Huffpost Black Voices
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Kathleen Hyppolite Headshot

Chasing Beauty for a Living

Posted: Updated:

During a heart-to-heart with my mom several months back, she said children often reveal who they are and what they will be and it is up to parents to listen and remember. I distinctly recall my declaration, at the tender, cheeky age of eight, to be a businesswoman and own KLH International, a conglomerate that would include restaurants all over the world, a Dunkin' Donuts franchise (because I was obsessed with donut holes and thought what better way to guarantee a personal and endless supply) and an entertainment division with me working as a part-time comedienne (cheeky and ambitious). Clearly, my path led me to neither of these careers but my mother's point was to remind me of my entrepreneurial spirit and my intent to have my own company even at a young age. Subsequently, I professed my desire to be a teacher, an artist, a doctor, a district attorney. Then after university, I embarked on a career in special events, where I remained for many years. But starting my own business was never very far from my thoughts.

You can say that I leap first, look later. I believe that you need some of that impulse, fearlessness and confidence as an entrepreneur. And like the '86 Mets and the Riley-era Knicks, you have to have heart and Lord knows, I've got tons. But for floral design you also need an eye and a hand. I'll explain what I mean...

I was born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens and Brooklyn and moved back to Brooklyn about ten years ago. I haven't spent years on a farm, I never worked in a flower shop and I haven't painted or drawn a picture since high school. What I know about flowers and events is what I learned in my many years as a planner and producer. What I know about aesthetic and style I gleaned over my years as a lover of art, fashion, nature, food, travel, entertaining and design. I've often said that I chase beauty for a living and by living, I mean not only work but also the experience of life as a whole. I can spend hours walking through Musee d'Orsay, not looking just at the art but the museum building itself. I love the craftsmanship and elegance of a well-made garment or shoe. I take great joy in a thoughtfully prepared meal where you taste every single ingredient. I live for good paper and believe in penmanship and the handwritten letter. I continually marvel at nature, its hopefulness and its inability to be suppressed -- plants and flowers that break through cracks in sidewalks make me smile. So when I decided to become a floral designer and start my own company, it felt more than right.

Flowers leave me in awe constantly -- the variety, the colors, the textures, the shapes -- and I feel privileged to work with them. I know that I'm not curing cancer but I do believe that flowers allow me to express myself in a way that is very unique to me. Sometimes, I get affirmation to that point. This spring, I designed flowers for an event and three very well-regarded wedding industry professionals made a point of seeking me out to compliment me on my work. They were very gracious and I was beyond flattered but what one of them said really stuck. This person told me that I have an eye and a hand. To paraphrase, they said many people pick beautiful flowers for a design. But not many people can take a flower, elevate it and create arrangements where you know that each flower was placed with careful thought, a hand. To that end, I know that it is my eye and my point of view that creates each design and it is my hand that produces it. With every single design, I seek to capture each element's distinct charm, grace, individuality and beauty. Their possibilities seem endless and I'm excited to learn as much I can, to do as much as I can. That is my company's raison d'être -- it's what motivates me to create and it fuels my strong drive to succeed in this very competitive business. I know kat flower is well on its way...

Around the Web

Mixed Signals: The Progress of Black Entrepreneurship - Business ...

The Soul of Small Business | Slideshow | Entrepreneur.com