Posts Tagged “Beyond the ‘Gram”

Beyond the ‘Gram: Collabs are Fab

Beyond the 'Gram The Flower Industry IRL

 

The much anticipated part three of Shelley Ander’s blog series is finally here! If you haven’t read her two previous posts, make sure you catch up first!

 


 

A long time ago, in a floral galaxy far, far away… there was battle raging on. It was US and THEM… THE COMPETITION. If you owned a florist or floral design company, any other florist around was your adversary. If you spied them at the floral market you nodded, smiled your polite hellos, threw shade, coveted their flower cart and kept on moving. You envied their progress and knowingly applauded their downfall. You may have even pulled a Katy Perry and tried to lure their employees away. No? Oh wait. Was that just me?

 

Oh, who are you kidding Miss Polly Perfect, we’ve all been on that dark side and it ain’t good… In the old days, you stayed on your side of the fence and they stayed on theirs. That was the American Way! Old school florists, you know who you are and what I am talking about.

 

I jest, but it was kinda true. Now don’t get me wrong, you had your florist friends and you may have shared designers, but they were in other cities. The further away from your zip code the better your friendship, and if they were in another state you were practically besties! We were a protective lot back then. There was more than enough business to go around, yet we did not like sharing it very much.

 

All of that is changing. And it has never been more apparent than right now. The newer generation of floral designers (female in particular) have reached an almost zen-like community of inclusion and sisterhood. I see this every day here at Mayesh. Where people barely spoke or acknowledged each other, they are chatting and discussing each others’ carts, the events they are working on and more importantly they are working together. Collaborating.

 

In today’s environment there is much more of a willingness to work together. A new collaborative spirit amongst our designers, new and old. I see more and more of them at our locations chatting, sharing notes and networking than in the past. There is more of a sense of camaraderie. The US is the florist, the THEM the consumer. We are all in this thing together. With the world shrinking due to social media exposure and constant internet access, it is changing the face of the floral landscape for everyone. There is even more competition than ever before, yet there is more collaboration than ever before.

 

A few years back I owned a flower shop. Actually, I have owned two. The first in Dallas, TX in my early 30’s during those floral days of yore. My second was a shop located in the Arts District of Downtown Long Beach. A grungy, bohemian landscape full of millenials, coffee shops and a bootstrap spirit where I had a dream of opening a eco-friendly shop that carried organic or locally grown flowers, upcycled and repurposed vases, and art. My landlord and amazing Oklahomian named Roni Skeen took a chance on me and Primal Flower was born.

 

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL

 

 

After practically starving the first year, things started falling into place for my business. People loved my concept and it was really taking a hold in Long Beach. It was early into my second year when I had a lovely email exchange with the very popular, Southern California floral designer and Long Beach native, Megan Grey from Honey and Poppies. One of the originals in the early garden revival movement and exquisitely talented.

 

 

Gorgeous work from Megan Grey | Photography: This Modern Romance

 

I had apparently sent an acquaintance of hers flowers. The young lady’s husband had ordered them from me after finding me online. Megan had seen the flowers and was blown away by them and wanted to know where they had come from. I was so very flattered; of course I knew who she was and was a fan. At the time there were no retail shops in Long Beach doing quite the throwback lush garden look that I was getting known for. Remember that magazine article about Saipua? I had really loved that she had brought that look back and I was fully on board bringing it to my new community in Long Beach. What really impressed me was Megan’s kindness and willingness to reach out to me, someone who could be looked at as her new competitor in town. Well if you could call me that… let’s just say that Megan Gray is in a league of her own. Okay, I say I was impressed… more like shocked.

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL

The design Megan saw & loved from back in my Primal Flower days!

 

But it was one of the first signs of many that I would start to see with this newer generation of florists that I had not really experienced as much with my generation of florists. Not being threatened by each other and a willingness to collaborate and work together. She would send weddings my way when she was not available and I was very appreciative.

