Q & A :: Financial Struggles as a Floral Designer

Hello Flower Friends,
Recently I sent out a Content Call to our mailing list asking for input on three different questions. I’ve decided to start calling these Q&A (question & answer) when I run the replies on the blog.
If you have a Question that you’d like us to ask other Floral Designers please email it to us ..
We all have so much to gain by talking with and helping each other, thank you to everyone who sent in a reply.
I have a feeling the question we are featuring today is on a lot of designer’s minds!

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The Question
I was a teacher for 5 years, and I left my job this past year to be an at-home floral designer (for primarily weddings). I started my own business 1 1/2 years ago, and I really love making floral arrangements!

However, it’s been a financial struggle, and although my husband completely supports my dream of being a floral designer, I sometimes wonder if I’m crazy to leave a secure salary for something that has not brought in much income thus far!

So what I would really like to know from floral designers–Can this job bring an income that will support your family? What are the key tools to become successful? For example, do I need to get into event planning? How did you persevere in the beginning of your career path?

I appreciate any and all input! I really want to have a successful business that is fulfilling!

Thank you,
Adri, Moss Floral

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And the Answers

YES! You can absolutely make a living as a florist and afford to relish in a workshop or two. My shift into floral from a former life as a teacher was a complete and welcome whirlwind! Our seasonal resort laden location has played a huge part in our success in event work, which we now do exclusively without a retail location.

For those designers just beginning, here is a snapshot of what we did to get started. Begin by assessing your local market for event (or retail) work, make sure what you are hoping to accomplish is indeed relevant in your location. I recommend connecting with as many local event venues and vendors as possible if event work is your goal, keeping your target market in mind. Bring them flowers, business cards, invite them to lunch, whatever it takes to get your business cards on their desks. Perhaps attend a few bridal shows to practice your elevator speech and build connections with other vendors, select a few key shows that are in line with your target clients. Build a solid website and engage in social media of course; 90% of our business comes from web avenues. And as all of your efforts meld and grow, decide how truly busy you wish to be. Once you have saved enough of your hard earned money, no one ever said this biz was easy you can spoil yourself by attending an amazing workshop or two or three.
Jennifer, BLOOM, Michigan

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I honestly wish I had a clear answer on this. I’m struggling with the decision to leave a full time position to continue to pursue my passion of event & wedding design. It’s hard to leave health insurance and a retirement plan. But at the same time it’s hard to not devote all of my energy and attention to wedding & event design. I’m inspired daily and sometimes feel a “loss” when I don’t have flowers around to create something beautiful. My advice is to attend a few great workshops, like Chapel Designers. Find your own style and method of selling a wedding/event, be proud of that and charge what you’re worth! Another thing I like to do is take my leftover stems, create pretty bouquets or designs and parade photos of my creations on social media. Make sure your website is up to date, create a business Facebook page and even Instagram is a wonderful social media tool to spread the word about your designs and services.
Best of luck!
Jessica, Blooms ‘n Blossoms, Kentucky

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It takes time. I have a home-based studio doing events, primarily weddings. My business is going into it’s fifth wedding season and I am just starting to see profits. The first few years it took time to build the business. Buying all the supply needed for the events sucked up most of my profit the first two years. It was hard for clients to rent things from me if I didn’t own them! I moved cities and then had to start all over again building my client base last year. It isn’t easy. It doesn’t make a lot of money at the beginning…. but I’m growing every year and business is improving.
I started my own business after working in a shop. With crazy and inconsistent hours and poor pay (starting at $10.35 an hour up to $13.00) it was draining me and my family and even though I was going to make less money doing my own thing, it gave me time to be a wife and mother. As time goes by, my wages and experience are increasing and I’m able to make what I’m worth. I chose to invest a lot more in marketing and advertising this year than I ever have before (5x more) and the consultations are beginning to role in.

Andie from Dandie Andie Floral Designs, Toronto

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I can really relate to this question. 3 years ago I quit my “real” job to start my company, which is a home studio (no retail) for events and weddings. I am lucky enough to have recently taken a job that allows my to have a 4 day work schedule. To me it feels like I have the best of both worlds. I work in an office setting 4 days a week and run my business on the weekends. My plan is to continue cutting back those work days as my business grows.

My mentality is to ALWAYS try to be doing more. I take on as many jobs as I can, no matter how small (provided that the designs are still in keeping with my style and vision). I invest as much money as I can back into my business, whether it’s marketing, workshops, or purchasing inventory. I also find that advertising myself as a new business seems to work in my favor. It gives me an opportunity to spend a lot of time on each bride and really develop a good relationship with them. I think that relationship really goes far, and at the end they are excited to help my business by “liking” my facebook posts or sharing my blog posts, or writing a review for me. I also find that photographers respond well to helping a new business owner build her portfolio in exchange for exposure on my blog and website. I’m also incredibly lucky to have become a member of the Chapel Designers, which has been an invaluable support system.

