Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Family Business

As my daughter's 4th birthday approaches next month (thankfully AFTER Valentine's Day) I was flipping through old pics and came upon this one. 
Granted, I looked like hell.  Probably because I did not realize I was about to have my picture taken, I was working, and my daughter was a month old.
But the beauty of the picture is it captures the essence of "family owned & operated".  Most people take this phrase for granted.  I do not.  Running the family flower shop has hi's and low' every family endeavor does.  It has also allowed me to raise my two beautiful children, day in and day out at work until they were old enough for pre-k.   Challenging? yes. Rewarding? Absolutley. 
The things I learned about having my kids and returning to work immediately:
EVERYONE loves babies.  Employees, Customers, Fellow Business owners, etc.  People are much more patient as they wait for their flower arrangement to be completed if you're sporting a 3 month-old in a sling WHILE designing the arrangement.
My co-workers became my family.  We traded babies while someone took a phone call, waited on a customer, etc.  They helped (and still do) celebrate birthdays, Christmases, etc. 
You accomplish more than what you think you can. 
Your kids will constantly want everything you have on display and will want a balloon no matter what. 
Free Labor.  Ha ha.  No really, my kids have helped stack teddy bears on shelves, handed me flowers, helped decorate the front display windows and entertained the customers and employees alike. 
So yes, I love being a part of "family owned and operated"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Truth Behind Valentine's Day prices

This article is simply to help the consumer understand what drives prices up at Valentines day (and no, it's not because florists are evil, greedy, business owners) and why there is a price gap between big retailers and smaller family owned businesses. 
            According to Society of American Florists (2007), 214 million roses are produced to fill the demand in the US alone.
            Everything starts with supply and demand.  Demand in February goes up for red roses and the supply must meet that demand
            Growers do not plant more rose crops for this holiday. Starting in November/December, growers pinch back,  literally “throwing away “ immature roses to encourage plant to bloom in February.  Labor /equipment costs triple/quadruple at harvest time.
            Airlines: flights are full of boxed roses from SA to Miami, but empty or near empty return flights, airlines charge round trip fares to recoup the loss on return flight, so growers are paying roundtrip freight.

           All of these additional costs are factored in, driving the price to triple what a retailer would normally pay.  We can only charge what the market will bear, so sometimes we are even charging less than what we “should” to cover our product costs, labor, overhead, etc be in order to move product.
          Weather can also affect pricing, if too much flooding occurs, etc, lessens amount of flowers available, driving up cost.
          Difference between local florist and franchise “big box” retailers?  They order in huge quantities for hundreds or thousands of stores from the same sources, they receive bulk discounts that local florist cannot match.
         When you order from national companies, your tax dollars are not being spent locally.  They are surcharging you, promising a price, then turning around and calling a local florist to fill order as they are just “order gatherers” and not actual flower shops.

         The difference in quality comes into play once the flowers receive their retail destination.  An independent flower shop’s staff is trained with years of experience on how to properly care and handle fresh flowers.  They are also able to pass on their education to you, the consumer, on how to properly care for your flowers once you get them home.  They will also package your flowers and plants to protect them from the elements once you leave the store.  Fresh flowers cannot withstand temperatures below 36 degrees. Green plants, 55 degrees.  Blooming plants 40-55 degrees

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Custom Design, The Tattoo Gun Tribute

Every so often, floral designers get called upon to create unique, beautiful, customized arrangements to express the loss of someone.  Not every designer can rise to the challenge, some even run away.  I LOVE challenges.  I LOVE designing outside "the box".  I think that some of the more remarkable work I have designed over the past 15 years has been those one-of-a-kind sympathy expressions. 
A few years ago a local tattoo artist, world renowned, departed unexpectedly.  One of his friends called my shop and asked, " Can you make a tattoo gun out of flowers?" 
My first answer was, to be honest, I'm not sure let me google that image and call you back.   Sometimes its not for lack of trying, but some things don't lend to practical interpretation with flowers being the medium.  I googled, figured out some rough dimensions and called him back with a quote.  He said, "Nope, I want it bigger than that" Ok, I can do that.  The initial sketch:
I then scanned and emailed a copy to the sender.
He thought it was accurate and gave me the go ahead.  The next step was to figure out 1.) how large to make it, 2.) what to design it out of, 3.) what I can use to support it
To figure out scale and proportion I did this:
Simple graph paper is a saving grace when you need to calculate size, let alone, quantity of flowers needed to design this.  I used Oasis Sculpting Sheets as the base for the flowers and a piece of spray painted plywood for the base of the whole design.  (water +foam + flowers = REALLY heavy)
I had to trace a full size version of this with a projector onto full size paper to make my "pattern", then carve and sculpt it out of the oasis sheets. 
The sheets are only 22"x22" so I need 2 of them length wise to do it.