 

Collaboration is not necessarily new. Flower shops and florists have for years networked and worked together. I have many times freelanced and helped my flower friends over the years with their weddings and events. I have gone back and worked with former employers and helped them from time to time when the needed an extra hand. But in general, most shops kind of kept a respectful and not always friendly but definitely competitive distance from each other.

 

So what gives now? Why the change?

 

Florists are finding that they need each other as sounding boards and mentors. There is a huge community of online floral chat groups on Facebook alone. You can get support and questions answered from your peers. Things that you may have needed help with but were too embarrassed to ask before. Or maybe you are just super stoked and proud of something you just created and want to share it with your peers. It’s great getting honest feedback.

 

Holly Chapple started Chapel Designers, “an international collective of wedding and event floral designers. The organization not only educates, supports, and mentors creatives, but also encourages the individual designer to be his or her most authentic self.“ And there are great florists blogs out now like Flirty Fleurs and Debra Prinzing who writes a blog and published a book about the slow flower movement.

 

Forming strong alliances with your contemporaries makes smart business sense, especially in this type of business which is heavily dependent on artistic design. Finding a few good florist friends whose work you value and trust to help you out in a pinch during an illness or unexpected family emergency or god forbid an unforeseen tragedy is worth its weight in gold.

 

Another added benefit is continuing education. We are all in a constant state of learning and this strange little business we have all found ourselves often times floundering in has not given us any floral training. Some of us have worked in shops for many years. Some of us have started our own businesses from scratch and are very self taught. Some have gone through the entire AIFD process and gotten certified. But unless you work with other designers of many different degrees of experience and skill level you really are limiting yourself.

 

A new trend we have seen explode in the past couple of years are individual mentoring sessions and workshops. Mayesh has its own Design Star and does a traveling workshop series that promotes continuing education as well as a video series. Many florist now do workshops, and while not necessarily a new thing, the way they are being done and promoted is new. In the past you just showed up at your local flower shop and took a class, and maybe refreshments were served.

 

Our Miami Mayesh Design Star workshop, led Kaylee Young of Flourish by Kay 

 

Now it is an event with sponsors and floral bling. You could walk away with a swag bag of goodies from many different vendors. One-on-one mentoring is relatively new as well. I visited with the wildly popular Rachael Lunghi from Siren Floral Co. during one of her workshops. She is based here in San Diego and hosts many workshops. She also has many florists who fly from all over the country to visit with her to learn her special mojo during paid mentorships. Her classes are always full of hip women: young and mature, newbies and OG’s who want to learn from this magical, ethereal young lady.

 

 

Beyond the 'Gram The Flower Industry IRL

Beyond the 'Gram The Flower Industry IRL

Beyond the 'Gram The Flower Industry IRL

 

 

In the past you could barely get your fellow floral designers, manager, head designer or contemporaries to teach you anything so great was the fear that they would steal something from you… your talent or your clients. Not so much anymore.

 

I recently interviewed the enormously talented and very lovely Carla Kayes owner of Carla Kayes Floral Design in Temecula about the recent trend with the newer generation of florists’ more collaborative spirit: “I feel like I have gained so much by helping somebody else because everybody does something different, and they possibly do something more successfully or more efficiently than what you do.” She also adds that “ten years ago it was a different story, things were ugly. Now people work together and it makes everyone better, we all get better when we share information and knowledge.” Carla should know, she has had one of the most successful rebranding campaigns of recent memory and a lot of it had to do with her willingness to learn from and work with her newer contemporaries.

 

 

Beyond the 'Gram The Flower Industry IRL

Beyond the 'Gram The Flower Industry IRL

 

 

This also helps create a united front when it comes to pricing strategies, something florists have always struggled with. If everyone is on the same page and and keeps pricing transparent and open, it helps with consumers who are price shopping. I have heard from several of my clients who have told me that because of the open, collaborative nature of their relationships with other wedding florists and shops that when they are price shopped, they all can discuss it… “oh yeah, that bride hit me up too.” At least they can feel confident that they are being chosen for their work and not just because the were the cheapest.

