Interview by Menule
“Flowers never fail to bring happiness and calmness to people, and I think we can all use more of that in our lives. So I want to bring flowers to more people… flowers in all forms.” Vikhozonu Natso from Nagalandquips with excitement and hope as we sit down to chat about her newly launched brand ‘Soulspeaksbloom’ – a hobby venture, through which she hopes to revive the age-old craft of making artificial flowers – and bring these handcrafted blooms from the DIY table to your living rooms!
Just like how a fresh flower can gladden your heart with its fragrance, Soulspeaksbloom’s handcrafted blooms have this unique power to fill you up with a nostalgic whiff of childhood memories and pure joy – of making your very first flower with colored crepe papers during SUPW classes in school! In an age where the art of artificial flower-making is almost forgotten, Vikhozonu Natso from Nagaland – a lover of crafts and DIY is bringing this familiar, yet almost-forgotten hobby back to trend. Over a chat, Vikhozonu talks about Soulspeaksbloom, and why she feels paper flowers are uniquely special.
Vikhozonu Natso from Nagaland – Founder of ‘Soulspeaksbloom’
Menule: Hello Vikhozonu, welcome to R&L! Please introduce yourself.
Vikhozonu: My name is Vikhozonu Natso. I am an amateur paper florist. I have done my B.Com from Barrackpore Rastraguru Surendranath College, Kolkata, and later attended a professional course in Wedding Planning at the National Academy of Media and Events, Kolkata. Currently, I’m busy running ‘Soulspeaksbloom’ where I take commissions for paper flower bouquets and arrangements. I also make boutonniere (a floral decoration, typically a single flower or bud, worn on the lapel of a tuxedo or suit jacket), and flower decors for small occasions.
Paper Roses by ‘Soulspeaksbloom’
Menule: And how do your friends describe you?
Vikhozonu: My friends describe me as Creative, Optimistic, and “Restless”:D
Menule: How did ‘Soulspeakbloom’come about? And what is so special about paper flowers?
Vikhozonu: During an internship with an event management company, I serviced on occasions like weddings, birthdays, parties, and variety shows. That’s where I came across varieties of natural flowers for decoration and was mesmerized by the beauty and uniqueness of each flower.
I want people to want flowers – flowers in all forms. Flowers bring happiness and calmness to people, and I think we could all use more of that in our lives. But I realized that not all natural flowers are readily available but with paper, they can be replicated easily – be it seasonal or not. Hence, Soulspeaksbloom is simply about making all sorts of pretty flowers available in the form of handcrafted blooms, and spreading the joy of crafting.
I have been making flowers out of crepe papers and foam sheets since my college days. Back in those days, I would often help decorate our hostel during festivals, and that’s when I started making some of my first paper flowers. The process can be tedious, but just as rewarding as the final product. So through Soulspeakbloom, I want to share my passion with others, spread happiness, and encourage others to follow their dreams.
Assorted paper-flower bouquet by ‘Soulspeaksbloom’
“I believe that the very beginning of creating an artificial flower is probably a byproduct of men’s love for nature. Creativity is inbuilt in every man and nothing can be a hindrance when it comes to creating something they love.” – Vikhozonu Natso, Soulspeaksbloom
Paper Magnolia by ‘Soulspeaksbloom’
Menule: Many of us have tried making paper flowers at some point in our lives – especially as kids in school. But I would like to know how you took this hobby into a business. Tell us how it all started – and your first-ever paid order.
Vikhozonu: I did not start off ever thinking I’d be a florist. I used to upload pictures of my flower crafts on my WhatsApp statuses and got tons of compliments from my friends but never really thought of putting them up for sale. My first commission was a bunch of Purple & Lilac Roses; it was for a friend on his sermon’s day. I wasn’t quite satisfied with the outcome, yet overwhelmed by the appreciation I received from him and his colleagues. It really encouraged me to keep pursuing what I love.
Menule: It must take a lot of hard work – not just to make the entire product with your own hands, but also to run a business as a one-person team. Give us a peek into your life as a creator and a business owner – taking us through your challenges and motivators.
Vikhozonu: My small business is my biggest pride and joy. I went through many trials and errors while making them which have helped me in many ways as well. Back then it took time to complete a single flower now I am proud to say that with time and practice, my skills and work speed have progressed. I found what makes me happy, and each flower is an expression of my joy.
It definitely wasn’t a walk in the park, in terms of taking a hobby that I love, and turning that into a business. The first being, sourcing my papers. Here in India or say in Nagaland we don’t usually get quality crepe paper; variety and colors are pretty limited. So sometimes I have to go the extra mile of having to improvise with these limited supplies. Furthermore, each flower requires both ‘time’ and ‘skill’ put into it. Keeping that in mind, ‘pricing’ my products has been a difficult task too.
Menule: How many hours do you invest in fulfilling orders? How do you manage your time?
Vikhozonu: It depends on the number of flowers, arrangements, or the type of flowers my client wants. For instance, a bouquet of assorted flowers takes about a week or two which includes experimenting. So there is no fixed schedule of work as it depends on the number of orders.
Menule: In between making flowers, and running your business, how do you spend your leisure time?
Vikhozonu: Every day is a crafting day! My day starts and ends with paper. I love to keep myself occupied working on new techniques, watch tutorials, browse pictures and try to replicate the flowers as realistic as possible. So it is hard to set out time for leisure when you love your work so much. But I look forward to family time and of course, like everyone else, I unwind with “Netflix and chill.”
Menule: What’s the best piece of advice you have received – and from whom?
Vikhozonu: It goes like… “Comparison is the thief of joy. Try not to compare and remember that your flowers are incredible because YOU made them.” That’s the best advice I got upon entering the paper flower community. It is from one of my many favorite Paper florists, Margie Keates of ‘thelovelyave’. She is such an inspiration and role model.
Menule: Tell us about your latest work/project?
Vikhozonu: I am currently working on two upcoming weddings: Giant flowers for the photo booth and bridesmaid bouquets.
Menule: As the year comes to an end, have you accomplished any goals you made for the year 2021? (If any) or what are you most grateful for this year?
Vikhozonu: I have a long bucket list, gladly, some have been ticked. It has been really challenging to fit in into a market where fresh flowers businesses have taken over the market and being a paper florist is quite intimidating. Regardless, I am super grateful that I can share my love for flowers through crafts, and there you go, bringing a lovely smile to my dear ones, my clients. Once again, my sincere thanks to all for always supporting and encouraging me through this journey. Looking forward to more Souls to Bloom!
“Going through my gallery, I see this photo of my first ever bridesmaids’ bouquet for my cousin’s wedding last year. I made 18 of these! Looking at this picture I see lots of memories and failures and realize that I got a ‘lil better than I was back then.😄 It was a stepping stone into this whole new world of paper flowers.”
An early work by Soulspeaksbloom | Bridesmaids’ Bouquet for Cousin’s Wedding. Follow her on Instagram.
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