Posts Tagged “#BecomingAFlorist”
A few weeks ago, I was delighted to receive an email from Alicia of Flirty Fleurs, telling me about her upcoming tulip workshop that would be perfect for beginners. Well Alicia, you had me at tulips…and beginners. The next day, I was signed up and anxiously awaiting my second Flirty Fleurs workshop! Thursday finally rolled around, and I gathered up my tools, braved rush-hour traffic (I thought I was leaving traffic behind when I left LA…ha!) and made my way down to Georgetown to join three other ladies for the class. Some of you probably know, but tulips in Seattle are a big deal. BIG. The Skagit Valley is known for it’s tulip fields, and hundreds of people, tourists and locals alike, flock to the fields starting in April to get a look at these beauties. But I digress. I think my point is – I was very excited to get my hands on some PNW tulips and learn how to work with one of my favorite flowers!
Back to business. Upon arriving, I glanced at the buckets and was able to tell which swas mine in an instant. Alicia had thoughtfully asked each of us in advance what our favorite color tulips were, and she hit the nail on the head with mine: lush, buttery pinky orange (we deemed them “sherbet tulips”) and creamy white ones with green edges. I was in heaven. Like before, Alicia started out the class by creating a sample arrangement, step-by-step, so we could see how she worked and give us an idea of what it should kinda-sorta-just maybe look like. And again, like before, maybe a half hour went by and viola! She had a perfect little arrangement, just sitting there, daring me to try. And try I did… a few minutes later I had my sleeves rolled up and was diligently cleaning the aspidistra. Because this was a contemporary class, we focused on minimal varieties, keeping colors grouped together, and using aspidistra to separate and “boost” the tulips. After cleaning, folding, and securing the aspidistra (with staples! genius), I moved on to the tulips. I stripped the large leaves near the bottom, put a little slit near the head to slow the growing, and cleaned up the stems with a borrowed knife (guess it’s time to get my own!). After the cleaning and prepping came the fun part – arranging time! First I wrapped two of the leaves around the inside of the vase to create almost a shell that would cover the stems and keep things looking clean and minimal. Next came a few of the folded leaves to create a base, and then the tulips. I chose to cut my “sherbet” tulips shortest and use them as the next level, and kept the white tulips a bit longer to add height in the back. I filled in with a few more folded aspidistra to add volume, and cheated by putting a bit of Pittosporum in the very back to keep things from falling over. I love learning all of these little tricks that I never noticed in arrangements before! I’m catching on, guys. Last came a touch of bright green vibernum and a little burlap around the vase for a softer, more feminine look, and then, it was my turn to say “Viola!”
I took a step back, breathed (for the first time in about an hour) and took a minute to assess my work. And you know what? I liked it. I was proud to call it my second “official” arrangement, and couldn’t have done it without the guiding hands and encouraging words of Alicia. While “contemporary” may not be my style of choice, I am trying my best to experiment with all styles and just throw myself into learning every technique I can. Because of the pretty, pastel tulips used in my arrangement, it had more of a “country” feel rather than being too contemporary, which was a good happy medium and allowed me to learn new techniques while still staying true to myself. All in all, second workshop…success!
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the lovely farm of Erin Benzakein (pictured above), Floret Flower Farm, in Washington’s Skagit Valley. Many of you have probably heard of Floret, and may even follow along with her blog and Instagram. If you’re not, take a quick break from reading this and go change that, you won’t regret it! A few years back, Erin and her family decided to leave the bustling city of Seattle, and do a complete lifestyle 180. They originally had no intention of entering the flower farming business, but, like many people in the flower business claim, it just sort of happened. And thank goodness it did!
They are now operating a beautiful little farm, producing gorgeous flowers with a focus on old fashioned and traditional varieties, and holding educational workshops for fellow flower farmers, designers, or just plain old fanatics. Erin was recently named one of Martha Stewarts Top 62 Floral Designers to Book for your Wedding, and is in the process of writing her first book. In other words, things are good!
Anyways, back to the farm visit. We headed out on a dreary, Seattle morning, driving about an hour north of the city. After passing through the charming little town of Mount Vernon, we pulled up to a quaint farmhouse, and were welcomed by a small flock of wandering chickens. As I got out of the car, I quickly realized that my choice of suede oxfords was not the brightest idea for visiting a flower farm, in February, in Washington, on a rainy day. See what I’m getting at? Mud. Lots of mud. But as Erin and her husband Chris came around the corner, I quickly forgot about my shoe predicament and turned my focus towards them. They were warm and welcoming, and for reasons unknown to me, apologized for the weather and lack of blooms at the moment. We’re the ones who chose to come out in February, so this was exactly what we expected! They showed us around the farm, a series of small green houses and a long row of hoop houses, which housed a variety of flowers, including ranunculus, tulips, hellebores, poppies and more. There were also more wandering chickens, which I had fun chasing down to get the perfect Instagram shot, of course. Regardless of the weather, or the time of year, it was so cool to see a high end, small-scale farm, run by a humble family doing what they love and making this down-to-earth, simple lifestyle their reality. Growing up in Los Angeles, to now living in Seattle, I have always been intrigued by a slower lifestyle outside of the city. Less noise, less pollution, and more time to enjoy the little things life has to offer, and spend quality time with friends, family, and the land… It’s something I’ve always considered, and this short trip to Floret most definitely added a tally mark in the column for life outside the city.
