Do you ever wonder who’s behind all these gorgeous floral designs and events that we see? I know I do!! I took a look today to see who the ladies are behind all this hard work!
Keep up the gorgeous work, ladies!!
Do you ever wonder who’s behind all these gorgeous floral designs and events that we see? I know I do!! I took a look today to see who the ladies are behind all this hard work!
I sure have noticed a lot of posts with holiday wreaths this year, have you all noticed them? The variety of designs is just amazing and I’ve seen plenty that I’d be proud to hang on my front door!!
What can I say – I love me some red, white and green!
Check out all the goodies currently available at Flower Wholesalers across the country!
Whenever I see Pieris Japonica (aka Andromeda) I think of my friend, Alex of Exquisite Events in Chicago. Alex LOVES Pieris Japonica! It’s easy to see why, Pieris just adds such an interesting texture, flow and color to flower arrangements.
I spoke with Debbie at Florabundance about availability and she said it is typically available March & April for a few weeks and again in the fall – August, September, October and November. It’s availability definitely fluctuates with the weather.
Here are a selection of lovely designs featuring Pieris Japonica..
Dear Flower Friends,
Wishing you all a lovely Thanksgiving with family and friends!
I am so thankful for all of you, thank you for following Flirty Fleurs! Thank you for participating, contributing and building a wonderful, flower filled community.
I’ve been out surfing the net to see what the Flower Wholesalers across the country currently have available. The transition from fall into winter is quite evident as I’m seeing more reds and less oranges. Plus, my favorite is back! Festival Bush
Dear Flower Friends, I have a very interesting and deep post to share with you today. Our friend, Nancy Liu Chin, is sharing with us her story of how she has coped with bouts of burnout and how she pushed on, and continues to wow us with her fabulous events. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing such a personal glimpse into your life.
For many of you, you probably don’t know that I’ve been doing flowers since 2001. It’s been a while and though in the grand scheme of life, it’s not that long, I feel like I’ve been doing this for 30 years, not just 12 seasons. And some years, things just work really well and it’s pretty darn great being a florist, floral designer, event producer. Other years, the challenges are immense.
On top of managing a business, developing creative designs, working under deadlines, there are the challenges of physical health. I’m no spring chicken though I’m hardly retiring (btw: I will not mention my age), yet I have had several near burnouts exemplified by extreme exhaustion both bodily and emotional.
During the 90′s I was working as a senior merchandise planner yet despite working for a very trendy and up-and-coming women’s fashion retailer, I was really burning out and running out of steam. The daily grind, intense retail environment, and the pressure of working during the dot.com era depleted my energy. I become soulless as I had no balance in my life and any accomplishment were received with less joy.
To combat my fatigue and inner “burnout”, I thought that working for a more stable retailer would resolve my issues. Unfortunately, it didn’t. While I was vacationing in Italy, I knew that if the opportunity were to come up and I could magically find a new source of joy, I would take it. Then came 9/11. It further affirmed what I knew, life was short, it could be unfair and that there wasn’t a moment to waste. When I was offered a choice between staying at my managerial job at Gap or leaving to start something. I choose the path that few dared. I choose to leave.
I needed a radical change.
Luckily I found floral and event design. It was a dream for me. However, 12 seasons later even at my dream job, I have honesty had periods of near burnout.
You ask…. what are the signs of burnout?
1) extreme fatigue
2) inability to deal with intense stress
3) creative soullessness
4) diminished interests
5) reduced sense of accomplishment
This is an excerpt from Wikipedia that I thought I would share with you.
Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North have divided the burnout process into 12 phases which may not occur in each individual sequentially. They include:
The Compulsion to Prove Oneself
Often found at the beginning is excessive ambition. This is one’s desire to prove themselves while at the workplace. This desire turns into determination and compulsion.
Because they have to prove themselves to others or try to fit in an organization that does not suit them, people establish high personal expectations. In order to meet these expectations, they tend to focus only on work while they take on more work than they usually would. It may happen that they become obsessed with doing everything themselves. This will show that they are irreplaceable since they are able to do so much work without enlisting in the help of others.
Neglecting Their Needs
Since they have devoted everything to work, they now have no time and energy for anything else. Friends and family, eating, and sleeping start to become seen as unnecessary or unimportant, as they reduce the time and energy that can be spent on work.
