Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: Session 11

I’m excited today for the opportunity you have to get to know a little more about one of our panel members before we tackle a new question…meet Clare Day, owner of Clare Day Flowers

CLAREDAY (2)

Here’s how she describes her journey into the floral design business…

“As a child, I grew up surrounded by gardens and my days were spent deeply immersed in the natural world. If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said "art curator" (like I knew what that was!) or "fashion designer." So I guess I should have known I would eventually find myself working in the field of design. Several years ago, in the midst of a successful career as a senior manager in a non-profit, I began to put in place the steps to realize a long held dream to become an entrepreneur. I knew I wanted to bring more beauty and creativity into my life, and I also wanted to do something based on our beautiful farm here in the Pacific Northwest. I had already begun experimenting with growing my own flowers, I took some classes in floral design, followed by an apprenticeship with a local designer, and from there, everything fell into place. I launched my business in the winter of 2011 and it's been an amazing ride so far. In the spring of 2012 I travelled to New York and studied with several amazing designers including Ariella Chezar, Tara Guérard, Sarah Ryhanen and Nicolette Camille. Although relatively new to the world of design, my career prior to this focused on sustainability, business development and event management. That background has formed my work as a designer in amazing and unforeseen ways and I'm now using that background to form the next phase of my business which includes co-leading a flower tour to New York in the spring of 2013, offering business consulting services for emerging designers, and hosting workshops at my farm. In addition to Clare Day Flowers, I work as the Business Manager to Dr. Gabor Maté.”

I’m thrilled that you will hear about each panel member’s journey into and inside this business over the next couple of months. Each story is unique and inspiring….so many different roads that lead to the place we call “the flower business”. Thanks for sharing your story, Clare!

***************************************************************************************

333e

The Question:

“How do you tap into the higher end clientele?” (submitted by a designer in British Columbia as she is setting her 2013 goals)

**************************************************************************************

The Answers:

“1. Ensure that your brand and entire customer service experience is designed to attract higher end     clients (for example, if you have old, poorly lit images in your portfolio, an outdated website, if you meet your clients in a noisy, distracting coffee shop, and if you fail to demonstrate amazing testimonials, etc. you will likely have a harder time attracting higher end clients).

2. Put in place a very solid portfolio on your website [of professional quality images that capture detailed shots, people shots (i.e. bride holding a bouquet) and event / tablescapes]. This is true for many people, but higher end clients make their purchases based on quality, service, a sense of feeling aligned with your brand, and based on the emotions that your work elicits. In other words, they are not buying "flowers", they are buying into a vision for their special day.

3. Try to get on the preferred vendor list of some of the higher end wedding venues (to do this, you will likely need to provide a sample of your work). Make sure you meet the sales or wedding coordinator IN PERSON. Same is true for wedding planners that service a higher end clientele.

Above all, I think it's really important to try and get into the mind of your ideal client. So much so that you could imagine walking into a crowded room and picking him or her out instantly. Here are some questions to consider: What do they like to wear? Where do they eat? How would they describe their style? What do they read? Who in their life are their primary influences? What would be a dream come true for her in working with you? What kind of experience are they trying to create for their wedding guests? Is she looking for a vendor to take the reigns completely, or is she looking for someone to really collaborate with?

The further you go with this exercise, the more clear it will be how to craft a brand, service offering and experience to attract that client.”

-Clare Day (Clare Day Flowers)

*****************************************************************************************

“Getting higher end clients is work.  Like any sort of success, you just have to work hard until you get there. A few things that have helped me get the clients that I want are: 1. Only taking work that I feel is really inspiring to me. That way I am sure that everything that goes into my portfolio is something that I love.  That way my portfolio reflects the direction I want to take my business, and I am attracting the clients that are on the same page.  2. Building relationships with vendors that already have the clientele that I want. Make sure that you have a good reputation with the vendors who are working with the higher end clients, and then it’s likely that they will send some clients to you! 3. Be confident! Confidence attracts people, and will get you work.”

-Sarah Winward (Honey of a Thousand Flowers)

******************************************************************************************

Tapping into the higher-end clientele takes time and lots of hard work. It's important to create an upscale reputation: using high quality blooms and materials and highly individualized client service. When people are spending more money they have to be confident in your business and design work. It's important to design your website/portfolio/marketing, the 'face' of your business, to set this sophisticated upscale tone. Begin forming relationships with other wedding vendors that are tapping into this clientele as well so you can begin to work with others with the same goal and can refer one another.  I found setting a minimum order price during the wedding high season helped to gear my business more in the higher-end direction. This price will be based on your past clientele and your target area. But it's important to be somewhat flexible with your minimum price as some of the funnest weddings are the really small super detailed ones!”

-Elisabeth Zemetis (Blush Floral Design)

***************************************************************************************

To tap into the higher end clientele you must have a strong brand. Seriously, I know the word brand is used frequently and it's an annoying word but it does matter. Businesses spend countless dollars developing a brand but remember a brand can also be born out of consistent excellence in product and service. Clients also are willing to pay more for products that they recognize or that they see published.  Use every opportunity to turn an average piece of art into an amazing piece of art even if it’s at the businesses expense. Do this when there is a phenomenal photographer attached to the wedding or event; this will increase your portfolio and your chances for submission. It’s best to prearrange things with a photographer if you have never worked with them before. Explain to them that you are building your portfolio or doing extra in hopes of publication. This will most likely get the photographer interested in helping. That photographer not only has to be phenomenal but they also have to be willing to share or sell the images to you so that you can use the images for submission. Submit your work regularly but submit only work that is worthy. You will only want to submit images that will get people to take a serious look at you as a designer.

The more prospective clients see your work, the more they will know that you are a recognized designer.  I also think it’s important to explain the differences in pricing. Less expensive arrangements, means, quite frankly, fewer flowers and less service.

Another approach I need to practice myself is to only show on your website and blog the kind of work you want to be doing. In other words if you provided flowers for a very low end event, it’s best not to feature those images on your website.  Feature the work you want to be doing.”

-Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)

***************************************************************************************

Thanks Holly, Clare, Elisabeth and Sarah…always appreciate your advice!

*************************************************************************************

And because we can’t go a day without flowers…

001 flower lantern

image via Flower Lantern and Alana Couch Photography 

04 bliss in bloom

image via Bliss in Bloom 

5_a10ariella

image via Ariella Chezar

5OakandtheOwl_Pink Bridal Bouquets

image via Oak and the Owl

6-15IMG_9579 mckenzie powell designs

image via McKenzie Powell

*********************************************************************************

Have a wonderful Wednesday, y’all!

3 comments:

Lesa Atteo said...

Great advice, especially to myself, as I am building my portfolio. It's a huge plus knowing this info from the get-go.

Thank you to the experts, which includes, you Amy.

Katie Pollard said...

Good words. It's hard in the early stages to be okay with turning down work that you're only going to hate. Like Sarah said, it's better in the long run for my portfolio to reflect the direction I want to take my business.

Mimi said...

Great panel discussion with lots of good advice.