Expert Panel : Regarding Employees

How do you find great people to hire? How do you keep your team motivated and happy?

Brandon of Epic Flowers:
Great people find us. We often have them come give us a resume or come in to talk about working with us. We give our designers freedom to perform their art, we buy them unexpected goodies, feed them well at the holidays and sometimes we’ll do trade with other businesses, such as spas and we give the trade to our employees. We are understanding and accommodating when it comes to taking time off or switching hours. Moral is everything when it comes to attitude. And with a positive attitude your employees will go the extra mile for your customers.

Ariella Chezar:
My core group has worked with me for the last 15 years, and they are an AMAZING group. The balance are designers and friends who are based on the West Coast who I work with when I do jobs out there.

It’s a pretty motivated group, but I do think that good food is key. On my bigger events I hire a chef friend of mine to feed us, and this does so much to keep us going.

Cori of Moss Fine Floral:
I don’t have a team solidified weekly as I book a limited number of events a year. I’ve accumulated 22 years in the floral industry so know lots of reliable people to bring in when needed. Some own their own businesses, some make a living as bounce around freelancers and some are excellent friends that have helped me with installations over the years. When I was operating a retail store front I typically would lean on my local wholesale reps for referrals of solid, reliable, and experienced people. I found that any advertisement in the paper rarely brought true talent my way.

I think that keeping my people happy is simple. If I’m positive and happy they tend to be the same. I keep the days as organized as possible and keep the mood light while delegating responsibilities. I also bring in lunch and wine and dine my girls after successful events. I also believe that I pay them well which keeps them smiling and wanting to return for more craziness! So, an environment topped with food, wine and a nice paycheck are all excellent motivators.

Robyn of Bare Root Flora:
We are a boutique firm, so we rely mostly on contract labor to meet additional design needs. We’ve been very lucky to have a fabulous pool of freelancers to draw from when we need help, and we often look to our industry colleagues to trade labor or recommendations on great people. We pay well and take care of our team and we try to make work a lot of fun for everyone so that people want to keep coming back! We also try not to micromanage–once we lay out our expectations, we try to allow our designers to use their own creativity in executing our designs. We find people are more invested and do a better job when they’ve been empowered to use their innate creativity.

Cathy of Sprout Flowers:
When it comes to staffing I have always been fortunate to either know someone, know someone who knows someone, or to have just the right person walk through the door at exactly the right moment. It’s been pretty amazing!

I think one way we have kept turnover to a minimum is that everyone is immensely proud of where they work. They appreciate the quality and variety of materials they have to work with and enjoy a level of creativity that’s hard to find elsewhere. They also like our commitment to our community and feel like they are part of something very special.

Erin of Floret Flower Farm:
It took us a few seasons to master the art of finding the right people. Our business is really unique in that we both grow and arrange flowers. On the growing end, work takes place outdoors, in every type of weather for 9 months out of the year. Our field help has to be strong, in good health and able to roll with any punches that are thrown by nature. Wedding work on the other hand must be done during a condensed time frame, often going late into the night and or on-site under high stress conditions. We’ve yet to find help that can straddle both areas of work.

After hiring many enthusiastic, young, dreamy fresh out of college kids to help on the farm we finally learned our lesson. While super committed to our business philosophy, they just couldn’t hack the hard work. A few days in extreme heat or damp weather and they melted down into a puddle of overwhelm. On the design side, bring in artistic older women, looking for a creative outlet was equally disastrous. In both cases we were hiring lovely people, with no prior experience who lacked the groundedness and energy needed in our line of work.

We’ve finally figured out the key elements needed for the PERFECT employee, at least in our business.
First, they must have a stable life, with no drama! Nothing is more draining than listening to an unhappy person complain about their life all day! Second they must be self generated, self responsible adults! This means they bring heir own lunch, take breaks when they get tired and communicate if somethings not working. Third, they enjoy repetitious, quiet work. This goes for both areas since much of our days are spent harvesting or putting together bouquets. Lastly, they must have a big heart! Our dream team consists of the most loving, generous, kind people on earth! Each brings with them a particular skills set and also a tremendous ammount of love.

