Saturday, December 14, 2013

Holiday Tips and Info just for you!

A few holiday tips and info:

1. Poinsettias are NOT poisonous.  They are NOT.  Every year this myth persists but it's simply not true.  Granted, I wouldn't substitute Poinsettia leaves for lettuce on my BLT, but you won't die. 

2. Holly berries rarely grow on the very tip of the plant branch.  Much to florists' frustrations, the berries usually grow about mid way up the stem.  Holly berries ARE POISONOUS and should not be consumed.

3. Mistletoe berries ARE POISONOUS. Also this plant is hard to find and most florists don't carry the fresh variety because of availability and cost. 

4. Your florist's hands are going to be black from pine sap.  We don't have a contagious disease, I promise.  We wear gloves to protect our hands from the sap (which turns black and is extremely hard to get off). But with answering phones, waiting on customers, computer work, sometimes the gloves come off and we hustle back to work without them.  Olive oil, lava soap, and the mechanic's orange soap are great at getting (most of) the sap off.  They also dry out our skin to the point where it cracks and bleeds.  The less glamourous part of the floral industry for sure.  Most of us lather up with vaseline, bag balm or other moisturizers and put socks over our hands before we go to bed at night. 

5. Flowers do not like temperatures below 36 degrees.  Fresh flowers are comprised of  mostly water, water freezes at 32 degrees. 

6. Flowers also do not like 80 degree living rooms and direct sunlight.  Either one of these elements speeds up the life cycle of fresh flowers.  Try to keep your fresh flowers in a cooler room and away from heat ducts, radiators, and windows.

7.  With all of the instant messaging, texting, etc in the world today, your internet order card message more than likely won't be edited.  If you write it, we print it.  We are under the assumption you want the message to say "I L U  TC TTYL- Snickkers"  Maybe you call each other pet names and if we correct the spelling, then we're in trouble for editing.  Please proofread your messages before you hit "Next" or "Continue" on the order screens.

8.  To keep your flowers fresh, if in a vase, change water completely every day, at the minimum every other day with fresh clean water.  No aspirin, sugar, bleach, pennies, sprite, etc.  Just clean H2O.  If your flowers are arranged in a a container, add water to the arrangement everyday.  The best way is to add water at the lip of the container so the oasis floral foam will soak up the water like a sponge.

Have a great holiday season!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

In case you missed it....

We were in the Winchester Star not very long ago!  I personally love when local media comes into the shop to gain more information on flower shop business and I think that this article was a great insight into the local economics.   Now, for those of you who "skimmed" the article and think we are closing- WE ARE NOT CLOSING!  I have fielded a few phone calls regarding this and wanted to get that straight. 
The reporter asked many in depth questions and took a genuine interest in writing a meaningful article and not just hitting some highlights. 
I could not stress enough in the article, and now in this forum, exactly how IMPORTANT it is for you, the consumer, to shop local.  I realize you won't be able to buy everything you need local but what you do buy local helps you in return!  To quote the 3/50 Project:
 " ..For every $100 spent in locally owned,  independent stores, $68 returns to the community through payroll, taxes, and other expenditures.  If you spend that at a national chain, only $43 stays here.  If you spend it online (on a national retailer website).. nothing comes home. "
Payroll supports families.  Taxes support the local community and education system.  The list goes on.  Small business Saturday is Nov 30th.  Any amount spent local is better than nothing.  Support your friends, neighbors, and community this year!

For more information visit :

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Las Vegas Part 4:The Rest of the Story...

So it's been an exceptionally busy month and my blog slipped by my To Do list! (for those that know me- Imagine that- I forgot something! )  I still have more pictures and fun things to share from Symposium in Las Vegas.  First up:
The flower arrangements in the Bellagio and Ceasar's Palace were A-MAZ-ING! It may be hard to get prospective from the picture but this arrangement was huge and gorgeous and I wanted to pack it up and take it home with me.  Unfortunately, the casinos tend to frown on that, so I just "ooohhh" and "aaahhh"-ed from a distance.
Now here, I was torn between the beautiful flowers and the stunning Dale Chihuly blown glass flowers suspended from the ceiling.  If you aren't familiar with him, go here:

I thought these ceiling decorations were pretty cool.

