If Pollen Nation Events is not on your radar, you are living under a rock. Known for their elaborate décor and breathtaking creations, Pollen Nation reigns as one of the world’s avant-garde and influential event design companies. Colin and Kelly Abraham’s clientele include some of the most influential leaders, A-list artists, and powerful companies including, but not limited to, former presidents’ Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush, Heidi Klum, Madonna, and Dow Jones. Kendra Bell and Santana chat with Colin Abraham about his happenstance into the world of florals and designs, hosting Sean “Diddy” Combs legendary “White Parties”, and designing Jay-Z and Beyonce’s stunning wedding.
Santana: How did you transition from being a correctional officer and police officer in Trinidad to an amazing floral arrangement designer?
Collin: I have to say that my life was preordained. I did not study floral design. I didn’t study event design. I kind of fell into it while doing my studies here in New York.
While I was going to school I was doing part-time at this event planning company in Manhattan. I dug more into it and found myself at some point really liking it. As I dug deeper and deeper, it just became natural.
Santana: How do you make your ideas come to life?
Collin: Once I meet with a client and get a clear vision of the client’s expectations, we go back to the drawing board and start building on the areas where we think the client would be happy with. That’s the end result. Once the client is happy and we can surpass the client’s expectation, that makes for a successful event. So it’s a team effort from the rendering, drawings, and researching of different ideas and color palettes.
Santana: You’ve worked with a lot of people like Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Bobby Brown, Janet Jackson, Jada Pinkett, Jay-Z, JLo and Barack Obama. The list goes on and on! Who is your favorite person to work with?
Collin: That’s a tough question! I would have to say Puffy is one. He has a clear vision of what he wants and what he likes. So it’s really kind of easy. He likes everything big, glamorous, white and sort of flashy.
L. A. Reid is the total opposite of that. He’s very classy, simple and clean. Less is more. He’s very minimalist. Jay-Z as well. They know what they like. They trust me and leave everything in my hands.
I’ve never really had any issues with them. So it’s hard to pinpoint who is the best or who. They all have their different styles and flavors. I enjoy working with them.
Santana: Tell us more about your first event, which was working with Puffy.
Collin: That’s really retro… I had known him previously from doing music because that’s my first love. When I met him initially, he was exactly what you see on television. Very flashy… This is what he likes. This is what he wants. He has to have this.
So when we hooked up here in the United States and I got an opportunity to work for him, I started off doing small events for him. I did his son Christian’s birthday parties, christening and stuff like that until he got really comfortable with me. Then, we graduated further to larger and larger stuff.
I was really appreciative of the opportunity that he gave me while being here in the United States because I can really pinpoint him as being the catalyst. He was the person that really pushed me to go out on my own to start my own company and work for myself. It was all him. He said, “I will support you in whatever endeavors you do.” So I’m really appreciative to him. We’re talking about almost 18 years ago, you know.
Santana: What other events would you like to put your magic touch on?
Collin: The Academy Awards (chuckles). I would love to work on that. I look at it on television and I’m amazed as to how they transform. Obviously, I know it’s live production. It’s a totally different type of event planning. You’re constrained by time and your time is of the essence. That’s why they cut people sometimes in the middle of their speeches because it’s all about timing. So I would love to work on The Academy Awards and go through that process of learning because everything is a learning curve. You can never be too old to learn something. So I would love to get to those designers and producers who produce the Academy Awards and kind of learn from them and be able to be a part of the entire production.
The guys who produce the BET Awards, Will Packer and Jessie Collins, do an amazing job. So I would really like to work with these guys as well.
Kendra: You’ve been working for 18 years. How have you stayed, sustained yourself and kept your clients that continue to choose you?
Collin: It’s just delivering beyond expectations. Some of my core clients, although I deliver a fantastic event, are obviously paramount, but they must always trust you as well. Not only your vision and expertise but also trust you with their prized possession because sometimes the events that I do for most of my core clients aren’t in a rented space. It’s in their five or ten million dollar homes.
My core clients like L. A. Reid and Jay-Z say to me, “I’m having something at my house with 40 or 50 people. Just go and make it fabulous. You know what I like.”
It’s like that kind of thing, not only knowing that I would deliver an amazing event but also trust me in their home with their valuable possession knowing that everything in its place stays in its place and there is no damage or theft. There’s nothing like that. Trust is the foundation of working with celebrities and people of high net worth.
Kendra: After working with so many celebrities how do you stay grounded because you and your wife both have totally different and unique backgrounds?
Collin: I look at them all as human beings. They may be wealthier than me, but they’re still human beings. They still put their pants on one leg at a time. They still brush their teeth. They still do the same things like I do. So I’m not phased with or thrown off by their status. I look at them as one of my amazing clients. Some of them are friends. So I deliver and stay grounded.
My wife keeps me grounded as well. We pray a lot. That’s how I remain focused.
Kendra: Did you have any challenges while growing your brand?
Collin: Of course. Once you start building any sort of brand, you will come across challenges. I think early on and even presently sometimes. The challenge is getting yourself out there; putting yourself out there even further so that you could get as more clients.
With that comes your marketing and with your marketing comes a really heavy marketing campaign. Then, that comes with finances. So you have to weigh the pros and cons.
Then, you have social media. That’s one of my negatives currently. I should be doing more on social media but I get so much into my work that I kind of push social media to the side. Also, you find that a lot of the clients that I work for are not on social media. They don’t want pictures of what we did for their events on social media. So I am constrained by that as well. I have to be very careful about what I say, what I post and where I check-in so as to not to divulge any sort of information that would let people know.
Kendra: That’s where the trust comes in.
Collin: Exactly! They know that I won’t be posting pictures of their home on Instagram for the world to see.
Kendra: What are your upcoming events? Are you working on any books? You have all this knowledge! (laughs)
Collin: We have some major events coming up. Some things are obviously still in the pipeline; something I can’t speak about. We have a lot of stuff planned for 2018 . We should stay in touch so that you guys could get some exclusives on what we are doing.
A book… You know what? I’ve been toying with the idea of a book for quite a while. I just need to sit still or find the right person that I can write this book with.