DAN MEINERS of Studio Dan Meiners

26 Oct

PART I:  DAN MEINERS @ WORK

If you look closely, you will find a ribbon of artistic ability, a natural creativity, woven within each and every one of us.  Within some, that ribbon remains hidden.  In others, it is displayed more prominently but requires regular maintenance; food by way of inspiration, training to sharpen the skill.  Still, there are those very few individuals within whom it is so prominent, so pervasive, that it is who they are.  Purposeful.  Unthinking.  Reflexive.  And whatever it is, it eludes many of us, fascinates us, leaving us to wonder how and what and why.

It is this fascination, coupled with natural curiosity that led me to attend the autumn open house at Studio Dan Meiners in late September.  There to check out the new retail/event/studio space, rub elbows with other creative folk, and get some much-needed design inspiration, I wandered through and around the space taking in all of the displays and everything contained within each one.  I walked slowly so that I would not miss even the slightest of merchandising intricacies.  Soon I found myself deep in a conversation about blogging and social media with a new acquaintance when I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder.  I turned around to see that it was my friend Alex who had brought none other than the man himself, Dan Meiners, over to meet me.  After being properly introduced I found myself being whisked off on a personal tour of the recently renovated, unveiled space, ending up in Dan’s personal office – impeccably styled and complete with well-placed art and picture books.  He was so warm, welcoming, and personable that I felt instantly like a trusted member of his family.  I walked away from that evening wondering how someone with such creative genius coursing through his body could be so – no offense – normal, down-to-earth, and accessible.  I left with a desire to know more.

So when I sat in his office two weeks later, having talked my way into a meeting with him, and we later agreed that I would write a three-part blog series about him, I never imagined that the assignment would also include a work-out and weight-loss program.  As I would soon find out, one long gazelle-like stride of Dan’s equals three of my own.  And that is how I spent much of one Saturday, desperately trying to keep up with the city’s top floral and event designer as he directed his team and transformed the Imperial ballroom of the downtown Marriott Muehlbach Tower for the annual BOTAR Ball.

I arrived at Dan’s studio and event space early in the morning on Saturday, October 16th to find a large team all in branded t-shirts working diligently.  They were loading several trucks with flowers and greenery and props, finishing centerpieces, building and hanging beautiful space dividers from long strands of crystal pieces, and putting together a chuppah, among other things.  With three events scheduled for that day – a wedding at Longview Mansion, a wedding and reception at the Studio Dan Meiners event space, and the BOTAR Ball – each team member had an important part to play in making sure that each event was carried off with precision.  Before I knew it, they had driven off in their loaded delivery trucks and I was alone at the studio with the small crew setting up the space for the wedding and reception that would take place later that day.

Meanwhile, Dan was sitting in his Jeep, inching slowly through re-directed traffic from the morning’s marathon race that wound through the Plaza.  Needless to say, when he arrived at the studio a half hour behind schedule he moved like a man on a very important mission.  I had been warned that he kept a quick pace, but I’m pretty sure “lightning speed” never came out of his mouth.  After a quick greeting, he went immediately about the day’s work, checking in with his team, constantly assessing, moving, asking, directing, adjusting, assuring, and directing some more.

Over the course of the day I heard him raise his voice only once, though he quickly cooled, and the only hint of insecurity I managed to find was when he was asked by the event photographer to pose for some photographs.  Heaping praise upon Dan as he snapped the staged shots, the photographer managed to knock him off-balance for just a moment.  I believe I even saw him blush a bit.  It is apparent that being the center of attention is unnatural and somewhat embarrassing for the man who grew up in the Kansas City area and in the business, and who many know and still refer to as “Danny”.

Upon finishing some prep work at the studio, we hopped into his Jeep for a very quick ride to the Muehlbach where he would focus the bulk of his time and attention.  Though the set-up in the ballroom was predictably fraught with minor issues – the color of a flower being somewhat “off” from what was anticipated, tables being moved once they had been detailed, and a lighting crew who tested the time frame for completing their part of the work – he remained the picture of calm, a trait he says has served him quite well in his business.  He worked tirelessly on nearly every piece of the elaborate design, from setting the centerpieces, showing the team of helpers how he wanted the napkins folded, detailing tables and even setting some of the accent lighting himself.

The BOTAR committee had come to him with their theme for the event and ideas for the space approximately six months prior.  And he, in true Dan Meiners fashion, imagined a space, every inch of which was covered in a very elaborate chinois style complete with a cluster of large, billowy umbrellas with gold tassels hanging over the dance floor, an elegant yet unexpected cherry blossom wallpaper lighting effect on the walls, and a hand-cut and painted Pagoda as the centerpiece of the stage.  I asked him to tell me what it is that inspires him, to which he simply stated that he travels, is a lover of history, and looks at a lot of pictures.  “I find beauty in everything, even the unexpected, like poverty,” he said.  “Even in the way the fishermen line up their fish in the market.”

Though he worked at break-neck speed to finish on time – an element of his business reputation that is extremely important to him and one for which he is very proud – I was able to glue myself to him long enough to glean what I believe are some of the secrets to his well-deserved success.

1.)        A mad attention to details and a strict adherence to high standards.

2.)        A very talented and hungry team.

3.)        A fierce protection of his personal time which keeps him fresh and grounded.

4.)        Very good planning, whether it is business planning or time management.

5.)        The elusive “X” factor.

It is the last one that is so difficult to explain in any kind of detail, even for Dan himself, and I can report that there is no magic pixie dust involved (at least not that he let me in on).  When I asked him about his personal style, he turned to me as he continued to work and with a smile replied, “I just know what I like.  That’s how it works right?”

Author’s Note:  Follow along as we break down Kansas City’s top floral and event designer, Dan Meiners.  Watch for Part II:  Dan Meiners @ Home to be up on the Style Studio site November 23rd.

Photo credits:  Michael Coyazo of MAC Photo.  For a gallery of all images taken that day and to view more of Michael’s work, click here.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “DAN MEINERS of Studio Dan Meiners”

  1. Kelli Ridgway October 26, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    Beautiful! Simply Amazing! The writing and the event! What a dream to make such beautiful things happen!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Getting Personal With Dan Meiners « Style Studio - November 24, 2010

    […] Part I of this blog series, I described Dan as “accessible”.  In Part II he stays true to […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: