I have a new AIFD Symposium interview for you! I am pleased to introduce you to Marisa Chanel Guerrero, CFD. What I like about her interview is that she is unlike many of my interviewees … she is fairly new to floral design as a career and I loved hearing about her journey thus far. For anyone who is thinking about becoming a floral designer or you already made up your mind on your floral career, I think Marisa would be a great point of contact. Enjoy!
When did you realize this was the career for you?
About 5 years ago, I started taking the art of floral design seriously. I had been in a flower shop since my mom bought Debbie’s Bloomers when I was 8, so I knew lots of basic design concepts and mechanics but never really though it was what I would be passionate about. Then all of the sudden, I realized how much knowledge I had and I saw so many things I wanted to learn about and it was on!
Describe your path to CFD/AIFD:
Once I started taking floral design seriously and really looking at what being a floral designer meant, I knew that I had to get those letters after my name. All the designers teaching education programs and working on product development that I admired had the AIFD letters behind their names and that’s where I want to be. My first step was to get more formally educated. Mom, a Texas Master Florist, taught me how to design so that was a great start. I went through the AIFD web classes and hands on classes, and have been a couple times to the Teleflora Education Center (fantastic!), plus I’ve been on the New Mexico Wes-Texas Unit of Teleflora, so I had the opportunity to learn one-on-one from so many of the talented designers I admire while working on education programs. That focused attention to designing (I usually do the back office stuff) was really critical to my being accepted into AIFD. The tips and tricks were as important as the confidence building. I really have to give lots of credit to Marie Ackerman, AAF, AIFD, PFCI and Kevin Ylvisaker AIFD, PFCI who teach the Testing…Testing…1,2,3 class to the Teleflora Education Center. Without their amazing class I would have been to scared to attempt AIFD and I probably wouldn’t have done as well, if I had. It was a real game changer. A big, giant, public, THANK YOU!
How many Symposiums have you attended?
I have only been to one Symposium, last years in Miami, and it was an awe-inspiring event. There was the test, and the shows and getting to volunteer (helped with Dan Miller, AIFD’s Christmas program), then the dancing and dinners and flowers EVERYWHERE. Plus, so many people to meet and faces I have seen in magazines and new ideas. It was great and I can’t wait to go again this year for all of those reasons, except I won’t be testing, I’ll be inducted! Yay!
Please describe your AIFD program:
I have the privilege of working with 4 other inductees on Sharon Sacks’ wedding program. We were invited to design a bridal bouquet for her presentation that includes a “personal keepsake”. I wish I could say more but my part of the program is so tiny compared to all the knowledge Sharon and the other designers are sure to share.
Are you involved with any extracurricular activities?
I am currently Vice President of the New Mexico Wes-Texas Unit of Teleflora, so I get to spend time planning design programs for our area to be presented by the great Teleflora Education Specialists. Just recently the New Mexico Regional Florist Association and the West Texas Florist Association invited me to present with three other designers at a joint educational event which has lead to invitations to present for them again. It’s so exciting to me because I didn’t know how to get my foot in the door as an educator and now it’s wide open. It’s almost too good to be true.
How would you describe your design style?
My style is very commercial. I want to design for the customer and just make pretty arrangements. I love tropicals, so I always try to incorporate a few into my designs but otherwise I want my flowers to be easy to appreciate and reasonably affordable.
Who/What inspires you?
My mommy is my biggest inspiration. She has created a wonderful business, the biggest shop in the city, with a great reputation and she did it with tons of hard work. And she encouraged me to pursue attaining AIFD accreditation, and showed me how to be an active member of the industry.
What is your favorite floral tool?
My first thought was my knife, but I could live without that, there are always scissors for cutting, so maybe I couldn’t live without scissors. Okay, my answer is scissors, really sharp (good for cutting ribbon), Teflon covered (good for cutting Uglu), scissors.
What are your favorite flowers?
For a long time my favorite flower was a Cool Water lavender rose, so pretty and sweet smelling, but I have a new favorite, Oncidium orchids. Those tiny little florets of bright yellow are lovely and when you look at them closely they look like little flamenco dancers. Love ’em!
What is your favorite color combination at this moment?
The peach, pale yellow and creme combo that brides are loving right now is really pretty. Usually, I lean towards brighter colors since I like tropicals so much, so I guess I needed a change and that combo is so soft and pretty. Plus, peach felt like such a dated color for so long but now it’s coming back and it’s not as over powering, and there are so many flowers in pretty shades of peach.
Do you have any advice for floral design newcomers?
Our industry is in need of talented new designers who are ready and willing to carry floral design to the future and the best thing they can do is learn from their flower idols. There are so many experienced designers just waiting to teach you their tricks and skills. Ask them questions about every area of the business, from how to write proposals to the best care and handling practices. There is a very warm community of florists who are willing to teach newcomers so that our industry can stay relevant. Your job is to take their advice, use what works for you and create the best business you can. A hard task but someone has to do it!
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Marisa Chanel Guerrero, CFD