I was a wholesale florist for twenty + years and even though I’ve moved on to other career choices, the industry will always be a part of me. It is a business like no other I’ve ever found that sinks below your skin and maybe even into your heart long after you say goodbye. Many people wonder why this is and ask, “What makes being a florist so special in the first place?” If you’ve worked in this field, you know it’s not because it’s easy. In fact, that is one of the greatest misconceptions of the floral industry and no- not everyone can do it. For whatever reason, the flower biz is often thought of as a “creatively whimsy” existence demanding very little education or know-how to get started. A general opinion that “working with flowers must be such a joy!” or “being a florist must be like an eternal vacation!” is often a preconceived view. Is there any truth to these statements? Well… Not really….
Becoming a florist is honestly one of the hardest professions to stick with for a prolonged period of time do to the mental and physical stresses put upon employees. Realizing the image of designers and managers stopping to smell each and every blossom throughout their work day is a common misunderstanding, shedding light on the real conditions about what it’s like to work in the industry might prove interesting! Here is a list of the top ten signs you’re meant to be a florist and I’ll bet you’ll be surprised by the reality of the business. If you find yourself matching at least half of the qualifications, contact your local Boston florist immediately. They will be lucky to have you!
10 Signs You’re Born to Be a Florist
You don’t mind waking up early-like REALLY early. (Retail 7am; wholesale as early as 2am).
You’re okay looking messy most of the time. (Jeans, T’s and sweats are your go-to wardrobe. New clothes just get ruined.)
Kissing most holidays and weekends goodbye is no big thing. (Yes-you’ll work through most of them).
You can’t sit still. (Most florists rarely sit down for more than 1 hour during a 12-14-work shift. Nine-hour work days during busy seasons usually don’t exist.)
Lifting twenty to thirty pounds is what you consider a healthy workout. (Florists unload dozens of pounds of product within a week. Weaklings need not apply.)
Speed is your middle name. (You have to move and MOVE FAST in the flower business for unloading, setting up and design tasks).
You have a strong memory. (You’re going to need to know hundreds of varieties of flora and fauna. Triple that if you work in a garden center.)
You can multitask like nobody’s business. (Doing five things at once is your expertise. Small businesses rely heavily on their employee’s ability to work in several other positions than merely under their title in the shop.)
You can be nice when you don’t feel like being nice. (Florists have to be upbeat for customers. No grumpy-gusses.)
You’re satisfied with an honest day’s pay instead of an exec’s salary. (You may not make a ton of $$ but you’ll feel good at what you’ve accomplished.)
It’s true… I was a florist for over twenty years in the Boston Wholesale Floral Industry- a job the where the word “difficult” might be an understatement for adequately describing the profession. Rain or shine, sleet or snow, the crew gathered together in the middle of the night to unload tractor trailer trucks packed with thirty to forty pound boxes which we would have to haul off, open and distribute before the sun actually had risen. It was grueling exercise, the kind of workout that would leave you aching for days in your back, legs and arms with little to no rest that would allow healing. Nevertheless, there was something inside of me driving the covers off when the 3:30 am alarm clock rang, the sound of a relentless drill sergeant commanding the start of a new day in the Boston Flower Exchange. Looking back, I could have left and got a job in an office like most twenty something’s do but instead I made the choice to stay. Regardless of the empty threats to leave the business in search of “easier” means of work, I continued to show up exactly on the hour required by employees (well, most of the time anyways…) and do my share of lugging, carrying and schlepping while being left with a strange sense of fulfillment at the end of the day. There could only be one explanation for this feeling that also came along with pain, exhaustion and bruises… I really loved being a florist.
Unbeknown too many people out there, being a floristis actually one of the hardest professions to survive within, and that includes both in terms of physical and financial wellness. There are long, grueling hours, limited opportunities for pay increases and the toll of heavy weight lifting on the body after years and years of exposure. Truly, you have to be one tough cookie to make it in the flower biz and as you can imagine- it’s not for everyone.
