We Want To Know: Chantal Larocque of Paper & Peony
As I write this, I'm sitting next to a vase filled with peonies in their perfect state of bloom and I can't stop staring at them because I know they won't last for long. But what if I could enjoy them forever? That's where paper flowers come in handy, and today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Chantal Larocque, paper flower designer and owner of Paper & Peony. I haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting Chantal in person, but after a few brief interactions online followed by a phone conversation, I knew that she was someone special. I was immediately drawn in by her artistic ability to create beautiful, realistic-looking paper flowers, and after getting to know her a little better, I've come to admire the care and attention to detail that she puts into her creations. It's an honour to introduce you to Chantal!
Chantal's origins as a paper flower designer can be traced back to a difficult time in her life when she was grieving the loss of her father, and she started scrapbooking as a way to deal with his passing, creating albums full of mementos and photos of family and friends. Chantal quickly realized how much she enjoyed scrapbooking and began looking around online for new and different techniques to flourish her albums with, and was inspired to begin making her own mini flowers. Eventually, Chantal had the idea of selling her flowers, and opened a scrapbook supply shop on Etsy. As her shop blossomed into a full-blown business, Chantal evolved her product offering to meet the changing trends year over year; when she noticed the growing rise in demand for giant paper flowers, she taught herself to make them added them to her shop.
Since her modest beginnings, Chantal's paper flowers have gained notoriety, particularly among designers. Chantal was compelled to join Instagram after jewellery designer Kara Ross shared a photo on the platform of the Madison Avenue storefront display that she commissioned Chantal to design. Once on Instagram, Chantal discovered Tiffany Pratt and loved how colourful she was - Tiffany's imagery made Chantal so happy that Chantal reached out her offering to send her some paper flowers, which Tiffany clearly loved because she ordered more to use for prop styling in the photoshoot for the launch of her Canvas Collection clothing line. Interior designer Lisa Ho was also enamoured with Chantal's flowers and commissioned her to create a wall of large white flowers for her Parisian-themed bridal shower featured on Style Me Pretty. Chantal also made paper flowers as a wedding gift for Natalie Ho of My Little Secrets - the first blogger and social media influencer she followed. (Fun fact: I've written #WeWantToKnow features on Tiffany Pratt, Lisa Ho and Natalie, but was completely unaware of Chantal's connection with them until after I reached out to her requesting an interview with her! Small world!)
With all of the attention Chantal's paper flowers have received, it's no surprise that she caught the eye of the editor of a publishing company that specializes in how-to books. The editor reached out to Chantal with a proposal to publish a book of paper flower tutorials and I'm very pleased to share that its publishing date is set for October 24th, 2017! (Find out how you can pre-order your copy of the book here.) When Chantal first started making her paper flowers, she used materials that she already had on hand, even though they weren't specifically designed for crafting purposes - for example, she would use a mousepad for moulding, and sushi sticks to manipulate card stock to achieve her desired flower shapes. Her book takes this same friendly and humble approach to creating paper flowers - Chantal doesn't believe you need to spend a ton of money on fancy equipment; as well, it was important to Chantal that her designs be made accessible to anyone who wants to enjoy them, and can be replicated in the same way that she makes them.
Chantal's submission to The Brain Project; Photo credit: Karen Casey Photography
Chantal has a generous spirit and enjoys giving back to the community, so she was thrilled when she was contacted by The Brain Project to decorate a brain-shaped sculpture for the organization's art installation in support of brain health. It's on display now and throughout the summer at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, and is one of 100 brain sculptures donated by artists, celebrities and thought-leaders from across North America. Chantal also made 1,000 paper butterflies to be hung from the ceiling at a charity event supporting the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in California, as well, she donated some large paper flowers to a charitable event supporting breast cancer.
Chantal has such a big heart, and is an inspiring and appreciative person. Though English isn't her first language, Chantal isn't concerned with her difficulty with words, because making paper flowers is how she expresses herself - creating them is a very personal experience for her. She takes great enjoyment in creating her paper flowers and is filled with happiness at the joy they bring to her clients.
Want more? Direct from Chantal herself, here's what We Want To Know:
I can't start my morning without... a strong cup of coffee…
I have a weakness for... Well…I’m a chocolate addict…so obviously, anything chocolaty…- I also have a weakness for pretty packaging! Anything sweet and lovely - appealing labels, cute bottles, gorgeous silk and velvet ribbons and little boxes topped with delicate bows.
Most people don't know that I... LOVE cooking and entertaining… Since my move to the East Coast, I’ve been so busy and blessed with fabulous work projects that I pushed to the side my passion for the art of entertaining and fine gastronomical cuisine! Setting a beautiful table, creating a warm and welcoming ambiance are ways I can express myself artistically. Blending spices and herbs, mixing ingredients which result in dishes that leaves my guests with a memorable culinary experience makes me feel totally exhilarated!
Currently reading... a few books and materials on the go… I started reading 5 years ago the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon… I’m still working on the third book… I just need more hours in a day! (don’t we all?!). But I make time to read my Bible every day which helps me to keep a certain balance.
I want... the people who will buy my book to feel just as excited and inspired about the paper floral art as I am and truly feel my passion for this beautiful blooming craft. I also want to take a vacation where there is no phone and internet connections. To take time for myself without feeling guilty.
Many thanks to Chantal for participating in #WeWantToKnow! I hope you've enjoyed getting to know Chantal as much as I have.
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