TRANSLATION | Eugenia Yang
對花情有獨鍾的Sarah，看花開花落也有著獨特見解，倘若以不同花種形容人生階段，她曾說過「鈴蘭」是自己最喜愛的花之一，擁有白色鐘形的外觀，懸垂如鈴串，給人簡樸純美的感覺， 象徵純潔與幸福歸來的含意，就猶如Sarah帶給人的第一印象，一抹淺笑帶過，溫暖洋溢 ; 這幾年的她開始喜歡上了「銀葉金合歡」，花朵姿態優美大方，當寒冬還未褪盡的時候，迫不及待的遍地開花，盛開時金燦的花朵與銀葉相映，形成一幅撩人春色，如同自信女性在每個階段盡情享受當下時光，在荏苒寸陰之中仍美麗綻放。
每一次的花藝構思都是一場超越自我的美學挑戰，文華花苑不但揉合了歐式花藝與內斂東方思維， 獨特風韻更造就了品牌識別，Sarah 回憶起曾在歐洲生活的美好片段，「在歐洲對我最大的影響應該就是美的啟發，不單是具體的歷史建築等，可能只是散步在街頭轉角遇見的花店，閒暇呆坐在磚瓦道上的獨立咖啡廳，假日廣場喧騰的市集，生活中所有小細節的美好感受，累積出對於美麗 事物的深層涵養。」那些平凡的事物，在她眼中始終帶著獨特的美。 「花藝設計是一個幸福行業，贈花與收花間都存在一份真摯心意幸福的感受，花藝設計師的責任， 就是貼近客戶想法並盡力將之實現。」而疫情這兩、三年，人們在家的時間變長，和自己對話的時間變多了，「我相信更多人能體認到花和植物不只為空間帶來生氣，進而影響氛圍，一個舒服的空間氛圍能夠使人放鬆心情愉悅，藉由花藝園藝的專注手作舒壓讓人心情平和，這些感受在世界突然被迫靜止的當下格外珍貴。越來越多跨設計領域的專業人才開始接觸花藝設計，對於這個產業來講是非常棒的一件事。不同的設計構想不斷被激發，消費客群也更加年輕化，大家對於花的距離感減少了，自然植物的美好浸潤入生活裡。」
Sarah 細膩卻時而奔放的人生觀，源自於原生家庭的滿懷關愛，「我父母的個性完全是兩個極端， 所以其實我都有受到各自的影響，像我父親很保守，我的母親則是放手讓孩子去嘗試，還記得小時候印象很深刻的是，我爸連芭蕾舞都不讓我去學，就覺得舞蹈未來能做什麼，我媽反問說那你想要讓她學什麼，我爸回答毛筆作文，在他想法中這些才是對孩子有幫助的，兩個不同的想法其實都是基於愛孩子的出發點，而我覺得孩子有自己的個性是獨立的個體，當在嘗試或尋找自己想要的事物時，我通常不會提供單一面向的想法，而是多方不同面向的觀點，希望能夠讓他們自己去觀察思考，從而與我們討論，觀念都是可以給的，相信孩子自己去探索後能慢慢理解。」
當時尚不再是敘述個體的形容詞，而是一個生活的動詞。對 Sarah來說，時尚即是舒適自在，過去喜歡以黑色做搭配，隨著歲月交織，笑說「現在比較喜歡有顏色的東⻄倒是真的，搭配上季節感的配件飾品，穿著就會有個人風格。」看一個人的第一眼通常是臉或是服飾穿搭，Sarah 卻是會先注意到對方身上的飾品配件，對細緻精美的耳環特別鍾愛，平常慣用雙手做事所以不習慣戴戒指，比起硬式手環更偏向簡單的細鍊式，「通常有戴耳環就不會再配項鍊，如果要配戴項鍊，耳環就會選擇精緻小巧樣式，只有活動或宴會的場合才會戴比較誇張的。」對於飾品的堅持，喜歡簡約自然大過浮誇。
提及吹彈可破的細緻膚質，Sarah笑說「有時候是相片美肌啦！妝少和清潔很重要，依你皮膚做保濕，我其實不太化妝，但保養品很認真擦，因為隨著年齡，皮膚彈力、光澤度要靠保養品補充。」 保養療癒之餘，提起lavender的氣息讓她憶起有幾年暑假去了國外鄉間或花園都剛好盛開了滿園的薰衣草，聞到味道的時候會回想到放假的心情，「因為我都會將薰衣草撿拾整理後做乾燥，過程都會一直散發出香氣，所以聞到薰衣草的味道就會回想到假期時的好心情。」纖細嬌小姿態卻有強烈的香氣，讓人感到平靜安穩，猶如 Sarah 對於看待生活的期許。
在工作和家庭之餘，當然該有好好和自己對話的時間，Sarah 和志同道合的好友成立了讀書會，不但是一起分享心得的小小時間，對她而言更算是暫時停下腳步的自我充電時刻。迫不及待地和我們分享到最近她剛讀完的書《Trevor Noah:Born a Crime》，講述著一段被種族隔離的年代，筆者的幽默中帶有一種輕鬆和樂觀的態度，將自己局外人的視角當做優勢，一個身世悲慘的男孩如何克服現實困難，用他的生命經驗演繹出獨一無二的『喜劇』表演。「我覺得這就是很多人的課題，就是你都踩到狗屎了，為什麼你不make a fun of it？要怎麼面對你的人生，才能夠有趣開心？」 這是Trevor Noah帶給Sarah深刻的體悟。
另一本書籍《莫斯科紳士》一出生是貴族，但因政治因素被軟禁在一個飯店的房間，生命卻如此活得這麼精彩，「我覺得人生就是這樣，沒有人清楚自己現在處於哪個階段，但可以思考怎麼去化解、去面對一切，不要只是認為自己一直處在低谷裡，我跟小孩時常會聊到可以怎樣正面的面對生活中所遇到的事。」Sarah憶起年輕時的美好歲月，但卻不任性羨慕，「我覺得年輕時也有那時候的課題和煩腦，既然我都已經過了，何不專注嘗試挑戰現階段每個當下，這樣就會生出希望，人生也會一直有期盼。」 即使在忙碌的生活中，Sarah 仍在工作和家庭中努力抓住平衡，每周固定陪孩子上課、和家人一起吃飯，「一定要先把自己照顧好，身體心靈都在良好的狀態中，才能夠從容地去面對所有事情，不要過分執著於堅持事事都要兼顧完美，只要去想現階段自己能做到的是什麼就夠了。」
Pearl Acacia, with its gentle scent and delicate yellow adornments of spring, comes with the elegant flower language meaning fortitude and renewal. Just like Sarah Chen, who has always showcased the strength and determination in a strong, independent woman. With a warm and pure heart, she slowly unravels the wisdom that she had accumulated throughout the years.