Displacement of Conflicts
Now, the person has become aware that what they are doing is not right, but they are unable to see the source of the problem. This could lead to a crisis in themselves and become threatening. This is when the first physical symptoms are expressed.
Revision of Values
In this stage, people isolate themselves from others, they avoid conflicts, and fall into a state of denial towards their basic physical needs while their perceptions change. They also change their
value systems. The work consumes all energy they have left, leaving no energy and time for friends and hobbies. Their new value system is their job and they start to be emotionally blunt.
Denial of Emerging Problems
The person begins to become intolerant. They do not like being social, and if they were to have social contact, it would be merely unbearable for them. Outsiders tend to see more aggression and sarcasm. It is not uncommon for them to blame their increasing problems on time pressure and all the work that they have to do, instead of on the ways that they have changed, themselves.
Their social contact is now at a minimum, soon turning into isolation, a wall. Alcohol or drugs may be sought out for a release since they are obsessively working “by the book”. They often have feelings of being without hope or direction.
Obvious Behavioral Changes
Coworkers, family, friends, and other people that are in their immediate social circles cannot overlook the behavioral changes of this person.
Losing contact with themselves, it’s possible that they no longer see themselves or others as valuable. As well, the person loses track of their personal needs. Their view of life narrows to only seeing in the present time, while their life turns to a series of mechanical functions.
They feel empty inside and to overcome this, they might look for activity such as overeating, sex, alcohol, or drugs. These activities are often exaggerated.
Burnout may include depression. In that case, the person is exhausted, hopeless, indifferent, and believes that there is nothing for them in the future. To them, there is no meaning of life. Typical depression symptoms arise.
They collapse physically and emotionally and should seek immediate medical attention. In extreme cases, usually only when depression is involved, suicidal ideation may occur, with it being viewed as an escape from their situation. Only a few people will actually commit suicide.
I am no expert on how to survive burnout. I don’t even know if I can tell you how to prevent it.
However, this is how I have crawled out of my burnout.
1) Community – Having a community of people who are supporters, cheerleaders and actually work assistants have helped me survive. My secret from burning out is having a great team. My team has fundamentally helped me save me from me!!! Without a team of great great great assistants, I know I would not have survived. As a leader, as a creative director, and a manager, I have to have capable people to hand off work to. Beyond my team who are so amazing, there are good friends and my family who are great supporters. They include my cute parents who bring me food from across the Bay when they know I need it. My mom recognized the importance of not skipping meals which I often do since I’m always designing in the studio but as a nutritionist, she knows that the body is important to nourish.
I have a friend name Augie Chang(you might know him — he is a fabulous photographer). I remember that he came over one night when I wanted to throw in the towel just to give me some words of wisdom. Having someone who really cares and who is willing to come over after their own work to give you a pep talk means the world to me. It means that you are never alone(thanks AC).
You need cheerleaders and I’m honored to have many including Kelly of A Savvy Event, Bev of Especially Yours, Josh of Joshua Charles and on and on.
And of course, my husband!!! Kevin Chin is the Zen master when it comes to being cool under fire. He continues to counsel me. He has made it possible for me to work out my struggles without the financial burden of knowing that I had to do it on my own. He also helped me stay in touch with others when I wanted to be alone. He refused to let me wallow in self pity or remove myself from social media when I was tempted. He was instrumental in getting me involved when I didn’t want to.
You can prevent burning out — BUILD. A. COMMUNITY.
2) Finding What is Important – I know what it takes for me to function and it means that I have to have a sound body. So taking small vacations during the day is important. That means eating lunch, not at my desk but sitting down and not thinking about work is important. It means taking long walks usually I take my dogs for a walk before work. It means that I don’t schedule consultations twice a week when it’s family day and not being apologetic about it. For each of us, we have to have set days in which we have off. I know it’s easier said then done but once I put my body, my values as a priority, I could feel the difference.
That is why a mental break is important not only in terms of taking an annual vacation but also daily breaks. Your soul needs it.
HAVE. DAILY. BREAKS.
3) Set Boundaries, Adopt a Roadmap, Be Fair – By setting consistent standards and fair values at work with my staff, I can see how it has resulted in less confusion, less stress for them and for me. An indifferent work environment can lead to a mess. I think, less mess, less stress.
When we design, I have created recipes, this helps the staff. It ensures that we have enough flowers, we have a roadmap. It creates this sense of consistency at work. It’s making our organization run more efficiently which means it’s easier for me to manage. Setting standards took so long for me to create but it has helped immensely to give my staff consistency that they can follow.
