Surrounded by walls and shelves of magnificent paper flowers at the Bridal Extravaganza, paper designer Khrystyna Balushka hardly has a moment to answer a few questions. The soon-to-be brides are all over her unique approach to wedding decor, asking questions and taking selfies in front her elaborate displays.
Balushka creates massive backdrops of paper flowers for wedding photos, designs floral arches for wedding ceremonies and even designs bridal bouquets that will, in essence, last forever. She also creates delicate bracelets and contemporary necklaces from her flowers. The brides-to-be have questions about pricing and design and most of them want their photo taken with the 30-year-old from the Ukraine.
Since establishing Paper Floral Artistry only three years ago, Balushka has seen her business literally blossom into a full-time career that typically means 18 hour days and more than her share of paper cuts. "Look at my hands," she muses. "They are not pretty. I cannot have beautiful hands with this work."
Balushka estimates the 30 percent of her work is bridal while the majority of her commissions come from retail. Just around the corner from her Bridal Extravaganza booth, Divisi Strings performs against a backdrop graced with her florals. Across from her booth, Balushka points to flowers she created for an Edible Designs display.
Balushka has seen her business literally blossom into a full-time career that typically means 18 hour days and more than her share of paper cuts.
With degrees in economics and business, she headed to the U.S. to study fashion design but was sidetracked when one of her professors asked her to create a floral backdrop for a fashion shoot."Overnight, I taught myself . . . I started my career just like that," she says.
Balushka basically has four kinds of flowers, the camellia being the most popular and the peony the most labor intensive requiring about 2.5 hours. She creates her flowers in a warehouse office with several assistants though she says, as a self-admitted perfectionist, "I still make everything myself. My assistants help with crinkling."
Her work has become popular nationwide with her flowers displayed in the New York Public Library, on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and in The Knot.
While her work appears in retailers around the city including David Peck USA, her current big contract is with the gourmet candy company Sugarfina. She is creating flower designs for the company's flagship in New York as well as its other stores around the country.