The Program "Innovative Approaches to Interior Decoration" by Araik Galstyan featured these HUGE spheres, from 6' - 10' (at least) diameter, decorated with all kinds of flowers, mosses, wire, leaves, accents, etc. 
Not the best picture, but hopefully you can see the weaving of floral materials.

To give you an inside prospective to how these spheres were used in the show, and what exactly a floral runway show looks like:

Stay tuned.....more to come!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Vintage Wedding at the GW

These pictures are from a wedding I did a while ago, and the theme was vintage and the Bride and Groom nailed it! From the soft colors to the antiques scattered throughout the reception at the gorgeous George Washington Hotel it was beautiful!  The tables were set up in 3 sets of long rows, and the family style seating was a nice change from the traditional round tables.  Tall vases of simple Gypsophilia (aka Baby's Breath) were set up down the center of the tables.

The bride's bouquet consisted of ivory, pale pink, and champagne roses with white scabiosa to compliment her ivory/champagne dress. 

Antique typewriter with old books by the guest table/gift table.

Mother's corsage of pale champagne sweetheart roses, baby's breath and ribbon.

Simple boutonnieres of single rose with greenery and baby's breath:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Epic FAIL....

Beware! When you order that "deal" on internet flower websites read the fine print!  That assortment of flowers you picked to be delivered for a funeral...this is what gets delivered to the funeral home.  There is no florist on hand to transform a cardboard box of flowers into a beautiful arrangement expressing your sympathies to the family.  Funeral directors will often leave the box in the back until AFTER the services and then give the box to the family to take home.  I'm 99% sure this is not the sentiment you intended to extend to the grieving family.  This is happening more and more as people try to find the "best deals" online not realizing they are not placing an order with an actual store.  This is happening in funeral homes and hospitals around the country.  I'm urging you to educate yourself, your friends and family about what you REALLY get when ordering from "order gatherers" online.  I feel so strongly about this that I encourage you to order not just from me, but from my REAL competitors- my fellow brick-and-mortar competitors who have REAL flower shops and REAL designers.  Real Florists located in your town or your relatives town.  We are professionals. We have an actual store in the town where your delivery needs to go.  We know our flowers.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Las Vegas- "Savage Botanicals"

This program was presented at Symposium by Joyce Mason-Monheim AIFD,PFCI, AzMF and each of the dresses was designed by a talented floral designer in the Arizona area: Melanie Burnett AIFD, Diane Gonzalez AIFD, Katherine Gonzalez AIFD, Cathy Grim AIFD, Ikuko Hashimoto AIFD, Sharon Petelle Kantor AIFD, Patti Klawans AIFD, Claire Ortloff AIFD, and Ann Peckham AIFD.  OUTSTANDING JOB LADIES!!!. The inspiration for the program was the controversial designs of Alexander McQueen. These pics are courtesy of Flowers& Magazine, a well known and highly distributed industry magazine.

"Woodland Warrior" A reinterpretation of an Alexander McQueen original. This features over 8,000 artificial hypericum berries hand sewn into the fabric. 

"Autumnal Ruination"
This gown features groupings of artificial leaves, branches, and grasses.  It was even more vibrant in person onstage at the show, but the picture here shows more detail than what my camera could capture in a darkened stage show setting.
"Petals & Plastic"
More than 12,000 white plastic cable ties (aka zip ties) in three sizes were used to create this dress.  It was AMAZING in person because the texture was so unique, the color almost opalescent.  It featured a train that I would estimate to be over 8' long.  On the bodice and hat are magnolia and gerbera petals.  Interesting to note, all of the dresses were heavy, this one at over 40lbs! 
"Life Cycle"
A combination of ferns, succulents, mosses; this was probably the most "wearable" of the dresses.  The water lettuce skirt mimicked the multiple layered dresses that are so fashionable right now.  I loved the texture of the hat, although I was not in love with the shape.  However, I can certainly appreciate and applaud the amount of work and labor these very talented designers poured into their creations!
"Birds of a Feather"
This was one of my favorites.  Actually it was hard to pick a favorite, but this one dress triggered an immediate reaction.  Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds".  And I mean that in a good way.  It was one of the first horror movies I ever watched, and even though it is a classic, it is still creepy.  If Tim Burton did a remake, I imagine the movie poster would resemble this dress.  The feathers and fabric were awesome.  The birds in this dress are actually supported on a back brace, similar to what the show girls of Vegas wear to support those huge headdresses.  The bodice is constructed with the underside of magnolia leaves.
"Mechanical Meringue"
This is the little black dress redesigned.  Over a thousand nuts and bolts were used to create the sequin effect.  See the gears spiraling out from the dress? Plastic toy gears spray painted!  Love it!