I also implemented directives, we have a production schedule prior to a set up, now everyone knows what is to be expected so it leads to fewer issues. It’s one of many things that we implement that has created a sense of fairness at work which results in a really tight team of individuals.
Same goes for the way we work with our clients. We create templates, we adopt the same fair policy so that each client is treated the same way. I’ve also set boundaries on my time so that our clients can get the best from me because I’m feeling the most optimal. We have legal contracts. We have business insurances. All these things ensure one thing. A roadmap to fair practice.
And it’s the same for our suppliers and vendors. I want to have the best flowers possible. And we seek to work with people who share that value of fresh and great flowers. I had a situation where a sales rep for a floral vendor gave me an ultimatum. It was rather blunt and frustrating and it made me go into a tailspin. A supplier wanted me to give them all my flower orders and ignore the fairness of the open market at the SF Flower Market. Instead of buying the best that each supplier has to offer, they insisted that I shop only with them or not at all.
After understanding what I value, I knew that this salesperson ‘s values were not align with my own. We have choices. I choose boundaries that I could accept so I choose to work with the open market system at the market then putting all my eggs in one basket.
No matter what it is, one has to decide for themselves, what they can tolerate so that their work is more fair because when it’s not, and when things are not in balance, that is when burnout can arise.
Understanding what you need to do your best means that you need to know what is fair, what are the limits. We have to have some boundaries so that we can act with consistency and fairness.
Work within Fair Boundaries.
Thank you, Nancy, for sharing such an insightful post with us. I’m sure it has a lot of floral designers thinking and taking a deep look at how they are feeling and reflecting back on the past wedding season.
And because no post is complete without some flowers here are some of Nancy’s lovely floral designs
Nancy Liu Chin
San Francisco, California
PS – Nancy will be a speaker at The Chapel Designers – Florabundance Inspirational Design Days in Santa Barbara taking place January 20, 21 & 22, 2014. Click here for more info
Have you heard of Lobiloo? I recently learned of this product from its creator, Emily Carter. Emily is a floral designer like the rest of us – she’s been in the floral industry for the past 17 years. Four years ago Emily set out with a programmer friend of hers to create a software program for floral designers with the intention of creating a better way to provide Wedding Estimates for brides. After spending a good amount of time testing out the software product and speaking with Emily I would have to say she has succeeded.
What exactly is Lobiloo? It is a software program that creates beautiful, fast and accurate image-based price estimates for clients. It offers a library of over 2,500 floral images provided by Florabundance with unique finder tools (by season, color, etc.), as well as the capability for florists to upload their own gallery of images of flowers and rental items. The back-end of the software offers a more efficient way to price out each floral design and calculates the final cost. Plus, it calculates the number of stems needed of each flower and creates an order form for your wholesaler. The added option to send the order directly to Florabundance is included with the click of one button!
Also included in the software is the option for your clients to browse the floral images and save their favorites to their Pinterest board which they can share with you during consultations. The clients can only see the floral images in the browse section, your pricing is safely hidden away behind the password protected site.
Lobiloo is hosted online and Emily and her team offer ongoing support for the product should you run into any questions while creating estimates. I would suggest giving the program a try, she is offering a 30 day free trial and after that the price is $29.00 per month.
(this is a product review, it is not a paid advertisement)
Hi flower friends, I have an amazing post to share with you today! Floral Designer and Businesswoman extraordinaire, Paula Pryke, is celebrating 25 years in the industry this fall and she has been kind enough give us a glimpse into her journey. I hope you feel inspired as much as I have and enjoy her words of wisdom.
When I was growing up as a child in a rural community in the UK I found I enjoyed arranging wild flowers and flowers from my Mother’s Garden rather than doing the housework! I was also aware that if you placed a vase of flowers into the room after a quick round with the duster and the vacuum cleaner, the room came to life and my Mother’s gratitude was greater! Later I went to a boarding school which was set into an amazing landscaped estate of 500 acres where my love of nature and the seasons was sealed. Back then the global flower industry was only worth a few billion. Opportunities to see floral design were confined to the Church, Garden centres or a few plain looking high street shops.
