Thursday, November 22, 2012


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[Pictures from Megan's wedding a few weeks ago at the Metropolitan Building. We work on this with Melissa, our former intern - whose new business styled and organized the beautiful event.]


Eric has been working to get the studio back. He seems to like to do it alone, and I've left him to it. Honestly I've really enjoyed a break from physical work.

Really what I've had is a lot of nice time to work away at a very special soap project with my mother (remember we make soap?) that will hopefully help us raise some money to finish our big barn-studio project upstate.

We had our last event of the year, and we're past the planting date at the farm so I am happy to have a little breathing room. So do you want some reflection? Here are ten lessons I've thankfully learned that I would like to share with you:

1. When a client tells you there "will be really important people" at their event and that it will be "a great opportunity for you" I beg you to consider what sort of person actually says this. And then raise your fee to account for the greif you are sure to experience in dealing with such a client.

2. If a client tells you there are going to be important people at their event like Mayor Mike Bloomberg, insist that you be added to the guest list and high tail it to bergdorfs for a dress.

[am I making it sound like these things happen to me? I hope so. But full disclosure, I've never actually been inside Bergdorfs. Although Kat Flower has promised to take me one day]

3. More seriously, one thing that has always helped me is to consider the worst case scenario. For each event I try to think of the worst things that could happen (not including death, which is too final and no fun in this exercise). For example, one tough scenario is truck trouble. Imagine a 100 degree day in an un-refrigerated truck with a sudden flat tire in stop-and-go BQE traffic (enter your own favorite expressway here). Hit the chess timer, go!
What would you do?

4. Always insist on knowing every design detail in advance. The most obvious of these for us is linens, which most of you florists already know to ask about, or else you do them yourself. But what about the other things the wedding planner or bride might bring to the event? If there is a display of naturals at the escort card table being constructed out of moss, or pumpkins, or peacock feathers I certainly want to know about it. First, because likely I can help make it better - after all, naturals are what we do, and secondly because of the value of the photographs. We work to create a cohesive, seamlessly designed event and we want the images to reflect that. If someone thinks it would be a good idea to bring in an ice sculpture as the main event in cocktail hour, I'd like to know about it in advance so I can veto the shit out of that idea. Its taken me a while to realize that it's not us being arrogant, it's us DOING OUR JOBS to make every event look incredible. I hope our clients value that. And the ice sculpture is a bad example because I actually love ice sculpture and plan to bring it back - so watch out!

5. Follow up. I used to be shy about following up. I have no idea why...afraid to look desperate I guess. Now I realize how dumb this is. Personally when someone follows up with me I appreciate it. The only follow up I dislike is when it is someone is emailing cold. But any client you've met with - knows you, hopefully likes you and probably needs the reminder. So just do it and get on with it.

6. Don't lie. EVER. Lies find you, and they fuck you. I know that it would be so easy to lie sometimes, or embellish...You have to cancel a meeting? Just apologize and cancel, but don't make up a story because saying you are sick or stuck in traffic if you are not. It's risky business. Ever watch someone tell a little lie? It's incredibly unattractive. (Except when Agent Brody from Homeland does it.) Also I feel like dishonesty spreads in a business. The more clearly transparent and honest you work to make the client interface, the better.

7. Always hire more help, more freelancers than you think you'll need. This is one of the simplest lessons I've ever learned. You always will need it. I feel so strongly about this I don't even want to explain it. Just trust me on this one.

8. Ribbon bouquets on site. I love doing this because it means we can make big fluffy drippy bows without them getting wrinkled in a vase, and we can use really delicate silks without them getting ruined by sloshing bouquet-vase water. Just plan to have an hour at the wedding venue or hotel or wherever to calmly sit down with all necessary trimmings.

9. Don't do your own breakdown. I know that hiring a breakdown crew is expensive - but this is really important. You have to respect yourself, your talent and your body in this business. I have a really easy solution for covering the cost: pass it to the client. If it costs $250 for a freelancer to drive over and take it all away, explain that. No one has ever argued about a breakdown charge.

10. Be a YES person the day of the event. Things always go awry, someone is going to need an extra boutonniere, a remake of a destroyed flower crown, you might be asked to trim a large branch arrangement even though you like how wild it looks. In my experience it's always easier to yes people to death. And it feels good to say Yes! to people in stressful scenarios, when things are spiraling out of control right before an event goes off. You have your shit together and you just keep saying yes. (See where it would be helpful to have extra hands here?)

I asked Eric to help me think of some of my rules. He laughed at me and told me I should learn to follow my own rules. Like we always say in Flower School, rules are made to be broken. And so yes, sometimes I forget my own lessons.  I don't know about you, but personally, I am very rarely completely happy with an event. I'm a perfectionist and always focus on what could have been better. This seems rather sad as I write it, but it's probably what keeps me in the business. If we got everything right all the time what fun would we have?
___

Nicolette and I are planning our Australia tour for January; if you live down under and are game for some lessons in person. There's an intensive Weddings 101 weekend long class geared toward florists in the business, and then a fun Arranging 101 class planned. And for those of you state side, more classes are coming for Spring 2013, I promise.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! We're at the farm making dinner on the grill.