You might be wondering, “If it’s so bad, why do it then?” It’s an honest question with an honest answer-you’re a florist because you were born to become one. Seriously, it’s the truth. There are several personality traits that can lead a person into this profession which will determine if it’s the right fit for you. If you’ve always had an interest in this field, you might want to go over the top 13 traits of a true florist. Your destiny may be calling you…
The Top 13 Traits of a True Florist
You’re Hardworking No Matter What
You LOVE Anything That Grows
Not Having A Garden Is Sacrilegious
Working Saturdays Is No Big Deal
You’re Inherently Creative
You Like To Gamble
Weather Conditions Don’t Affect You
You See Yourself As An Artist
Your Work Means More To You Than A Paycheck
You Continue to Enjoy Learning Long After You’ve Finished School
You Like People But You Like Time Alone, Too
You Prefer To Move Than To Be Sitting Down All Day
You Use Your Hands More Than Any Other Part Of Your Body
When you think of famous people, actors, doctors, astronauts and inventors may be the first professions that come to mind. These are the careers chosen to influence the world by making it better place through ingenuity, brilliance, healing, entertainment and discovery. While these are obviously some of the most sought after positions, it’s imperative we take a look at those who have gifted society with beauty-perhaps a florist could fit well in this category? Over the years, there are certain florists who have pushed their way up to the top due to their impressive visions of creative floral design. Gifted with imagination, talent and the ability to implement inventive presentation by the use of blossoms, these famous designers have truly put their mark on the industry, revolutionizing our appreciation and pride within the floral industry. Read their stories and learn how they rose to become the highest celebrated professionals in their realm.
Simone Gooch - photo credit via http://www.dailyimprint.net
Simone Gooch has been said to be the top floral designer of London whose clients include Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton. Her style is categorized by a “minimalistic” approach and sways towards “less is more” attitude when designing pieces. Gooch is often inspired by visiting wholesalers to see what catches her eye instead of always relying on ordering a particular type of flower. Although London is known to encourage an “English feel” to their floral arranging, she prefers to be more architecturally animated instead of compact as the traditional style demands.
Klaus Wagner is an important industry leader for his native country of Germany where he is the first German designer to be awarded the honor of “World Champion”. He depends solely on inventing new materials to use in his arrangements, creating optimally extensive “works of art” instead of mere bouquets in vases. Kraus is the owner of the flower shop, “Blooms” as well as a floral publishing house and agency.
Menno Kroon comes from a country where floral designing is one of the most competitive professions you can be in, yet he still manages to rise to the top as one of the best. Starting at a young age, Kroon was mesmerized by anything that grew, particularly seeds and their process to grow into something beautiful. He nurtured his passion by studying under some of the most renowned florists in the Netherlands until he, too became a Dutch Master himself. He is not only recognized for his beautiful talent with flowers but also for his interior and exterior designing skills.
If you’re a florist, you’re probably laughing already since you are well aware that Valentine’s Day blizzards are a probable occurrence if you’ve set up business in New England. Some of us believe that there is a long-standing curse against the flower industry where at some point we must have ticked off the “flower Gods” in some way or another to deserve this heinous punishment. It is after all our Super Sunday so to speak-I mean seriously, why can’t the weather turn incremental on a holiday like Saint Patrick’s Day or Halloween?
photo credit via Boston Globe
Valentine’s Day means that we have one day to deliver the goods, a forty eight hour time frame to get the job done so a mess of powdery white stuff can really slow things up! It’s not like we’re going to take the day off and go home or anything. We’ll still be up at four in the morning, tackling last minute orders and sending out drivers onto the icy streets while they curse us under their breath. It’s just the nature of the beast and because Valentine’s Day is the #1 flower holiday on the calendar, we must carry on and bite the brute of the New England winter.
If you’re new to the industry, you might be wondering if there is anything you can do besides biting your nails while watching the weather channel the week before the big day. Well, there is! Take it from some of the old dogs that have been through many snow challenging Valentine’s Days who have learned a trick or two on how to keep your cool in the event of a nor’easter. You can’t just lock up and try again next year-no way! By using a little forecasting in your planning, you’ll be able to have a strategy that works for your business in the case of a snowed-out February 14th. Here are some tips that industry old timers swear by and keep them from having a disappointing Valentine’s Day.
