How a Florist Earns a Living
Have you ever wondered why flowers cost as much as they do, especially flowers for a wedding? I know you do, it's only natural. Here's a step by step account of the process.
The knowledge of a Florist, Floral Designer, (whatever you want to call it), is absorbed over years of practice, which in my opinion isn't something a lesson at a Floristry school or NVQ can teach. The skills and craft and thirst for improvement is a labour of love, free, gratis. This knowledge is used to demonstrate for you the paying customer that we the Florist are the best option for the event that you're organising. From first contact we'll arrange a suitable time to meet for a consultation, probably after a phone call, several emails, sometimes social media enquiries, forward a pre-consultation form, digest pre-consultation information, confirm details in the diary and prepare notes. Consultations are either in person at the florist shop/studio/workshop etc. or via telephone, which in most cases will involve approx. 1 hour of up to 10/15 minutes getting to know the client, discuss ideas from the top i.e. bridal & groom's party floral requirements, ceremony/service flowers, reception flowers etc. Demonstrate ideas, show images of flowers through either the internet, picture books etc. Sometimes clients want to share their research, which has been compiled via Pinterest/instagram etc., or a painstakingly cut & pasted scrap book. During note taking, some Florists will sketch details, designs, sketch a pretty bride holding the style of bouquet, followed by mopping up tears of joy...Believe me, sometimes it takes longer than an hour or two. Notes compiled during consultation are then transferred to a detailed quote/invoice, which can take anything from 30 minutes to 6 hours or more depending on the scale of an event. Research particular flowers required, seasons, availability, discuss with growers, exporters, suppliers, sundries, i.e. particular vases, etc. ***Recap: We don't get paid for any of the time spent so far*** Wait for a reply, discuss with client - agree on everything sometimes, sometimes adjust, sometimes amend details, sometimes change everything, because a client has changed their mind... Remember, I've still not been paid! Sometimes a site visit is required (but in most cases a site visit will only be made after a wedding/event has been confirmed in the diary with a Booking Fee ("non-refundable see T&C's" will be the standard information by most Florists).
The next stage is spent ordering stock, after compiling a flower count for how many of each flower and foliage is required per arrangement. This is a valuable skill, which is essential in order to achieve a good balance so as not to under order or buy too much. The ordering process varies from one supplier to another, which ranges from high tech on-line, basic list sent to a supplier via email to calling flower growers to reserve quantities, or visiting a wholesaler to pick and choose from whatever they have available if you're lucky and if we're very fortunate, put on your best outdoor attire, grab pair of secateurs and forage for 'hedgrow' foliage from the locale of an event, which offers enhancement and is always a bonus.
This stage involves the arrival of flowers, foliage, sundries. Unpacking, preparation, stripping stems, cutting, tidying piles of stripped green waste in preparation for arranging buckets, filling with water, mixing with flower food then conditioning flowers and foliage for at least 24 hours. I know what you're thinking "It's all so glamorous, fluffy and beautiful" - "I'd love to work at a Florist shop" The latter is usually answered by the Florist with "I'll see you at 2am... They're queuing at the door... NOT!
Further preparation involves a sundries check (floral foam, wires, mossing etc.), ensure vases/containers are clean etc.
The next stage is arranging flowers and foliage, ensure they all look fabulous and create space to store. prepare presentation of bridal/groom's party flowers. Arrange items for transportation to venues, deliver, set-up, tweak arrangements. Capture images of complete floral arrangements if time permitted. These are for future marketing and evidence of final product. Sometimes reuse time is required in order to move items from a ceremony space to the reception venue. Further tweaking required.
The following day after the event is time allocated for collecting property of the Florist from a venue, tidy items and if required strip arrangements for client to reuse or for ease of travel back home for client. Double check all property is accounted for, then repack vehicle with Florist property and return to shop/workshop/studio etc.
Please bare in mind that Florists are self-employed. They don't earn an hourly rate, accrue holiday pay and most certainly don't get paid for any days off sick. Cost of running a flower-shop/studio/workshop involve many overheads, including rent or mortgage of premises, storage, utility bills - water, electric, gas, business rates, vehicle(s), maintenance, road tax, business premise insurance/public liability and if required the luxury of staff, pay etc... publicity costs - business cards, adverts, wedding fairs, continual purchase of new sundries, vases, containers, wrapping paper, tissue... get the picture.
So before you say... "but that flower only costs £? at the supermarket, or on your price list" Think before you speak and consider what it actually takes to create your dream wedding, special event or a surprise bouquet of flowers.