Lists are a fantastic way to keep everyone on the same page and clear about what’s expected during the day. It takes the pressure off individuals and breaks large tasks it into bite sized chunks, eliminating overwhelm and confusion. I’ve found the more deliberate, organized and clear I am with our helpers, the happier and more productive they are in the end. People just want to contribute and be useful. Clarifying what’s needed allows them to do this with grace and confidence. By keeping the big picture and responsibility on my plate, then delegating out clear tasks to each person based on their strengths, we fly through the days work with tremendous efficiency.

Of course it is all still a work in progress, but I do feel like we’re getting closer to really figuring it out.

Paula Pryke:
I have lots of CV and resume turn up on my desk each day and occasionally one stands out! Generally I don’t think great people are ‘found’, each floristry business
is so unique, I think you have to train people to be ‘great’ for you. Any relationship is a two way process and in my experience, the more you put in, the more you receive. When I had a lot of retail sites recruiting good staff was a really big problem. It is rare in London to find florists who enjoy customer service and inevitably staff turnover is high as people seek better positions. Also in busy retail environment when things are going well, you are often too busy to devote enough time to staff training. When you have the time to train, you are already thinking it is time to lay staff off!

I think we all love floral design for the variety the job offers us and so it is important to offer employees the chance to work on new areas and to continuously hone their skills.
Motivation comes from encouragement and discussion, letting people know that you thought they did a good job is key. You need to engage people who have the same gaols as you and then create a calm and efficient workplace. Staff need to feel involved, valued and encouraged to have their say. No one choses floristry for the renumeration package so work has to be fun and fulfilling. A couple of years ago, my current and ex-staff all attended the funeral of a brilliant young member of staff whose life had been taken far too early by cancer. At the end of the day I realised what a strong bond we all had as we had spent so much of our working life together and how we were all united by this passion for flowers and people.
The flower business is about life and people and the floral designers that stay the course are very devoted to their art.

I think staff respond well to targets and often the more information they have about how your business works, the more motivated they are. Some managers are too secretive about the financial side and so staff are unaware of the company aims. Staff need to work closely and pull together as a team if everyone is going to be happy. If you have a member of staff who is making other staff anxious or upset, you really need to deal with it. All my staff have been with me a long time and we are now all motivated by the recession and the effect that this has had on business in the UK. At the moment I find that my staff and I value their customers more than at any time before! Sad that it has taken one of the world’s worst recessions to get to that point! My current staff and I have ‘matured’ together and as a group of strong personalities we are very supportive of each other. We know each other very well and I truly feel blessed to have worked with so many talented and hard working people over such a long period. We are all striving to be the best we can and those are the kind of people you need to employ.

Trust is key to any relationship, I recently read this quote and thought it summed up the mind set you need for employing people.

“Friends talk behind your back, partners cheat, colleagues stab you in the back – but trusting no one means you can’t relax, and
your relationships will always be circumscribed, So trust 100% of the people, 100% of the time. Just know you’ll never be 100% right”
Robert Rowland Smith

“Support and encourage all and see who floats to the top! That is the best way to hire the best!”

Thank you to our Expert Panel for sharing their thoughts on the subject of Employees!
If you have a question for our expert panel, please email it to
We’ll leave you with this pretty picture for today:

compote floral design

Designed by Ariella Chezar

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  1. What a pleasure, so many great talents in the same spot! A huge thanks to all the experts for taking the time to share your thoughts and experience with all of us. I find the flower community is becoming such a supportive, welcoming and warm place. For those of us who can’t find that in our own towns, this is truly a home away from home 🙂
    And thanks to Flirty Fleurs for assembling such an impressive roster!

  2. Y’all are wonderful team of expertise and inspiration. I thank you!

  3. Excellent article! I have leraned a lot from you and this will be noted when I put up my own business in a 6 months time. Thanks for sharing this.