Speaking the Language of Flowers
Having always been fond of flowers, Chen sees the life cycle of blooming and withering as something special and often describes her stage in life with different flower species. With a white bell-shaped silhouette, lily of the valley used to be one of her favorites. Capturing the beauty in simplicity, the flower is a symbol of absolute purity and joy, similar to the first impression given by Chen. In recent years, she gradually fell in love with Pearl Acacia. Graceful and generous, the flower is already in full bloom when winter has not yet ended. It paints a beautiful portrait in which the golden flowers accentuate the silver leaves, just like how a confident woman is enjoying life and its every moment. The brainstorming process behind each flower arrangement is an aesthetic challenge that transcends itself. Not only does Mandarin Florist combine European floral art with Oriental concepts, but its distinctive style also creates a clear brand image. “The greatest influence Europe had on me is perhaps the inspiration of beauty. It is not just the historical buildings, but also the flower store on the corner of the street, the independent cafés, or the farmers market. It is the wonderful little details in life that accumulate a deep conception towards beauty.” To her, these ordinary things always carry a unique charm. “I think floral design is a happy industry. Both gifting and receiving flowers holds a sincere feeling of joy and the job of a florist is to bridge the gap between the customer’s idea and reality.” In the wake of the pandemic, people have been staying at home longer, with more opportunities to have conversations with their inner selves. “I believe many people realize flowers and plants not only bring life to a space, but also influence the atmosphere. While a comfortable space can bring relaxation and joy, arranging flowers and gardening alleviate stress, both very precious when the world is put on hold. We are now seeing professionals of different fields taking on floral design, which I think is great for the industry. Different design concepts can stimulate new ideas and the age of consumers is getting younger. It feels like people are feeling less distant towards flowers and welcoming these beautiful natural plants into their lives.”
