Expert Panel


Susan McLeary

Susan is a floral designer, artist and instructor who creates unusual, boundary-pushing floral art including elaborate headpieces, sprawling bouquets, and her signature succulent jewelry. Her soulful, seasonally-inspired creations and floral wearables have been described as exquisite living artwork.

Susan has trained with some of the country’s leading floral designers, and has developed her own distinctive style of floral design. Considered one of the country’s top designers of floral wearables and living jewelry, Susan received one gold and three silver medals and placed second overall in the 2014 Fusion Flowers International Designer of the Year competition.

A passionate teacher, Susan offers private design instruction for professional florists in her studio and through destination workshops.

Susan’s work has been featured on the cover of Fusion Flowers Magazine and in leading industry publications and websites including Modern Wedding Flowers, Style Me Pretty and The Knot.  Susan is a member of Chapel Designers and Slow Flowers.  A frequent featured designer on Etsy, her designs and living jewelry has been praised for its originality, sustainability and style.


Laetitia Mayor

When Laetitia was a child, she was pretty good at math. So she became an engineer. But after 10 years as a project manager, she realized that she was bored with solving equations and needed more beauty in her life. She decided to enroll in the floral design school of Paris and created the first french blog dedicated to floral art called Florésie in 2010. Now a mother, Laetitia has turned her blog into a design studio serving brides and grooms in France, is the floral editor for the journal Terre & Nature, teaches floral art when she has the time, and grows her own flowers in a secret garden situated somewhere in the Champagne countryside.

Elisabeth Zemetis


Elisabeth Zemetis

Elisabeth started her floral business, Blush, in 2006 after earning a Bachelors degree in Studio Art. Located on the shoreline of Connecticut she works exclusively on wedding and event floral design. Elisabeth’s floral designs highlight organically styled, lush flowers with distinctive textural components. Working in the wedding and event industry pushes her to continue to grow with the trends and stay on her toes! She can’t imagine her life without flowers which she believes to be the most uplifting artistic medium. Each stem is completely unique making every floral creation different and fresh. Elisabeth lives a bike ride away from her little studio with her husband Marco (who frequently does the heavy lifting at events!), son Bodhi and dog Holly. When she’s not in the studio she loves tending her veggie garden, cooking for friends and being outdoors with her family.

Nick Priestly
Mood Flowers

After gaining a degree in International Business & Modern Languages and then pursuing a career in London’s financial district for five years, Nick retrained as a florist in 2003.

Today, his company Mood Flowers operates from an 1,800 square foot design studio in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. As well as designing over 200 weddings and events a year, Nick and his design team are the in-house florist for the majority of the West of Scotland’s 5 star hotels. Nick also teaches floristry to amateur and professional florists at the Mood Flowers School and many of his Career Course students have gone on to launch their own businesses.

His work has taken him around the world writing articles for various publications about the flower industry in New York, Stockholm, Paris and Hong Kong. His work is often featured in the UK press and he has demonstrated at consumer and trade events as well as on TV and radio. In 2014 he traveled to New York to attend the 3 day conference and become a Chapel Designer.

Jennie Love
Love ‘n Fresh Flowers

Owner of Love ‘n Fresh Flowers in Philadelphia, Jennie Love is a leading farmer florist who has helped propel the local flower movement forward to where it is today. Jennie was selected by Martha Stewart Weddings magazine as one of the Top 62 Floral Designers in the nation in 2015 and has been featured in many other prestigious publications, such as the New York Times, for her farm-to-centerpiece efforts. Her distinctively lush and textural floral designs have been used in hundreds of weddings as well as for numerous photo shoots, magazines, style blogs, and books. Jennie has led many workshops throughout her career, including the sold-out Seasonal Bouquet Project series and regular design classes for Longwood Gardens. Jennie is Vice President of the national Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.

Alicia Schwede
Bella Fiori
Flirty Fleurs

Alicia Schwede became infatuated with flowers at a young age, while working with
her grandmother in the rose garden. Her career in floral design started with a few classes in 1998 and evolved into opening Bella Fiori in Denver, Colorado in 2003. As of 2013, she and her husband relocated to the beautiful state of Washington where Alicia continues to explore her love of flowers & design with a whole new plethora of flower varieties at her fingertips. Next on the horizon is the planning of an English Garden in the middle of a Washington Forest.

Alicia is also the founder of the floral designer blog, Flirty Fleurs, which launched in May 2010. Plus, she is the author of the book Bella Bouquets, released in 2011. Bella Bouquets showcases vibrant, full-color photographs of over 100 stylish bouquets.

