The clock is ticking. The pressure is on. The competition for top honors is stiff. And the pay-off? Cheers, accolades, the admiration of your peers — not to mention a cool $3,000 cash prize along with a complimentary registration to the next SAF convention.
That’s what’s at stake next month during the 50th Annual Sylvia Cup Design Competition at SAF Palm Springs 2018, Sept. 12-15 at the Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California. The two-hour live floral design contest has become the stuff of legends among designers — and there’s still time to throw your hat in the ring. The Sylvia Cup entry deadline is Aug. 8.
“My favorite part of the Sylvia Cup is the energy in the room,” said Jenny Behlings, AAF, AIFD, CFD, PFCI, SDCF, of Jenny’s Floral in Custer, South Dakota and one of the contest’s coordinators. “The creative juices are running, and flowers are flying!”
How it works:
During the Sylvia Cup, held on Sept. 15, contestants have just two hours to transform flowers, foliage and design supplies provided by Smithers-Oasis and Certified American Grown Flowers into three themed designs. One of the most exciting parts? The theme is revealed by the Professional Floral Communicators-International at the start of the competition.
Besides the thrill of the contest and an opportunity to flex your creative muscles, the competition is an opportunity to try out new techniques with novel design supplies and some of the most coveted flowers and foliage in the industry.
“Designing with such beautiful products from our farmers from across the country is a win in and of itself,” said Kasey Cronquist, PFCI, administrator of Certified American Grown Flowers.
The competition also offers contestants a chance to network, grow and think beyond their daily lives in individual shops, said Mark Griffith of Bouquet Omaha, who competing this year as a first-timer.
“I have been a florist for 23 years now, but I only recently got involved with the floral community beyond the shops in which I have worked,” Griffith said. “By competing in the Sylvia Cup, I not only get to challenge myself to be a better designer, I also get to learn from my fellow florists and be inspired by them.”
What makes the Sylvia Cup so unique?
Sylvia Cup was founded in 1967and named in honor Sylvia MacGuffog Valencia, AAF, one of the floral industry’s leading designers and businesswomen, respected carnation grower and longtime supporter of SAF. That longevity sets it apart from other competitions, noted Jacque Sir Louis at Smithers-Oasis.
“This is the first North American recognized design competition that is timed, the theme is unknown until you begin, and you are surrounded by a full-scale theatrical performance,” Sir Louis says.
For all the fun involved in the competition, Sir Louis also noted that the timed element has practical applications for any florist looking to refine her skills. After all, “to be profitable, we all have to work on the clock,” he said.
What’s it like to compete?
The thrill and excitement of a competition is amazing, but so is the way you can flex your design muscles in front of your peers.
“It’s great to watch the way the designers are so focused and how quickly they come up with such amazing designs, and sometimes how quickly they have to change their designs when things don’t go as planned,” Behlings said.
Plus, you never know what’s going to happen during the competition.
“The Sylvia Cup has so many surprises, twists and turns — surprise themes, surprise packages of flowers, surprise design requirements — it keeps everyone guessing,” Behlings added. “Even the audience can add to the excitement as they move around the room — so cool!”
“This competition is for the designer that understands true creativity,” Sir Louis said. “You get to create a new idea, that is saleable and deliverable and be designed in a set amount of time. This tests not only your design capabilities, but also your ability to manage stress. Keep in mind, you will be surrounded by hundreds of onlookers, judges and even a full-scale theatrical performance. It’s like the World’s Fair of floral design!”
What’s at stake?
Besides the praise and adoration from your peers and friends, the grand prize winner also receives $3,000, the silver engraved Sylvia Cup, recognition during the Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner, and complimentary registration to the next SAF convention. Two runners-up receive $500 and $250 respectively, as well as an award plaque and recognition during the dinner.
Sign up to compete!
Time is running out to sign up to compete. Limited to just 25 designers, you must sign up to participate no later than August 8, 2018. Download the entry packet or visit the Sylvia Cup page to learn more.
For SAF Palm Springs 2018 details go to safnow.org/annual-convention. Early-bird convention registration ends Aug. 17.