Local florist gets accredited by national institution

Abel Gonzalez Mencio

LA FERIA — Local florist Abel Gonzalez Mencio continues to collect accolades.

In a virtual induction celebration July 5 through Facebook Live, Mencio was honored along with 61 other accredited members of the American Institute of Floral Designers.

All 2020 inductees will also be invited to walk the stage to receive their membership pins during the 2021 Symposium in Washington, D.C.

“The process to do this is to apply for a membership and it is recognized worldwide,” Mencio said.

“About a 180 people tested and 61 graduated. Out of the 61, only eight were from Texas and 14 from other countries. It is something a lot of people strive for…. It is very prestigious,” he said.

“To me that was a big honor,” he said.

The program was created in 1965 and is the floral industry’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing high standards for professional floral design, according to a press release.

Members of the 55-year-old association are distinguished by the use of the “AIFD” mark as an addendum to their name.

Candidates become accredited by successfully demonstrating their advanced creative abilities before an international panel of AIFD Certified Evaluators.

Mencio already was a certified floral designer, which he describes as getting a license.

“I took a computer test, and once you pass with a 90 or above, you do an evaluation, and this year it would have been in Chicago,” he said.

Now, Mencio will travel to Washington in July of 2021 to be inducted.

“It is a big deal in the floral industry. This is as if I had gotten a doctorate degree. You have to know about design, plants and growing, structures and what keeps flowers hydrated,” he said.

“The evaluation is where you go into a room and take five items and tools and you have no cell phones, you are on your own,” he said.

In a piece of paper, the person evaluated receives five different items to design in four hours.

“This year it was a bridal bouquet, a funeral arrangement, a wrist corsage and a base arrangement and also a picture of an arrangement exactly the way it is,” he said.

If the arrangements do not look the same, the person fails.

“A lot of people don’t pay attention but for people that can copy a picture it was a piece of cake but not many can do that,” he said.

Last year, Mencio traveled to Las Vegas to test on the Fourth of July and did a similar test where he had to create arrangements.

Mencio remembers an earthquake happening on that date.

“We were a force to reckon with,” he said.

“I am honored and I am blessed. I really wish we would have been able to do this in Chicago; it would have been full circle for me,” he said.

The first arrangement Mencio did with his company was done at the same hotel he would have been inducted.

He had once been told by someone he did not have what it took to do flower arrangements. However, that did not stop him and only made him want to work harder.

“You get that little anger to prove them wrong, it is like fuel to me, the naysayers. It is very important for me to prove the Valley is a part of Texas and there is more to it,” he said.