Pattern laid out

This is after the initial carving and attaching the bottom to the top.
Once I had it completed carved out I used a cordless screw driver and drove screws through the back of the plywood into the back of the "gun".  I had also used glue as a preliminary hold to adhere the gun to the board before using the screws. As you can guess it was extremely labor-intensive.
Then I started inserting flowers into the foam.  Also I used black painted blocks of wood to support the gun on the plywood.  This was very heavy and a great design loses everything if the mechanics aren't there to hold the arrangement in place.
The finished product.  :)  One I'm especially proud of.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Bridal Expo Bouquets

I had a great time at the Winchester Bridal Expo this year.  I was able to meet tons of newly engaged ladies, and the wedding dates vary from next month to next year!  I always love catching up with my fellow wedding vendors and meeting new vendors.  And because I have such a great relationship with Julie Napear Wichern of Julie Napear Photography, she photographed my work from the show!
(see more of her photography :

New and Old

One of my favorite themes that gained popularity last year, and is expected to be just as big this year, is incorporating brooches, jewelry or other personal items into the wedding bouquet.  This is a great way to personalize your wedding flowers to reflect your style, your family origins, your interests, just about anything.  The bouquet above features white hydrangea, white roses, and white lisianthus accented with brooches I found at one of the local antique shops, Past & Present.  I would suggest that if you want this look, start the search for brooches/jewelry EARLY as you will more than likely have to visit several shops in your area, if not more than to get the overall "look" you desire.  Keep in mind that earrings and necklace pendants work equally as well.  All 3 were used to create this look.
Lavender and shades of Purple are still going strong this year.  I designed several weddings around this color scheme, and all of them were different.  In this bouquet I wanted to show texture and interest so I incorporated silver brunia berries, green bupluerum and limonium to accent the white ranunculus and lavender roses.

Soft, retro/vintage, elegance,  are words I see popping up again and again.  I followed a pastel color scheme with white ranunculus, champagne spray roses, white lisianthus and seeded eucalyptus.

 Accenting the lace and satin ribbon is another brooch found locally.

This bouquet was extremely light-weight.  The silver collar is aluminium and ultra light.  It comes accented with pearls and is available in silver, copper and gold. I sheltered it with tulle, available in a wide variety of colors. White ranunculus and white lisianthus,  all very light weight as they have small stem circumference (and I thought I'd never use math again- HA)

One of my favorites, and one that I got a lot of feedback on was a funky tropical bouquet.  It can be designed with or with out the copper glitter greenery.  Tropicals are a safe bet for outdoor summer weddings because they love the heat.  This bouquet uses birds of paradise (only available in orange/blue combo), orange"Unique" roses, and yellow hypericum berries. 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wedding Planning tips...Part 2

Here's some tips especially for the Bride.  You are probably planning this major party/event for the first time ever in your life.  Whether it's for 30 or 300 people it's alot of coordination and planning!

1. Get Organized.  I cannot tell you how important this is.  All the little details can get overlooked very quickly if you're not on top of everything.

2. Find Team Bride.  You may (or may not) have a mother, sister, etc to help you but please find someone to accompany you to the various meetings, help you organize your schedule, knock out your To-Do List, etc when your fiance is unable to go. 

3. The Planner.  As in person not thing.  Choose someone who is NOT already in the wedding party to oversee all of the deliveries, pick ups, last minute details, finding the wandering Great Aunt during picture time, etc. I highly recommend a paid consultant, they don't get flustered,  so a much better chance they can handle just about anything that happens.

4. Pamper Yourself.  Get a massage on rehersal day.  Trust me- it's the best investment you'll make.  A relaxed bride is a happy bride.

5. ER Kit.  Aspirin, sewing stuff, tissues, tampons, heck, even a bottle of wine.  Make sure you prepare for anything that may come that day.