Stay tuned for some potentially exciting news, having to do with me, Floret, and a pair of muddy rain boots. In the meantime, here are a couple more photos of some of the beautiful flowers coming out of this little Washington gem…
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a fabulous workshop with the lovely Alicia of Flirty Fleurs up here in Seattle. Alicia offers a variety of workshops throughout the year, and to my delight, are for just about any experience level! I must admit, I was a tad nervous going it into it, wondering if I’d be the only inexperienced newbie sitting cluelessly in the back of the room. A few days before, in a last minute panic, I drove to a local nursery and stocked up on tools I thought might come in handy. They looked pretty and fairly useful, so I crossed my fingers at the register and purchased my first florist tools. When Saturday finally came, I arrived at a cute little studio in Georgetown, filled with a whopping four other people. Hallelujah! Small, intimate classes are my favorite, as they are much less intimidating and provide for a hands-on, supportive environment. We went around the room sharing just a little bit about ourselves, and I was happy to learn that everyone had different levels of experience, with only two professionals present. What a relief!
Alicia began the class with an introduction about herself, and then quickly segued in to the task at hand: creating a compote floral arrangement using chicken wire and a compote container. Thus far, I have only learned and attempted to create a hand-tied bouquet, and have done some rookie arranging during the holidays with my mom. I had also never worked with chicken wire, so I was excited to learn a new trick of the trade. Alicia quickly put together a beautiful arrangement, and then just like that, it was our turn. Okay, I have a confession: I may or may not have snagged the chicken wire that Alicia had already formed as a demonstration, so I kind of got to skip the first step. I did, however, secure it in the vase and tape down the edges by myself… baby steps people. I started out a bit hesitantly, unsure if I was doing things correctly, but after a few minutes, I began to get in a groove and work a bit more freely. I started with the greens – a few of which included eucalyptus, dusty miller, and acacia purple – and began snipping and inserting into the chicken wire. Once I had a solid base and the green tape was not visible anymore, I moved onto the flowers. Alicia had chosen to go with a purple theme, which I had no complaints about. My only alteration was trading out a few for some pops of bright pink, because sometimes you just need a little burst of color in the dreary Pacific Northwest weather… can you blame me? As we arranged, Alicia walked around giving snippets of advice, but never overwhelming or changing the design. I opted to use a Lazy-Susan which helped remind me to spin the arrangement as I went and design all sides, the number one rule of thumb I have learned. The arrangement included white garden roses, hyacinth, tulips, white anenomes, hot pink spider mums, and pink ranunculus to name a few.
Once I had spun my arrangement one last time and was finally satisfied, Alicia deemed my arrangement a “pave” arrangement… to which I responded, “Huh?” While 99% of you know what that means, I’ll explain for the 1% that doesn’t. A pave arrangement is one where the stems are fairly short and the flower heads are placed very closely together, more of a “tight and compact dome” feel rather than loose, airy, or sculptural. To me, the fact that it even resembled any sort of floral style was a win in and of itself! My final task of the workshop was to safely transport my arrangement from south Seattle to north Seattle. When I opened my car door to survey the situation, I was thrilled to realize that my nanny job would crossover and save the day: CARSEATS. So I buckled that baby up, and made it all the way home with zero spillage or destruction. Thanks kiddos!
Overall, I’d say my first real learning experience was a success, and I would happily take another class from Alicia! Things have already been a bit busy this year (um, when did it become March?) but taking this workshop really helped to reignite my passion and desire to learn and become a part of the flower industry. Stay tuned for more exciting progress in my floral adventure!
So, let’s pretend you are me … the Director of Marketing for one of the largest wholesale florists in the country. I have to admit that it is pretty cool to be me and it is no secret that I love my job. (I love it so much that I was asked to speak on a panel at the 2012 SAF Convention about why I love my job so much!) But when it came time to hire a new marketing team member and I had to scour hundreds of resumes, I didn’t love my job as much. Ok, ok … I hated going through resumes because after a time, they all started to look and sound the same. Don’t get me wrong, I spoke to some great people with plain-jane resumes, but I have to say that when a non-traditional, but gorgeously designed resume crossed my sight, I was already interested before I read the content. No matter the design, content is most important, however my eyes were extremely thankful for some great design. When we decided to bring Ali aboard, I asked her to do a post about resume design because I L-O-V-E her resume (pictured below) and think since we all work in a creative industry, this is a good opportunity for those looking for a floral-related job to show off some creative skills. So if you are ready for some quick tips and inspiration, I hope you enjoy this post!
