Interviews

Behind the Blooms: 17 Florists & Flower Designers from New York to Sydney

World map of behind the blooms florists

Consider this a resource for anyone thinking about joining this amazing industry, all the while giving customers a look into who we are. We reached out to people who work with flowers all over the world and heard from 17 professionals in the UK, East & West Coasts of America, Portugal and Australia. They have a combined 210 years of experience in the floral space and had much to share about what they’ve learned over the years and what continues to excite and inspire them every day.

First of all, “Florist” or “Floral Designer”?

So we know that both roles ultimately provide flowers to customers, so what’s the difference? Flower designers are usually based in a studio, and focus on creating an aesthetic for weddings and other big events. And while florists may also provide flowers for events, they typically work in a shopfront, and create bouquets for special occasion deliveries, like birthdays and anniversaries.

Torryne Choate, Owner of Birch in San Francisco, noted that there are “fewer retail flower shops and more studio florists” these days. We heard from a lot of different roles within the industry, here are the words used most often in their titles:

Floral industry terms

Evolution of the industry

A lot has changed since the days of bringing flowers inside purely for their fragrance, with design as an afterthought (History of Flower Arranging). In the 20th century, Flower Shows were the best way to showcase different styles around the world. But as with most industries today, the internet and social media has been a real game changer. This shift online gives florists ways to find customers without the need to keep a storefront open (The Guardian). Customers can now find florists with the exact style they want, and florists can see the work of fellow vendors (or “friendors”) around the world.

Social Media changed everything for me. It gave me interested and devoted clients who longed for unique and creative designs. It gave me connections with designers all over the world. And Social media made me a teacher. Our company is now an international business because of social media. – Holly Heider Chapple

The growth of social media, especially Instagram has meant we have made some good friends from afar and that we can see what exciting things others are doing in far off lands, and have a reach that was not achievable when we started. – Rebecca Stuart and Marion Parish

While there continues to be an international inspiration, more customers are becoming interested in locally grown flowers.

There’s been a rise in interest of using British and locally grown flowers as opposed to imports. I believe it is a very good thing and being horticulturally trained and environmentally conscious too I am fully behind this, I use locally grown and grow myself. However, I believe there will always be a place for both imports and locally grown in the UK. I am not sure that our infrastructure or weather could ever support the massive demand for flowers in this country. – Claire Spiller

Nearly 400,000 hectares of land in the US are now used for growing flowers (Florists Market Research). And that’s not all that’s growing. The events themselves are getting bigger, too.

There’s a shift from thinking of floral as just flowers and more as an aspect of design; creating an overall experience of the events, not just the flowers, but also the flow, floor plan, layout, linens, rentals, lighting and more. Clients are more invested in their events and more willing to think outside the box. – Victoria Clausen

Advice from fellow florists

The industry is booming with new talent, so how can you keep up? The first step, of course, is to love flowers, but it takes a lot more than that. There’s opportunity for glory, but there’s a lot of grunt work, too.

Prepare to work long hours – it is physically and mentally exhausting. – Rick Canale

You’ll probably have to wash buckets, and clean flowers in the beginning, but this is the foundation work that really gives you knowledge of the whole industry. – Malia Robinson

Start small, and get a good alarm clock. – Anna Day

It takes persistence to turn a hobby into a business, after all.

Don’t just wing it, make a business plan and use that as the most informative tool you have in running your business. – Georgie Newbury

Be organised, know your costs and margins, and always feel proud of the work you do. – Helen Cranmer

In addition to being proud of your work, you should be proud of – and trust – your creative touch. It’s important to stay on top of trends, but it’s ultimately your particular style that will help you stand out.

Really focus on developing a style and stick to it, even if a bride wants something that sits quite a long way from that. Representing this in your photography is SO important so do not let a ‘bad’ image out there. – Rebecca Stuart & Marion Parish

Pitch yourself differently and provide a unique style and service that adds a point of difference compared to the multiple retailers. – Jonathan Moseley

Look to, yet beyond, your idols, and know there is a huge wide world out there, full of opportunity for you if you want to take it. – Joseph Massie

Avoid trying to replicate people’s work and the trends out there. Put your blinders on to what others are doing and really explore the reason why you got into floral design, what colours/flowers/leaves make your heart sing, and what unique element you can bring into your business that isn’t already being done! – Angie Johnson & Emily Petros

So, you know what it takes to work with flowers. Now, what’s the biggest perk? Well, we found that no matter how many years of experience they have, everyone’s favourite part of the job boils down to making people happy. Usually, it’s the feeling of satisfaction you get when the bride sees her bouquet for the first time. Or when Chelsea Fuss, who now runs floral arranging classes, sees her “students’ work come to fruition”. There’s nothing like producing happy tears for a living.

The art of making customers happy

Florists typically have a catalogue of bouquets they provide, while event designers are more flexible in what they offer. So we wanted to know, how much do people know before they come to you? Does it differ around the world? Do they usually have a Pinterest picture to show you with all the colours, flower types and sizes they want, or is there any creative wiggle room?

In the past they had no clue, today they are much more aware of flowers and the designs they are looking for this is a result of social media. – Holly Heider Chapple

It’s 50-50. Some need guidance and some are immovable! – Cailey Monaghan

Some of our clients have incredible Pinterest boards, others have just started the planning process, so we chat about their likes and dislikes and the emotion and theme behind their event. It helps to bring out ideas and learn about who they are and what they love. – Maribel Kalata

82% of our participants said they’d rather get the chance to be creative than recreate a photo.

Get to know some people behind the blooms

Now that we’ve heard the ins and outs, let’s get to know our florists and designers even better! They shared their stand-out experiences – like working at the White House, or talking to Beyonce at a wedding – and what they might be doing if they weren’t working with flowers. As you can imagine, it’s hard for them to think of anything that doesn’t involve a little creativity.

1. Rebecca Stuart and Marion Parish, Floral Event Designers

www.thegardengateflowercompany.co.uk

  • Cornwall, UK
  • 6 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If they weren’t doing this, Rebecca might’ve followed her interest in textiles and interiors, while Marion would use her PhD to work in academia.
flowers by Rebecca Stuart and Marion Parish

Image credit: Irina Und Chris Wegelin (@irinaundchris) © Image is subject to copyright.

“The most rewarding bits of this job are seeing a bride’s face when we really get it right, and she is over the moon with her flowers. The other is teaching at workshops. Seeing people struggle a little with doing a bouquet in a looser, more wild style, and then them getting it and really being pleased with what they have achieved. They have a skill to take away and new ideas to experiment with which is just nice to see from our perspective too.”


2. Malia Robinson, Operations Manager

www.geraniumlake.com

  • Portland, Oregon
  • 1 Year of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If she wasn’t doing this, Malia would be an Event Planner.
Florists table centerpiece

Image credit: Erica Anne, Photographer © Image is subject to copyright.

“There are so many amazing things, but one that sticks out is having a bride from out of town come in to see her bridal bouquet and being so totally blown away! She absolutely loved what we had created for her.”


3. Angie Johnson & Emily Petros, Floral Designers for Weddings and Events

www.bloombabes.com

  • Southern California
  • 3 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: blooms
  • If they weren’t doing this, Emily would probably be training for the Olympics for Track & Field and Angie would probably still be in school for Marine Biology.
Florists floral design for wedding events

Image credit: Angie Johnson and Emily Petros © Image is subject to copyright.

“We had a series of 7 large corporate events in a span of 10 days. It was a total whirlwind and thought we wouldn’t survive, but it was a humbling experience! Everything went even better than we imagined and we felt like we could take on anything after that point.”


4. Holly Heider Chapple, Owner, Lead Designer

www.hollychappleflowers.com
www.chapeldesigners.com
www.hopeflowerfarm.com

  • Lucketts, Virginia
  • 25 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: blooms
  • If she wasn’t doing this — well, Holly “honestly longs for nothing else”.
Event centrepieces

Image credit: Photographer: Katie Stoops Photography. (http://www.katiestoops.com/)
Planner: Grit & Grace Inc. (http://gritandgraceinc.com/) © Image is subject to copyright.

“A year and a half ago we bought a 25-acre farm. We named the farm Hope Flower Farm and started planting the property with cutting gardens. We have officially turned the farm into a floral designers retreat/ bed and breakfast/flower school. I have been teaching and mentoring the last 7 years.”


5. Joseph Massie, Artist & Creative Director

www.josephmassieflowers.com

  • Liverpool, UK
  • 15 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If he wasn’t doing this, Joseph would be doing Architecture, Fashion Design, or anything creative.
Floral design

Image credit: Carly Walker © Image is subject to copyright.

“I enjoy the diversity of my business – I get bored quite easily, so it’s a pleasure to have a multidisciplinary business across floral design, floral education and art…. Working at the White House, in Washington DC, Achieving five RHS Chelsea Gold Medals consecutively (2009-2013), Being commissioned by M&G Investments, SKY, Royal Horticultural Society & National Television Awards, Touring China, Australia & America multiple times each. ”


6. Rick Canale, Florist

www.exoticflowers.com

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • 27 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: blooms
  • If he wasn’t doing this, Rick would be doing Marketing for Professional Baseball.
Florists floral arrangement

Image credit: Rick Canale (www.instagram.com/rickcanale/) © Image is subject to copyright.

