Frederique van der Wal, one of the great supermodels of the 80s and 90s, has had an amazing second career as an entrepreneur, founding flower brand Frederique’s Choice. We worked with her on the relaunch of our Travelers collection, and loved what she had to say about owning her age, how she travels, and her tips for keeping flowers fresh.
Introduce yourself: name, age, and occupation.
Frederique van der Wal. I’m 48. I’ve had quite a few titles over the years. I’m an entrepreneur and founder of Frederique’s Choice, a brand around flowers. Some people will say “super model”
That’s how we think of you…
It’s funny in the Netherlands, we’re brought up to be much more humble. In America, once you’ve gotten the title you can keep it. Where the Dutch-we’re not like that…
How has modeling changed for you as you’ve gotten older?
I like it better now. I feel so much more secure in the person I am now rather than who I was in my 20s or 30s. I love where I’m at. I love the fact of maturing. You take things more lightly; I like being respected for the woman I am now. Yes, I have a few laugh wrinkles and all those things. It’s okay. I’ve lived a life already. I’m not trying to be a 12 year old. It’s wonderful.
Tell us about your flower brand, Frederique’s Choice, and what inspired you to start it.
I was born and raised in Holland and Holland is the country of flowers. Flowers have always been an enormous inspiration to me. When I first started traveling as a model at 18, the first thing I would do on a trip is get flowers into my home or my hotel room, because even if it’s just a few flowers, it comes to life. That’s how I was raised. Flowers are so much a part of who I am. Fast forward to 2005. The Dutch government, in recognition to my career, named a lily after me and I had a choice. I was brought to the greenhouse where I was introduced to these beautiful breeds of lilies. And I chose this flower, which they named Frederique’s Choice. That’s why I named the company that. While I was going through the process of choosing my flower, I learned so much. I didn’t realize it took 10 years to create certain blooms. Like lilies, like tulips.
I thought, “How interesting that I’ve been a name and face of so many brands and when I think of flowers …there’s no brand.” It was an interesting challenge to me. I first launched in 2008/2009, at De Bijenkorf, which is like the Bloomingdale’s of Holland. Really like a brand, like a perfume almost, with the flowers. We also do bulbs. Last year we came to the US.
Why do you think it’s important to have flowers and nature around you?
Having nature around you has a serious positive effect on you. It’s been proven. Whether you receive flowers or are seeing the first blooms of spring after winter comes, something happens. Your brain actually responds positively and your moods are enhanced. They’ve also seen when they use plants and flowers within offices it’s very helpful for people’s energy. In the home you really see the difference; some plants, like Peace Lilies or English Ivy, are natural air purifiers.
What are your favorite flowers?
That’s a hard one. I have so many. I definitely love Delphiniums. I love Peony season and at this time of year, Dahlias. Roses. Agapanthus. I could go on and on. I love all flowers.
What are your big flower tips?
When you get flowers, always cut them diagonally, two centimeters or so. Make sure to refresh the water every day. Never put cut flowers right in the window where the air comes in and out. And keep them away from direct sunlight.
What do you need to have with you when you travel?
I firmly believe it’s important to always be comfortable. Always wear long pants and bring a good sweater- the temperature is never consistent in airports or in planes. I think it’s always important to have a good set of heels with you and a whatever cocktail dress or a simple dress. I love how with the Travelers line the fabrics don’t wrinkle. It’s such a relief to have that key piece that is an easy thing to put in your suitcase and you’re ready to go. You hang it up, you don’t have to think, “Oh my God, I have to get it steamed or ironed or something.” Sometimes you suddenly have to be a little bit more dressed up, and it’s so great to be prepared.
Where’s your favorite place to go and why?
I have a place in upstate New York. It’s an old farm. I love going there because I’m in nature. I can garden. I hear the birds, and see butterflies. I love that.