 

With the explosion of one-on-one mentorships, workshops and webinars there are more and more ways to learn and work as a florist these days. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a florist you admire and ask about networking or freelancing for them.

 

 


 

 

A few tips that are helpful and will give you major cred in the business::

 

 

  • Always be respectful of their work. Absolutely ask permission to photograph any work that you are doing for them. It is their intellectual property.

 

  • Always tag them and request permission to use any photos of said work on social media.

 

  • Do not post their work as your own… yes it has been done countless times. (I have been a victim of this)

 

  • Respect their neighborhood, find your own area or zip code to work in that doesn’t cause a conflict of interest. For example don’t host a workshop or event a street over from your friend’s flower shop.

 

  • Have integrity! Never try to steal a client out from under your florist friend.

 

  • Be inclusive. When holding events, or group get togethers always try to invite or include flower friends in your network. The floral world is a small world and news travels fast! #nofrenemies

 

  • Don’t steal staff from another flower friend. Did Katy Perry and Tay Tay not teach us anything? Flower feuds are not any prettier.

 

  • Make sure you are there to work and not just there to get a free “workshop” out of your chosen florist. It’s okay to fangirl, but have integrity here too. Keep the million questions and digging into vendor secrets to yourself. People have worked hard to get where they are and you baby florist, need to learn how earn your stripes too. You will be much more respected and asked back in the future. They will see right through your shenanigans. Sign a non-compete in these instances.

 

  • Above all, do unto others as you would have done to you.

 

 

#beyondthegram , Beyond the 'Gram , Shelley Anders

 

Beyond the ‘Gram: I Didn’t Choose the Florist Life… the Florist Life Chose Me

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

 

Before you dive into part two of Beyond the ‘Gram, make sure you’re up to speed and have read part one first, Let me Introduce Myself!

 


 

What led you down your current flower path? Can you recall what first inspired you to become a floral designer? If you read most florists’ bios, they start something like this: “I grew up with flowers,” ”I played in my grandmother’s antique rose garden,” “I was raised a heathen wild child amongst the fairy folk in the hills of the shire…”

 

Me? Well, not quite…

 

Granted, I was a child of the late 60’s (born in 1967) on the cusp of the Summer of Love. The Flower Child generation. Except I was a baby… I missed alla that. By the time I was ten it was disco fever and the totally awesome 80’s were looming. I collected Unicorns and if it was purple and had sequins on it, I was all about it. My father was a military man and I moved every year from birth to my freshman year of high school.

 

My first dream was to be an ice skater (obsessed even today) or a prima ballerina (having never touched the ice or donned a pair of pointe shoes mind you). You see, I was a chubby little thing. But I could draw really well and paint. So instead, I spent endless hours alone  in my room painting ballerinas in graceful arabesque positions on pointe. My favorite color of oil paint was Alizarin Crimson. At ten years old, I found an illustration of a couple disco dancing from an Arthur Murray print ad in the newspaper (it was 1977 after all) and I had an epiphany.  I decided I wanted to be a famous fashion designer instead! I loved illustrating people, period. By the time I was twelve I was hooked on fashion magazines and had moved on to illustrating models. At sixteen and a junior in high school I applied and was accepted into a very respected fashion college in Dallas Texas (what? They were all the rage!)  but I never made it… I got pregnant. Dun, dun, dun.

 

Don’t worry, I did indeed  graduate high school even with a baby on my hip, but went to community college instead. I focused instead on getting a degree in Art. Nothing was going to stop my dream. I was set back, but determined. After a failed attempt at an almost marriage and WAIT for it:  (oh-dear-god-no-aren’t-you-on-the- pill-yet??) Baby #2 was on the way. My valiant attempt at trying to do the right thing and get married because I had a baby with my boyfriend had resulted in another pregnancy for us knuckleheads. Needless to say, things didn’t work out. I found myself alone, unemployed and a very young mother of two by the time I was nineteen years old. I was on my way to becoming a statistic with big hair… I needed a job, stat.

