Owner, Koko Floral Design
Owner, Koko Floral Design
When art, horticulture and style blend together gracefully and in unison, floral design is born… and these are the principles that Kayoko Toomre’s business is founded upon. Kayoko, better known as Koko, grew up in Japan in the Shizioka Province, a short distance from Mount Fuji. Working in a flower shop in Japan, Koko realized from a young age that she had a passion for both the art and science of horticulture. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and also studied and received a degree in color design.
With a deep appreciation for gardening and interior design, Koko decided to expand her knowledge as a floral designer and travel the world learning new techniques and trends in her field. Captivated by classical European floral design, she attended and received an advanced design degree from the Constance Spry Flower School in London, England, trained by the designer who created the floral arrangements for the Royal family. She received an additional degree from the Boerma Institute of Floral Design School in Amsterdam, Holland as well.
After this, Koko continued her journey west to work in the heart of New York City alongside Miho Kosuda, a florist extraordinaire and one of the most renowned NYC florists. She worked closely with Vogue Magazine, alongside fashion legends like Anna Wintour, designing elegant floral arrangements for personal and professional events.
In NYC, she absorbed the operations of the flower market and developed more unique techniques to perfect her craft, continuously focused on delivering the best quality flowers and service to her clients. After meeting her husband, a Biology professor at Yale University in New Haven, the couple moved to Guilford where Koko created her own floral design studio specializing in CT wedding floral design and other special events.
“I traveled often, all over the world, to perfect my craft. I want the personality of each client to shine through my work, I want to reflect the unique character of each client through the art and beauty of floral design. Koko is not your average florist, as she has worked tirelessly with leaders in the field to truly create unique and memorable designs. With constantly emerging techniques and styles, Koko seeks to hand craft each floral design that align with the style that best compliment the location and personality of the client. Her personal flower design style is underpinned by Japanese values of grace and natural beauty melded with European colors and texture, with design that are innovative, artistic and unique.
She is most proud of her consistent and constant efforts to improve her art for her clients with better quality flowers, in addition to being the proud mother to two young boys. She is also proud of her Japanese heritage and her ability to overcome the challenges of being a foreigner and growing a successful business without having English as a first language.
With the significant decrease in private events due to the pandemic, Koko’s business came to an abrupt halt. Luckily, she discovered the EMG Grant opportunity from her husband, who had stumbled across an article showcasing the grant, and from a fellow female business owner in the same events industry. Both encouraged her to apply.
With a desire to document her work through photography and videography, in hopes to showcase her design online and with a platform to reach people virtually, Koko applied for the grant to convey her work in an online capacity and broaden her audience. “I thought maybe, with the right equipment, I could even connect to Japan with online classes from a high end florist with high end presentation.”