Let’s be real…wouldn’t it be awesome if you could design Kanye’s and Kim’s table arrangements? Eddie Zarastian sure thought so because rap is popular these days… What if you got to sell your design with some of the deepest pockets in the country…? That’s the hierarchy of floral design isn’t it? There is a simple recipe that you can follow, not only to become more profitable, but to also have your stand-out designs be seen by the entire world! That’d make you feel good for a few days, ya?

Join Floral Design Networking Groups

Every major city has weekly design talks or meet-ups; Chicago, LA, NY, Austin, OKC, you name it.

  • Meetups.com is great tool to see what’s going on in your city.
  • If you’re not AIFD cert. you should be. They have some of the best design showcases in all of the world, which many top designers attend. Look for one near you. ISFA (Illinois state Floral Association)
  • You search ( ie. Google from thus forward ) “florist”, “floral design” etc.,  locally–SOMEONE will also be looking to network. Make sure your location services are on within your google settings.

Get Out, Show Face, Build a Reputation

Now, you’ve found floral conferences, bridal shows, and expos all over that you should attend. Have an elevator pitch ready for when someone asks “who are you?” or “what do you do?” I mean, you could reply with a standard “I’m an owner a floral business” or you can say something that will be memorable like, “I own a floral design studio that specializes in high-end weddings and have done events for {insert notable people/venues/event names}”. You can also describe your shop’s location as “an open concept, glass structure off the corner of Michigan Ave.” If your pitch is general and caters to everyone, you’re talking to no one. Whatever you say, make sure to practice in the mirror 15-20 hours prior to the event. Smile because you look good 🙂

Build a Network

Ask your friends, neighbors, and buddies to join you on your expeditions–people that you can count on. Your friends will be your backbone and will be pointing brides in your direction. They will always be speaking highly of you, wherever they are. This could be especially beneficial if they are a florist that reside outside of your geographical radius of competition. You can even leverage your virtual networks on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is particularly good for promoting your accomplishments and design work. Global Petals is a top contributor in:

Work With Novice Vendors

Trying to squeeze flowers from a top vendor can be difficult. You’ll soon realize how “cliquey” vendors and designers actually are: They probably already have people they always work with and you’ll be wasting time when they don’t reply to your phone calls and emails. There are many new  players in today’s industry that leverage technology to gain access to product some of the popular vendors don’t have. Since they’re tech savvy, they can help leverage your brand via social media as well.  There is always a sense of loyalty between clients, designers, and supplier networks. It’s always a good thing that people on the top can stick together. So why not come up together and stay at the top? Ever heard the song: “started from the bottom and now we’re here?” Make it happen.

Attend Floral Photo Shoots With the Pros

So the top vendors might not be referring clients to you, but they may need help on other projects….like photo shoots. You should email or tweet them and ask them if they need help with any of their non day-to-day activities like weddings and events. These are very popular and have become a way for the wedding industry to become more artistic. This will give you a chance to converse with vendors and other top people in the industry. You may bring a friend along, but make sure they’re just as well versed as you are on industry trends. There’s nothing wrong with piggy-backing on someone else’s popularity by working with them. Converse with them, maybe even pitch them an idea or two…who knows what will come out of it.

Find Your Niche

It will probably take you about 5 years to really nail your niche. This comes with practice, patience, and style points; a lot of them. The excitement you feel about what you’re doing will be the ultimate litmus test. Trust me you’ll know when you find your niche: you’ll gain an extra push of adrenaline, have a solid vision, and will really be able to be passionate about your work with everyone you run into. The top celebrity niche weddings with big budgets work with massive marketing and PR firms, and seek out-of-the-box vendors that push the envelope. A designer I personally knew just killed several contemporary weddings and became known everywhere he went for them. My friend, Peter stuck to it  forever and was very successful. He discovered it through his inner being, trial and error, and living by these 8 steps, of course. Most importantly, you not only have to be happy with your business, but more so, happy with your work.

Research Vendors

The best vendors won’t be difficult to find. Use many vendors to mix up your design styles. Find them on the web and subscribe to their email lists. They will send you weekly deals and images of their newest varieties and hopefully something you find worthwhile. Find the vendors that make your life the most convenient–whether that’s having them shipped to your door or seeing the flowers in person before you buy them. Develop a relationship with your vendor and be open to thinking about investing in yourself. Don’t worry about flowers coming in bad or being the wrong color. Be adaptive and maintain that relationship with your vendor at all times.

Set Boundaries

Sometimes it’s just necessary to take some time to yourself. Gather your thoughts and plan your next moves. Think about what will ultimately make you happy. Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ to weddings or events you won’t profit from. Be selective and play to your design strengths and advantages. Your end goal should always be to stand out from your competitors. You’re a leader and a visionary. Let it show through your everyday life.

Conclusion

The top of the florist food chain is creating floral arrangements for celebrities (or clients that have celebrity money). The higher your clients budgets are, the higher profit margins you can have. Your designs should be driven by originality and flower quality. Always look to network and always look to stand out. With a little practice, these ideas will become second nature to you.

What are some tips you have to working up the floral design food chain?