Owner, Koko Floral Design
Owner, Koko Floral Design
When art and horticulture blend gracefully and in unison, floral design is born.
Growing up in the Shizioka Province in Japan, a short distance from Mount Fuji, Kayoko “Koko” Toomre nurtured her twin loves for science and beauty. She trained in a floral shop, studied color design, and earned a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology.
With a deep appreciation for gardening and interior design, Koko traveled the world, studying different horticulture techniques. Captivated by classical European floral design, she earned an advanced design degree from the Constance Spry Flower School in London, England - receiving training by the Royal family’s floral designer. She earned an additional degree from the Boerma Institute of Floral Design School in Amsterdam, Holland.
Koko then continued her journey west to work in the heart of New York City alongside Miho Kosuda, one of the most renowned NYC florists. She worked closely with Vogue Magazine alongside fashion legends like Anna Wintour, designing elegant 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. 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, concentrating on weddings and other special events.
Her personal design style is informed by Japanese values of grace and natural beauty melded with European colors and texture.
“I traveled often, all over the world, to perfect my craft. I want the personality of each client to shine through my work,” Koko said.
In addition to being an entrepreneur and artist, she is the proud mom of two boys.
When private events all but stopped due to the pandemic, Koko’s business came to an abrupt halt. She discovered the EMG Grant opportunity from her husband, who had stumbled across an article. Both he and a fellow female colleague and business owner encouraged her to apply.
Koko is using the grant to connect with audiences and students through digital platforms, and to document her work through photography and videography.
“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,” Koko said.
She continues to be amazed by WDBC’s programs and endless learning opportunities.
“There are business barriers you face as a woman, especially as a woman that isn't from America. You have to be able to pivot, gracefully, and the EMG grant helped me do this,” she said. “The WBDC principle of women helping other women is really inspiring.”