"Crown of Horns"
This dress features a back brace for the antler headdress, (yes those are REAL antlers) and to contrast, softer materials of lace, goat fur, spanish moss and ginger petals. 
"Insect Awakening"
For all you butterfly lovers out there-this dress literally moved.  It bounced and fluttered all the way down the runway.  The movement of the butterflies on the ends of the midollino stems was perfect. 
"Spanish Lace"
Each of the "tendrils" you see are handmade from aluminium flat wire in copper, gold, red and brown.  Each and every single swirl by hand. I loved the panel in the back of yellow cymbidium orchid petals which are also the bodice of the dress.  Very feminine and pretty!
"Hortensia's Addiction"
Hydrangea. Lots and lots of Hyrangea. Voluminous layers of it. This dress was BIG and beautiful.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Flowers cost what?

Running a small business is very hard work.  And a constant battle of Profit over Costs.  So every flower we sell has to cover:

flower cost
delivery charges from our suppliers
property taxes
utilities (water sewer electric phones internet)
employee pay
payroll taxes
computer system
paper/office supplies
cooler maintenance
floral chemicals (processing chemical, storage chemical)
enclosure cards
card holders
tissue/wrapping paper for the flowers (carry out )

...and the list goes on.   That is a lot of expenses that take a chunk out of the "pie".  Not to mention our product is perishable.  If we don't sell it, it gets thrown away.  If you look at the list above, that's not just the flower cost we are throwing away but the potential to pay bills.  Every flower shop owner's goal is to run out versus throw it away.  That is why it virtually impossible to carry every type and color of flower known to man in the store at all times. 
Our costs are higher than the big box stores on product alone.  Most big box stores carry a wide variety of other products producing profits and covering their costs, flowers are just another item to sell.  Big box retailers are ordering hundreds of BOXES of roses (for example) where as the small store is only ordering 1 to 2 bunches.  A bunch of roses has 25 stems.  A box contains 150-250 rose stems.  Big Box retailers are buying at such a high volume/quantity the growers are giving them a better price.  That is why grocery stores charge less than small business owners. 

I am running a rose special this week.  I got a box of roses versus 1-2 bunches.  The grower dictated what colors I received in the box, I didn't know what colors until I opened it.  The stems are 40cm long instead of 50-60cm. (you pay more for longer stems...longer stems equals more weight, more weight equals higher freight costs) This is why I am able to offer a sale on the roses.  I try to run specials when I can but the mixed boxes are not always offered, or not offered at a price that makes them a "deal" .  

A little information on what drives pricing on flowers from a small business prospective.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Passion- Las Vegas, Part 2

"Tool Belt Diva" was one of the programs presented at Symposium by Cindy Anderson AIFD, CFD, PFCI.  It was a great program incorporating all the interesting materials you find every day at your orange, blue or red home improvement store. She took commonplace materials and created fabulous designs :
These are wooden shims or similar wood product It produced a really cool texture and color scheme

an acrylic base with copper tubing

This is a type of drainage pipe, secured with cable ties (!) really cool lines and use of materials

Can anyone guess what this arch is made of? You might be surprised....
 it's window screening!!!! I'm stealing this idea Cindy! (Thank you!!!)
 Clear Acrylic panels create table top centerpieces that have height but are still transparent to table guests. 
I had the opportunity to talk with Cindy's husband who assisted with this part which was awesome because I have being trying to construct my own mannequins off and on with difficulty.  He was able to give me some ideas on how to overcome some of the issues so hopefully I will be adding "people" to the window displays in the near future.