25 years ago I was just embarking on my career with flowers and little did I know how it would change my life! I had originally trained as a history teacher having been inspired by my own teacher at school and the historic parkland and house where I had been schooled. Three years into my career of teaching, I just knew it was not where I wanted to be 25 years down the line. One Valentine’s day I journeyed from East London to Heathrow airport in the West and everywhere I went I saw florists delivering roses. It was like the rest of London was this sepia grey with the red roses shouting out to me! This epiphany movement ended up on me enrolling on a Constance Spry four week flower design course and from that moment I was hooked.
Returning to teach at school I was staring out the window looking at the fall leaves and feeling the call of nature! At the end of that academic year I took a part time teaching job at The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, famous for training Naomi Campbell and Russell Brand and worked for three days a week in a shop in central London. This also allowed me to take a floristry evening course to learn more about the basics. I had recently married and my husband encouraged me to start my own business. I felt ill-prepared in experience terms but what I lacked in that department I made up for in enthusiasm and hard work. My original shop was in a secondary site and so I sought out contract work and also business accounts. My husband is an Architect and I found that new buildings and recently refurbished buildings were a good source of business for me. I also worked in an area that at the time was not very sophisticated and rents were quite cheap so I found myself working with a lot of creative types, such as photographers and stylists.
I worked on a massive advertising campaigns for BA, lots of Financial groups and Banks and did masses of editorial work. My shop became a mecca for lots of interesting creative characters and I realised that although I was not very experienced, people liked the way we arranged and presented flowers. I did not think of myself a trail-blazer at the time because there has always been a healthy amount of competition in London and I was just busy dealing with the day-to-day business of running a busy flower shop.
Three years into having that little shop, three things happened that changed my fortunes. The first was one of my customers, also ran a publishing company and she was so impressed with what she used to see on her forays into the shop on Saturday that she offered me the opportunity to write my first book which was entitled: ‘The New Floral Artist‘. I can’t believe that I have two more books coming out shortly which will make it a total of 17 titles! These books have been translated into Hebrew, Japanese and 12 other languages!
Through the photographer of the book, Kevin Summers, I met one the Great Britain’s most famous Cookery writers, Delia Smith and she offered me the chance to work with her on her books and TV series and also to publish a monthly article on flowers in a magazine run but her and her husband. This enabled a lot of people to learn more about flower design and enjoy flowers in their own homes.
The third event that really changed the nature of business was a recommendation by Ilse Crawford a style guru who at the time edited Elle Decoration. She recommended to Terence Conran that he pay me a visit at my store which he did. He declared it the best flower shop outside Paris and I began to work with him on his restaurant and design empire.
The books led to demonstrations and The Flower School and wider exposure around the world. The magazines led to a wider audience in the UK and a huge interest in floral design. The regular supply of flowers to the restaurant trade gave me a regular turnover and back in the 1990′s these had huge budgets so I became and I got known for modern displays of wonderful flowers. I am still more into the elegant understated look than the opulent flowers everywhere approach! I have just completed a “How to plan your wedding” book which is out in January and I am working on a new Wedding Flowers book which will replace my old title that has been in print for ten years! The new Paula Pryke Wedding Flower Book will be published by Rizzoli in the US and will be my 17th flower book!
During the last three decades the flower industry has grown into a global multi-national business worth over 100 billion pounds. In those 25 years, I have opened and closed nine shops; eight in the UK, seven in London and one in the Seoul, Korea. I still still have the fantasy of having a flower shop and standing amongst all these beautiful creations, chatting to my customers and making beautiful flower designs! The reality of a flower shop is quite different and you do literally become a slave to your own creation. Since I started my first flower shop the retail world has changed dramatically and although there is still some demand for beautifully arranged quality flowers, most of my colleagues in London and now I have gone down the bespoke Atelier route rather than a retail outlet. My business now is based around business contracts, special events and my bespoke gift and internet orders. Many of my contracts, which I have had for twenty odd years and include some great fashion houses and city institutions as well as restaurants.
