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Chamberlain florist is finalist in national contest

Patience Pickner, owner of The Picket Fence in Chamberlain, laughs while posing for a portrait in her flower workshop area Wednesday afternoon in Chamberlain. Pickner has been selected as one of three finalists in a national floral competition. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)1 / 2
Patience Pickner, owner of The Picket Fence, poses for a portrait in her flower shop Wednesday afternoon in Chamberlain. Pickner has been selected as one of three finalists in a national floral competition. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)2 / 2

CHAMBERLAIN — She’s a veteran florist, but it’s not easy for Patience Pickner to name her favorite flower.

“It changes with the season,” said Pickner, who’s owned and worked at her Chamberlain business, The Picket Fence, for 17 years. “Right now, all the beautiful fall foliages are gorgeous. But then in the spring, I like the new spring flowers. I’ve been asked my favorite flower a bunch of times and I just can’t narrow it down.”

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Wednesday afternoon, Pickner was in her store when she learned she has been selected as one of three finalists in a national floral competition. The third annual Design Stars competition is organized and run by Mayesh, a wholesale florist that sells flowers and floral products to retail florists and wedding and event designers.

“I’m so shocked, I don’t even know what to say,” Pickner said about a minute after learning she was a finalist. “I was trying to compose myself because I was sort of cry- ing.”

Pickner, a Chamberlain native, entered the contest in late August along with 21 other florists from across the nation. To enter, contestants had to create a three- to fiveminute 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.

Wednesday, an email from Mayesh told Pickner she was a top-three finalist.

Yvonne Ashton, director of marketing for Mayesh, said Pickner’s down-to-earth presence was what helped her advance.

“I think she made it because she really can identify with our everyday customers,” Ashton said.

For advancing to the finals, Pickner receives a $1,000 floral supply gift basket and a fully paid trip to Los Angeles. She will fly out to Los Angeles Oct. 23 and will be there through Oct. 26. While in Los Angeles, Pickner and the other two finalists will be filmed by Mayesh in a professional setting while designing anything floral to showcase their identity.

“She’s going to be filming three episodes and putting two of them online,” Ashton said. “Then we’ll measure the video views and the retention rate of watching the videos. We’ll also have some subjective criteria in terms of personality when we’re working with them.”

The videos will be placed on Mayesh’s website at different times next year, and eventually one of the finalists will be named the 2015 Mayesh Design Star grand champion.

The other two finalists are Beth O’Reilly, of Texas, and Tony Medlock, of Arizona.

The grand prize winner receives, among other things, a trip worth up to $4,000 to travel anywhere in the world on a floral-industry-related vacation.

Pickner has been named South Dakota’s Florist of the Year three times and earned Chamberlain’s Business Person of the Year once. She and husband Raymond have three daughters. They are Chelsea, 24; Logan, 18; and Maggy, 11.

She said Wednesday was one of the highlights of her career. Two years ago, she was inducted into the American Institute of Floral Designers and the Professional Floral Communicators-International.

“That’s the highest honor a florist can receive,” Pickner said.

She bought her floral store “pretty much not knowing anything” about the business.

“I had an artistic flair,” she said. “I love to draw and paint, so I thought the flower world encompasses that.”