Can You Be a Self-Taught Florist?

If I wanted to make this the single shortest blog post on the planet, I’d be super direct and just say yes. But I do believe it’s worth diving a bit deeper and considering where the question, 'can you be a self-taught florist' arises from.

The reality is, floristry is not a regulated industry. No one is monitoring who is certified, what they studied, or where they studied. Nor is there an industry body demanding a standard level of flower knowledge or expertise. No, there is no administrative board to file formal documents with.

Heck, I’ve never had a customer ask what qualifications I have as a floral designer. 

So yeah, the result is that the barriers of entry are low for a designer who wants to start a business. You don’t have to be formally qualified or have a certain number of years of experience to start a flower business. You can just decide to start a business. Easy as that.

Which is both awesome and irritating, ain’t it?

What Does It Mean To Be a 'Self-Taught' Florist?

I’ve been reflecting on this a lot recently. I am a formally qualified floral designer. I set my foundation through my certification at Pearsons. But I didn’t stop there. 

I have studied with some of the world’s most popular designers, here in Australia as well as Canada and the United States. I’ve also spent hours upon hours upon hours practicing different mechanics, playing with different flowers and studying the designs of my most favourite florists.

Even with my qualifications, all the workshops and hours of self-study, I know I want to keep learning. I will keep experimenting and continually push my own creativity. Over the years, I’ve learned that process is part of every successful designer’s story. 

In essence, every single one of us is a ‘self-taught’ florist. 

Part of our design development requires us to take what we learned from our teachers and mentors, practice it, adapt it, change it and then make it our own. We put in hours of energy and effort to turn what we’ve learned into a work of art.

Every floral designer on the planet has different preferences. Every single one of us. 

We also encounter different availability challenges. We like to work with different colour guides and are drawn to different compositions and mechanics. It’s what makes this creative endeavour so incredible – if 10 different designers all walked into the same wholesaler, we would all walk out with 10 different recipes.

That’s why I truly believe there is room for everyone in our industry. And honestly, I don’t know if it matters where you went to school or who you studied with, if you’re creating work that you love and connects with your customers, that’s absolute magic. 

Keep Investing In Yourself

I am a true learning junkie. It’s one of my most favourite things to do – and it’s what’s allowed us to build our business as quickly as we did.

I am continually looking for new ideas, new inspiration and forever feeling pulled to test out new concepts.

Many times it doesn’t work. But it leads me to be even more creative and investigate even more ideas with a renewed frenzy. 

Still, to this day, I love going to floral design workshops and masterclasses. Learning from my industry peers is a pure pleasure and something I want to continue doing for many years to come. 

Study Online + In Person

I love being able to connect with my industry peers and I am constantly learning new shortcuts and helpful design tips from some amazingly successful designers. 

Plus, I also remind myself, I can take something I’ve learned from one designer, apply it to a specific situation I have, incorporate my mechanics and even come up with something even better than I’ve created in the past. In fact, that’s precisely how I created my unusual approach to creating wedding bouquets. This makes me realise that, by definition, I am a self-taught florist.

I think one of the best trends to arise in our industry is the plethora of online courses now available to floral designers. This has made it so easy for us to learn from our favourite designers – some even located on the other side of the world – without having to leave our own studio.

Continuing to grow and evolve my own aesthetic and design preferences is one of the many joys of being a business owner. When you run your own flower business, you get to be the Creative Director and define your own vibe and aesthetic. You get to use the mechanics that work best for you. And any time you wanna change your approach, you can.

In fact, this is the underlying principle I teach my students at my design retreats and workshops. If you’re keen to work with me and learn the ins and out of how I create our signature designs, grab a spot in my 2021 Byron Retreat.

We’ll be diving into the foam-free design as well as sharing the ins and out of photography. Space is limited to just nine people and this is my only workshop for 2021. Click here to learn more.

If you’ve never experienced a design retreat and want to build a bigger flower family, feel supported and showered with love, I highly recommend you do it. In fact, I’m so passionate about this concept that I’ve dedicated this week’s podcast episode to the topic.

Listen to the episode below (or click here).

Being a Flower Business Owner Requires More Than Just Design Know-How

At the end of the day, the single most important thing to remember when you start a flower business is that you are starting a business. As in a for-profit-problem-solving-marketing-machine. 

So many florists make the mistake of thinking starting a flower business is easy. It’s just a matter of throwing a few things up on Instagram and shazam, money walks in the door. But they completely overlook the idea that they’re starting a business.

People, I’m here to save you the heartache. To make sure you know exactly what it takes to make money in your flower business.

Better yet, you don’t need to go to some expensive business school or complete a marketing degree to run a successful flower business – I’m here to help. 

