Meeting Henck Röling

Well how exciting that for my first blog for my website I got to spend some time with the one and only Henck Röling from the hit Netflix show ‘The Big Flower Fight’. Henck and I have been colleagues and friends for a few years now and it was such an honour that he agreed to this interview for me. One of the things I know we have all been doing during lockdown is bingeing NETFLIX like it’s going out of fashion. I was so excited to hear that Henck would be taking part in the series and fully supported and believed in him during his time on the series. Henck has had a lot of interest from the show and I felt it would be a nice time now, after the buzz from the series has settled a little, to have a first-hand experience of what it was like going from the normal day to day florist life to the glitz and glamour of becoming a TV star.

One of the things I’ve heard a lot of people questioning when they saw Henck on television was whether he dresses as he did on the show in everyday life. Anyone that knows Henck, knows that this is 100% Hencks everyday attire. New Covent Garden Flower Market would not be the same in the mornings without Henck’s fashion to cheer us all up! I might even be daring to say he toned it down for the show!

Henck took part in the hit Netflix series as a team. Yan Skates was also a part of the creative duo, through the series, the creative flair that they displayed together is something of a dream. If you have not had a chance to watch it, I highly recommend the series, even if you are not a florist, this show takes a very similar form to that of The Great British Bake Off and is a great watch with tears, laughter and some truly nail-biting scenes. A huge thank you to Henck for giving us an insight into his experience. Henck and Yan both continue to create masterpieces and I will include their social media below, take a look as they are two incredibly inspiring and talented artists.

“How I got involved in the Big Flower Fight was because of my partner Yan Skates. He is a regular with NASAF the flower arranging competitions and he had received an email via them that there was this new TV programme about making giant flower sculptures in the style of British Bake Off in the making.

“He phoned me on a Sunday morning to see if I was up for it with him, and we agreed to give it a go. It was a very long selection procedure. Lists of questions had to be answered, photo’s send. After that, we had a Skype interview with the casting company. To our surprise, we were invited to a screen test, which they seemed to like as we made it into the first series!

“Our favourite piece of the 8 that we made on the show has to be the Orangutang. This was an episode we did not prepare in advance. And going into the dome we got sort of stuck with the frame of the Orangutang. He was wider than he was high and squat. We felt that it was going to be our ticket out of the show.

“During the first day at lunch we had a pep talk from team Ralph Kernott and his son Jim who were also in the competition, Ralph was the daddy of the group. He said to us ‘if anyone could pull it off, we could.’ His confidence in us gave us the massive boost we needed and we started to develop the narrative. As an endangered species, the loss of habitat etc we suddenly used this idea and envisioned him sitting saddened on a pile of human debris.

“The production company were not very happy with our serious message, they asked for a dr. Zeus-esk approach, jolly and comical. However, we stuck to our guns and kept pushing our story in every interview we did. We felt it was a really important and poignant topic that needed to be addressed.

“When the judging came, and we were able to give a very short and concise version of our story, they really related to it and we felt they understood the importance of the message. Thankfully in the edit, the Endangered species story gets the full attention that it deserves. It was a very passionate and emotional journey for us both with this sculpture!

“The filming was stressful, just because it was a process we were not used to being involved in. In the first couple of episodes, Yan and I had plenty of time left at the end of the challenge. We were so used to working to tight deadlines as we work every day in the events industry dealing with time pressures and high levels of stress. We would often help other people that were struggling to finish off their sculptures and our skills could be utilised with the other teams. We both felt we wanted everyone to do well and show the judges a finished product of each teams vision, which was more important to us than winning the show.

“During the later episodes, like the semi-final and final, the sculptures were getting so big that even Yan and I struggled to finish them. We had to pull out all the plugs to finish off our very elaborate designs. Using more plants than anyone in the competition, adding more elements than anyone else, we didn’t make it easy for ourselves but that was also the fun of it. It was such an amazing opportunity to show off our skills and take on new challenges.

“While filming we weren’t aware of the impact it would have on the outside world, after all, it was like a little bubble. We didn’t think about the fact it would be seen by millions of people worldwide. All the teams just kept going over the weeks and we got to know the film crew really well and had such a good time. We had so much laughter during the filming, the fact there was so much pressure, only made us forge stronger bonds.

“However, filming itself did have some impact on what we were doing. Often the film crew would come past everyone to do interviews on the spot with a presenter or the judges. This felt like valuable time was lost, sometimes the film crew would ask if we could repeat a certain action over and over to get the best shot. We tried so hard to get everything done the first time, we didn’t have the luxury to stop when we had such tight time restrictions. As a florist this was frustrating, but that was the difference of suddenly working on television.

“A lot of people have asked where the inspiration for our sculptures came from, honestly, it often came just from our minds. Yan and I would brainstorm when we were presented with a new challenge, most of the time one of us would come up with a source of inspiration, from art, fashion, history. We both have an extensive interest in all these fields, so it was quite easy to find an idea.

“We would then work out a way to bring it to life. It was always a team effort in the end with both of us giving it our all.

“Looking back on the Big Flower Fight, I think one of the reasons we got selected was our ‘slightly’ outrageous sense of fashion. For people that know me in the flower market that is no surprise.

“It was the reason Yan and I first connected. I was working outside the old flower market in Vauxhall and Yan drove past, stopped and started talking to me, his opening line was ‘I like a well-dressed man!’.

“When we were in filming it only made sense that we just followed on with our usual style. When we first arrived and met the other contestants they were a bit overwhelmed by our appearance I think. It was as though we were perhaps ‘the entertainment of the show.’

“I think some of the other teams instantly felt they had to ‘up’ their fashion game so they didn’t come out looking boring and dull. We often tried to connect part of the challenge with our fashion choices, in the edible throne challenge, Yan is wearing a Cooks outfit and I choose to dye my hair like a watermelon. We just tried to bring a little fun to our outfits, not taking it at all too seriously.

“The crew every week were impressed and in awe of what we were wearing and often would comment, however, some items got blacklisted for reasons of copyright or reasons we were not told. On the final night, when we had our wrap party, it only felt fitting that most of us wore the banned items that didn’t make the show! LOL!

“Unfortunately, the show came out in lockdown when there was very little work going on in the Events industry, so we didn’t have a lot of work come off the back of the show. However, both Yan and I have had a massive increase of followers on social media and have been spending our lockdown keeping them entertained.

“We did two small gigs that did come out of the show. One with Hendriks Gin and the other for a small scale festival, called ‘We Are Not A Festival’. There has been some talk about going to Colombia, where there is a big wedding show and the organisers wanted us to give a demonstration. For obvious reasons, Covid, this couldn’t take place, like many things this last year. Maybe this year it will be possible if they still want us!

“In the meantime, I’m just continuing with my freelance floristry work. I love the job and it brings me a lot of joy and I get to work with some amazing people. If you do what you do with passion, I think people will notice and buy into what you do!”

You will be able to see Henck and Yan normally buzzing around the flower market, I know we’ve missed seeing them there with covid shutting most things down.

Give them a follow on Instagram to see more of what they get up to in their day to day life! I can assure you, their pages are worth a visit!

@henckroling | @yanskates