 Cindy is very creative and shows a lot of dedication in the detailing of her work.  This faux chrysanthemum flower is made up entirely of florist flat aluminum wire.
A rosette with a decorative accent in the center.
PVC pipe with LED lights accented in the end of some of the pipes.  Very cool wall panel.
There were a few more designs I didn't post because the pictures came out a little fuzzy.  I am still learning the ins and outs of photography from my great photography friend  Julie Napear and battling low light in the gallery ball room where the designs were located post program. 


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Las Vegas - Free Time

So in the "off time" when I wasn't at shows, my husband and I explored Las Vegas and the surrounding area.  If you have never been to Vegas, it's definitely an experience.  And off the strip is a whole other place to explore if you find the time. 

Hoover Dam is SO much more impressive in real life.  Movies and pictures do not do it justice.  The sheer size and architecture is amazing and should be truly appreciated in person.  See those dots where the river narrows? Those are kayaks.  This was taken on top of the dam looking down.  The water is unbelievably clear.

Just before the dam overlook is the Lake Mead Overlook.  Lake Mead (which was formed as a result of the dam)  is BEAUTIFUL

 Where we were standing at the overlook to the lake, these little guys were scurrying around in the shade of the ledge.  They resemble chipmunks with bushier tails.  And they were scaling the walls of this canyon, darting doesn't take much to amuse me.

This was the view from Henderson/Boulder City driving back towards Las Vegas:
We also explored the Las Vegas Speedway:
Again, much different angle from the infield versus the stands/Live TV. And yes, we did a ride along in one of the NASCAR cars.  (170 mph- OH YEA!)

So just wanted to share a few things to explore besides the strip...more posts to come!

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Passion- Las Vegas" Part 1

So I haven't posted in a little bit, mainly due to being in Las Vegas for the annual AIFD Symposium.  It includes programs, new products, runway shows and designers from around the world.  So I tried to get as many pictures as possible to share with you, (but also condensed so you aren't sifting through hundreds of pics of the same arrangement from different angles) 

First up is my good friend Jim Dempsey AIFD, CFD 's program: HAND | Craft- Design to Distinguish yourself.  It explored how we (floral designers) must work to distinguish our work, our art from all the other floral companies that offer flowers to the public.  I would LOVE to be able to create some of the wonderful things Jim designed for the show, like these hats.  This one is linen with rosettes and this collection of branches decorated with reflective discs.  Now remember- this is for the stage, to be seen up close and far away and it's the CONCEPT.  It's to showcase the handwork and craftsmanship in the design, not always a literal prêt à porter (ready to wear) design.
You can see the length of the hat a little better here.

This is a hand-woven dress by Jim, with metallic accents and also with a boa of floral material to compliment the dress.

This dress is made with preserved/permanent botanicals of hydrangeas attached.  The picture really doesn't do the color justice as it was so much more vibrant in person.

This is a Derby Hat to me.  Or a Royal Ascot Hat, or some other equally affluent social function that requires a decorative hat.  I loved this hat.  Hmmm...maybe Jim and I can do a Christmas exchange this year :)  Just kidding.  But when you saw the detailing of each of these pieces up close it was very impressive!  I, who does not own a sewing machine and sweats it out sewing buttons back on my kids coats, was very impressed to say the least.   Every one of these took a lot of time and patience and I applaud Jim for sharing his handiwork with everyone in Las Vegas!

This is a nosegay that accompanied another hat (not shown here) Which is made with a new product that I will hopefully be able to carry here in the shop in the future.  I don't have all the details of the product with me at the moment but I will be sure to blog about that later.  There was much more to Jim's show, I am just showcasing a few things here to give you a taste of what's to come in the future blog posts concerning Symposium. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Oh Martha, you've done it again...