If you start seeing that scary swirl on the meteorologists map than you should always be prepared to deliver early. Offer customers an incentive such as a rebate or coupon to purchase flowers for the preceding days instead of on February 14th. By doing so, you’ll get a head start for delivery workers as well as excite patrons with a slight reduction in cost. Don’t think for a second you’ll lose too much money because of the deflated holiday profit margins -it’s way better than being stuck with thousands of roses with no place to go!
Don’t Be Overly Zealous
For some of you who are just learning about the flower biz, you might get a little too eager when buying for your first Valentine’s Day. If the weather has been choppy and there is a high likelihood of storming than play it safe and cut back your purchases from wholesalers. You won’t get stuck with dead flowers and your suppliers won’t be knocking down your door holding expensive bills you can’t pay back in March.
If You Get Stuck
It happens to everyone at some point of their floral career where they blow a holiday and are left with a lot more product than anticipated. Go easy on yourself. This is an industry where learning and experience are everything so take notes on February 15th and record what went right and what went wrong. Next year is bound to be more successful.
I just saw this hysterical video on line where two women put on a skit about the common misconceptions of becoming a florist. The plot begins with a customer entering the store, presumably asking “typical” questions to the proprietor about different buying situations that are familiar to well seasoned florists. If you work in the industry, you may have already seen the clip because the link has gone viral, particularly within the floral community. Some of the inquiries and comments include: “This must be the most relaxing place in the world to work” (giggle, snort, sigh) and “Is this all you have to browse today?” when there are buckets of blossoms lined up in the background. The whole thing is a farce and made to show the incredible misunderstandings that seem to be connected with the floral occupation. So it got me thinking about a laundry list of lies that I have heard over the twenty-year stint I experienced while working in the wholesale sector.
These are the ones I laugh at the most… Have you ever experienced any of these as well?
Retail florists make so much money; they can afford to take as much time off as they desire. Although wholesalers make more, they don’t even work past 1pm in most places. Fact: Retail florists typically work six to seven days a week, generally from seven in the morning until eight or nine o’clock at night. Wholesalers commonly start their day anywhere from two to three o’clock in the morning to meet the shipments arriving by truck from airports. They don’t work less; they have to punch the clock in while you’re still in bed asleep.
Working in a flower shop is the easiest job you can get because it requires no physical activity, the most being the task of arranging pretty blossoms together in vases. Fact: The manual labor associated with the floral industry is congruent with the restaurant business where there is little to no “down time” during shifts. Accurate physical responsibilities include heavy lifting, fast paced movement and constant up and down bending.
Becoming a florist takes no prior talent or experience and there is absolutely no education required. Anyone can do it. Fact: Most florists hold college degrees in horticulture, agriculture or business where it is imperative that they know how to handle, care and operate a successful self-supporting company. Many flower shop owners now also make it mandatory for all staff to attend conferences, design clinics and other continuing education opportunities available within the industry to keep on top of trends.
The majority of flower shops in Bostonstay open for at least five years with few closing before their one-year anniversary. Fact: Opening a flower business and keeping one open are two totally different issues. One in every three shops end up closing before twelve months in operation and only a few today have been around as long as ten or more years. The flower industry remains one of the top most competitive markets in Boston.
All that’s needed to run a successful flower shop is a few nice flowers and some empty vases. The rest will work itself out on its own. Fact: In order to organize a well run flower business, you must have a talented staff, a well thought out business plan, a great location, access to a demographic that will spend money on flowers, a dependable wholesaler that will supply product of the appropriate grade, enough start up cash to float you during the rougher months of the year, genius merchandising and marketing strategies, top notch sales people, talent and most importantly LUCK!
I bet you didn’t know that because we live in Boston, we have access to some of the finest florists in the world! Complete with their own sense of style and flair, Boston is ranked one of the top twenty best performing floral designers across the globe.
I bet you didn’t know that each region has their own unique way of floral designing, making their pieces distinct and unique. Really, it’s true!