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

 

What exactly was I qualified to do? When I was a little girl we lived in Virginia Beach, VA. I loved to make flower necklaces out of camellias and the pretty azalea blooms that grew everywhere… Ok, so there was that one time I dabbled in flowery stuff as a kid. It was hard not to. I was artistic after all and we lived in the azalea capital of the Atlantic seaboard. Virginia had the most giant, magical azalea bushes you have ever seen, and those big blooms called my name. Later, when I was in high school, we ended our years in the military living in, of all places, Arkansas. It really is like the Oregon of the south; a gorgeously lush, mountain deep in pine trees, beautiful state. Arkansas really deserves  the moniker “The Natural State.” I am pretty sure that this is where my true love of nature and floral was born. I would go deep in the woods and collect grapevine branches in high school. The locals made muscadine wine out of the grapes that grew on them, and I would make cute country style wreaths out of it. Yes, I was foraging back in the day y’all. I wish I could tell you I left it at that but no… this was the 80’s. I glued little country, wooden, Christmas cutouts all over ‘em. CRINGE. Then I’d plop a ribbon on my creations and sell those wreaths to folks. You guyyys, we are talking EL-E-GANT..They sold like hot cakes! (My other “hot seller” was puff paint sweatshirts with Care Bears I hand painted. Naturally, I cut the sweatshirt neck out a la Flashdance style and at five bucks a pop, I barely covered the cost of my paint). I was a baby entrepreneur in the making!

 

Thinking back on my booming wreath business gave me the idea that I must have some kind of knack for floral arranging, so of course I applied for a job at the only place that was hiring and that appealed to my artistic side – the local grocery store floral department.

 

It may not have been the most glamorous place to start my floral career but, I will have you know, I got some pretty decent training there. My manager, a woman who had worked for years in the floral industry, had taken a job at that Safeway because like so many others, after years in the business making slightly above minimum wage and not having any insurance or benefits to speak of, decided she needed the stability of a more corporate job. She taught me the basics. One day I will share with you a HI-larious story of my first corsage ever, when I was left on my own one day…hijinks!

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

 

If you have been in the business for a while you are probably not doing it for the big money either and if you have just started in this business you are definitely not doing it for the money. It is for THE JAW DROPPING BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS, THE ART, THE CREATIVITY, THE FREEDOM, THE EXHILARATION  you feel at making something with your hands, THE KUDOS that slowly feeds your small doubts about your ability to design, the, the, (insert your desires here)…

 

But probably not the money.

 

Eventually you want to earn THE MONEY. Don’t you? You do right? I am going to talk to y’all a bit later on this subject in a future post. Because it is a business and not  just an expensive hobby.

 

Unfortunately, we don’t actually get much in the way of real training to become a florist. It has always been a learn as you go kind of job. Most of us just kind of happen into it. As a matter of fact, this might seem at times to be the world’s most difficult job to get hired into. Amirite? Ever tried to apply for a job at a flower shop?  Some of you know what I’m talking about.

 

I only worked at the grocery store for six months because I landed a job at a really nice flower shop in a wealthy suburb of north  Dallas. The owners, who shall remain nameless, were, let’s just say, challenging to work for. I was barely twenty years old. But, this is where I learned to appreciate a wealthier clientele. Sophistication, elegance and style and people with THE MONEY. And LOTS of it. This is also the year Martha Stewart “Weddings” came out and changed the floral industry forever. If you don’t believe me, go back and take a look at floral designs pre-Martha 1987… TACK-O-RAMA. There was A LOT of glitter ting-ting flying around (you might wanna google that).

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

 

Now don’t get me wrong, there were some folks out there doing good work (Pure Madderlake in New York and many European designers come to mind) and of course all the classics we have already discussed, but in the US, floral designs were heavily influenced by wire service designs and our own floral industry publications.

 

Martha set off a cultural revolution not only on the domestic home front, but she had a major impact on the wedding industry and the way we designed flowers.