43 comments:

Lotte and Bloom said...

when oh when are you coming to europe? i'd be there in a heartbeat

Rosegolden Flowers said...

You kick ass and are always taking the works out of my mouth. Much respect, Lady.

Clare Day Flowers said...

In one post you have spoken to some of the most important aspects of a running a successful business for weddings and events. As always, your posts are so appreciated. p.s. working on your seeds, expect them around xmas.

Miz.November said...

Always pass on the cost! You are so right! It's so easy to sell ourselves short in any sort of specialized service job.

Great work doesn't come cheap.

Sabine said...

Thank you so much for the fantastic advice. The flowers and colours look so beautiful as always.

Anonymous said...

AHHH just booked your wedding 101 Workshop in Sydney. BEYOND EXCITED! So excited i haven't even managed to read your post yet .... !!! :) happy friday!

Jen Hinson said...

Chicago. Please teach a class there. Please. I personally would give my left arm to attend y'alls classes. (which is NOT my designing arm)

Just read the rules aloud to my florist mother- it runs in the family, and she smiled, nodded, and actually said "amen."

#1 should be posted in every flower shop.

Atelier Carmel said...

Stop taunting us with your faraway classes! I vote for the next Wedding 101 to be in Canada... I can see the draw of the southern hemisphere in January though. The flowers down there will be in full swing too!
And thanks for the advice. It's nice to see the stuff I think about silently so eloquently explained...

Country Flora@Meerut said...

OMG:Really great have been providing best quality flowers!!!

Camille Panzarello said...

Come to Santa Barbara, there are dozens of us who would take your class, not to mention folks from L.A. Ditto on all the rules--a 'breakdown crew??' This would be too dreamy.

Ashley Fox said...

I am so excited for the possible CA May 2013 classes!!!! Have fun in January!

bathtubgardens.com said...

Come to Vancouver! BC!

Sarah said...

wow. breakdown crew. of course.
Why don't I do this? Why am I always nearly voiceless and exhausted and blowing out candles and clearing glasses?

kat flower said...

amen on 4,6,7,10 and 1 too.
and i promised you a trip to barneys but happy to take you to bergdorfs as well as for said dress {and shoes}. which you can also wear in oz. big up on the upcoming workshops by the way. x

curtis+ash said...

I am starting my own business and any help I can get in this department is more than helpful. Your florals are beautiful! Thanks for sharing this information, anything I can get from those who have experienced it, is much appreciated.

Alicia Conway said...

You've done such hard work. I've never thought that there are so many detail to be taken seriously. And your idea with candles is perfect. I enjoyed the photos.

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HPotter said...

Love this advice! #1 just kills me, so true! Lately I've been wandering around saying "who says things like that?", in response to this kind of thing coming out of people's mouths. People you don't want to work with, that's who!
Also, #9, you are so right. Breakdowns are killing me, this is genius!
Thanks for the good ideas, and your flowers are gorgeous, as always.

Lisa said...

Fantastic advice! Any plans to visit the UK? We'd be delighted to host you in Glasgow, Scotland x

Erin said...

Thank you! This is actually really helpful. I just experienced a big sigh of relief reading through your rules, both for the ones I realize I should adopt as well as things I've already been working on establishing for myself.

Susan said...

points 6 & 7 are so key. Dont lie, you'll get caught, no one will trust your business and it could ultimatley cost you the success of your company!

Brisbane wedding hair said...

Especially like the tips on dealing with "important people" and the type of person who comes out with it!

Michelle said...

Just bookmarked this page—definitely one to revisit! Thank you.

Vivian Louise said...

#6 - When a business lies to me I know they don't ever want my patronage AND they want me to bad mouth them on the internet for the next 1,000 years. They must want me to do that, otherwise they would do me the courtesy of the truth.

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My Love Wedding Ring said...

A really fantastic post, and beautiful beautiful flowers.

Montreal Flower Shops said...

Your arrangements and attention to detail is top notch. Enjoyed your article as it will help many.

jacin {lovely little details} said...

i've loved your work for such a long time and finally took time to come by and read the blog today. thanks for being so frank and honest about everything. it's refreshing.

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jmb said...

Youre coming to Australia? DREAM COME TRUE!

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Sprout said...

Just had to come back to say thank you for your advice—being the YES person this weekend totally saved me.

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mindy said...

Thank you a million times over. powerful advice. Your wit and wisdom is so treasured. ps. i like that you say "fuck" AND that make beautiful arrangements. so funny.

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