Each designer has their own influence on how they manipulate color, texture and size and it’s mainly due to the specific geographic location where he or she has learned their talents! For instance, Boston is pretty conservative when it comes to floral presentation but we also enjoy constant change in varieties mainly due to the fact that we experience a varying four-season climate. Another fact about our area’s likes and dislikes are that we have an inherent taste for blending shades instead of separate color tones. Even all white wedding work commonly has a pinch of peach or green added to create a richer balance.
Are you curious about what other worldwide florists are designing? Take a look at these nationally acclaimed floral industry masters and compare them to see where your taste truly lies. You might be surprised where you find the answer!
photo credit: weddingsitaly.com
Italian floral arrangements are influenced largely by the Tuscany theme, which relies heavily on wildflowers and species representative of this region’s infamous product, grapes. The essence usually revolves around romantic and sensual aspects, often cultivating opulent palettes of gem tones. Historically, Romans often offered poppies to the gods as a gift making them to this day a popular addition to many Italian bouquets.
photo credit: Jeff Leatham
French floral design is without a doubt, some of the most beautiful work the world has ever seen. The reason why is because regional designers have an eclectic style that stretches from single color clumping to erratic spectrums, incorporating bright shades of blues, yellows and oranges. Popular flowers used are (of course) native to the area’s agriculture, including French iris, tulips, ranunculus and my favorite, French roses.
The Japanese style focuses on constructing intricate and contemporary designs that depend on architectural shape and balance. Many experts deem this method as “cutting edge” within the industry and are impressed by the ability to break free from traditional pieces. Often, floral centerpieces are looked upon as more than simply adding stems to a vase but viewed as “true art” because of the sophisticated techniques and creativity utilized. While orchids still remain as one of the top ten varieties used in the culture’s floral décor, other species such as gerbera daisies, delphinium and hydrangea are also highly requested.
If you’re into flowers and I mean REALLY into flowers, you’re going to flip when you see the new Hallmark Movie Channel’s January release of “Flower Shop Mystery: Mums the Word”! Not only is the title clever (you’ve got to giggle at the clever pun on words), but also the cast is nothing short of a Hollywood hit list. It is well know that bigger and popular stars are starting to sign on to more TV series and independent films but when you headline Brooke Shields as the main character, there’s no doubt a huge interest will be created. Along with the ex super model, she’ll also be accompanied by Brennan Elliott and Beau Bridges who still bring their sizzle to the silver screen. This flick has all the makings of becoming a Hallmark’s Hollywood classic smash and lucky for us, there’s allegedly three more installments signed off for production.
So if I’ve grabbed your attention you’re probably wondering “So what’s the plot about?”
The story is set in a quaint town of “New Chapel” where the recently widowed, Abby Knight (played by Shields), decides to quit her job as a lawyer and follow her dreams of running her own flower shop. Assisted by her father and daughter who recently started college, Abby starts to rebuild her life within a new career. Everything seems to be going along as planned until her vintage car is rear ended by a hit and run. Determined to find the culprit, she finds support from her hunky next-door neighbor and ex-marine, Marco Salvare (Elliott) who assists her on her hunt. As they get closer and closer, another tragedy hits when the body of her friend turns up murdered. It isn’t long before the finger points to Marco, leading Abby to race against time determined to clear her romantic interest’s name and catch the real killer!
The holiday season can be a wonderful time for most but for others, there’s a lot of stress and hard work involved. If you’re a local flower shop, you really understand this statement. Florists have to move a ton of product just to pay for the increase in overhead during the month of December due to heating, staff and wholesale product prices. For the larger floral operations, they have competition against supermarkets, truck stops and even buy-in-bulk stores like Cosco. There’s a constant price war and in the end-you’re lucky if you can break even. For the smaller flower shops who are struggling to sell their red amaryllis and rose arrangements, they too battle against lower quality look-a-likes sold by neighboring entities who can shove a few poinsettia plants in the window and call themselves a greenhouse. Plain and simple-it’s a tough time of year for these guys so they need to do everything they can to attract customers.
Thankfully, they’re doing a great job because business proprietors and employees have allowed themselves to think outside the box. With creative ideas that work to relax, enchant and excite potential patrons into choosing their store over the others, floral companies are effectively overcoming the saturation of the market during Christmas and are winning back the prestige of their seasonal décor as they should be. Here’s a few ways that are setting these guys apart from the rest!