BLOGGER: Ali Dahlson
When it comes to designing your resume, as one famous artist put it, oh the times, they are a-changin’. In the past, it was all about that MLA, Times New Roman, 12-point format. However, as our culture progresses and the so-called “Millennials” take over, that won’t cut it anymore. *Disclaimer: many traditional companies still prefer the standard format, so proceed with caution! You have to make the call on whether or not the company you’re applying for will appreciate an artistic and out-of-the-box approach. In my case, the flower business is a pretty darn creative industry, so I decided to go that route, and crossed my fingers it would pay off!
Why, you might ask? For a number of reasons! I might reply. For starters, you want to stand out. Depending on the job, employers receive a whole bunch of resumes, and they all get stacked on the corner of their desk, a neat yet depressing pile of bland, similar looking resumes. Now, put yourself in their shoes. If you received a resume that was unique and had style, a certain je ne sais quoi, if you will, wouldn’t you be more inclined to pick that one up first? I certainly would…I’d be intrigued, I’d need to know more. That’s the main purpose of a creative resume, to grab the attention of your potential employer, and make them want to read it. A well-designed resume should help convey who you are, but not overwhelm. It’s a little taste of what’s to come, which is (hopefully), an interview! Because who wouldn’t hire you after you charm their pants off with your sparkling personality? No one. That’s who.
Question number 2: what makes a “well-designed” resume? Well, for one, it should be refined and edited. Negative space (aka white space) is GOOD, as it is visually appealing to the eye, and won’t overwhelm the reader. You should only include relevant information, or in other words, leave the “fluff” at the back door. Fluff is bad, efficiency is good. Say it with me, fluff bad, efficiency good. Perfect, moving on. Once you’ve determined what makes the cut, you need to find a way to highlight each section so that they all stand out on their own, but also work together to tell your story. This can be done in many ways – font style (bold, italic…), font size, and placement, to name a few. In terms of color, my rule of thumb is no more than three! And that includes black and grey. Keeping it minimal and simple is key; UNLESS you’re applying for graphic design job, in which case, show off those skills, by all means! (Side note: If you’re applying for a graphic design job, you probably don’t need to be reading this, but I digress…) The other most important thing, and my personal FAVORITE thing to nerd out about, is your font. There are so many fonts available online to download, but it requires a refined eye to choose something unique and slightly different, but not too crazy (another side note: you can use more than one, but they should be complimentary, and limited to two! Okay fine, three, but they better be, like, ‘The Three Musketeers’ status). A few other tid-bits of information to keep tucked away, geometric shapes are good, too much going on is bad, and for goodness sake, make sure to line everything up!
One last thing I should mention; if you don’t have the ability to create a custom resume using a program such as Illustrator or InDesign, just use Google! These days, there are so many fabulous templates that can be easily downloaded and used, for those of you who are not necessarily savvy in the art of digital graphic design. Just remember to make it your own! Here are a few links to get you started:
And now, my friends, I release you! Be free, get those creative juices flowing, and think about how to tell your story. As cool as your resume looks, it won’t mean a thing if your future employer doesn’t have a taste of who you are after reading it. It should highlight and emphasize the best you; who you are, what you’re about, and what you will bring to the table. Good luck!
It’s 6:30 am on a Thursday morning, and after hitting the snooze button one too many times, I finally open my eyes and fumble for my iPhone. Two missed calls and a text from Dad – “Ali, call me ASAP.” Oh god, what happened? After wiping the sleep from my eyes, I nervously dial his number. “Oh, hey Al, sorry did I wake ya? I have a proposal for you…” Phew. Everything is okay. What followed was a unique and spontaneous offer from my dad to fly me down the following night to Riverside, CA, to participate in the California State Floral Association – Calif Flora 2014 Convention, which Mayesh was hosting this year. Following a few recent heart to hearts with my old man, and having come to the decision that I want to pursue a career in floral design, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get my feet wet and learn a few things. I didn’t really know what to expect; all I knew is that I would be participating in a few hands-on workshops and meeting some designers from Southern California.
