NEWS FLASH! Tom is Selected for Vase-Off Challenge… (read all about it!)

The Society of American Florists Vase-Off Challenge is ON!

Tom Sebenius
Creative Director – Starbright Floral Design

Our Creative Director Tom Sebenius has been selected for the 2012 Vase-Off! Challenge.  In Tom’s own words here are some thoughts on the days ahead and the competition…

I’ve been selected!  Several times a year, the Society of American Florists sponsors a nationwide contest that tests the skills of four floral designers as they try to win public votes through social media.  Designers apply to participate and once chosen they are given a prompt which is meant to inspire their creation.  Past assignments have been to design a bridal bouquet fit for a Great Gatsby themed wedding and to create the perfect floral gift for the quintessential beach girl.  The prompt we were given for this holiday themed challenge is as follows:

Sleigh riding, tree decorating, sipping hot cider, and caroling by candlelight in the snow…Many of our favorite Christmas traditions date back to the Victorian times. As families gathered for celebratory holiday feasts, flowers at the center of the table provided delightful decor. To capture the old-fashioned spirit of the season, create a Christmas centerpiece inspired by the elegance of the Victorian Era.

I will be competing against three very talented designers and I can’t wait to see what wonderful things they come up with.  They are: Mandy Majerik from Hothouse Design Studio, Birmingham, Alabama; Suzanne Nemet from All inBloom, Columbus, Ohio; and Bryan Swann from Karin’s Florist, Vienna, Virginia.

Christmas time offers us so much inspiration and a lot of the holiday décor we recognize comes from the Victorian era.  Visions of holly and ivy, sugared fruits, garlands and velveteen ribbons float into my mind.  I’ve started to put together my creation and certainly hope it will ultimately win your vote!  If you have any ideas that you think I should include in my centerpiece, please leave a comment and share your idea.  I’d love to hear it!

Please visit The Flower Factor website to learn all about the finalists of this competition and follow all four participants in this nationwide challenge by clicking here.

Meanwhile, stay tuned and please be sure to vote once voting opens on November 29th!

Starbright Floral Design is a premium florist in New York City’s Historic Flower District.  We offer same day delivery of floral arrangements and gifts of all types in the New York City area and beyond.  You can talk to one of our floral design consultants by calling us at 800-520-8999 or by visiting us online at Starbright Floral Design is dedicated to the floral arts since 1994 by providing exquisite designs, great customer service and by supporting the advancement of our staff through training and internship programs that promote the floral industries.

One of Tom’s Amazing Designs.

Our Creative Director Speaks at an Industry Conference in Florida…

Tom Sebenius is the Creative Director at Starbright Floral Design and for the better part of the past decade he has given direction and style to our organization with his eye, his creativity and forward thinking for what is next in floral design.  In the paragraphs below Tom shares his experiences from his attendance at the annual convention of the Society of American Florists.  The conference took place at The Breakers Hotel in September of this year.  Please read on!

Display of Floral Varieties at the Breakers Hotel

The Society of American Florists has been leading the charge in keeping the floral industry thriving and robust for over 129 years.  This important organization champions education, publicity, standards and practices, even going so far as lobbying for and sponsoring government legislation to entire floral community.  Growers, wholesalers, retail flower shops and ultimately retail shoppers all benefit from the efforts of SAF.   Starbright Floral Design has been a strong supporter and proud member of SAF for 16 years.

Last month I had the honor and pleasure to attend the 128th SAF annual convention in Palm Beach Florida.  Not only was I thrilled to be attending the convention to represent Starbright Floral Design but I was also asked to participate as a speaker during one of the educational sessions.  The topic I had to speak about?  “Why I Love My Job”.  How great is that!?!  Obviously, I had a lot to say.

Professional conferences should be required by law.  After three days in Palm Beach, I returned to Starbright with new found passion and vigor.  I learned so much, not only in the many sessions I attended but also just from communing with my fellow SAF family.  Being surrounded by people who share the same common goal and interest was energizing and very validating.  The career that I have spent the past 10 years pursuing had never felt more relevant or appreciated.  Seeing the shared excitement and enthusiasm throughout the venue was more than inspiring.

The people and their passion were definitely the highlight of conference, but I would be remiss if forgot to mention the flowers!  Flowers practically covered every inch of the gorgeous Breakers Hotel.  Roses, lilies, orchids, gerberas, clematis, sunflowers, and heliconia are just a fraction of the breathtaking blooms on display.  Not only were new varieties of flowers being showcased but also new vases and containers were on display.  I felt like a kid in a candy store!

My session of the conference was the last presented on the final day.  I was nervous but luckily I shared the stage with three wonderful women.  Kate Penn, the editor and chief of Floral Management magazine, the monthly publication produced by SAF expertly moderated our panel.  My fellow panelists speaking on the topic of job satisfaction were Ali Cruz from Fresca Farms in Miami and Yvonne Ashton of Mayesh Wholesale in Cleveland.  The talk was presented in an Oprah style format with Kate acting in the role of Oprah.  The members of the audience were encouraged to participate and ask questions during the proceedings.  It was such a fun experience getting to lend my thoughts on how business owners could improve the moral in their shops or wholesale operations.  Ali, Yvonne, and I were all so flattered to have been asked to speak on such an important topic.  It felt wonderful to have members of the audience come up to us afterward to thank us for our candid advice and observations.  It was clear that our session had been a success.  Thank goodness!

A Flower Display at The Breakers

The final evening of the conference was capped by an amazing awards dinner.  This exciting evening paid tribute to companies and individuals who have dedicated themselves to bettering the floral industry.  Hearing the stories of these men and woman brought everything I had learned to the fore.  I decided that I too needed to direct my action towards the greater goal of furthering the industry.  Not only were my efforts needed at Starbright, but I must extend my reach and push myself further and outside my comfortable boundaries.  Loving flowers is no longer enough; there is more for me to do and further for me to go.  With the support of my Starbright family, I look forward to learning more and lending my talents and efforts to create more excitement and interest in our industry.  Hopefully, I can inspire the same feeling in my co-workers and perhaps our customers as well.

You can bet I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference!  Thank you SAF!!!

Starbright Floral Design is located in the heart of New York City’s historic flower district in a second floor loft at 150 West 28th Street. Our services include local, national and worldwide flower delivery as well as consultation and execution of social and corporate events. To learn more about us and the type of work that we do, please visit our website at You may also go directly to our online portal for ordering gifts at or to our Event Gallery to see thousands of photographs from our recent work. You may also call us at 1.800.520.8999 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE 1.800.520.8999 end_of_the_skype_highlighting . We are always thrilled to hear from you and to be of service in every way possible….