When we started our flower business, I am actually glad we didn't really know what we were getting into. I know, it sounds a little odd, but if someone had sat me down and said "here is everything you'll need to know to set up a successful flower business" it would have been so incredibly overwhelming.
It's been four and a half years and there is so much I want to share. Today, I'm inspired to reflect on my most important observations.
My Top Five Things I wish I Knew When we First Started Our Business
- Say Yes Until You Need To Say No – when we started, we took on every opportunity that came our way. Every wedding enquiry, every styled shoot, every flower order. It may sound completely absurd but by taking on every opportunity we quickly gained experience. I was able to play with so many different kinds of flowers and foliage, learning what varieties I am drawn to and which ones I'm not really a fan of. I was able to understand how certain flowers and foliages behave together and how to create a certain effect. It gave me the opportunity to explore and discover my own point of view on floristry and what my heart is drawn to.
- Understand Your Costs – I know, everyone hates talking about it but I'm not doing this as a hobby or to simply 'play with flowers everyday'. Just like going to our old 9-5, this is a job. We need to pay for groceries, rent, and maybe a new pair of shoes every now and again. It's important to build a sustainable business or it'll be back to the old 9-5 and working for someone else. Understanding how and where you make money in floristry is incredibly complicated and every week I'm tempted to spend a little too much on beautiful product at the wholesalers. That's why pricing for profit has been a game changer for us.
- There is no one 'right' way – when I finished my formal training and certification I thought I knew it all. But I quickly realised there are so many things we were not taught at flower school. How do you create a large-scale installation with impact, but without spending thousands on flowers? How do you transport finished bridal bouquets? How the heck do you price a chuppah design? With every challenge that came up, Sloan and I would talk it through and come up with what we thought was the best solution. And many of those things have stuck with us. Others have evolved into better, simpler solutions. The bottom line is that there truly is no one right way to do anything in floristry. Some approaches are better than others but be reassured that your solution may be perfectly fine.
- Keep learning – I crave learning and enjoy discovering how other florists operate. I've invested a lot to attend workshops with other top floral designers, both here in Australia and overseas. It's been absolutely worth the investment and hope I'm able to do this for many years to come. If I could do it all over again, I would have signed up to freelance with anyone who would have me. Being able to shadow others and learn the practical aspects of how they approach a job is invaluable. You'll learn something every time out and working with people who are seasoned veterans in this business is a remarkable experience. And don't just stick to the familiar names, be open to work with people who's style may not immediately be appealing to you – you'll learn just as much from them as you will from the florists who you do wish you could immediately emulate.
- You are you. Stay in your own lane – I wish I could say this is something that I learned early and truly follow. But, like most people, it's something I struggle with each and every day. It's only been in the last few months that I have come to terms with, and started to enjoy, the fact that what I find appealing is different to what others find beautiful. Floristry is a creative endeavour. It is an art form and you are your own person with your own point of view. Cherish that. Find your own floral design "lane" and stay in it. Don't simply try to copy someone else's approach. But do spend time understanding their perspective and the elements of their designs you are attracted to. Adopt those pieces. Evolve your style but stay focused on you and what feels right to you.
- Product choice is everything – I know, I said top five, but I just can't leave this one off the list. Beautiful designs come down to two things 1) understanding the mechanics of how to create a design and 2) selecting the right materials. One of my mentors told me that if you select beautiful flowers and throw them together you can never really go wrong. I whole-heartedly believe this to be true. Selecting the right ingredients is probably 80% of the job when it comes to creating a design. Spend time learning what flowers are in season when and which ones are your favourites. Create your own go-to flower combinations and understand the role of texture, colour and scale and you'll be armed with the right tools to create beautiful designs.