Following in the footsteps of a beloved and highly respected parent is quite a challenge especially when the handover of the educational establishment that her father had created was so personal. The history and layout of the Boerma Instituut is part of the charm but Jacqueline has taken it to another level – Master level. We discover just what that entails.
1. How did you first become interested / involved in flowers?
“I’ve never known anything different! My great grandfather used to have a nursery in the south of Holland. My grandparents had a flower shop in Heerlen, and we lived above the shop. As soon as I could walk, there I was amongst the flowers with Grandma at my side, I learned at an early age about the significance of colours but in a playful way. The flowers just seemed to talk to me! When I got bored, I was allowed to make an arrangement, which later found its way into the shop. My father was also very active in the World of Flowers! Before we moved to Aalsmeer, he studied for the Master of Floristry and Teaching, and with that experience behind him, he was regularly asked to judge shows or organise floral exhibitions. I found it all extremely interesting and always accompanied him as often as I could.
2. How long have you been professionally involved in the flower industry?
“That came very quickly! My father taught at the Boerma Instituut which my parents founded in 1980. When I was 16, I studied for my first professional course. I had no definite idea as to where this would lead me, I just knew I wanted to work with flowers and to be involved with people. It wasn’t my immediate intention to find myself teaching… that happened quite by accident! One day in 1984, after having completed a demonstration in the United States, my father missed his plane, and so he asked if I could fill in for him! Of course, I did, and after that, I never left the Instituut.
3. Do you see International Women’s Day as important and, if so, why?
Here in Holland International Women’s Day could be celebrated much more. Having a day that focuses attention and action around women is as important in 2022 as it was in 1919 (when women got the active right to vote in Holland). I think International Women’s Day is important because in some parts of the world women/girls are still treated as second class citizens. International Women’s Day is a reminder of where we’ve been and where we want to go.
4. Do you believe that being a woman in the flower industry is more challenging than if you were a man?
Some parts of floristry can be more challenging for women than for men. Working in a flower shop can be hard labour; carrying buckets with flowers and water, building flower exhibitions and travelling around the world leaving your kids behind at home, are just some of the challenges.
5. Do you recognise some common challenges that women face in this industry, and have you encountered some personally?
As mentioned, designing flower exhibitions, teaching and travelling while my kids were at home, was a challenge.
6. How did you go about overcoming them?
My mother always took very good care of my children when I was travelling. For me that was the only way I could travel.
7. What is your advice for young women starting out in this industry?
Make sure that you get the best education, travel the world while seeing and learning the different ways of working before you start your own business.
8. What do you love most about your work?
The thing I love the most about my work is that it is different every week. One day I can be teaching the Dutch professional course or organising the International Master course with Gregor Lersch here at the school while the next day I could be in Japan or Russia to give lessons or demonstrate.
9. What are some of the more significant milestones in your career?
There were a lot of significant milestones in my career; teaching in other countries, in 2009 becoming a European Judge in Floral Design, 2013 taking over the school from my father, demonstrating with the International Floristry Teachers and Gregor Lersch at IPM in Essen.
10. Can you briefly describe some of your more special or most appreciated moments?
Working together with my father; giving demonstrations and lessons in other countries. We have had a lot of good and fun times. Nowadays I cherish working together with my son Mike like my father did with me. Mike has worked at the Boerma Instituut since 2013 and is one of our floristry teachers, he is a Floral Fundamentals Ambassador, he organises our livestreams every other Friday and does our DTP.
In 2020 we had big plans for our special 40th anniversary but, due to COVID, we could not have a big celebration. Finally last November we started Module 1 of the International Master Course solely given by Gregor Lersch. This year in March there will be the second part with an exam and the good news is that everybody, including Gregor, is so enthusiastic about the Master Course that we will organise another one in November 2022 and March 2023.
11. Apart from flowers, what else are you passionate about?
My work takes up a big chunk of my life, but I am also passionate about gardening and cooking.
12. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Enjoy life with flowers! We have the best jobs in the world!