Let’s talk about competing.  I have entered several competitions. Some I have won and some I have not; however, in my opinion, I have always emerged a winner.

First of all, competition always makes me grow as a designer. It proves to me that I’m able to think on my feet and rise to the challenge. One of my favourite pieces was a centrepiece for a table for two, titled “Under the Sea,” which I had to make in Brazil at the Gateway to the Americas Cup. It did not win, but I had so much fun creating it and executing it. Having gone through the process and improving as a designer, I could then see why that piece did not win. This experience and knowledge made me better. And, at the next Gateway to the Americas Cup, I took home the Sunshine trophy for my tablescape.

Additionally, through competitions, I’ve met so many amazing people who I can now call friends. These are people I would not have met had I not challenged myself by entering design competitions. I would go as far to say that I would not have been able to start the Maple Leaf Cup if it weren’t for putting myself out there and meeting people.

Maple Leaf Cup Design

Don’t just take my word for it, though! Here are some comments from past winners of the Maple Leaf Cup:

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Deniss Barahona, Grower Direct, Edmonton, Albert (Inaugural Winner)

“Competing is a nice way of getting me out of my comfort zone. It challenges me to improve my skills with a whole lot of adrenaline rush that only a competition can give.”

Lea Romanowski, AIFD, CAFA, Designing on the Edge, Calgary, Alberta (2017 Winner)

“It tests your ability and knowledge when you are under pressure, which I think is very important to hone that skill, as it helps me perform better on the job. Competing puts you on a level playing field and makes you rise to do your very best work, and you learn from everyone around you.”

You may think, “I don’t have time” or “I wish there was something in my neck of the woods.” Remember, this is an investment in you as a designer. If it really is not in the cards, then perhaps you could have a floral friend pick out a category for you to create on the spot and you could do the same for them. Have some fun! That is why we got into this amazing industry—to flex our creative muscles! Don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You will be surprised at what you can achieve when you give yourself a shove.

Heather de Kok
Heather de Kok AAF, AIFD, PFCI is the owner of Heather de Kok Floral Design and Grower Direct in Edmonton, AB. She also founded The Maple Leaf Cup.
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