Florist helping cancer survivors bloom in bravely

Thursday, October 24th, 2019 21:22 |

Kenya Flower Festival has come up with Glam Your Floral Bra campaign, an online contest aimed at designing and decorating bras using flowers, as ROSEMARY KIMUNYA, the face behind the festival reveals

Rosemary Kimunya walks in at around 2:30 pm, a little later than our scheduled interview. However, her white floral dress reflects across the room and I couldn’t help, but asked: “Must be the flower effect. “She quickly gives a wide smile and says, “It was not planned at all.” 

She is a florist and founder of the Kenya Flower Festival. The country is set to hold it’s first ever flower festival later this month under the theme, Bloom in Bravely.

There is a large number of people in Kenya who are flower enthusiasts including florists, online and offline flower vendors, gifts companies, event planners, interior and landscaping professionals as well as home flowers, horticulture flower farms and gardening lovers. 

“In light of this, I identified an opportunity to celebrate Kenyan flowers through the Kenyan Flower Festival, a social platform that brings together local flower enthusiasts, flower farmers, florists, event planners, home gardeners, landscapers, and all things flowers in a fun way to promote a culture of appreciating flowers,” she says.

Message of hope

And this month being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the planners have created an online contest on bra designing and decorating using flowers under the campaign dubbed, Glam Your Floral Bra. The rule is to use only flowers and environmentally-friendly materials to create a bra.

“We are losing many people to the disease. So for us, giving flowers to the sick is one among the many uses of flowers to express care and send a message of hope. We have also partnered with MP Shah hospital to offer free breast examination during the event. Florists will showcase their art using flowers mostly in the theme of breast cancer,” Rosemary explains.

The winners of different categories will receive trophies. The best floral designer of the day will also get a holiday ticket for two in Watamu with the African Resort International Hotel.

“For us the contest is just our small way of showing support to cancer patients. We have some flower farms who have donated flowers that will go to some cancer wards to bring smile on the patients’ faces. These farms include: Sian Roses, Tambuzi Roses, Manda Orchids, Mzurrie Flowers, Waridi Lines, Red Land Roses, AAA Roses, Bellissima among other growers,” she adds.

The motivation

The festival further offers an opportunity to celebrate Kenyan flower enthusiasts and inculcate a culture of using fresh cut and garden flowers in our homes, offices, and all spaces of life.

This will not only ensure a ready market, but will also instill a Kenyan culture of using flowers, and exchanging them with people to cheer them up, show empathy, love, happiness and gratitude in our day-to-day lives.

Rosemary, a flower enthusiast grew up in Limuru where flower farming was and is still huge. Her mother had a flower garden where she used to grow different kinds of flowers. She enjoyed the beauty of it. “My mum used to pluck flowers daily and organise them in a vase,” she says. 

However, despite being surrounded by flowers and gardens, her dad wanted her to pursue a pharmaceutical career, but she opted to focus on media studies at Daystar University in 2011. 

Surprisingly during orientation, she jumped ship and decided to focus on Public Relation/ marketing, something that she enjoyed. “During this period, I joined my cousin’s company where we organised most of the events between 2010 and 2011. I arranged beach parties, album launch parties just to mention a few,” she adds.

In 2015, she joined Paul Tergat’s events management team that held one of the biggest sports awards  in Kenya, Safaricom Sports Personality Of The Year (SOYA) Awards. 

In pursuit of greener pastures, she later joined a publishing company, involved in formal workshops. “I was not at my best as I felt as if I was not using my skills the right way,” she explains

 Miraculously, something came up in January 2019, which she describes as a unique event that changed her life.  “I got a chance to interact with florists as they shared their challenges in their field,” she says. During this interaction, she says they called her bold, which gave her the courage to fully venture into the flower business. 

 “Kenya’s economy largely relies on the agriculture sector. The horticulture sub-sector is one of the top foreign exchange earners for the country generating approximately Sh103 billions (USD1 billion) annually ,” she says, adding that it is estimated that in Kenya, over 500,000 people, including over 100,000 flower farm employees, depend on the floriculture industry, which has an impact on over two million livelihoods. 

The main cut flowers grown in Kenya are roses, carnations, and Alstromeria. Other flowers cultivated include Gypsophilla, Lilies Eryngiums, arabicum, hypericum and statice. 

 Though she is at the forefront of promoting the flower business in the country, Rosemary says the biggest challenge is that local flower market is too scarce, which makes the flowers too expensive. “We need to create an affordable and accessible market,” she says.

More on Lifestyle