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

 

Up until that point being a florist was just a fun, crafty job that appealed to my artistic side while I went to college to become a real artist. Until that publication pushed a button inside of me and appealed to something much higher to attain – being a floral artist. I wanted to be better. I quickly decided I only wanted to work for the best shops. To hone my craft. Since I was already working for a really good shop at the time (but my bosses weren’t the nicest couple of guys to work for) I decided to go for it and applied for a job at one of the most highly respected florists in Dallas at the time: Mille Fleurs. I thought, if I wanted to take my floral career more seriously I needed to only work for the best designers. I was lucky to start my career in Dallas, some of the best floral talent set up shop there back in the day.

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

 

My new employers were hot, uber talented, German and gay: Friedhelm Schnitzler and Heinz Reifferscheid. They became important life long friends and mentors before they both passed away. They taught me the art and craft of Floral Design. They taught me everything I know about flowers and then some.

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

 

As florists, we are artistic types, we yearn to create something beautiful  with our hands, create inspiring pieces that are real and just might move people. A kind of living art  that sells, art that we actually get to make a living at.

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

 

We may not even have even realized that what we are doing is art. Back in 2004, when the Design Museum of London decided to showcase a Constance Spry exhibition, the Museum’s original co-founder’s actually threatened to resign. They  claimed that flower arranging was merely shallow styling and not truly design. How Rude! Try telling that to a Japanese Ikebana master Toshiro Kawase or German Master designer Gregor Lersch. Or what about  Daniel Ost? Ost is a virtual floral architect!

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

Work from Gregor Lersch

 

I theorize that designing with flowers  is like creating a kind of art on demand. A client calls that morning and places an order with you to be filled that day delivered for his wife’s birthday… and it must be breathtaking! A wedding coordinator calls and need a spectacular arrangement for a last minute photo shoot, her florist cancelled at the last minute, can you help? A bride is planning a real wedding ceremony a few months away but she needs small bouquet for their civil ceremony this afternoon and can you make something small and lovely for her? She didn’t think she wanted flowers but now she does… She will pick it up in an hour, do you have gardenias? You must be “on”  as an artist at all times. And that is absolutely what you are, an artist. What other artistic profession demands so much from its artist at any given moment? And there are those days you have an off-day and don’t do your personal best work and man, does it bug you for days, that one arrangement you sent out that wasn’t perfection.

 

We take our kind of art so for granted because we pop it out every day, day after day, that we even start to devalue it ourselves. And so does everyone else. We sigh at that customer who whinges on at the price of that garden rose or our minimum or that “yes we charge a delivery fee.” No other retail product is processed, designed/manufactured and delivered all under one roof quite like flowers are. They deserve so much more respect than they are given. From the growers to the wholesalers to designers who ultimately work with them… it is a labor of love.

 

On the flip side, we have been our own worst enemies too. There have been some hideous creations thrust upon us from some rather creative, kitschy types, from flower mum poodles to carnation ice cream sundaes (my horrible 80’s wreaths included), but there is a place for everything and I look at it all with a fine sense of humor.

 

Why do we not consider florists real artists? Because the medium of flowers are essentially perishable? An arrangement simply does not last. Fleeting beauty that we can’t put a lasting monetary value on. It’s a big reason consumers are less likely to see them as a tangible asset –  flowers die. So they have spent hundreds sometimes thousands of dollars, in the case of a wedding or event, on something they can’t keep. Other than drying it, the only way to preserve that floral design is with photos.

 

But my friends, “Flowers as an Art form “ is back. We are in the dawn of a floral revolution not just in design but where and how they are grown. When you hear that Saipua’s images look like Dutch paintings that is really saying something. Because they do. There is a thoughtfulness put into everything like never before. A new aesthetic has emerged. Because we are finding out that you care and that not only will the recipient see it, THE WORLD will see it. The challenge lies now in getting them to appreciate them again. And I think you are doing it.

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

Left: A still-life from Dutch painter Rachel Ruysch in the 1600 & 1700’s | Right: Arrangement from Saipua 

 

Your generation is elevating the art of floral design even more today than ever before. What once only showed up in fancy coffee table books – books put out by florists that frankly were mostly only seen by other florists – now appear on the ‘Gram daily. Florists today have access to the most luxurious product in the world and are not afraid to use it, no matter what the cost might be, as long as it reflects the quality of the product. Because this new generation of floral designers is starting to understand that they are expressing themselves through the art of floral design with flowers as their medium. You are now curating your own aesthetic.