So far my business has increased each year and I do feel confident that I will be able to support myself one day. It’s a lot of work, but if it’s your passion, GO FOR IT! Look around for part time jobs that might offer flexible hours to supplement your income until you get where you want to be.
Blair, Sweet Blossoms, Maryland

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We have been in the business for about a year now and we have both kept our corporate jobs. We are lucky in that our corporate jobs are extremely flexible and we both have quite a bit of vacation. With that being said though, we have done the math and plan to give up our corporate jobs this coming summer. In our short one year in business, we have already seen that this business will be able to provide us with a decent income. Our key to being successful is that we have found a niche in our market. We enjoy working with brides that have a budget and figuring out a way to get them the overall look that they like, but still while staying within their budget. Our brides are SO appreciative that we are willing to work with them and that we are willing to give them other ideas!
Lauren, A & L Floral Design, Maryland

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Adri, yes you can definitely make a living that will support your family. You won’t be dining on caviar and opening the bottle of bubbly every night but you can make a decent living. You do have to make sure that you are pricing your work correctly, that you are looking for the best quality of floral product at the best prices, that you are ensuring that you have your freelancers or additional help (drivers, etc) accounted for. That you don’t overspend on flowers. Every job usually takes a little longer than anticipated and every job has unforeseen issues. This will start out slow as any business and you have to go out there and capture that business by meeting with other vendors in the industry like caterers, event planners, venues, hotels, etc as they will be the ones referring you all this business. As you start do your best to keep overhead low so you have a cushion to get you thru the slower times.
Alex of Exquisite Events, Illinois

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DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!! lol I am only speaking about me and my business and my area in Michigan. I quit my full time job of 18 plus years to stay home with kids and babies and tried to work my business from home around the kids and house work. Thankfully my husband works and is able to support us while I did this part time. As the kids grew so did my biz. I found that I was able to stay ahead of the game by NOT going into debt for my business. No charge cards, no open accounts – cash only. Here in Michigan wedding season is very seasonal and a very short time. I know for sure at this stage of the game I cannot support my family on my business alone BUT I can help pay for summer camp for the kids, vacations, college students books, and other smaller things that won’t come out of the “house” account. I also have a brick and mortar studio and I have to pay rent and I can keep that up too. I think that’s way so many business go out. Not smart planning and unrealistic expectations. Start slow and grow. I have never looked back. I love working for myself. Good luck ~
Tracy, Park Place Design, Michigan

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If you have a Question that you’d like us to ask other Floral Designers please email it to us ..
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Comments

  1. I have been in business 9 years. I am a wedding decorator/ designer and just in the last two years have started to incorporate fresh flowers, centrepieces. Although I have a showroom, this is for client meetings and do not house my décor at this location. When I create centrepieces I do so from home, so I consider myself a “home based” business. My question, florists who work from their home, how you do cool your flowers? I have a cool dark basement, and make sure my flowers are shipped to me only a few days prior to my wedding or event. Is this common? I am not a professionally trained florist, but have a love for floral design… so any help would be appreciated. I also struggle with pricing, is there a general rule when pricing centrepieces/ flowers?
    Thanks,
    Tracy ~ Once Upon A Wedding

  2. Oh my gosh I love this blog! Such a huge support for designers in all places and stages. I think it’s fair to say we’ve all been there – the steady paycheck is certainly missed at some point!

    For me, running my business lean (ie: starting slow and small, only purchasing inventory as needed, and doing everything debt free) has been a good move – and one I couldn’t have done without having my husbands income supporting us. I absolutely understand investing in a business and I do when I have the extra money, but inventory and interest can bleed a business dry. I’m heading into my 3rd year really perusing this, but I’m still part time as my family grows. I was able to buy a cooler and go to a workshop with Françoise Weeks and still make a profit for the year – which I was thrilled about considering how little I worked. If anything happened and I needed to rely on my income to support my family I’d certainly be nervous, but I know others can do it, so why couldn’t I? I’d focus on finding a niche and working on your sales pitch. I’m able to book about 3 out of 4 brides that contact me. I don’t spend a lot of time chasing brides which is helpful for sanity :). A good book on sales and connecting witch clients is “Hidden Agenda” by Kevin Allen. By increasing my booking rate I do less work and can focus on other things – like my family and becoming a better designer.

    This is certainly not a one size fits all business. Focus on what you want to do and build back from there.

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