Robyn and I have had many discussions about providing samples as part of our design processes. For me, providing samples is an important part of my process for three reasons. The first is about managing expectations. No matter how many pictures, trips to the flower market with my client, drawings, and pretty words, most brides cannot see what I am seeing. Floral design is a 3D art form and being able to see, hold, and smell what’s been purchased is important both to me and to most of my clients. This is also that moment where I can show them that a $75 centerpiece is never going to look like the centerpiece they love in Preston Bailey’s most recent book! This brings me to the second reason I am a fan of previews.
I typically schedule my sample meeting 21 days prior to the event. This when I require final payment and this is my last chance to upsell the event. If the bride or her mother is underwhelmed with the centerpiece, this is my opportunity to show them what a $100 centerpiece would look like or how upgrading the vase would complement the linens perfectly. Now more money is always nice but honestly I do this because as a designer I want the client’s event to be the best it can be. More money allows me to acquire the tools to make a good event great! I want every one of my events to be “Style Me Pretty” worthy.
The last reason is a selfish one–my own peace of mind. The day of the wedding is so emotional and reactive. I am one of the last vendors that a bride sees before she walks down the aisle. This is not the moment I want to surprise anyone. If something the hair stylist, make-up artist, groom or her future mother-in-law said has set her off, God help me if the rose is not the right shade of white. This is where I refer back to the sample meeting and tell her that it is the exact same grower and variety of rose she saw 3 weeks ago. Now I’m not sure about you but I will not sleep for the rest of the weekend and I can’t think of a worst feeling.
I do charge for samples, although when I very first started in the business I did not. This was the worst mistake I ever made. It cheapened not only my worth as a designer and a business owner but also the industry that I am so very passionate about. I have learned that lesson the hard way and now samples are a separate line item on my design proposals. The client can choose to pass on it but I always include it in my quotes.
So does anyone else feel the same way I do about samples?