Known for his opulent floral decor and over-the-top parties, New Yorker DeJuan Stroud swoops through H-Town this week on a mission to brighten your life with floral inspirations. And he just might share a few anecdotes from working with clients that include Donald Trump, Jon Bon Jovi and Michael Bloomberg.
CultureMap recently interviewed Stroud in which it became clear that although he has lived in New York for many years, his southern charm, honed in his native Alabama, remains delightfully in tact.
CultureMap: What is it like to create events for big names such as Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg?
DeJuan Stroud: These are people at the top of their game – they work hard and are successful at what they do, and they expect to work with the very best. Working for people like this encourages me to push myself creatively.
One of my favorite memories from the early days of our business is setting up a party for Donald Trump at Lincoln Center. Aretha Franklin, one of my all-time favorite performers, was the featured entertainment for the party, and while I worked on a large floral arrangement, she was rehearsing. It was amazing, and the best part was that this was on my birthday. It felt like she was singing to me!
CM: What are the key elements of a successful party?
DS: Number one is an exciting environment that also makes people comfortable as they settle into the party. Number two are elements that hold people’s attention. And number three is lighting that makes everyone look good.
CM: What are current popular trends in entertaining?
DS: Family style food service – even for black tie events. Varying the types of seating at an event — long tables, round tables, banquette seating, long hightop tables, lounge seating – all at the same event. Flower arrangements that are simplified, perhaps containing only one type of flower.
CM: The book is beautiful. Where do you get your inspiration for these exquisite floral creations and table settings ?
DS: Thank you! Sounds so corny to say this, but from nature — really.
CM: What events are you working on now?
DS: It’s Spring, so it’s wedding and party season. I’m excited about designing the décor for this year’s New York City Ballet Spring Gala and for the New York Botanical Garden’s 125th Anniversary Celebration. And, I have just started on the design for the Universal Pictures premiere party for The Secret Life of Pets.
CM: It's a question I have to ask: You are from the south. How does that translate into what Ted Cruz might call “New York values.”
DS: I’m from Alabama, where family is valued, and working hard is valued. Now I live in New York City where family and hard work are also valued, so it’s an easy translation.