I am currently working as a flower consultant for a famous London department store and so I have be analysing all the reasons why retailing flowers have become so much harder even if you have the benefit of a prime site with lots of foot-fall. 25 years ago you could not really buy flowers anywhere else than in a flower shop, nursery, garden centre or a flower stall. Twenty years ago the Supermarkets came into the flower business and now they are really the major players for cut flowers for the home and also the gift market. These giants were attracted to the mark-up that flowers offered them and they have become very good at understanding the floral business over the last 20 years. They have also offered good value and long lasting flowers to their customers which has made bespoke floristry and top quality flowers look prohibitive to your everyday flower buyer. The relay organisations such as FTD and Interflora got bought out by the Corporate world and have forsaken the small independent florist. The Sympathy flower business has also been bought up by huge multinational companies and what was a lucrative and necessary party of the flower trade has dwindled because of their control on the flower purchases. Also there has been a strong trend to make a donation to a charity at a funeral rather than buy flowers. Whilst I understand this shift in thinking, there is nothing sadder than a funeral without any flowers. All these factors have meant that it is now very hard to survive as florist on the high street. Added to this, the flower industry and in particular the wedding flower industry has been attracting lots of new companies who just wish to work on events and weddings. Many of these work from home with limited overheads and can offer very competitive rates to secure work. One consistent trend I have seen over 25 years is how many people in our industry do not charge enough for their labour and designs and this can devalue the business and the talents required.
Now everyone who consults with a floral designer is quite savvy about flowers and through pinterest, blogs and the wedding media. This has meant that the client likes to be more involved in the creative process. This can be an advantage but I sadly think it makes more people opt for something they feel safe with and less open to the one-to-one creative process with their floral designer. It also means that a lot of people come to you with ideas and budgets that really don’t match rather than let you guide and help them! It also can mean in a crowded market that too many floral designers are quoting and advising on the same weddings causing the Bride and Groom to become totally confused and wasting a lot of our time. There has also been a much greater emphasis on order takers, event planners, venues or concierge companies wanting to organise the whole event and take a commission from all their vendors. At one time, I liked to think that people chose me for my artistry or because they liked working for me. Now I know that it is because they will cream off 15% or 25% from my work. Even Royal Palaces are in on the game. Sadly these hidden commissions mean that your clients enviably pay more for their weddings and it can also lead to unscrupulous practices or less talented florists being recommended for work because they are prepared to compromise their clients wedding and pay a higher commission. The other recent trend at the top end of the market is the use of faux flowers in flower decoration! The demand for the flowers to look even more fantastical has led to the use of artificial flowers being added into flower displays! I try to avoid this at any costs but I admit it can be effective in moderation!
Working in London too, we also have massive congestion meaning we spend too long on the road getting in and out of events. We also have difficulty parking and the overhead of the Congestion charge as all added costs to our work. 20 years ago you could park pretty much anywhere in London and deliver flowers. Now you pay up to £12 an hour and run the risk of £60 parking fines every day! Logistics have become much more costly and complicated. When you add the 20% VAT we also have to add to our flower costs here in the UK, it has made the product so much more of a luxury that the market has become quite divided. More often I am working for the international world traveller with many homes across the globe than the ‘ordinary’ local customers who wanted a treat or a beautiful gift. These overheads and the increasing cost of the flowers have made keeping on top of the profits even more challenging and margins have been squeezed.
However, despite all of these headaches of running a business involving the beauty and fraility of fresh flowers, I would not have changed anything! I have met some wonderful people and designed flowers all over the world! I have gotten to work inside some of London’s most beautiful landmarks and I have worked with the movers and shakers of Great Britain. I have worked in Palaces, on Super-Yachts and on a whole lot of loading bays!!! Recently I have been a consultant to a Crystal Cruises so I have become very familiar with how to get flowers delivered to any port in the world and I have been able to arrange flowers while sailing down the Panama Canal or past the Statue of Liberty! The flower industry has grown out of all recognition and ordinary people’s lives have been enhanced by the beauty of regular flowers in their own home. Running any business over 25 years requires adapting and moving to changing trends. I have been amazed by how many florists here in Britain and abroad and have been influenced by my work and how many have become floral designers and gone on to enjoy a life with flowers. I still enjoy teaching and passing on what I have learnt to the next generation. This weekend I have been judging The British Industry Wedding Awards and it is great to see new talent. I was a little disappointed not to see more original work but maybe we have got Pinterest and the bloggers to blame for that!
Deep down when I am back at the flower market with just the raw material and I see lots of my contemporaries still up early and still eulogising about a new variety or a new colour, you realise what an addiction the flower business is! As Vita Sackville- West said, “Flowers really do intoxicate me!” It has been such a pleasure to work each day with such outstanding beauty.
Who could ask for more?
The Paula Pryke Flower Design Diploma starts on the 4th of March 2014