Ask Frederique van der Wal about her successes, and she’ll tell you that she was fortunate. For a woman who has graced the covers of Vogue and Cosmopolitan, produced a documentary for the Discovery Channel and been the face for campaigns for Victoria’s Secret and Revlon, this supermodel-turned-TV-host-turned-producer-turned-entrepreneur is impossibly grounded.
Naturally, the next step in this beauty’s career was to launch Frederique’s Choice, a floral delivery business started in Europe in 2008. The company is a result of van der Wal’s admiration for flowers’ ability to bring happiness into a room and provide mood-enhancing benefits. Most recently, van der Wal wrapped up the filming of an unnamed reality TV series for the American-based FYI network on transforming homes with flowers and plants, which segued into officially opening in New York this past September.
Van der Wal will be the first to tell you that hosting the launch party gave her a few gray hairs and that starting the company came with a lot of mistakes, a lot of falling down and getting back up again. “You have to embrace it,” van der Wal says. “Some days, it’s a great embracing moment, and some days, you ask yourself, ‘Oh my God, what did I start?’”
Her success is fairly easy to track once you understand her thought process. Take Frederique’s Choice, which was the result of a domino effect when Holland offered to name a flower after her. When she was asked to choose her flower—thus the “choice” in the company name—she discovered that it took 10 years to create a new breed of lilies. She proceeded to create a documentary about the process of getting flowers to our doorsteps, from bulb to vase. After that, she realized that the multibillion-dollar industry didn’t have a face, the way jeans have Levi’s and trench coats have Donna Karan. “You sometimes have to follow your gut and dare to take risks, and say, ‘Hey, if certain things fail, it’s also part of that journey.’”
She credits her achievements to her Dutch upbringing and to her innate entrepreneurial spirit. When she was 10 she sold painted stones on the sidewalk. She’s always been endlessly curious, which naturally played a strong role in her moving to New York at the young age of 18. “I had no idea that I would embark on this journey,” she says with a laugh. “At the time, it wasn’t the dream.” Yet it became the dream, and van Der Wal shows no signs of slowing down. Her next goal is to delve into home goods like scented candles. In the meantime, van der Wal can be found cooking dinner with her 15-year-old daughter and planning a weeklong escape to upstate New York, solely to garden and hike.