Beauty in Flexibility
In the public’s eye, Chen is the director of Mandarin Florist. To her kids, she is a gentle, dedicated mother and to her mother, she is a sweet and heartwarming daughter. In the process of becoming a mother, she acquired strength but also tenderness. Whenever her kids encounter challenges or setbacks, she believes in the principle of finding a balance between reason and emotion. “In the face of the wind, no matter if our kids decide to go against the wind or fly along with it, we, as parents, are the biggest support. I hope they can build confidence and learn the ability to think independently from a young age.” Smiling, she says her kids all have very distinctive personalities. A shy introvert, her oldest daughter is always worried about being late to school and pays great attention to detail. On the other hand, her youngest daughter is extremely confident and never afraid of the crowd. With future expectations in mind, Chen quietly says, “Before getting into a relationship or choosing their partners, I think they need to learn to live independently and with confidence. With a gentle, caring heart that is resilient, once they learn how to take care of themselves, I believe they will be able to meet friends and partners who are positive and mutually supportive.” Her delicate but open-minded view on life originated from her family’s constant care and love. “My parents have completely opposite personalities so I think I was influenced by both. Like my father is more conservative and my mother is always willing to let me try out different things. I remember when I was a kid, my dad didn’t want me to learn ballet because he saw no future in dancing. When my mom asked him what he wanted me to learn instead, he said calligraphy or writing. To him, those are what can really help his kids. In truth, their actions actually stemmed from the love. I think kids have their own personalities and are independent individuals. When they are exploring their options, I try not to offer one-sided guidances, but multiple perspectives, and hope that they will be able to observe and think for themselves. Through discussions, we can provide them with our way of thinking. I believe they will understand after exploring on their own.” When asked how she wants her kids to view her, Chen smiles and says, “Just like how I aspire to become a woman who is confident, elegant and at ease. I hope that in the eyes of my kids, I am shining with the same brightness.”
Fashion is about Comfort
What if fashion is no longer an adjective that describes individuals, but a verb that describes life? To Chen, fashion is about comfort. Used to love everything in black, through the passing of time, she admits she now finds colorful things to her liking. “Style colorful clothes with seasonal accessories and a distinctive style is created.” While others notice the face or attire of a person upon the first glance, Chen notices the jewelry and accessories first. Especially fond of exquisite earrings, she doesn’t wear rings often due to her job and tends to choose thin bracelets over rigid bangles. “If I have my earrings on, I won’t be wearing a necklace. If I want to wear a necklace, I would choose earrings of miniature sizes and design. Only when I am attending special events or gatherings will I choose exaggerated styles.” Meanwhile, when asked about how she maintains such nice skin quality, Chen laughs and says sometimes it’s just the camera filters. “But it is important to put on only a little amount of makeup, make sure you cleanse thoroughly and moisturize according to your skin type. I don’t really put on makeup but I do put a lot of effort into my skincare routine. As we age, the elasticity and luminosity of our skin can be replenished by proper skincare products.” Recalling past summer vacations abroad, she visited the countryside filled with gardens of blooming lavender. Now, as a result, whenever she encounters the smell, she is immediately placed in a vacation mood. “I always collect lavender and make dried flowers out of them. In the process, the scent of lavender reminds me of the good times during the vacations.” Minute in size but ardent in smell, lavender brings a sense of peace and stability, which aligns with Chen’s expectation towards life.
Finding Joy in Simplicity
In between work and family, it is important to make time for yourself. With a few likeminded friends, Chen started her own book club, a place for her to share her thoughts and take a moment from life to recharge. Excited, she shares with us her recent reading, Trevor Noah: Born a Crime. An autobiographical comedy book, Noah narrates stories of a South-African childhood with a lighthearted and positive attitude. Using his standpoint of an outsider to his advantage, he overcomes the challenges in the real world and gives a one-of-kind “comedy” performance with his life experiences. “I think this is a problem a lot of people are facing. If your life is already hitting bottom low, why not make some fun out of it?” How exactly do we go through our life so that it’s interesting and full of fun—is a question Noah poses for Chen after reading his book. Another book she recommends is A Gentleman in Moscow, which tells the story of Count Alexander Rostov who was sentenced to house arrest due to political reasons. “I think no one is really certain about what stage of life they are in and what they are supposed to do. But instead of trapping ourselves in a low point, we can think about ways to resolve it and try to make it better. I tell my kids all the time to maintain a positive mindset while dealing with things in life.” Reflecting on the good times of her past, Chen doesn’t let herself feel envious. “Even when I was young, I still had troubles and concerns at that time. Since it’s all in the past, why not focus on the challenges that lies ahead of us? I think that’s how we find hope and things to look forward to in life.” Despite her busy schedule, Chen still tries to find a balance between her work and family. Every week, she insists on taking her kids to school and spending time quality time with them. “It is important to take good care of yourself. Only by keeping your body and mind in a healthy state can you face everything else with ease. Don’t try to be perfect, instead, focus on the moment and do the best you can, that’s more than enough.” As Chen shares her experiences, her heartwarming charm is reflected through the changes she went through over the years. In the end, she defines “beauty” as everything that comes from the heart. “If you’re not present in the moment, you won’t be able to notice the changes in your surroundings. Even if you are in a garden that is in full bloom, you still won’t see the falling leaves or hear the chirping of birds. I think everyone defines beauty in a different way because we zoom in on the details we find interesting. Naturally, we notice different things.” From a simple greeting, a caring hug, a sincere bouquet of flowers, or a companionship that lasts through time, Chen finally understands the beauty in simplicity and acknowledges a truth—true happiness is built with the simplest elements.