Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: Session 18

So excited for you to meet panel member Liz Rusnac from Fleurology today! I asked her to share with you about herself and her flower journey….

Liz and Sam 2012-Liz and Sam 2012-0037 (1)

I have to start this out by saying how surreal it is for me to even be writing this bio
in the first place. It truly is amazing how far you can go when you are surrounded
by the right people, and when you follow a crazy little dream in your heart.

Unlike many other floral designers out there, my floral journey did NOT start
as a young child, I didn’t spend any time in flower shops, nursery’s or gardens
surrounded by or inspired by the scent or beauty of flowers. My journey started
while just “playing” with flowers and throwing together creating a few centerpieces
for a birthday party I was helping decorate. That’s all it took. Just a few super
amateur arrangements, with simple yet beautiful red roses. And I was hooked. I
started playing with flowers more, made the occasional birthday or anniversary
delivery, and before I knew it I had booked my first wedding!

This month I celebrate the business’ 4 year anniversary, I have over 50 weddings
under my belt, and am STILL learning, growing, being challenged in my business -
and I am still in awe of the beautiful blooms I get to play with. My main focus and
passion is Wedding Design, and I don’t know if I’ll ever cross over to retail. There
is just something about the planning and thought that goes into designing for a
wedding, and the relationships you form with your clients that I love.

Last season my weddings doubled from the year before, and I’m so so grateful for
that amazing and unexpected growth! Having done 23 weddings [plus a few small
events and photo shoots on the side] in just a short Northwest-weather influenced-
wedding season, I am looking forward to a much quieter season this year. I am
expecting baby #3 due smack in the middle of July, and so I’ll be taking some time
off and taking fewer weddings in general so that I can really give each bride more of
my time and focus – which is how I’ve always wanted my business to run – more like
a boutique floral design studio. I’m totally pumped for the year ahead!

I’ll leave you all with one last thought – Surround yourself with people who
inspire you, motivate you, support you and pray for you. Without the loved ones
in my life as my support network, none of this would be possible or even worth
it. And without the encouragement from my mentors [aka: Flower Mommas]
Holly Chapple and Amy and the amazing
Chapel Designers that I am a part
of, I may have given up a long time ago! It’s so important to know that you’re not
in it alone, and that someone else has gone through it before you. These amazing
women in my life mean so much more to me that they’ll ever know! And of course
the support of family, mainly my amazing husband Sam!

Thank you again Amy for this opportunity to open myself up to your awesome
readers and tell my little story!

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Thanks, Liz!

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The Question:

I’m working with a bride who says she’s afraid to rent my containers because she doesn't want her guests to walk off with them – especially if we use my milk glass or other vintage containers.  How do other designers handle this issue?  Do brides make an announcement, do wedding planners get involved, etc.?  (from a designer in California)

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The Answers:

Rental of container/decor items can be tricky because guests tend to wander off with them and/or they are sometimes accidentally broken during the event breakdown. Usually the wedding venue, caterer or wedding coordinator can politely tell the guests that they are not to leave with the centerpieces and stop them from doing so at the end of the night. There may be a few who sneak by, but for the most part this system works fairly well. To help keep your collection in tact you may want to include a rental contract stating if pieces do go missing you will be reimbursed for them by the client after the event.

-Elisabeth Zemetis (Blush Floral Design)

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We typically strike (also called breakdown) the event so we are at the wedding well before it ends. As guests start to leave we offer to wrap up the flowers for them and we take the vases. We do charge a strike fee/clean up fee. We do alert the wedding planners, caterers, and family at each event that the vases are rental items.

Also we charge a security deposit if we have a substantial amount of inventory out on an event. For smaller orders if I lose a vase along the way I never worry too much about it. Sometimes that is the cost of doing business.

-Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)

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I love this question. And I have had vases go walking at several events....I anticipated this from the very beginning and in my contract I have a clause that says that the client will pay for the cost of any vases that go missing. I haven't had push back from a single client on this. Here are a couple of ways to avoid things going home with your guests: #1. Have your MC (Master of Ceremony) make an announcement at the wedding. You want to ensure your guests feel comfortable so have he or she do it in such a way as to make it light and funny, or, if applicable, use it as an opportunity to let people know that there are favors that they can take home instead. #2. If a planner is involved in the wedding, they can keep an eye on everything and make sure that nothing goes missing. This isn't fool proof but it really helps.

-Clare Day (Clare Day Flowers)

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I think this is just part of the downside to renting containers, and the client will need to accept that they might have to pay for a vase or two.  I make sure that my client knows that all of the items are rented, and that they will be charged full retail price if the item is not returned.  Typically when I rent containers for an event I will go at a time towards the end of the night while guests are still there, but the tables have been cleared, and I will wrap up the flowers in paper for guests to take home.  This way I am the one in charge of the containers and no one is walking off with them.  I will often have a member of the band or the DJ make an announcement that guests can pick up the wrapped flowers on their way out. 

-Sarah Winward (Honey of a Thousand Flowers)

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In designing for over 1,000 weddings in the past 10 years we are yet to have a bride whose guests have walked off with the vase rentals. However we still take a deposit just in case and explain this to the bride. To help ensure it doesn't happen and to save the bride having to deal with things on the day, we also tell the hotel or venue staff at the wedding reception whether the vases are rented or whether they are the bride's to keep - we sometimes use clear perspex vases so that the bride can give away the full arrangement to some guests. If our designs are in glass vases then we try to design so that the flowers can be removed from the vases and taken away.

-Nick Priestly (Mood Flowers)

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Thanks Nick, Sarah, Clare, Holly and Elisabeth!

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A few Fleurology designs to finish out today’s post…enjoy!

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Happy Wednesday!

4 comments:

Sprout said...

Another option - I have florist friends who charge full retail for their rentals - with the difference refunded to the client upon safe return of the items.

Even with an explicit contract it's hard to get people to pay up after the fact.

Laurie (Fleurie) said...

Thank you for the helpful solutions, I have been concerned about this, in our area, it is traditional for guests to take centerpieces, permission or not. Thanks for sharing your story Liz!

Lisa (Blooming Art) said...

Thank you, Amy! Great answers and very helpful.

Holly Chapple said...

Liz,
Thank you for your incredibly kind words today. You are a treasure and a delight and a home for me in Portland. Making lasting and loving relationships with other flower peeps is one of the greatest gifts of this career. You are amazing!! Lets grow baby number 3 and then we will grow your business even more!!