“I love working with flowers and making people happy. A stand-out experience was Valentine’s Day 2013.”


7. Jonathan Moseley, Floral Designer

www.jonathan-moseley.com

  • Derbyshire, UK
  • 25 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If he wasn’t doing this, Jonathan would be working in Horticulture or the Theatre.

“I’ve met lots of interesting people and designed flowers for some exciting events, such as the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.”


8. Helen Cranmer, Floral Designer

www.helencranmerfloraldesign.com

  • London, UK
  • 4 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: “I like them all!”
  • If she wasn’t doing this, Helen would be teaching in some capacity.

“My favourite thing has been the opportunities it brings me to work creatively alongside and for, quite wonderful people in the UK and beyond. Especially being asked to be the first RHS London Shows In-House Florist (2016).”

Helen Cranmers floral design

Image credit: Helen Cranmer © Image is subject to copyright.


9. Chelsea Fuss, Flower Arranging Teacher

www.chelseafuss.com

  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • 20 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If she wasn’t doing this, Chelsea would be working as a gardener.

“My favourite thing about my job has been seeing my students’ work, and a stand-out experience was apprenticing on two English flower farms.”


10. Anna Day, Florist

www.theflowerappreciationsociety.co.uk

  • London, UK
  • 7 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If she wasn’t doing this, Anna would be working as a midwife.
Florists bouqet

Image credit: Anna Day © Image is subject to copyright.

“The best part about the work is the variety and working with flowers, and the best experience has been making our book.”


11. Claire Spiller, Floral Designer

www.wildspirituk.com

  • Bath, UK
  • 4 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If she wasn’t doing this, Claire would be doing something creative.

“It’s about seeing the delight on my clients face when I deliver their flowers/they walk into the venue on their wedding day. Sometimes there are tears…happy ones of course! I love to make people’s dreams into reality.”


12. Golf Srithamrong, Event and Floral Designer

www.tantawanbloom.com

  • New York, NY
  • 12 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If he wasn’t doing this, Golf would be a computer teacher

“A stand-out experience I had is when Beyoncé talked to me at her friend’s wedding.”

13. Georgie Newbery, Florist and Flower Farmer

www.commonfarmflowers.com

  • Somerset, UK
  • 7 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: #flaars
  • If she wasn’t doing this, Georgie would be writing full time.
florists farm grown posy

Image credit: Georgie Newbery (www.instagram.com/commonfarmflowers/) © Image is subject to copyright.

“My favourite thing has been working for myself on my land creating floristry with what I’ve grown.”


14. Victoria Clausen, Floral and Event Designer

www.victoriaclausen.com

  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • 18 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If she wasn’t doing this, Victoria — “can’t imagine doing anything else”.

“We love to send all the flowers not taken at the wedding to local senior homes for the residents to enjoy. We are always looking for ways to give back to the community.”


15. Maribel Kalata, Floral & Event Designer

www.eighttreestreet.com

  • Washington D.C.
  • 6 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: blooms
  • If she wasn’t doing this, Maribel would be doing something creative in the arts.
Florists bunch

Image credit: Maribel Kalata © Image is subject to copyright.

“I love working with our clients, bride and grooms, I had a wonderful experience with a bride last August and her huge amazing wedding, it was a highlight! Love designing with tonnes of texture and big florals!”


16. Torryne Choate, Owner of Birch

www.birchsf.com

  • San Francisco, California
  • 25 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If she wasn’t doing this, Torryne would be a stylist, a photographer and a ceramic artist.
Florists bouquets

Image credit: Torryne Choate(www.instagram.com/birchsf/) © Image is subject to copyright.

“A highlight was working with Vogue and Architectural Digest. My favourite thing is being able to work creatively every day.”


17. Cailey Monaghan, Florist

www.flowersacrosssydney.com.au

  • Sydney, Australia
  • 5 Years of Experience
  • Flora word of choice: flower
  • If she wasn’t doing this, Cailey would be running a cat sanctuary

Image credit: Cailey Monaghan © Image is subject to copyright.

“I always love wedding work – particularly when the ceremony is outside of Sydney metro! The best part is the creativity, learning from other wonderful florists who love the job as much as I do, and that I am constantly honing my skills.”

Above and beyond

Perhaps the most important piece of advice we can offer you if you’d like to turn a passion for flowers into a career is this:

“Believe. And don’t give up.” – Golf Srithamrong

And if you’re still interested in learning more, we compiled some great resources that mean a lot to our new friends.

Do you work in the floral space? Why not take a break from your regular posts and let your customers know some fun facts about yourself. Use #behindtheblooms to tell your story.

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