KIANA UNDERWOOD/TULIPINA: Setting Fear Aside to Embrace Ambition and Find That Spark of Creative Genius

Floral artist Kiana Underwood is the celebrated owner of Tulipina an internationally renowned floral design studio that creates bespoke experiences for luxury weddings throughout the world. She has been named one of the top wedding floral designers in the US and is the most followed floral designer on Instagram. She is the author of Color Me Floral and the host of sold-out international workshops. She has also been featured in many magazines, and her work is always in demand.

Kiana and I talk about the importance of bravery and pushing past fear to create what you desire. Her life and her work is an example of how she has pushed passed this fear to create the art and life that she wants. She shares her story of moving to the US and how freeing her new school experience was. We get to learn how flowers were always part of her life and culture, but it took bravery, tenacity, and out-of-the box thinking to make floral art her business and life’s work.

Show Highlights:

  • [00:23] Andy discovers that Kiana and her husband Nate recently moved to a small farm in the Hudson Valley area.
  • [01:23] Kiana explains how the beauty of nature makes up for being so far away from the city.
  • [01:40] Kiana shares how her grandfather had a beautiful garden, and her mother always had fresh cut flowers in the house.
  • [04:01] She was searching for something, and her husband suggested that flower arranging could be a business and an outlet for her.
  • [05:48] Kiana shares some personal history about how she left Iran in the 1990s and came to the US when she was a sophomore in high school.
  • [06:50] Her school experience in the US was amazing. She was struggling in Iran, but when she came here she realized that teachers cared about her, and it helped her flourish.
  • [08:29] She loved experiencing cultural diversity and being accepted which gave her strength and self-confidence.
  • [09:33] There are so many amazing florists in San Francisco and Kiana was somewhat new to the industry. It was a little bit scary.
  • [12:20] Kiana shares how important it is to push past the fear and take a chance. Whether it’s coming to the US, moving across the country to a farm, or starting a fledgling floral arrangement business.
  • [12:56] Challenge number one was navigating the San Francisco flower markets. It took a while for Kiana to be known before people were helpful.
  • [14:08] It took two or three years of putting her work with Tulipina on Instagram and the Internet before her work started getting the respect it deserved.
  • [15:32] During these experimental years, she had to learn the names of the flowers as she was exploring and finding her own style.
  • [16:14] She also got the cold shoulder from the industry once she started being well-known on social media.
  • [16:53] Each week, she would go to the flower market and explore and see what she could create, because that is what gave her happiness.
  • [17:25] Kiana would make arrangements and put them online and interest slowly began to grow.
  • [18:29] Kiana used amazing photography to promote herself for free on Instagram.
  • [19:23] She also made daring design decisions with color and flower types.
  • [21:19] Kiana creates what looks good, she thinks of her work as a painting.
  • [22:35] She is moved by music in a way that could make her cry. This drives her creativity.
  • [24:24] She brings art to events. She doesn’t want to be a mass production florist.
  • [25:03] Because the art is so individual she only takes on a limited number of weddings a year.
  • [25:37] Kiana shares her process.
  • [26:44] Kiana shares the story of one of her favorite brides who also loved color, had a budget and was willing to step outside of the box and do something special.
  • [28:48] Kiana shares one of the craziest wedding experiences she had where there was a generational design clash between the bride and the mother of the bride.
  • [34:43] Kiana wants to conduct two or three amazing workshops a year. Her first one this year was in Rome, and it sold out. She wants to mostly concentrate on her destination weddings.
  • [36:29] Kiana shares another experience where she pushed past her fear and had her first international workshop in Russia.
  • [40:19] Kiana’s husband has started working with the business full-time which has really helped balance business and family time.
  • [42:26] Currently they are into their five-year plan of building out their property in New York. Kiana is also going to continue to work on amazing events.

This episode is sponsored by Kushner Entertainment www.kushnerentertainment.com.

LINKS & RESOURCES

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Color Me Floral

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