Michael Pritchard put over 20 years of experience, and his love affair in the flower industry, into the formation of two flowers shops and more.
What’s your story?
I have loved flowers forever. Their beauty evokes emotion, it’s a love affair that took me from pink carnations in middle-class 80’s Australia to exotic Asia with its brilliant blooms that whispered ‘this is where you belong’. It started in Bali with my florist skills in a flower shop called Heliconia, supplying expats and hotels with local and imported flowers. Later came objects of art including paintings, sculptures, glazed pots and tableware designed for clients keen for larger than life experiences. Events management came next. Weddings, product launches, hotel and big party events. We’ve expanded with our clients across Asia.
What excites you most about your industry?
My industry is a direct response to the times we live in, it’s fashion, it’s supply, it’s dynamic re-invention. Working with these constant elements and getting it right makes for a very exciting workplace. Our success is built on competitive, cutting edge design. And we are always planning what comes next.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve lived and worked in Asia since 1989. I love the people and different cultures. The beauty in nature is celebrated everywhere and every day, it might be a single frangipani bloom in Buddha’s hand – and that makes me very happy. Good secure business relationships have developed over time with valued staff and suppliers in all parts of Asia. They are the business as much as I am.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
At the moment it’s Bangkok where we’ve opened a 5 floor flower gallery and retail emporium. We find local business, whether it’s someone off the street or a hotel chain outsourcing all florals, are keen for a long term relationship that delivers trust and continuity of supply. And pricing is important it must recognise the local economy – of course cutting edge design and quality products are a given, whatever the brief.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My Father said ‘Believe in the goodness of people’ and I do (for better or worse) I’m comfortable being an optimist. Who inspires you? Working closely with Mother Nature is the ultimate inspiration, while it’s our clients who provide the drive to deliver something spectacular.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That 58 percent of global Millennials live in Asia — generally born after 1980, this is the largest domestic population of Millennials in the world by far and their social impact and spending power is already changing business forever.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’ve worked in all parts of Asia for a long time, but if I could go back in time, I’d have opened Heliconia Bangkok sooner. It’s given us a better understanding of the economy and market opportunities, we’ve become locals with outside ideas.
How do you unwind?
I love to roast meat in the oven, glass of wine in hand and guests on the way, that’s how I relax – entertaining and going a little bit crazy! Maybe it’s growing up with exotic neighbours, an eccentric couple who, in lieu of children, adopted a Miami lifestyle. Bermuda shorts, cocktails with little umbrellas, slinky music and a Sunday lunch unknown to my conservative parents. From a young age I spent years sliding across our fence, it was like going to another country. This fabulous, much loved couple set my gold standard on entertaining.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
At the moment its beautiful serene Bhutan with its lush forests, commanding monasteries and focus on peacefulness. I was there recently for work but managed a trek to the famous Tigers Nest, what a knock-out experience. Totally brought into the Gross National Happiness Index.
Everyone in business should read this book:
‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, written by Dale Carnegie in 1936 and relevant whatever age its read – I was in my late 20’s and struggling between a wildly successful social life and the pressures of managing staff. This book gave me confidence with its fundamental advice on how to get on in life and create good relationships with friends and business – become genuinely interested in others, remember a person’s name. And techniques to win people over to your way of thinking and becoming a leader without giving offense or resentment.
Shameless plug for your business:
Heliconia Bali and Heliconia Bangkok
We have: Retail Flower Galleries and Homewares in both locations.
We are: Events Co-Ordinators Asia-wide for weddings, product launches, corporate, hotel and nightclub events and private villa parties.
We provide: Imaginative designs that will dazzle and amaze your guests and promote goodwill; curated settings and atmospheric lighting – you’ll never go home; homewares for the bold and beautiful and unimaginable blooms that will capture your heart.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of two best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.
Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com