 

The flower world is catching up too… because of you. You are talking to each other through social media. That’s very important. Where once change took years, it can now take just hours or days. Showcase that one perfect ranunculus in your arrangement in Australia? I will hear about it from my client within hours. She wants it for her event in two weeks, make it happen please.

 

Just like what has happened to the produce world, where “organic” has become the buzzword, flower farmers are now what the organic vegetable farmers were to us a few years ago. I could write an entire post about Floret Flower Farm. Most of you know who she is by now, but if you don’t, look her up. Mindfully grown, slow grown and organically grown fever has crossed over into our world now, as it well should. Consumers are also beginning to care where in the world their flowers are coming from. This is huge and it has brought the focus back to growing flowers in America. It is still going to take a while for consumers to get on board, and it’s up to you to educate them. We will have to do this together.

 

Floret

Erin Benzakein of Floret / Photo by Joy Prouty

 

You see, for years South American and Dutch flowers have dominated the floral design world. Long stemmed, rigidly grown flowers that are easy to ship, like roses, stargazers, callas, poms, carnations and more, all mostly devoid of fragrance and any natural curves or lines bred out of them. This was necessary in order to make them last longer and transport them, easier en masse. And what about floral design? Beautiful flowers stuffed tightly into unnatural forms were de rigueur. It was clean and modern… and well, maybe a bit cold. And while overall the flowers have gotten better (especially the Dutch spring varieties, South American grown garden roses, and unusual novelty carnations in subtle antique colors) you can now find local American flower farmers growing heavy headed, heirloom style garden roses and giant dinner plate dahlias, sweet peas with gorgeous curly tendrils and playful anemones again. There are amazing Italian cloni, fluffy ranunculus that look like beautiful petticoats grown right here in California. Elegant, spindly spirea from Oregon. The Japanese have entered the market with luxury Japanese flowers like we have never seen before. Flowers are wild again and unstructured. The demand for different and unusual flowers, grasses, branches and foliages has exploded. Even that 70’s staple, “Drieds,” have made a comeback with millennials who favor the boho look. Your mother’s pampas grass never looked so good. And YOU did this. The young new generation of women and men in this movement and our older OG florists who have always stayed ahead of the trends with timeless designs, because we long to be close to nature again. It feels right.

 

Floret dinnerplate dahlias

Floret Sherwood’s Peach dinnerplate dahlias / Image from @floretflower

 

There is so much going on my fellow flower friends! It’s an exciting time to be a florist, floral designer or floral artist… whatever you want to call yourself.

 

And what about me? Did I ever get that degree? Well, 3 kiddos, 6 grandkids and 2 flower shops later, I did not. I got bit by the flower bug, too. But, I did become a floral artist and you can’t argue with me on that. I may not have become that famous fashion designer, but I still love to paint, draw and craft (no wooden cutouts I promise) and now I am beginning to write again. My old high school teacher Mr. Guess would be so proud! He was my biggest cheerleader, and I ended up becoming editor and illustrator of the school newspaper my senior year, even with that sweet lil’ bambino of mine.

 

Join me next on part three of my series Beyond the ‘Gram as I discuss how to grow your baby business or enhance your existing business with “Collabs are Fab.” There is a new generation of young, female and driven floral designers who have taken over the floral industry and are working together like never before.

 

Beyond the 'Gram: The Flower Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

Beyond the ‘Gram: The Floral Industry IRL with Shelley Anders

 

Do you remember when there was no social media? No Instagram, no Facebook, no Twitter or Snapchat to share every minute of our lives? No high-tech cell phone to snap a zillion images of your work and then upload in seconds? I can! Yes, I am that old, youngsters. And who am I? Let me introduce myself. My name is Shelley Anders and just like you, I was for many years, a hardworking florist and downright flower fanatic. Alright, I am still a flower fanatic, but I have made the transition from the retail flower world  to the wholesale flower world. If you don’t know me already, I am currently Branch Manager for our Mayesh Carlsbad location, and I’ll be writing a series of monthly blog posts (a great novelist is born! Ok, big aspirations maybe… I am terrified already. You lot can be pretty excitable!) taking you down a journey through my many years of being a florist. I’m what you call a “lifer” in this business… you OG  florists will know what I am talking about.