Music is the Key
Music is the number #1 stimulator that encourages the emotion of happiness. Plug in those speakers and fire up Nat King Cole, Andy Williams or even “Alvin and the Chipmunks Holiday Sing Along” to alleviate tension and increase the spirit of the season! Both your customers and staff will thank you.
Something’s in the Oven
When you have something cooking in the oven, the scent works its way into our neuro-system releasing anxiety and frustration. When the food baking is something sweet, the effects are quadrupled. Offer a nice plate of Christmas cookies to all those who enter your store and make sure you have both gluten and sugar free options for those who prefer an alternative to sugar or have dietary restrictions.
The Wonder of a Flocking Machine
There’s nothing like watching a flocking machine do its magic on a tree farm! The buzzing sound coupled with the white flakes floating up in the air can make anyone smile so if you’re on the fence about making the investment-go for it!
Light It Up
It doesn’t matter if the lights are rainbow-colored, blue, purple, white, red or silver- bulbs are a must when decorating your business for the season. The effect promotes a sense of ethereal and softness curtailing those moods that might be a bit brittle during the month of December.
Celebrate Like It's Family
Do you realize that the people who choose your shop to do businesses with during this season are also welcoming you into their holiday celebrations? Your entity has become a part of their family’s festivities just buy purchasing the perfect Christmas tree, poinsettia plant or pinecone centerpieces from you!
Where There’s a Santa- There’s a Way…
Grab a person who works for you and put them in a Santa Suit! They don’t have to look the part, but they do have to smile and say “ho, ho, ho!” You wont believe how excited the younger customers will be and what it does for your company’s environment as a whole.
Don’t Forget It’s Called the “Season of Giving”!
They don’t call it the “season of giving” for nothing, you know! Contact your local non-profits and donate a few vases and plants for elder and homeless dinners or even ask your local library if you can participate in a free flower arranging demonstration! You’ll feel great and you might even stir a little interest you way!
We already know how fabulous Boston florists are, don’t we? Possessing contemporary innovation, a wide variety of premium product and an outstanding reputation for knowledge within the industry, Boston floral designers are among the most elite in the country. From the east coast to the west coat, Boston still trumps the skill and ingenuity compared to others in the business and there’s a good reason why! Our finest florists are gifted with particular qualities and characteristics that set them apart from the rest. It’s true! Just take a look at some of these fun facts about our city’s fabulous florists that continually make them rise above the rest.
Mother Nature’s A Blessing To Boston Florists
Mother Nature plays a huge part in assisting buyers and designers from the northeast region and the reason why is because we are susceptible with four different seasons of change. Unlike other regions, this allows us to have a deeper knowledge of texture and color. Boston florists tend to have a richer compilation of tones and shading as well as utilizing a larger variation of height and size within their work. Not only does it make the centerpieces, bouquets and daily arrangements more interesting to consumers, there is a constant theme of “change” making these pieces overall more enjoyable.
Boston Florists Are Wicked Smart!
Boston florists are among the highest educated in the industry possessing a 75% percent rate of college graduates. Popular degrees range from business administration to agriculture, forming a well informed community of intelligence within operation, marketing, design and management. Boston florists are also known to be extremely supportive of local design schools. Not only do they participate by aiding learning branches with grants, scholarships and internships, they proactively help to prepare and ready the next generation of talent within the industry.
“Flexible” Is Their Middle Name
It’s true that Boston companies struggle with a heightened expenditure of gas, electricity and rent than many other florists but this only allows them to be able to think outside the restrictions of cost better than competitors. Bean Town’s finest are well crafted in downsizing, upsizing and substituting floral varieties when a client is strapped on a budget. Being one of the largest importing cities in the industry, local buyers have a firm understanding of market trends and availability leading the customer to higher grounds of satisfaction. No matter what the occasion calls for, designers are ready to sculpt and mold pieces that reflect all ends of cost while still presenting a stunning visual affect. Their flexibility is so accommodating, there leaves no reason why Bostonians can’t enjoy fresh flowers year round!