AJ Schep

Ever since I can remember I have had a simple and sweet attraction to all that is natural, especially flowers. Recently my mother showed me some old pictures where I was playing together with my sister in a meadow full of flowers, laughing as I picked the nicest ones. I was five years old.

As I grew up, the passion continued. In high school I opened my first little enterprise, decorating venues and restaurants with flowers on special occasions, organizing workshops for people who wanted to learn how to arrange flowers and making wedding decorations. I had to balance my hobby with my studies, but I managed to do both well. I also started to work in various flower shops after school, where apart from flower-related techniques and skills. I learned how to deal with customers and how to figure out what they wanted.

My passion for nature resulted in my decision to study at the Agricultural University in Wageningen where Ii became an agricultural engineer. My father always said, "it's nice to know how to work with flowers, it's better to know how to make money from them." I held on to my little enterprise when I started my first job (the enterprise was not so little by that time) and eventually ended up at the Flower Auction Aalsmeer, the biggest flower cooperative in the world, where I was involved in the imports department (Holland imports many fresh flowers from all over the world and exports them again to the rest of the world). Here I learned about flower marketing and the enormous scale of the business.

AJ Schep creates flower arrangement

A lucky Friday afternoon landed me in Guangzhou China, when I saw a job advertisement for a Dutch company that was looking for a creative director for their China office. This is how I ended up in China, and have enjoyed working and living here ever since. I quickly got involved in promotional activities at the Holland Embassy and consulates in China which are always looking to promote Holland in China. And what better way then to do this with flowers, often with tulips. All over China I have been giving workshops, decorating fairs and shows and preparing company openings. I have had the great honor to prepare flowers for Chinese governments, the visit of the Dutch King and Queen to Shanghai (Expo 2010) and the King of Thailand, but also many nice people in China and many other countries in the southeast Asian region.

Guangzhou is a special place for me and will always stay this way. It is here that I am first introduced to the "Flower City" of China, the local flower market and the love of the Chinese people for plants and flowers. I am amazed by the variety of plants and flowers on offer during Chinese New Year and the local wholesale market in Guangzhou is a treasure trove of plants and flowers, some of which are not even on sale in Holland.

Flower arrangement created by AJ Schep

I am a lucky guy because I always get to work with the best flowers and plants while doing promotions, fairs or making special gifts. As many as 60,000 tulips in a department store, 20,000 roses for a show; the sky is the limit. I have recently started working for a Chinese garden center chain, where beautiful products are being sold to everyone who wants them. This is where my passion is, developing beautiful fl oral products or every one and for every wallet. Guys want to get something special for their girlfriends, ladies to do something special for a dinner party, girls to decorate their workplace and couples just to make their interior and balcony more beautiful. Flowers and plants are for everyone and there is always a suitable moment to enjoy them.

I can really enjoy the moment when I walk into a greenhouse and see row on row of flowers developing into a product we all can enjoy after they are harvested. I get inspired by the vast amounts of these wonders of nature. There is no flower which I would not use in my arrangements; all are equally beautiful. Personally, I like a flower which develops itself from a bud into an open flower when in full bloom. I like the movement and the fact that every moment the flower looks different. Saying this, I think that my favorite flower is a tulip. From the very beginning when the flower is still a green bud till the very end when the petals start to fall on my table, the tulip grows and moves. The tulip brings a bit of Holland to Guangzhou.

(By AJ Schep)

Editor:Vita Lin
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