For the first three years of my flower business, I didn't know a floral design recipe was a thing.
I didn't know that my favourite florists all have formulas and create recipes for their work.
This wasn't something I heard another florist talk about and I definitely did not learn this concept in my formal qualifications.
I had even gone to a handful of fancy flower workshops and even there, no one talked about it.
Oi. I look back now and realise just how much frustration I could have saved myself if I had known a 'recipe' was a thing. It's my go-to system for figuring out how much to buy from the wholesalers.
In my opinion, a floral design recipe changes the game.
It's like going to the grocery store with a specific list of what to buy, rather than going in and thinking you'll just buy whatever looks good (hmmm...maybe that's how those Peanut MnMs keep ending up in my bag.)
What is a Floral Design Recipe Exactly?
In its simplest form, a floral design recipe is a list of ingredients and a set of instructions for making something.
Just like how you'd get a recipe to make nanna's chocolate chip cookies or dad's apple pie, we can do the same thing with flower arrangements.
In fact, you can create a recipe for anything and everything. Literally. Buttonholes, wrist corsages and flower crowns. $100 bouquets, $250 arrangements, and $500 gift baskets. Floral archways, ceremony features and bar decor.
HOT TIP: one of the best pieces of advice I received from my accountant was to actually start to outline a basic set of recipes for my team. This makes it so easy for someone else to come in and make a bouquet (to your design aesthetic and expectations). In the end, a basic set of floral design recipes ensures your staff and freelancers aren't just chucking together a buncha product, overstuffing the design and eating into your precious profitability.
How to Create A Floral Design Recipe
You can create a recipe off of something you've created in the past. But if you're anything like me and want to learn how to level up your design skills and love looking at other designers' work, here's what I do to create my recipes.
I actually learned this approach by thinking about what art students do, learning from the masters.
You know how when you go to a gallery or museum you might see a few art students there, sketching from the masters or practising a specific technique? Well, we can do exactly the same thing.
The best bit is, you don't even need to leave the comfort of your own home.
I first learned how to create a floral design recipe by looking at some of my most favourite designers. If you see a photo of something you want to create, all you need to do is work through a super simple three-step process:
- Identify the ingredients
- Count the stems
- Do the math
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the mechanics and tools needed to create the work, so don't forget to include that in your list of ingredients required.
This 3-step system is the exact approach I used to help level up my pricing and my design aesthetic. (Need a reminder about pricing? Use this florist pricing worksheet.)
Going through this approach made me see that when I quote $180 for a bridal bouquet, but dream of making $350 bouquets...I gotta change the prices I'm throwing around for my clients.
I encourage you to work through this three-step approach with lots of different design inspiration – whatever kind of work you want to be making, use this three-step approach to create a simple set of floral design recipes. (Also, here's a YouTube video I've put together that shows you how to create a floral design recipe from one of my designs.)
This process of deconstructing someone else's design makes it easy to map out your prices and effortlessly quote on a new installation or bar feature.
Using floral design recipes also gives you the reassurance you have the budget to buy the ingredients you want to work with. It makes answering that question, "How much should I buy from the wholesaler?" way easier to answer.
Yes, creating recipes can feel tedious, but it's always worth the effort.
How Much Do I Order From the Wholesalers?
Yes, I do suggest, for every design you're creating, create a quick recipe. (If you're using a reference photo, you'll want to adjust the ingredients to suit the season and colour palette.)
Once you've mapped out your ingredients and stem counts, you can then work through the full list of what to order for your wholesalers.
HOT TIP: double-check your bunch counts and stem counts to maximise your product usage. Ordering that extra bundle of roses for just one more stem eats into your profitability so fast.
The first few times you create your recipes it's going to take you a long time. And you're not going to get it perfect. That's OK.
One of the best habits I created for myself was to make notes after every event. I made notes around what I would do differently next time and give myself specific guidance on what to change if I was to do it all over again.
So, with your last wholesale order, if you over-bought on Queen Anne's Lace or Gerlton Wax, make a note of how many bunches you'd order next time.
If you wished you had one more bundle of Quicksand Roses for that ceremony feature, plan for it. Update your recipe and subsequently increase your next quotes to allow for it.
Every time you go through this process, you'll learn something and can build up a whole library of knowledge and expertise. In the end, it only takes a handful of 'lessons learned' and personal reflections to make a world of difference.
For me, I found using floral design recipes is one of the best shortcuts to help you stay on budget with your wholesaler orders while also being able to create work you love.
You'll see a dramatic improvement in your wholesale orders, efficiency in production and the quality of your designs.
Let's Go Deeper: Building Relationships with Your Wholesalers + Growers
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