Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: Session 3

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The Question:

How can I get a job with a good florist in order to learn the fundamentals of the business? I have no formal training and can't afford it at this time. What I do have is a vast knowledge of flowers along with some self taught basics and creative talent. (submitted by Paula in Ohio)

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The Answers:

If you were in France, I'd advise you to take the four weeks intensive course at the School of Florists in Paris (http://www.lesfleuristes.com/Site/Ecole/reconvertion_pro.asp). This is a crash course that gives all the basic techniques and which is well recognized by florists, therefore opens doors for internships. And if you really can't afford even a four weeks class, then you should try your luck! Just find florists you like by visiting their shops, make sure to meet them in person, explain that you like what they are doing and what is your motivation.”

-Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)

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“Is your objective to learn the fundamentals of the business (in order to start a business of your own)? Or is your objective to work for another florist? If the former, consider taking courses and find some scholarship clients to develop your skills, reputation and portfolio. If the latter, then consider approaching a few of your favorite designers and offer to volunteer / apprentice. Over time this could turn into a paying or freelance job. My best recommendation on how to do this is to wow them with your portfolio, resume and commitment to helping them. Don't make it about you.”

- Clare Day (Clare Day Flowers)

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Many florists offer internships. This is a fabulous opportunity if the shop is not hiring. Agreeing to work at an introductory salary until you have more experience is also wise. Realize that the time the flower shop spends in teaching you is a serious investment for the flower shop. Perhaps the beginner designer should commit to working for a set amount of time. This will ensure that the studio gets a return on training you.”

-Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)

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I would suggest approaching floral shops as a potential intern. Get your foot in
the door and if you have the talent they will most likely offer you a job. The
best assistant I ever had started as an intern, I hired her on within three
weeks. Good luck!”

-Alicia Schwede (Bella Fiori)

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In my view, the most important things to begin with are that you have the right enthusiasm and attitude for the job. This means being a good team player, and being happy to muck in. You have to be able to turn your hand to everything; to learn floristry you have to be prepared to do all kinds of jobs, from sweeping floors and cleaning out buckets, all the way up to arranging displays in stately homes and historic castles.

It can be a surprise to people just how difficult professional floristry is. Some people might think of floristry as a cozy, easy kind of job, but really it involves long hours and hard work! At the same time, if you’re really passionate about this kind of work, the pressure itself can be extremely rewarding. While it’s great that you’ve got a lot of flower knowledge, this is probably very different from the industry-specific type of knowledge that you’ll need as a florist. Be prepared to learn!

One thing you could try is to offer to work free of charge for a local florist for a day or two if you can make the time. This way, you’d have a chance to see first hand what the job actually entails, and whether it’s something you’re determined to pursue. You might pick up a few tricks too. It would also be a great way to give a prospective employer a chance to see whether you have what it takes for the job.”

-Gemma Bain (Planet Flowers)

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My advice would be to explain the situation to the designer you wish to work for. Ask if they need any help with cleaning vases, answering the phone, delivering flowers etc. during peak times. Ask 100s of questions! Why are they doing it like that? Be prepared to accept a lower salary in order to learn. Be open and clear about your ambitions and ask for help to achieve it.”

-Emelie Ekborg (Svenska Blomsterbloggar)

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“I recently hired a few individuals to help out during my busy season.  My needs may be different than other florists because I just do events, and I do all of the invoicing, proposals, etc. by myself.  My needs really are just for help on the few days leading up to an event, on an event day and sometimes the day after.

I was looking to hire individuals who were creatively motivated in their own life, and are actively working on something creative of their own.  Floral or event experience are a plus for me, but were not a requirement when picking who I chose.  I look for a certain fearlessness in a person, because I think the job requires it.  It takes a while to break a person in to the chaos of the job, and to also train their eye to see the things the way you would like them to.  I am fine with working with a person for a while to train them in these things if they will be inspiring for me to work with.

I think it is important for anyone who is trying to get a job or internship with a florist (or any other professional job for that matter) to recognize that the people they are working with have put in a lot of work to get to the point where they are. If you go into applying for the job thinking that you will easily be able to pick up on the fundamentals of the business and quickly be successful on your own, then you will have a lot of bucket scrubbing and candle scraping time ahead of you to realize otherwise.”

-Sarah Winward (Honey of a Thousand Flowers)

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Thanks for your advice Sarah, Holly, Emelie, Clare, Gemma, Alicia and Laetitia!

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And because we can’t go a day without flowers…enjoy a few “pretties”…

0.16_0.18_0.18_0.17_474_710_csupload_42434019 sorori design and Frances Taylor Photo

image via Sorori Design and Frances Taylor Photography

4 michelle rago

image via Michelle Rago Ltd.

4-9-11 Mock Up blush floral design

image via Blush Floral Design

5_GLEE_Wedding_0030 sargent photography and art with nature

image via Art with Nature

Hope your Wednesday is spectacular!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know one who started by volunteering to help during the Valentine's Day rush. She made bud vase arrangements.

Great flower lady said...

I also belive they need to start out in the trenches where we all did, washing buckets, sweeping up piles of greens and getting hands dirty, No one steps into to "desinger position with out knowing what a "REAL" dirty job it is.. seeing all the glam flowers is exciting BUT its also a LOT of work..IMO

Valen Hunter said...

I've been assisting with Sarah Winward. My first wedding I assisted her with was three days processing, washing buckets, picking wax off of vases, etc. Then a 12 hour day prepping the wedding and loading up, setting up, carrying lots of things, blah blah blah.

It was amazing and I have never been so tired. I drank about 2 gallons of water that day and didnt go to the bathroom once, thats how exerted I was. awesome awesome intro really!
Many thanks to Sarah!!!

-Val @ www.flowerafternoon.blogspot.com