Frederique van der Wal is the founder and chief creative officer of Frederique’s Choice, the fashionable floral e-commerce and content company. As one of the most recognized faces in the modeling world, she has taken her phenomenal global success in fashion and beauty and translated it into a career that spans the worlds of fashion, film, television and business.
Frederique van der Wal has appeared on the covers of beauty and fashion magazines worldwide, including Vogue and Cosmopolitan; in prestigious campaigns including Revlon, Guess?, MCI and Victoria’s Secret, and has been profiled in such varied magazines as Forbes and InStyle. In 2005 Frederique’s native Holland bestowed the great distinction of naming a lily in her honor. The Frederique’s Choice Lily was unveiled at a ceremony in Amsterdam, and inspired her to develop, produce and host a television program called “The Invisible Journey” with the Discovery Channel, which traced the route a flower travels from the growing fields of Africa through the markets and auction houses in the Netherlands to a special event in New York City. “The Invisible Journey” led Frederique to create a lifestyle brand within the flower industry, Frederique’s Choice (www.frederiqueschoice.com). Since its launch in Europe during the spring of 2008, Frederique’s Choice has been featured internationally to great acclaim, and prepares to launch in the US during 2015. Frederique has also been recognized as a skilled entrepreneur—as a guest lecturer at Harvard University, and in 2011 the recipient of the Marie Claire Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She has produced and hosted numerous television shows and segments varying from “Extra” to Fox. She was the Mole in the Hawaii celebrity edition of ABC’s popular TV series, and was the host and producer of Discovery TLC’s “Cover Shot”. Frederique is now preparing to host and produce her latest television series with the FYI Networks (a subsidiary of A&E Networks), revolving around home renovations through flowers, set to air in Fall 2015. Her sense of humor and style have earned Frederique a large following of fans. Today, she remains active, dividing her time between her work, numerous charities, and, most importantly, mother to daughter Scyler.
Congrats on your new venture, Frederique’s Choice! Please share the story behind the brand.
The seed was planted for Frederique’s Choice while growing up in Holland. It is the country of flowers; not only tulips, but all kinds. They are the largest export of flowers too. During my childhood, flowers were part of my everyday life; there were always fresh flowers around. When I moved for my career as a model to New York I realized flowers were not part of the everyday life here and were much harder to find. I would always try to find flowers when I returned back to New York from the many trips I made as a model. Fast forward to the 2005 when the Dutch government named a flower after me—I had the choice of picking a lily variety, and so that is where the name Frederique’s Choice came from. At the same time I was talking to Discovery Channel to do a show for them so I pitched the idea of following the route flowers make.
Tracking the journey how flowers come to us. From bulb to vase. From the fields in Holland, the greenhouses, Africa, the auction right into the vase. This journey inspired me so much and led me to create my own flower company. Combining the love of flowers and my Dutch heritage and all my experiences from the years within the fashion world. There was an open space within the flower industry: An e-commerce platform where you can find beautifully handcrafted bouquets designed by me with a fantastic eco-friendly packaging. Each bouquet comes in a vase and a cool tote which is reusable and multi functional, the tote protects the flowers and if you need to carry it somewhere it’s really easy.
Frederique’s Choice launched in Holland in end of 2008 and currently deliver to 9 countries in Europe; we just launched in the US in September 2015. Additionally, and very exciting, we also have a tv program called HomeGrown Makeover. I produced the show and hosted together with Carter Oosterhouse. Each show we re do an apartment and also create great ways to show how to integrate flowers and plants into your home.
Flowers are such an inspiration to me. They make you feel good and have such a positive effect on people. We need to find ways to be kinder and create a better environment overall. (see answer also to first question)
What is your ultimate flower?
The ultimate changes with color and shapes for me. There can’t be just one. That’s what’s so amazing about flowers. One day I can look at a delphinium and see the flowers as butterflies and it takes my breath away. An Orchid, in its amazing intricate look and shape. A Calla Lily so stunning in its simplicity and elegance. A hydrangea with its fullness and color. Scabiosa, a beautiful and dainty feel yet so feminine. Lisianthus, free and springy yet the rose in its grandeur asks respect.