Regardless of whether you’re a self-taught designer or have years of formal training under your tool belt, if you’re on a mission to make more money in your flower business, check out my Flower Boss Bootcamp.

My Flower Boss Bootcamp is the only program available to floral designers, flower lovers and flower farmers focused entirely on the business of flowers. The program is run entirely online, so we can work together no matter where in the world you’re located.

Inside this program, I’ll teach you about branding and sales. I’ll give you access to my exact how-to guides when it comes to setting up your websites. I'll teach you how to effortlessly attract those dream customers.

We’ll focus on overcoming your limiting beliefs and get crystal clear on your vision for your business. If you’re dreaming of making more money in your flower business but feel like you’re stuck in reactionary mode, I’m here to help.

This program will change the trajectory of your flower business. I promise.

At the end of the day, flowers are fun. But so is making money.

Click here to learn more about working with me.

The Difference Between A Florist And A Floral Designer

“Is there any difference between a florist and a floral designer?” I saw this question being asked somewhere and I thought to address it today in this blog post.

This industry can be filled with a lot of pretentious wankery (is that even a word?).

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m so in love with what we do and am on a mission to educate the world, open up the curtains and show the world the real value of floral design.

But I also see two very different ends of the flower spectrum: grabbing a cheap bunch of blooms from the grocery store (who knows how long they’ve been setting there, right next to the bananas - eeekkk!) and the artistry of some of my most favourite and over the top floral designers.

When you’re new to the industry, it is so intimidating. The aura of “us” versus “them” is palpable (it’s Mean Girls come to life).

It’s easy to feel totally and utterly alone in our industry. The late nights, the early mornings… add on the social media veneer and it’s a recipe for disaster.

What's The Difference Between a Florist and a Floral Designer?

To us, language matters a lot. I’ve heard designers refer to themselves as “Floral artists” and “Flower stylists” and of course, there are the signs on the front of the old mum and pop flower shops that just say “FLORIST” in giant painted letters.

Some designers hold on to their title so tightly and do like to portray an air of elite pretentiousness.

But that’s not my style. Nor do I think it’s what the majority of customers can relate to.

Of course, if you’re focused solely on the exclusive, high-end, fancy pants events, labelling yourself a “floral artist” might be exactly the right thing to do. It aligns with your brands and adds to the overall vibe of fanciness you might want to work with $100,000 clients.

For the rest of us, using the term florist makes it easier to get found. Quite literally. It’s the term most often searched on Google and that means it matters when what you’re trying to do is cater to the masses.

If you’re confused by all things SEO, check out this super helpful article I wrote here.

I’m sure, from an academic point of view, there are dozens of differences between “florist” and “floral designer” but from our customer’s point of view, it’s one and the same.

And, when it comes to getting orders and making money, focusing on what matters to our customers is job #1.

You're Invited

Doesn't matter if you call yourself a florist or a floral designer.

It is lonely. There is such an aura of “them” versus “us”, isn’t there? And I’ve always felt like such an outsider.

I lived in a small town, away from the city hipsters. We ran a retail shop, the exact opposite of the trendy too-cool-for-school Instagrammers.

And with all the early mornings and late nights, combined with the perfectly curated bubble of Instagram, I see the same thing happening to designers spread around the world.

One day I was explaining to my mentor, “I just wish I could find my people.” Do you know what she said to me? Totally straight-faced, “Kathleen, if you’re not getting invited to the table, set your own dang table.”

So I did.

And now you can be a part of it. Sign up for my Flower Boss Bootcamp. Classes begin on 17 May.

Celebrating Diversity+ Inclusion For Florists and Floral Designers

My table is different from everyone else’s in the industry. No matter your background, you are invited to sit around our table. We celebrate diversity and inclusion, regardless of race, ethnicity, education, or income.

I don’t care if you call yourself a florist, a floral designer, or a floral artist. In fact, qualifications, experience, and expertise are irrelevant. No matter where you’re from, what language you speak, you’re invited. Your floral design style, personal preferences on mechanics, ingredients selection do not matter. Come, pull up a chair.

No, this isn’t one of those dang Facebook groups; this is a sacred space filled with designers on a mission to build a business. To add a tremendous amount of value to the world. My Flower fairies continue to learn and grow and experiment with new ideas. They learn how to make money.

I call them my people. I love them so much and I am so honored to be able to share my experience and know-how with them every single day.

We laugh, we cry. We share stories of frustration and triumph. There is total and utter acceptance, no judgment, and an ongoing effort to practice celebrating our progress.

As one of my clients, Janine, describes it as the “umbrella of love”.

In fact, it’s too good not to share it with the world. I want to give you a taste of what it’s really like inside this sacred space.

Check out this week’s podcast episode here. Or listen in on the player below:

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