Artist Spotlight: Paper Flower Powerhouse
LISTEN TO PAPER TALK - EPISODE 19: Paper Flower Powerhouse with Eileen Lim
Eileen Lim of Miss Petal and Bloom has been on the paper flower scene for more than 5 years and she has truly made a stamp in our paper flower community. Her Instagram feed is filled to the brim with bright and colourful blooms and high-end collaborations with designers (like Ferragama, Coach, and Olivia Burton) and stores (like Mamonde and Keds). It’s no surprise that her recognizable style is also a true reflection of her bubbly and friendly persona. She works out of her home studio in Singapore and regularly teaches workshops. Now, she’s on Teachable as well, offering paper flower online courses. We always look forward to viewing her Monday Bloom Crush on her Instagram Stories where she shares posts of other artists that inspire her! We love paper florists who support each other!
Listen to her talk to us about the paper flower community in Singapore, how she found her brand and style, and her upcoming collaboration with The Body Shop.
First, let’s get to know Eileen:
1. Who is Eileen Lim?
Hi, I’m Eileen and I’m just a girl who loves crafting and making pretty things in my home country - sunny little Singapore.
2. How did you get started making paper flowers?
The quick answer - Instagram!
I’ve always loved crafting and while exploring flowers on Instagram, I somehow chanced upon the amazing crepe paper blooms by Margie Keates. Needless to say, I fell in love instantly. I did my research, sourced for Italian crepe, and started experimenting on my own as a side hobby.
At that point in my life, I was working in the education team at a local museum. It was great working with students and being in that arts scene, but it wasn’t as fulfilling as I would have liked it to be - my fingers were still itching to craft and create. So, I took that leap of faith and left my job to start Miss Petal & Bloom.
I have to add, Margie was a big reason why I decided to take that leap of faith, I had reached out to her asking if she could spare any advice, and she replied with so many helpful tips and such kind words that her generosity blew me away. I don’t think I would have started my paper flower journey without her and I really think she’s such an inspiration and role model!
3. Tell us about your business, Miss Petal & Bloom.
MP&B is really simply about making pretty paper flowers and spreading the joy of crafting. I make every bloom to order, so usually I’ll have customers reach out with their ideas and requests and I’ll do my best to create something beautiful and lasting for them. I also enjoy teaching - it is so fulfilling to witness someone learning a new skill and unlock that sense of pride within themselves.
4. How would you define the style of your flowers? How did you find your style?
I like to see my flowers as vibrant, happy, and whimsical. My style is a reflection of my personality and aesthetic preferences - I’m just naturally drawn to bright colours and cute fluffy things. I’m not so keen on achieving botanical accuracy, I simply want my blooms to be pretty, haha. It definitely took a lot of time and experiments to solidify my style though.
5. How did you find your brand? How has your brand and style evolved to what it is today?
Honestly, when I first started out, I had no experience building a business so I did not really think too much about branding. I just knew I wanted to stay true to who I am and I wanted my flowers to reflect that. My brand name “Miss Petal & Bloom” was a random thought I had and it stuck because I felt like it sounded whimsical and cute and had a nice ring to it. Of course, after 3+ years I’m more aware of the importance of branding and I do try to be consistent in my artistic style and how I present my flowers - I always want my blooms to have a cheerful and vibrant feel to them.
6. How have you made yourself stand out in the crowd of other paper florists?
Oh this is such a crucial question and I think one of the more important questions for any new paper florist starting out. For me, this links back to my style - I really want my blooms to look unique and reflect my personality. I feel thats one of the biggest compliments you can get as an artist, when someone instantly recognizes your bloom. Hence, I was careful to avoid watching too many tutorials and reading too much paper floristry books (I’ve bought so many books though, because I’m such big fans of those artists! I however avoid reading them because I fear I might subconsciously copy someone else’s stylistic choices).
I think that is very important to me - having a unique artistic voice. And I do hope that makes me stand out from other paper florists? I’m not sure how successful I am, haha, but I am happy to get occasional positive feedback from the online community!
7. What are some of the challenges you've faced in your business and/or art?
Oh I think the biggest challenge is dealing with my own insecurities - my business is my biggest pride and joy (it’s like my baby) but also my biggest insecurity at the same time. In Singapore, crafting is not exactly a career choice that highly regarded by the general public - in fact, I would say a great deal of Singaporeans still look down on freelance artists/ crafters, there’s that misconception that freelancers have lots of “free time” when in fact, we might be working as hard, if not harder, than most people with regular 9-5 jobs.
Honestly, I think the people in my country are so accustomed to measuring success by the size of your pay-check, hence I wasn’t taken very seriously when I first launched my business. Till this day, I struggle sometimes with being steadfast in knowing my own value and worth as a small craft business owner, and such insecurities and public perception inevitably trickles down to things like how I price my items, how I price my time, etc.
I’m actually really glad I got to spend 4 years in the U.S. when I was in university - that really opened my eyes to how amazing the crafting culture was there and how supportive and non- judgemental the general public was towards crafters and artists. It truly inspired me and showed me that it was possible to be a full-time crafter and creative.
Now that I’m more established than I was when I first started, I do feel more confident and comfortable with my career choice. I’ve accepted that not everyone will accept, understand, or support my business, and at the end of the day, I don’t need everyone’s validation, and it’s up to me to define what success means to me.
8. What advice would you give to a paper florist who is starting out today? And one that is about to give up?
Oh there is so much advice I could share, but I think one big thing I’ve learnt is that you have to be true to yourself. If you’re just starting out, don’t rush into it, give yourself time to develop your artistic voice, that will help you stand out from the rest! Be patient, you’re not going to grow your
following overnight, you’re not going to get all the orders overnight - it takes time. Have patience and faith in your skills and your creative voice.
If you’re feeling tired, jaded, and about to give up, give yourself a break! Try a different craft, do something outside the box, pick up a new skill in a different medium - this always helps to remind me that there is such great joy in making art - I don’t think I will ever tire of that sense of fulfilment and achievement that comes from creating something truly and uniquely yours. Even if you’re frustrated with the business end, just doing something new might be refreshing and reinvigorating, and remind you of the true purpose of your craft business.
9. Do you have any tips that could be helpful to other Paper Florists?
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS. Haha. This was something Margie shared with me in her first email to me, and I’ve kept it close to my heart all these years. You shouldn’t compare your first step to someone’s 100th step, everyone is on a different path, it’s not a race!
10. Is there anything else you'd like to share with the listeners?
I can be a pretty shy person and I’m easily intimidated when I meet people face to face! Haha which means I can be pretty awkward, especially if its a big group setting, and I’m usually not the one who takes initiative to meet people. So if you’d like to chat with me or fan-girl with me over other amazing paper florists (like Jessie and Quynh and Priscilla), or if you’re ever visiting Singapore, please don’t hesitate to reach out and say hello! I promise I’m not as shy or awkward once we get to know each other.