Yuko Hasegawa, our head designer/buyer/creative director, brings beauty and poetry to her craft every day. We are forever floored when we watch her create arrangements. Her nickname around the shop is “the flower whisperer” and although it makes her laugh it is to be taken quite sincerely. Her hands speak to the flowers and they always cooperate. It is if they have an understanding with each other, and this unique language makes for the most beautiful designs.
Yuko’s first photographs as a child were of her bundling flowers in a field. She was born and raised in what she calls the “New Jersey” of Tokyo, a more suburban area about a thirty-minute bicycle ride through rice fields to the city. Her grandmother was a gardener and focused on traditional Japanese gardening, such as seasonal designs incorporating trees like bonsai, pine, and cherry. Her father was also an avid gardener who sprayed the garden stones to cultivate moss. Yuko says she “grew up in that garden, there was always something beautiful to admire there.” Her love of nature was rooted in the garden. She loved the magical element of growing flowers, to the extent that she wanted to be a grower as a living. The appreciation of individual flowers and their life cycle is what drew her to the industry.
After years of training under her mentor in Japan, Yuko moved to New York seventeen years ago to pursue a career as a designer. She webbed quite the resume, working for well-established flower shops until she finally found her way to Elan. It was a harmonious relationship right from the beginning and continues to be years later.
Yuko has brought her signature style to Elan, and only has one rule within floral design: not to go against nature. She says, “I do seasonal work, so I don’t try to force a mix of different flowers that won’t naturally occur at the same time. I try never to put winter flowers with summer flowers. Flowers are natural elements, and I think it’s important to embrace and celebrate the beauty of seasonal changes. I sometimes feel bad when people ask for peonies at Christmastime and I say no, but I think it makes it more meaningful when they arrive in the spring! I know many growers and designers are trying to meet the demand for more and more flowers outside of their natural season, but that’s not something that I want to do.”
And this is one of the many reasons we respect Yuko so much and feel lucky to have her on our team.