Two bumpy flights and one long car ride later (thank goodness for Siri), I was in Riverside with my cousin, who is part of Mayesh’s marketing team. We woke up early Saturday morning to head to the convention, where I was greeted with a nametag and an urgent voicemail that I was late for my first class. Hmm, well this is off to a great start. Everything seemed to work itself out, though, and within minutes I was seated in an intimate workshop entitled “Vintage Chic Weddings,” with Shasta College professor Darlene Montgomery. So many thoughts were running through my head – am I the only first-timer here? Are there thorns on the roses? I’m totally going to make the ugliest bouquet of the group, aren’t I? But as we got started, and Darlene started talking about Pinterest, an app I am all too familiar with, I began to feel right at home. We learned about current trends in weddings, and some unique ways to understand what the bride is looking for, such as asking to see her wedding gown. And then… drumroll please! It was design time.
I had three vases in front of me, and a bucket of flowers on the floor. Cool, now what? First, we focused on a super quick and easy design featuring moss, succulents, and raffia, which would make a simple yet lovely table setting. Thirty bucks for five minutes of work? Sold. Arrangement number two was just as simple, yet unique in it’s own way. A small vase, one stem of hydrangea, a few stems of eryngium and a touch of dusty miller. That’s all you need. In the wise words of my cousin, time is money, baby! And lastly, for the grand finale, a hand tied bouquet… Hold up, WHAT? I’m creating my first arrangement EVER in the palm of my hand? No, stop. You can do this. So, I did. We started with the greenery – some eucalyptus and New Zealand Pittosporum – and continued to add layers of hydrangea and other focal flowers (roses, lavender stock, Queen Anne’s lace and lisianthus), while rotating the bouquet in a clockwise fashion. I struggled with remembering that there is more than one side to a bouquet, and ended up clumping many of the flowers in the front. After getting frustrated and starting over a couple times, I finally started to get the hang of it. Once the flowers were in place, we completed the look with the finishing details; we bound the stems with wire, wrapped a cream, satin ribbon around the base, and secured with a simple, rhinestone pin. Tada! My first hand-tied bouquet. I opted not to add a couple of the flowers from my bucket in favor of giving my bouquet my own, unique style, and I was happy with the overall outcome. It was definitely vintage, to say the least, and is now sitting in a vase on my mom’s kitchen counter. Success.
My next and final class of the weekend was with well-known designer Rene Van Rems, and was called “European High Design.” I must admit, I was a bit anxious about this class. The description in the brochure read, “Some experience required. Bring your own tools.” Wellllll, shoot. Already behind and the class hasn’t even started. Much to my relief Rene started the class going over some of the basics. He explained that European design equals vegetative design, where the goal is to make the arrangement appear like it is growing out of the container, just as it would in nature. Some key elements include the use of negative space, vertical lines, height, and grouping the different flowers and plants in their own family, as if they were growing in groups in nature. Rene also educated us on the different types of flowers: mass flowers, line material, filler flowers, form flowers, and botanicals. Then, once again, it was time to design. For both arrangements, we worked with wet foam, which we carved away to form a base. The first design was very natural and green, utilizing tall, vertical leafy flowers and greenery (a few included Bells of Ireland, stock, and hydrangea). The second arrangement was similar, but included more color, with the use of pink lilies, pink gerbera daisies, and a few other flowers (cut me some slack, I’m still learning names!) While this style of flower arrangement is not necessarily what I would gravitate towards, I have a new appreciation for vegetative design, and enjoyed learning to work with foam and a variety of materials in one arrangement.
And with that, my first experience in the world of flowers was complete. I learned the basics, gained some knowledge about flowers, and got some great hands on experience. The good news? I’m still here, and have no plans on leaving. Yes, I still want to join this crazy business and find out how I fit into this world. The bad news? Well, I wouldn’t call it bad. I just know I have a lot of work ahead of me, and I’ll have to sacrifice a lot. But, who needs weekends anyways, right? From event planning to teaching workshops to owning a retail shop, there are so many different options, and now it’s my job to dabble in a bit of everything, and find my flower calling. I can’t wait to start this journey, and see where I end up in a year from now!
Meet Ali Dahlson. Mayesh will be following Ali’s journey as she enters the world of flowers. With a degree in Interior Architecture and a passion for all things design, Ali has decided to explore a career as a florist. What is it like to be a newbie? What does it take to forge a new career in our industry? Find out by staying tuned to Ali’s story on our blog throughout the next year!
Ali’s upcoming debut blog post will be about her experience at this year’s Calif Flora show. In addition to Calif Flora, we plan on sending Ali to our main shows that we attend – The Special Event, Catersource/Event Solutions Idea Factory, and the AIFD Symposium. If you have any other ideas or pointers for Ali, please leave those thoughts in the comments below. We hope you are just as excited as we are to follow her journey!
P.S. If you are a Seattle designer interested in helping Ali along on her journey, please contact us.