So I decided to peruse Martha Stewart Weddings website to see what she's promoting this summer for weddings.  I found a link to "Affordable Wedding Centerpiece Ideas".  Overall I thought yes, some of the ideas were good, cost saving ideas.  Some ideas presented were deceiving, like this: the idea of using fresh clementines, oranges and kumquats is a great way to incorporate color on the table on the cheap, it takes a serious wrong turn when they suggest orchid blossoms, stephanotis blossoms, and gardenias.  Why? Stephanotis are a small quarter sized blossom that are sold individually for around $3-$4 per blossom.  Orchids, depending on what variety and size, can either be a great buy (dendrobium have multiple blossoms per stem at $6 per stem) or expensive (Cymbidium by the bloom, $9-$13 per bloom) and gardenias.  I LOVE the smell of gardenias.  But they are one of the most high maintenance flowers in existence.  They come packaged 3 blossoms per box, at around $25 per bloom.  And yes, you will have to buy all 3 in the box.  The oils from your skin will turn the petals brown so I strongly suggest latex gloves.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  What is great in theory is not so great in real life execution Martha.
 The next idea:
Carnations are inexpensive.  HOWEVER- this arrangement features approx. 75 stems (my best guess with looking at the size in comparison to the plates).  75 stems x $1.45 =$108.75.  That doesn't include labor and the container.  Is it a great use of a otherwise plain flower- yes. Great texture and color- YES.  Is it mildly deceptive- yes.  With labor and container (it does take quite the chunk of time to arrange 75 stems of anything) possible retail - $170-$185.  Can I design a similar look but scaled down in price -Absolutely.

And the last one:
"Mix inexpensive blooms like miniature daisies, doily-shaped Queen Anne's lace, and baby's breath to create a show-stopping centerpiece."
Hmm.  Well, yes those are inexpensive flowers. But no, this particular arrangement is not inexpensive.  I'm assuming most people would look at this and think it costs all of $35.  Could it be done more reasonably- yes of course.  But as shown- I would estimate around the $200 mark.  It's hard to see how many stems of those flowers is in it, but judging on what I can count, there are many, many stems and it is quite large.  Labor is also another factor here. 
I'm not writing this to depress you, mainly just to educate you on the reality of glamorous magazine photos you see online and in print. Ask us if we can modify, if we can design something in the same style/color scheme/flowers but at your budget. We can do that and more.  Just ask!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Reality TV bites

Just saw a commercial last night for WE network's newest wedding related reality show...the premise is 5 couples(former Bridezilla brides?) after the wedding, must live in a house together.  It looks like another hot mess in the world of reality tv.  How many more wedding/marriage  themed reality shows do we need?  If you want to tune in it airs tonight
Not sure if I will tune in or not....some shows are like a car wreck, you can't help but watch, other shows I absolutely refuse to tune in because I don't want to encourage ratings.  Let me know what you think after you watch!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

AIFD- The American Institute of Floral Designers

AIFD is an organization the promotes credibility, creativity, ethics and education throughout the floral design industry.  Every year around the 4th of July they hold their National Symposium (think runway shows in Paris and Milan) in a different city each year.   The Symposium consists of days of back to back programs, all presented on stage in a huge ballroom.  It is really something to see.  Our group takes over the entire hotel/conference center.  There are flowers in the lobbies, elevators- everywhere.  It's a great event for retailers  to recharge their batteries.  Here's some pics from previous events:
Abstract Designs to get you thinking...
Christmas Ideas (Boston, 2010)
Mirror Ideas(Boston 2010)
Wedding Flowers Runway show(Boston 2010)
Holiday Screen (DC,2006)
Merchandising/Party décor (DC, 2006)

So this may give you a little insight into the proportion of the event.  1,000+ people from around the globe in one place, at the same time, sharing ideas, creativity, education.  It's a great experience.  And this year it's in......LAS VEGAS.  I am SUPER excited as I have never been to Vegas and haven't been able to go to a Symposium since Boston.  I will post lots of pics after I get back to share all the fun and beautiful things I see. For more info on AIFD visit