Solomon Leong (Hong Kong)

With every crisis come opportunities

written by: Thursd. | 29-04-2020

Solomon Leong and Covid-19 - Article on Thursd - Header

Dr. Solomon Leong is the award-winning owner of Solomon Bloemen design studio. He is influenced by the English garden style and the European flower arranging ethos, and is described as ‘extraordinary’ and ’striking’ by international media such as the BBC. As a doctor of philosophy in cultural studies, Solomon’s extensive knowledge of cultures and history in relation to floral art has turned him into a successful commentator of floral designs. Cosmopolitan Bride Beijing named him ‘One of the 50 influential Chinese voices in the wedding world’.

How Is Solonom Leong from Hong Kong Coping With the Current Corona Outbreak?

An interview.

Solomon Leong Covid-19 Quote

Can you describe your customers in general? What do they buy generally in your shop?

We are not a traditional shop, and we offer services in a hybrid mode. On one hand we provide consultancy and design services to malls, corporations and hotels. On the other hand we provide bespoke bouquets and floral gifts, and wedding design services. We have a flower school providing classes and professional accreditations such as AIFD and DFA. We also collaborate with schools and museums in various floral art projects.

How is it in Hong Kong? Have you been open or closed since the outbreak?

In these strange times of the Coronavirus, everyone is affected. Here in Hong Kong we are fotunately spared from complete lockdown, but business is still far from normal.
We remained open for the last few months but the way we operate has drastically changed.

What was it that changed most for your business?

In Hong Kong the situation started to deteriorate around early February and businesses started to be impacted from Valentine’s Day onwards. Since most of our flowers are from abroad and flights have been seriously disrupted, our supply and logistic chain has also been truncated. Moreover, traditional clients such as hotels and malls have reduced and delayed their orders and couples postponed their wedding events to later dates. These sudden changes have all impacted on all businesses including ours as people are now confined at home and mobility restricted.

Solomon Leong and Covid-19 - on Thursd.

How did you adapt?

At first we thought that the situation would be potentially disastrous. But then we gradually saw something positive coming out of the chaos.
We started to receive calls from customers and students who are bored at home and wanted flowers to brighten up their moods. So an idea of a weekly flower package began to emerge.
We wanted to use flowers to remind our friends and customers and students about nature and how we can still be in touch with nature despite being indoors.

So, you created a new inspiring initiative?

Yes, you can say that. We thought of having letter box flowers at first, but it soon evolved into what we called a ‘Omakase Flower Menu’. ‘Omakase’ means chef’s recommendation in Japanese cuisine and it involves a whole dining experience revolving around seasonal ingredients and the artful combination of the chef.

Inspired by this concept of a well organized and curated storyline we ventured out and created our own floral Omakase.

Solomon Leong and Covid-19 Omakase Flower Menu

Please tell us more about the Omakase concept

Every week we will create a flower menu featuring seasonal flowers, filler flowers, branches and foliage to a specific design, highlighting what is the best to use in that period of time. A tutorial on how to arrange and create with the flowers is provided to those subscribed. There is also a kids menu for those who want to arrange flowers together! Our logic is that since staying home can be so boring, arranging flowers together with family members can not only get rid of their boredom, but also bond them together.

How did people react?

The response we received was exceptional! We started the first Solomon Bloemen Omakase weekly flower menu in late February and now we are already in our 12th menu! We deliver all over the city every week and the variety of flowers in the menu is ever-growing!

Do you see other trends during this COVID-19 crisis?

Yes, on top of what I mentioned earlier, we find that our subscribers are becoming more interested in the stories behind the flowers they received. Our response to this, is we are trying to provide more information for them so as to enrich their floral experience. Consequently, we have created a cross-over with wholesaler Hoek flowers to introduce Dutch and European peonies in one of our Facebook live sessions,  and the response rate was more than positive. Going forward our plan is to carry out even more social interactions across various media platform crossing between floral and interior design industries.

We believe interactive story-telling, combined with on/off line marketing is the way forward.

Can you walk us through the immediate and expected (long-term) consequences of this crisis?

In terms of our floral education related to my own business, we are also pioneering our first Hybrid Certificated course of CFD (Certified Floral Designer by AIFD). Part of the course will be online and the practical part of the course will be in real classrooms. This move from all real classroom experience into a hybrid experience will offer solutions to mobility issues.  And we believe that in the long term it will become the mainstream mode of floral design education. Also for other businesses in the floral industry.

-Solomon Leong

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