In The Business Of Beauty, Blooms, And Bold Choices: Trailblazer Robert Blancaflor Talks About Redefining The Event Styling Industry In The Philippines
Before the country's well-heeled developed a fine taste for beautifully designed events, there was Robert Blancaflor, the creative visionary who started it all.
He's none other than the managing director and founder of the Robert Blancaflor Group (RBG), the first events styling company in the country that may be credited for legitimizing this line of business. As he describes, even before Filipinos dared desire having their dream wedding, birthday, anniversary, or corporate gathering come to life, he was already hard at work at building the foundations of one the Philippines' most in-demand services.
Robert recalls, "We changed the concept of how you decorate things. We started floor-to-ceiling decor, which means we added all of these ceiling décor including hanging flowers, we introduced carpets, we had table linens, we had chairs. We basically changed the whole style."
Before RGB, many event planners—the term "event stylist" was then still unheard of—simply offered floral arrangements and at most, also provided special silverware and glassware. Today, Filipinos from all walks of life have thrown and enjoyed social events of every sort that have wowed guests with intricate tablescapes, stage and lighting design, imported blooms, personalized accessories, customized giveaways, and many other sights to behold. Guests have come to expect to be dazzled by a full production, and it's all because Robert proved that it could all be possible.
Last July 3, Robert held a workshop called “The Art & Science of Event Styling” at the Manila House Private Members Club, where he shared his knowledge on this industry and taught the participants the styling tricks in putting together a fabulous event. Watch out for more exclusive content on this event!
When it comes to setting himself apart from the crowd, Robert is incredibly firm on one thing: "We don’t use fake flowers. That's non-negotiable. For me, a good stylist never uses fake elements." Hence, flowers from Taiwan, Holland, and Ecuador often make breathtaking appearances in many of Robert's events. Over time, these fresh blooms have become his signature style.
It's been 21 years since Robert bid adieu to a burgeoning career in banking and finance to pursue a full-time profession as an event stylist and business owner. Although he's never looked back, Robert has never failed to acknowledge the benefits of having a corporate background in a creative field.
In fact, that's Robert's main message when asked how he's continued to thrive in an industry that's become more competitive over the years. Aside from his impeccable eye for detail and inherent elegant taste, one of his competitive advantages lies in his ability to manage his business first-hand. While others heavily rely on the services of third-party consultants to advise them on their finances and investments, Robert can boast of independence in this aspect.
Unbeknownst to many are his second and third most powerful weapons in his arsenal of competitive edges: his insatiable willingness to improve, matched with a total aversion to complacency.
"Never be comfortable. It’s like being a hunter. You make sure that you fight, and that you always ask questions. You always think, 'What else can I do?' In my business, I challenge myself. I tell myself, 'No event is perfect.' I’ve never had a perfect event in my 21 years," he explains.
While Robert's self-imposed standards might sound too high to meet for some, to him, it's only appropriate to reach for the stars when one is in the business of making memories, fostering enduring relationships, and raising the bar of what homegrown Filipino talent can accomplish. Unsurprisingly, his commitment to excellence has not gone unnoticed, and has blessed him with a steadily growing list of clients.
His portfolio includes Vicki Belo, Hayden Kho, and Scarlet Snow, Cristalle Henares-Pitt, Ruffa Gutierrez, Aga and Charlene Muhlach, Claudia Barretto, KC Concepcion, JC Intal and Bianca Gonzalez, Antonio Ressano and Rocio Olbes, Jugs Jugueta and Andie Aguirre, Ryan Agoncillo and Judy Ann Santos, Jessica Kienle-Maxwell, Cris Albert, presidential granddaughter Isabelle Duterte, and so many more.
In addition to his Filipino clients, Robert has also worked with couples abroad for weddings in Tokyo and Hong Kong, and will soon make his mark in Los Angeles, New York, and Tuscany.
In our more than 20 years of making beautiful Events, its our first time to create a Fresh Rose Carpet for a Ballroom! Using more than 9,000 stems of Red Roses for an intimate guests of 30, this is definitely one for the books - Congratulations @itskcconcepcion for the launch of your #AvecMoibyKristina Jewelry Collection?? #yaparazzievents #robertblancaflorgroup #eventstylingph #luxeeventaph #KcConcepcion
Thank You @itskcconcepcion for trusting us on the launch of your #AvecMoibyKristina Jewelry Collection. I still remember that day 14 Years ago when we also did your 18th Birthday! You created a trend on how Debuts are done and just last night - you did it again! A True Class Act! Congratulations?? #RobertBlancaflorGroup #EventStylingPH
To date, all the couples, celebrators, companies, and families he's worked with have been left fully satisfied with his work, and it's the simple "thank you’s" from them that show Robert that he indeed made the right decision more than two decades ago.
"When the clients say 'thank you,' I think at the end of the day, it’s still that. Whether it’s a long message, or just a 'thank you,' and when they say that 'you’ve given us our dream,' I think that’s the most fulfilling part—more than the monetary value," Robert reflects.
In the professional world, Robert has likewise enjoyed recognition and validation of his efforts. In 2017, he was chosen by Ernst & Young to represent the Philippines in the Entrepreneur of the Year Award ceremony staged annually in Monaco. The prestigious event shines the spotlight on entrepreneurial pioneers from dozens of countries who have broken the mold in their respective industries by making long-lasting contributions and resetting the limits of what can be achieved.
Just arrived at the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year Gala. This is a much-awaited night in this year’s series of events as we are here rooting for Mrs. Natividad Cheng of Uratex representing the Philippines and vying for the World Entrepreneur Grand award. I am filled with so much inspiration, new knowledge, and have gained new perspectives from this experience. I am excited to take everything I have learned and apply them in my very own business. Truly blessed to be here and to be given such an amazing opportunity. Thank You @paulcabral for my suit. #weoy #WorldEntrepreneuroftheYear #WorldEntrepreneur2018 #teamphilippines????
2017, our 20th Year gave us so many FIRSTS....From being awarded as a Finalist in the Ernst & Young’s #EntrepreneurOfTheYear (the first Events Company to ever have been given such an Award) to our 20th Year Anniversary Show at 30th Ayala Mall (The First Ever Event Stylist - Ayala Malls collaboration Show) and to that Most Talked about Hayden Kho - Vicki Belo Wedding in Paris (The First Ever Philipine Based Event Stylist to have designed a wedding in Paris / Paris Opera House). And of course, we will never forget the Thousands of Events that have contributed to our success this year and the past 19 Years - We will forever be grateful. We look forward to a more eventful 2018 with all of you. HAPPY NEW YEAR and MARAMING MARAMING SALAMAT!
With the nomination being an honor in itself, Robert's was made even more special as this was the first time in history that a Filipino professional event stylist was given such a distinction. In the end, Robert went home as a finalist.
Yet even at the peaks he sits on, Robert still makes time to give back to the community that has allowed him to prosper. Providing his services to a handful of churches in Bacolod, as well as charities like the Philippine Red Cross and the Philippine Cancer Society, Robert makes sure to foster social responsibility alongside making a profit.
With all that he's done to help Filipinos materialize their dream events, it comes to no surprise that Robert is a pillar of the Philippines' dynamic event styling industry.
"There’s no such thing as a free walk. You have to work hard for the things that you want," ends Robert with the confidence and wisdom of someone who has learned the true meaning of success.
Photography by Berwin Coroza
Shot on location at Manila House Private Club
Special thanks to Pia Campos