 

Some of my past work from the last 4-5 years.

 

But to you, the up and coming new generation of floralizers (a term coined by a fave flower friend of mine) can you imagine what it was like being a florist in those dark ages? As little as eight or nine years ago, to get started, a hard working florist only needed to have a brick and mortar in a good location. Here’s how it went: after you agonized for weeks on what to name your new baby business, you created an eye catching and spiffy logo… check. Designed some really great business cards and had them made… check. Placed an ad in a wedding magazine to catch a bride’s attention… check. Talked to the local church and funeral home to get your name out there… double check. Advertised in the newspaper and signed up for a wire service, et.Voila! You were on your way.

 

And pics? Oh, those wonderful things we take for granted these days. Those were actual, real life photographs and you ordered them from whatever photographer was shooting the wedding. And you waited for weeks sometimes to get those precious few prints back. These were not inexpensive, so you picked and chose from the best of your weddings. You might have to settle on five or ten prints. At $5-10 a pop, ordering prints was an investment. Then you would build a portfolio of your best work, which amounted to a bunch of big ol’ heavy photo albums that showcased your proudest weddings and events.

 

Ugh, it was a lot of work. These bought and paid for prints from photographers who still used traditional film were such an investment and a time consuming endeavor in itself. I swear, some of the photographers I worked with held my pics like little hostages sometimes for months. See, you were low man on the totem pole in their very busy lives and it was not a money maker for them. It would often take some cajoling and constant phone calls to get those babies back. But the more albums you had the better… that was what couples wanted to see. The alternative was a very dated wire service book (or your own amateurish photos) and those stayed hidden under the counter and only brought out if needed. We are so lucky these days with the new generation of smartphones. They do everything for us in minutes.

 

More of my work… ahem, Pantone of the Year IRL, four years early 😉

 

When that very cool advertising option, the web page, came into existence, we lost our damn minds. Now that was cool! An exciting and new way to share your business! Websites, however, were also an expensive investment. I spent several thousand dollars having a website designed, built and maintained. And I had to sell a kidney of course – I could barely afford it.

 

When blogs were born, even better! By then, I had a snazzy new digital camera and could upload my images and broadcast my work to the world. Digital cameras became a godsend for everyone. Being able to take your own decent quality pics and upload them much faster than getting professional prints back was a godsend… if you were techy enough to figure it out. Before that, most of my flower friends and I would use disposable cameras and hoped we’d remember to get them developed. Lord knows I have a stockpile somewhere of those ancient, dusty things. If I ever did get them developed, those pics would be grainy and a nostalgic look at my past work, to be sure. In fact, I was able to dig up a few…

 

Exhibit A:

 

No, dolls, I have not become my parents whining about “remember when you could get gas for 50 cents a gallon?” I am progressive, I like change! I like technology and how it has helped improve our lives. I have always considered myself a forward thinking, trend friendly florist, and I still do. And right now there is something truly remarkable and life transforming that has happened to the floral industry in the past five years. The juggernaut called Social Media.

