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I have attended so many Calscapes that I have lost count. This is our annual conference for Interior Plantscapers, and I look forward to it every year. Since I have been in the business so long, I have made numerous friends, and look forward to connecting with many of them during this 3 day event. I also serve on the board of PIA who hosts the event, so I normally have a few tasks to do to support the industry as a whole. This year I served as proctor for the National Certification Exam given by PLANET, also acted as facilitator for the round table luncheon, and received an award for a project I submitted for PIA Cares, of which I oversee as the chair person.
This year is different though, because for the first time I have one of my employees participating with me for the entire conference. Miko was one of my students last year at OCC and I knew that having her attend Calscape would open up a world of possibilities to her, and with her creative mind, the sky was the limit as to where she could take the information that would be made available to her through the seminars, workshops and trade-show.
So often when we have done something year in and year out, we forget the magic, and to see Calscape through her eyes was comparable to taking your child to Disneyland for the first time. She was expectant, nervous, excited, and tired all at once. She got to meet some of my dearest friends, and people who have been in this industry for many years. Though Miko is quiet, I could almost hear the wheels in her head turning as creative ideas were presented to her she had never even pondered before. It is always much more fun to walk a trade-show with someone else, as it give you two sets of eyes to see all the new products the vendors have out, and to connect and mingle with your colleagues.
When the trade-show closes on Friday evening you have opportunity to purchase plants and materials at very affordable prices. Miko’s head was spinning as I raced from vendor to vendor writing checks, and having her gather up items to load up in the truck. By the time Friday night came we were grateful to have a quiet dinner with close friends and reflect on all we had been exposed in a short three day period of time.
Next year the venue moves to the Flamingo at Las Vegas I better start preparing Miko now.
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With only 4 months of interior plantscaping experience on my back, my boss asks me if I want to accompany her to Calscape Expo in beautiful Palm Springs. I am honored of course, 3 days in Palm Springs sipping margaritas by the pool-side, getting massaged and spa treatment while learning about the wonders of plants. “Heck yeah, I want to go!” But then as time progresses and we near the date of the expo reality sets in when Deb goes over the schedule with me. First, we cram our days prior with double plant maintenance that we won’t be able to do once we are gone, Deb throws in a few extra jobs just for fun (actually to help off-set our being gone for 3 days) and we drive up Tuesday evening arriving at the hotel at 1am. 2am…wheels still turning…3am…4am…5am…7am…can’t sleep…8am…time to get up! It’s here, the largest interiorscape expo with seminars, work shops and a trade show all together in the comfort of your hotel. I’m excited, nervous, but most of all tired.
First thing Wednesday morning, I am thrown into an interior plantscaper’s dream of “learn hows” and “what’s new.” I’m overwhelmed, but luckily my boss seems to know just about every other person there. Deb’s been doing this for over 25 years and seems to have met only the nicest people in the industry. I am pleased when I actually do recognize a few faces, I start of feel more at home. My initial reaction to uncomfortable social situations is usually to flee, but in general everyone is so nice, friendly and in love with what they do, I feel inspired and hopeful. “Have I finally found my niche in this world?” Cautiously, I begin to feel the pull of P.I.A. Interior Plantscapers united, work hard, labor, dirt under my finger nails, tool belts, tennis shoes, hauling watering cans, dusting plants, creating, designing, beautifying space.
The seminars are engaging and the presenters inspire me. A digital imaging class I take will make sales much easier. But the design inspires me the most. Mental note: “Succulents are in!!! (YES!) Lime-green hanging Sedum mixed with a rosette formed Agave and the deep black spikes of Black Mondo Grass, now that’s a statement!” Sculpture with mixed greens, I’m hungry for more. Living, changing art, nature is my palette and your garden is my canvas. I have the urge to get up and re-do that awful pot in the foyer of our hotel, seriously what were they thinking, an 8″ Spathiphyllum in a 18″ low bowl, (it makes me cringe). I’m thinking of our clients and making a mental list of the ones that I think would be open to living art in their home or office.
The Interior Plantscaping business is not easy, but what’s better than being able to make peoples environments beautiful and love what you do. I love to create, I love people, I love plants, I love my company and I love my surroundings. I’m excited about what we do, how we do it, and proud to be a part of this industry. Calscape was a hit, it certainly wasn’t the spa-treatment I thought it was going to be, but it actually turned out much better because I was inspired, bonded with old and new friends, learned about new technology and now I’m aching for more!