How did it come about that Holland named a lily in your honor?
They named a flower in recognition to my career in fashion. Having been a good ambassador to the Dutch representing Holland in the world of fashion and beauty.
Did you have a hand in The Frederique’s Choice Lily?
When they honored me with this amazing distinction I did have a choice. I went to Holland to visit one of the many flower green houses in Holland. The Dutch flower growers always expand the horizons of their flowers and create new breeds of flowers. In the lily greenhouse I was introduced to all kinds of new breeds and made my choice. Albeit the name Frederique’s Choice A white lily with a blush of pink in the inside.
May celebrates Mothers. What are your offerings for this year’s Mother’s Day?
We will have some of our offerings in a link.
In an interview with Zac Posen, he talked about how the women in his life were strong women who propelled him to do and become what he is today. How has your mother (or women in your life) impacted you in your career?
My mother has been a big influence in my life even though I lost her at a very young age, at 17 but her love and believe in me gave me enormous strength. Her strength inspired me to whom I am today. Women have always played a big role in my life. To share your life experiences the ups and downs with other women is very important to me. I think as a woman its very important to do so and surround yourself with other like minded women. I am lucky to have some great female friends. I just wrote a piece about a dear friend, mentor, inspiration and also at times a mother figure, Beatrix Ost. A wise woman who inspires me to go beyond the expected who teaches me that life is a wondrous road that always gets interrupted and that we need to embrace this journey. To be kind and non judgmental. To stand proud as a fierce woman. To be humble and loving. To push the boundaries and stride for the exceptional. To be curious.
Did she (or they) propel you to do what you have done and become what you are today? If so, how?
My mother gave me strength and strangely enough by loosing her so young gave me a certain strength. I knew life would always have ups and downs and that you embrace both. Also I think as women we have vulnerability and being able to share that is a beautiful thing to be able to give and share.
What does motherhood, or being a strong woman, mean to you?
For me motherhood has been one of the greatest gifts. Having my daughter, Scyler made my heart became round again. Being a mom came natural and gives me such joy. Wonderful to be able to give love and care for her. Empower her to be her wonderful self. I’m enjoying each step of the way. Now in her teenage years, 15 is also fantastic seeing her grow into an amazing young woman. I feel so lucky and grateful to have her in my life and I in hers. As I had with my mom we have a very strong bond and also a great friendship. Being a strong mom also means sharing the vulnerabilities some of our weaknesses. Finding a balance in that is key and will help her to navigate her life.
What do you love about being a mother (or a woman)?
For me being mom made me feel full again. Somehow very healing. I also taught me to be more giving and caring, less selfish. Also what you give and you do get back in so many amazing ways. I also love being a woman. I think it’s a gift to feel so much and be able to be nurturing. To be able to share this. How we all are, so capable as women. The power we have.
As a mother and a strong woman, what do you want to pass to your daughter?
To be curious, be caring, be humble and kind. To dare and strive to be strong yet vulnerable. To enjoy the ride, the ups and downs. To dream. Dare to fail but do try. Be connected and I mean to people not to that phone or internet all the time.
What do you wish more mothers (or women) passed on?
Spend more time together. Have dinner together, set the table, cook together, communicate.
Do you have any Mother’s Day traditions?
Breakfast in bed. Scyler always makes me breakfast and writes me a note a card. A drawing. A nice dinner with the family. She also always gets me flowers on mother’s day. Though the other day I came back from a business trip and she gave me flowers. It was so wonderfully unexpected it was so heartfelt and great!
What is your recipe for a great bouquet of flowers?
I think having flowers around is key. All the time not just for mother’s day. It makes me feel happy to see the flowers. It makes such a great impact in your home. I love the bouquets I put together they are full of flowers and I like to bind them spirally so when you see them in the vase they open up beautifully but I love almost any flower and putting a few, just the single stems throughout my house—it is a great way of making your home come alive.