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Chamberlain woman anticipating results from national floral design contest

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life Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

CHAMBERLAIN — In September, Chamberlain native Patience Pickner found out she was selected to compete in a national floral competition.

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Pickner, the owner of The Picket Fence, a Chamberlain-based floral shop, learned she was going to compete in the third-annual Design STAR competition, which is organized and run by Mayesh, a wholesale florist that sells flowers and floral products to retail florists and wedding and event designers.

Pickner entered the contest in late August 2013, along with 21 other florists from across the nation. To enter, contestants had to create a three- to five-minute video showing their floral design skills. Nine semifinalists advanced by their personality, design and ideas on Sept. 9. For eight days, Pickner and the other semifinalists' videos were on Mayesh's website, and viewers voted for their favorite.

In the competition, Pickner filmed three episodes, showing floral design, in Los Angeles. Her videos were placed on Mayesh's website, and she'll have her videos go head-to-head against the other two finalists.

The winner will be named the 2015 Mayesh Design Star grand champion, receiving a trip worth up to $4,000 to travel anywhere in the world on a floral-industry-related vacation, among other things.

This is the final month Pickner's videos will be online for voting. The videos will continue to be online, but she can only receive votes for the competition this month for her August video. She also had videos in the competition from February and May, but the voting on those videos has closed.

The Daily Republic recently interviewed Pickner about her experiences in the competition. Here are excerpts from the email interview:

Q: Overall, what's the experience of the Design STAR national competition been like for you?

A: Being a finalist for the Mayesh Design STAR has been pretty exciting. The entire journey from entering the contest and then being shocked when I was chosen as one of the top nine and then finding out I was top three was one of the best days of my floral career. Flying out to Los Angeles to film my three videos was pretty cool. The Mayesh people were so fun and welcoming! Also meeting the other two finalists and getting to know them was really awesome. We are all three such different florists with different backgrounds and businesses and design styles, but we all have become great friends.

Q: Do you feel you've been successful and you've presented your abilities the best you can?

A: I do. I am a small-town florist, and I represent that well I think. While the other two finalists are more event-style florists and their pieces were on a grander scale, I think my designs were sellable and relatable to an average florist like myself.

Q: What types of presentations have you shown in the videos?

A: In February, I did a fun take on a traditional dozen red roses. I shaped an armature of curly willow into a heart form and then followed the shape with beautiful red roses and accent flowers.

May was my second video and I geared it toward weddings, in particular a trend I am noticing of vintage, or Victorian style. Garden roses, hydrangea, berries, lush and yummy, lots of lace and pearls.

With my third video that was released this month, I really wanted to showcase where my heart is, South Dakota, and the beautiful organic elements that I incorporated into my design, which included pheasant feathers and deer antlers. I hope it really shows my design aesthetic. I love natural organic elements, twigs, moss-covered branches, pine cones, feathers.

Q: Where can people watch your videos?

A: Here's the link: http://youtu.be/Y2DLWmHmzWE.

Or, they can go to Youtube, and just type in my name, Patience Pickner, all three of my Mayesh videos are on there, along with my entry design that got me into the contest and a couple videos of programs I have given. However the only way to vote for me is to watch my August Mayesh Floral Perspective: Millstone and Pallets video.

Every complete view is a vote for me, and you can watch as often as you want. Also you can go onto my Facebook pages, my personal one and my design team Facebook page: Florgasm.

Q: How much community support have you received?

A: I have received a lot of support from my customers and the town of Chamberlain and surrounding communities, and actually throughout South Dakota. Mayesh commented how surprised they were that I actually came in first place out of the original nine finalists, seeing how I was from such a small state. They stated that I had more social media support and newspapers covering my story than any other finalists, which is pretty dang cool. Yay, South Dakota!

Q: Explain how the filming process works for the videos.

A: We actually filmed in Mayesh's Los Angeles location. We were given free reign in their gorgeous coolers. (Can you say kid in a candy store?) They had asked us for a procurement list ahead of time, for fresh product we knew we wanted to use, and any other materials we might want. I was worried about getting old, crusty pallets but they came through for me.

When we arrived everything was waiting for us. We had a day and a half to film the nine videos, the first one of each of ours being done alongside last year's Mayesh Design Star winner, Jodie Duncan. They had a good film crew who made us all feel comfortable and helped us along as we needed it. If a loud motorcycle or car would go by outside, or a loud customer inside, we would just cut and start again. We all helped each other to get everything done.

Q: Do you feel you've shown enough to win?

A: It takes a lot of time to campaign. On the months that my videos are released I spend a crazy amount of time on social media, checking my numbers and posting my video as much as possible. I have sent emails to everyone in my contact list asking them to watch and forward to their contacts. It's funny how people from Pakistan, and Mexico and China are watching and commenting. Social media is a powerful tool. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by your paper twice and both of my local papers. My chamber director has shared the video with the chamber members. I hope I've done enough. Time will tell.

Q: Would anything in your life change if you win this contest?

A: Well, I would definitely be asked to do more programs, which I adore doing. I am currently asked to do educational programs for other florists throughout the Midwest, and also was recently hired by Fitz Design to be on their design team. Additionally I, along with two close florist friends, recently started our own design team called Florgasm, which can be found at www.florgasm.com. So I have been pretty blessed. But being the Mayesh Design Star would give me more name recognition and a broader platform to share my love of flowers.

Q: When will a winner be chosen, and how much are you anticipating that day?

A: Well the last video comes out in October. So I am assuming the winner will be announced in November. It will be an exciting announcement, that's for sure. I am so honored to just be a part of all this, of course I am keeping my fingers crossed, but no matter the outcome it's been a fabulous journey.

Q: Have any new opportunities been presented because of you making the final three?

A: I recently attended the annual AIFD symposium, which is the biggest floral convention of the year, bringing in floral artists from around the world. It was fun to be approached by so many people who recognized me from the videos. I have definitely noticed when I do programs that more and more people know me and comment on the contest and my work. It's a lot of fun!

Q: You've owned your business, The Picket Fence, for 17 years. Is this contest a nice change of pace to everyday life and work?

A: It is. My husband and I opened a sister store, The Other Side of The Fence, about a year and a half ago. We sell new, eclectic and fun furniture and home accessories. So with the pressure of the two businesses it is definitely nice when I travel and just get to design and educate and create for a couple days. I am so passionate about floral design and education for myself and other florists, and being in the finals has definitely opened more doors for me to spread that passion.

Q: Is there anything else special that sticks out about this competition that you've been surprised with?

A: What a powerful organic monster social media is. How hungry florists are for education. But mostly, all the help I've gotten just reinforces my belief about how nice people really are and how much they want to help.

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