 

It has created something akin to a “gold rush” in the floral industry. Thousands of young people, and mostly women I might add, are embracing a new career as a florist. I suspect it is the result of all the amazing imagery we are seeing from florists like Sarah Ryhanen from Saipua, Anna Potter from Swallows and Damsons, Ariella Chezar and a host of other high profile Instagrams that influencer-florists share. Sarah Ryhanen herself can almost single handedly claim the birth of this wild garden movement just from her own gloriously stunning photos of her work. I can still remember the day I first saw her work in a magazine… this was back in April 2010. As was the trend, we were all designing tight AF roundy little sculptural art pieces with florals. Almost anally controlled to the point of rigidity. But Sarah’s work (Sarah is a disciple of Ariella Chezar’s style of design and if you don’t know Ariella’s work… you should) suggested something from another time and place. Loose, wild, Dutch master gardens with naturally grown-from-the-garden flowers… and we haven’t turned back since. I was not surprised to find out that she was a fan of Ariella Chezar’s, and Ariella, I am sure, inspired by designs from “The Godmother” of wild and natural botanical designs herself: Constance Spry, a British florist from the 1920’s who single handedly changed the way folks designed back then. A big thank you also to Ariella for always staying true to her own style over the years and giving inspiration to this new generation of florists. In the nearly three decades I have followed her, she has never deviated much from her own personal style.

 

Beyond the Gram Constance Spry

Constance Spry pioneering the garden style movement. Image

 

Beyond the Gram Ariella Chezar

The lovely Ariella Chezar / Images taken from @ariellachezardesign / Left image by @abbyjiu

 

So back to Sarah.

 

What was even more truly remarkable about Sarah’s work were the images she created with her floral designs. Shot with a Canon 50D, the quality was unsurpassed and not what we were used to seeing from a florist. Sarah spearheaded the moody look. Often darkly lit, the gorgeous flowers almost emerged into focus right in front of our eyes. This critical turning point in how the image looked was just as important as how the design looked. Not only did we care about how the arrangement was designed, but the overall aesthetic as well. This is important because later that same year, Instagram (launched October 2010) would give us a free platform to showcase our work in real time, 24/7.

 

Beyond the Gram Saipua

Moody magic in the Saipua studio / Images from @saipua

 

What once seemed like a moderately cool job for your artsy friend (most of us were in fact frustrated artists that needed to make some kind of art and get paid) has turned into a glamorous and desired career choice. These beautiful, aesthetically pleasing images have spoken to a new generation of consumer as well. Got a smartphone? Is that a dumb question at this point? Well if you do, you now have the ability to create and curate your own floral business through Instagram. As a consumer, you have the ability to see the “real real” in real time like never before.

 

I also think there is a new romanticism attached to the industry at the moment. Scores of girls raised on the Queen herself, Martha Stewart, and Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic aesthetic have become women who want beauty and elegance with an edge; domestic bliss and picture perfect lives while still being smart and savvy business entrepreneurs and leaders. And they are doing it.

 

All Hail the Domestic Queens!

 

With Instagram (and other social media outlets) you have instant access to some of the best designers and their work right at your fingertips… a very far cry from my clumsy, heavy photo albums. Even websites are less and less popular… they take too much time to look at on our ten minute coffee break! Woe is the website that is not designed well or is not mobile friendly. Everything I need to know about you is in that Instagram feed… look at five to six pics and either you’re hooked or you’re not. Otherwise I am outta there.

 

And likewise for you! If our blog posts are too long you will be outta here too! And we can’t have that. We are busier than ever before. Holding our collective attention… that struggle is real. With so much to share about our wonderful industry I hope to do just that. Flowers are bringing us closer together like never before. So what does all this mean for you? Stay with me on my ever continuing floral journey and I will share with you my thoughts on this new floral world in part two of my series “ Beyond the ‘Gram: The Flower Industry IRL.”

 

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

 

Woohoo! If you’ve made it this far with me on my FIRST BLOG, I have a fun little treat for you. Writing this post inspired me to dig through all my old photos, so I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane and look back at some of these old-school disposable prints. Enjoy! #nineties #throwback

 

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

 

 


Beyond the Gram Shelley Anders

 

@MAYESHCARLSBAD   |   @S.A.ANDERS

 

#BeyondTheGramWithShelley   |    #theflowerindustryIRL

 

 


 

If you have any questions for Shelley or topics you’d love her to cover, send us your thoughts & questions in the comments below! And be sure to catch Shelley IRL (well, on your screen, but close enough) on next week’s Mornings with Mayesh!

 

 

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