Clare Day
Clare Day Flowers 

Clare Day is a floral designer, master gardener and teacher whose work is deeply inspired by the lush, temperate landscape surrounding her farm in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has been featured in the Lane, Darling Magazine, OnceWed and Wedding Sparrow. Clare leads gardening and floral design classes from her home and studio at Red Damsel Farm, and in 2013 led a sold-out floral design tour to New York. With an extensive background in education, she has also guided other brands in advancing their digital programs, most recently helping to design and launch Wedding Styling 101, a project of OnceWed and Joy Thigpen.  In 2016, Clare will be launching Garden to Vase, a digital course in cultivating cut flowers.

Holly Chapple
Holly Chapple Flowers

Holly started her home based wedding and event floral design studio 24 years ago. Being a home based event designer allowed Holly the opportunity to stay at home and raise her 7 children. In August of 2011 her husband Evan joined the company offering lighting, drapes and event design support. Evan now develops many the props Holly designs. The HHC studio services weddings and special events in the Washington DC area, as well as destination weddings.  In 2010 Holly founded the Chapel Designers, a collective with members/designers all over the world. The Chapel Designer organization has received international recognition for its efforts to support and educate designers who service weddings and special events. Chapel Designer workshops and conferences are held throughout the year in several countries and across the United States. Holly has shared her expertise through these conferences in Russia, Australia, London, New York City, California and several other USA cities. Holly, along with several of the Chapel Designers, designed the flowers for The Knot Dream Wedding in 2014 at the Biltmore Estate. In 2015 Holly Chapple was chosen as a Martha Stewart top wedding floral designer. In addition her work can be seen in numerous print and online publications. On July 30th 2015, Holly and Evan purchased a 25 acre farm that they named Hope. Hope Flower Farm is a flower art farm and Bed & Breakfast. Designers and educators from around the world will be gathering at Hope Flower Farm for educational workshops and art installations. Hope Farm is also available for weddings, special events and photo shoots.


Joanna Rodwell
Jo Flowers

Jo has an ethereal romantic approach to her floral designs, unlike the traditional style in which she was trained. She instead reverted back to her Grandparents’ quintessential English country gardens, where she spent much of her childhood, for her inspiration. Jo started her floral design business, Jo Flowers, in 2012. In 2013 Jo was recognised by Harper’s Bazaar in the top ten list of Best British Florists. Jo uses a mix of her homegrown, locally sourced and foraged blooms and foliage along with British and Dutch grown flowers for the very best selection to create her designs.


Emily Avenson

Emily is a farmer-florist, outdoor enthusiast, and plant-dyed silk ribbon maker, the creative catalyst behind Fleuropean. Born and raised in urban California, Emily turned to nature as a way of growing new roots after finding herself settled in rural Belgium. Working the ground and getting her hands dirty, Emily found a friend in Mother Nature. What started out as casual courtship soon grew into a full-blown love affair, and Emily found herself sowing and growing a carefully curated color palette of blooms.

Emily prides herself on her naturally romantic garden-style arrangements. Constantly experimenting with new textures and color combinations, each new season brings fresh adventures deeper into the world of floral art. Somewhere along this journey, Emily started a grass-roots feel-good flower movement that would become known as The Lonely Bouquet. It is this combination of creative outlets that keeps Emily growing both personally and professionally.


Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD

Hitomi’s biggest pleasure in life is, ‘SHARING EVERYTHING I KNOW’!!

Hitomi Gilliam AIFD is a Japanese Canadian floral designer, keynote lecturer, demonstrator, educator and a consultant in all aspects of the Art and Business of Floral Design. She is the Creative Director for DESIGN358 (2008). She has guest-designed throughout North America, England, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, Bermuda, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Colombia.

She owned and operated Satsuki’s Florist in Mission, British Columbia for 28 years. And established an Event & Education business, DESIGN358 8 years ago. Hitomi has collaborated with Tomas De Bruyne from Belgium to create a comprehensive ‘European Master Certification’ Program. EMC cycle 3 is underway with the final stage, PART III ‘Advanced’ scheduled for September/October 2016 in 2 languages.

Awards include: 1987 Gold Medallist – Great American Design Competition – North American Championship (Las Vegas) / 1998 Became the 5th recipient of the coveted AIFD ‘Design Influence’ Award in Boston – awarded to individuals who have made a significant impact and influence with their style / 2006 Recipient of American Horticultural Society’s ‘Frances Jones Poeltker Award’ bestowed on a person who has made significant contributions to the appreciation of creative floral designs inpublications, on the platform and to the public / 2008 Recipient of Gold Honors, for by invitation only ‘Windows to the World’ International Floral Exhibit at Singapore Garden Festival, and the winner of ‘Best of Show’ / 2009 Recipient of lifetime Honorary Membership to Garden Club of America (GCA)

Publication: 2013 ‘Fresh Look at JUDGING’ co-authored with Kathy Whalen AIFD, winner of 3 Ben Franklin book award for excellence in textbook/reference category.

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