6. Glam Plan.  This is one of the biggest days of your life.  You will be photographed ALOT.  Make appointments with your hair stylist and make up artist well in advance of the wedding.  Do a run through.  They are professionals but not mind readers.  The best way to ensure you acheive the look you want mirrored in those photos is to practice in advance.

7. Educate.  Sometimes your Maid/Matron/Person of Honor has never been closely involved in a wedding.  Give them a heads up of what you need them to help you with on your big day...ex. your train.  They need to fluff, straighten, etc during the ceremony, hold your bouquet, hold the ring etc.

8. Remember Him.  Those last two weeks before the wedding are going to stretch everyone's patience thin.  You will probably bicker and fight more than you did in the beginning.  Stop, breathe and remember this wonderful person you are marrying and make time to say how much you love and appreciate them. 

9. Don't Cry.  There will probably be something, whether small or large scale that will not go as planned on the big day.  It happens to every bride, at every wedding.  Keep in mind when you wake up on your wedding day you cannot change or control anything from this moment on.  Roll with the punches and enjoy yourself- the day goes by FAST.

10. Cake Face.  Whether you plan to slam dunk that cake in your groom's face or not, please talk over this moment with your groom and stick to the game plan.  I had the opportunity in college to put on a "mock" wedding and I did get the cake shoved in my face.  Not fun. I had icing in my eyelashes and chunks of cake up my nostrils.  Really not fun.  Had it been my actual wedding day, in a very expensive dress, with professional hair and make up...I would have been furious to say the least. 

There are probably numerous tips I could post but these were among the top ten for brides

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wedding Planning Tips

It's that time of year for many women to begin planning their wedding.  It can be a great experience, however, it can  be stressful and overwhelming.  Here are a few suggestions that I hope you will find helpful.

1. Be Organized. Stick with a timeline of which vendor to meet in accordance with priority.  You can't discuss flowers if you haven't ordered/picked dress colors. You may have a date picked out, but that can and usually does change if the venue you want is booked.

2. Manner Mode. If you set the appointment to meet with a vendor- PLEASE don't do a "No call/No show".  We understand you get busy, you may change your mind about meeting with us, you booked with someone else, etc.  We WON'T be offended if you call/email us to cancel or reschedule.  We WILL be highly ticked off if you don't call, don't show.  Our time is just as valuable as yours and we may have turned down another bride because of your appointment time. 

3. Focus.  It sounds silly but it's best if you focus on one aspect of the wedding at a time.    It's easy to get overwhelmed if you are trying to make a million decisions at once.  Get a planner, a notebook, anything to help you divide and conquer all the things you need to decide on. This mirrors #1, but it really is important. 

4. Do your Homework.  Before going to see a venue, make a list of the things you would like to be available at that venue, (outdoor options, bathroom accomodations, etc).  Before going to the florist, look at various websites, magazines, etc to get a feel of what you do and do not like.

5. Be Honest.  Everyone has a budget. Everyone.  Vendors understand this.  The better you can communicate realistically your budget expectations, the better vendors will be able to tailor their services to your needs. If you have a budget range, say $500-$900 for flowers, give your florist your price range so they can steer you in the right direction.  We can make suggestions for alternative flower choices to help you acheive a similar look but that would suit your budget better.

6. Be Realistic.  If you really want that Martha Stewart Weddings bouquet from the front cover and the florist tells you it's $600,  know what you like about the bouquet and communicate that to the florist so we can present you with bouquet ideas that would be more economical.  We aren't inflating the price "just because we can".  Those bouquets are designed to photograph beautifully for the cover, etc, and not designed with budgets in mind.

7. Follow up.  If you receive several estimates from various vendors, it helps to communicate if you don't understand something in the estimate.  We can't answer questions if you never ask.  And if we're expecting a response from you, typically a "yes we want to book you" or "no we've decided to go elsewhere" PLEASE send us a response.  We won't be upset, but it helps us to know how to plan our wedding scheduling, etc if we know out of the 20 estimates for June xxth, we've heard back from 90% of them with a "yes" or "no". 

8. The Groom. Don't get so wrapped up in planning (we know it's exciting!) that you forget to communicate with your Groom!  He is important and this day is about BOTH of you.  His opinion counts and should be heard and considered.  Compromise so that you both get things you want included in the special day.  Communicate.  This is just the beginning.  Successful marriages are born from successful communication.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Centerpiece costs

Visit the link above, it's a very informational look into cost/pricing of centerpieces for events and weddings for those planning for 2013.