TO some people, flowers are plants with colorful petals and sepals. They are found in different species, clusters and sizes. But to 31-year-old Moayad Gusti, flowers and nature are synonymous with love, beauty and passion. Deeply influenced by Carl Sagan, an American astronomer, Gusti learned about the cosmos and was inspired to start his florist shop called Quasar Designs.
“I fell in love with the brightness and uniqueness of quasars. They have been the inspiration for many of my floral themes and arrangements. A quasar is an indescribable massive explosion of billions of stars that creates a vacuum in space and contains black holes. It’s beautiful,” said Gusti.
Since childhood, Gusti has had a certain artistic sense and style. When he was 14, he designed a bunch of chocolate baskets for Eid and tried to sell them to chocolate shops. Eventually, Bennetti Chocolates bought them for SR3,000.
In 2002, Gusti was studying in the US in St. Louis, Missouri and was looking for a part-time job to support himself. He found work with master florist Doug Wampler for two years. Wampler owned a shop, Designs by Doug, and had a set number of clients and friends for whom he designed floral arrangements.
“Doug was like a family florist and he took work by referral. It was a tradition for him to design wedding arrangements for all the family members of his clients,” said Gusti. “There was a touch of family value in his business. It’s something I learned from working with him and wish to implement here in our Saudi culture.”
When Gusti returned to Jeddah in 2004, he established Quasar Designs in Al-Hayah Center on Madinah Road. He began designing floral arrangements for the weddings of family and friend for baby showers and other special occasions. He was successful and word spread about his work. Finances, however, were a problem for Gusti. He didn’t have financial supporters and he says that it’s not easy for a young Saudi to start a business here.
“It’s not easy for a Saudi beginner to start a business here, especially in competitive fields. One has to be passionate about what he’s doing. I did weddings with low profits because my goal wasn’t just money, but to be recognized doing what I enjoy immensely,” explained Gusti. “People here are used to foreign designers and I want to change their views. There are Saudi talents and we need the community’s support.”
Gusti won the prize for the Best Dried Flower Arrangement in March 2007 at the 9th Zanabig Floral Design Contest held in Riyadh. He was also recognized by Dar Al-Hekma College, the Qur’an Memorization Community for Women and the Women’s Charitable Institution for his free-of-charge floral contributions. He has also received recognition from members of the royal family. When he first rented his workshop in Al-Hayah Center, his father suggested that he create a bouquet of flowers and send them, as a gesture of appreciation, to Princess Al-Anoud Al-Saud, owner of the center.
“I introduced myself to her and presented her with a sample of my work. She loved the flowers and began refering her friends,” said Gusti.
When asked about dealing with clients, Gusti said that he tried his best to satisfy his clients. His aim is to make the day special with his flower arrangements.
“I listen carefully to my clients; ideas and suggestions because I want them to feel comfortable. However, it’s through trial and error that we learn,” he said.
Gusti holds two meetings with his clients. At the first meeting, he listens to the client’s requests and ideas and then decides on another meeting where he presents his designs. On the second meeting, he submits two designs for the client to choose from. Then he creates a sample or an exact replica of the original design.
“I don’t think that designing a replica is something that other florists do,” said Gusti. “After they agree to the sample and further changes, an agreement is signed and a deposit is paid.”
Quasar Designs has a staff of 12, including Gusti who designs, arranges and sets up everything on site. He caters the whole wedding or occasion including invitations, platforms, tables, cakes, chocolates and pastries. He realizes it’s a headache for many people to plan for an occasion so his aim is to create a theme for them and incorporate all the details.
Gusti imports selected flowers to complement his designs. “I can bring roses from Kenya or tulips from Holland. Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness; they have a long-term positive effect on moods and they create intimate connections with family and friends,” he said.
Gusti’s future plan is to become a master florist and expand both locally and internationally. “Beauty is beauty and I appreciate it,” he said. For more information: 0504 246646