared for the advanced class. They came up with better solutions, started to improve because of their interaction with elements and principles, and learned to communicate. The exam points were higher. “We'd say, ‘you can come up with a nice design, but also understand what you design.’ It gives us so much respect for somebody who really knows how and why they're doing something.”

“It's, a robust program,” explains Christi. Like going to university. Making the investment. Learning how to design, no matter where you are, or what materials you're given. “You can tap into your creativity and find solutions because you know the foundation of what design is all about.” And, explore ICE.

ICE, the Infinitive Creative Effect

“Basically, with ICE our goal is for floral designers to become more conscious creatives. Not just throwing flowers into a vase,” says Christi. “But, tapping into their creative juices.”

Most creatives are instinctual. Passionate. Taking time to learn things that catapult design and work with clients. “Being able to guide them to the vision they're looking for based on what they're saying to you,” explains Christi.

“Inside the community we have an EMC circle community besides the regular community. The conscious creative community, which anyone can join,” Christi continues. “Our coaches and teachers are amazing. They are so into their students and so dedicated. Getting them to see the results - that's what makes a winning team. It's a huge asset for us to have them on our team. Honestly, we wouldn't be able to do what we do without them.”

“From the start, we said we go for blended learning,” Tomas explains. “Starting with a pod of no more than five persons. If you have more than five persons on a Zoom meeting, you're going to lose the personal contact of the coaching part. We don't want to grow in a very fast way. We want to grow in a very solid, stable way. It takes longer, but we have a very strong foundation with the right people, and the right products.”

Stories shared afterwards, are like light bulb moments that happened. “It really comes together for a lot of floral designers or florists,” shares Tomas. “They see all the puzzle pieces, but not the whole puzzle. We try to take all the little puzzle pieces and put them together to see how everything is interacted. The better you know your medium, the better you can play with it.” You see the advantages and the disadvantages.

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Photo: EMC

The Mastermind Experience

Tomas doesn't have a flower shop anymore, “I do events. That's my strength. I charge for air and air is free. But, I do put my arrangements together to create visual impact.” He teaches students to create visual impact and charge for artistry, and craftsmanship, as well. Giving inspiration to people who want to expand.

Every other year, EMC offers alumni a Mastermind Experience. Participants return to Belgium for a different experience. There's no testing. “Attendees experience one-on-one Mastermind time with Tomás to re-energize and learn,” says Christi. “It’s an immersive experience. He takes them through their design journey - where they've been and what their impact could be.” An EMC is always encouraged to continue learning. “We're not the only way to get education,” says Christi, “but we always want to encourage:

  • Education
  • Being inquisitive
  • A conscious creative

to get the results that you want financially and profitably.”

DUOlogue Workshop

Last year, a survey yielded many questions about retail business. DUOlogue was born. This event offers a duo conversation where creativity meets business. Bringing business strategies and creative strategies to the retailer.

There's two different parts to DUOlogue:

Three Day Workshop:

  • April 10-12, 2024
  • Miami, Florida
  • $2,997 pp
  • Tips for regenerating your business: 
  • Display, Business profit strategies
  • Hands-on designs. 
  • Signature Style designs
  • Profitability, Business toolkit.
  • Incorporating trends for sales results.

One-day demonstration

  • Sign up separately - $49 pp.
  • Attend workshop & demo ticket included.
  • Tomas presents trends forecast.
  • How to achieve results using trends. 
  • Use trends to position your business.

“It's a vibrant workshop,” says Christi. “We want attendees to see a major difference in their business going forward.” Tomas’ trend forecast is curated for floral retailers.

“We work with a trend agency in Europe that works for the car, carpet, perfume industries and so on. Colors, florals, botanicals. What kind of vases, textures and so on,” explains Tomas.

Tomas sees four trend categories:

  • Color
  • Classic
  • Modern
  • Avant Garde

For details or to register for the event - europeanmastercertification.com/duologue

Their best advice?

“Know instinctively that you want more,” Christi shares. “Take the leap and do it this year in one form or another. Go with your gut and start to expand your horizons. Grow beyond what you think you can do.”

“We have so much potential in ourselves,” says Tomas. We don't even know how much it’s possible to grow. It's not about success because success is given by other people. Satisfaction is given by yourself. If you just grow, you can satisfy yourself. You become better in what you do, and how you feel. Keep growing and discovering your potential.”

“Because at the end of the day, nobody wants to be a starving artist or florist,” interjects Christi.

It's all about making the right choices,” summarizes Tomas. Release choices that are not guiding you to your goals. Make choices that help you reach your goals more quickly.

What goals will you set to achieve your desired success?