Happy Spring flower friends!
Should I get training to become a Florist? I get asked this question all the time! I don't actually but you can tell that I've been watching a little too many YouTube viddys where they say that all the time haha. But it's a great question to explore and so I thought that for #APRflowerEd this week, I'll share my views and experiences for flower lovers who want to get into the flower selling business or even for those who are interested in knowing the differences between trained and untrained/self-trained florists.
So the short answer is, yes!
But, trained doesn't necessarily mean going to a school but I definitely recommend getting a lot of practise whether through workshops you attend in person/online, on the job learning or watching YouTube clips and then practising, practising, practising at home. Coming from a Polynesian background, it's not common for anyone to go to school and get qualified... to learn anything *art-related* it'll be on-the-job and hands on experience with lots of practise until you get it right and so I'm definitely not saying that you have to be qualified but get some sort of training. Although saying that, I am a fully qualified Florist.
Way back in the beginning of 2016, soon after I graduated from Uni with a degree in Health Science (Health Promotion), I was encouraged by my husband to take a break and do something creative. I had previous plans to complete a Master of Research and I'd been studying on and off since I left High School. So knowing how much I loved to create and how little time I got to spend doing that, this was his advice before I became a professional haha. I was tossing up between learning how to bake or floristry and I immediately started searching online for different short courses on offer for both!
I decided to do Floristry because I had stronger visions of myself being surrounded by flowers haha and I just couldn't wait to get started. I had the option of going to Tafe or to Pearsons School of Floristry. I can't recall now why I decided to do a cert three instead of a short course and I definitely don't think this is what Brenny had in mind for me either haha. It was supposed to be for fun not for business... but back then I was way more confident and ambitious—imposter syndrome has hit me hard and so I've turned things down a notch haha that's a topic for another day! I chose Pearsons because it was one train to the city, a quicker (but oh so intense) course, I didn't have to worry about sourcing flowers from the flower market as they took care of that (which meant I could use other days to go into the flower market to source and practise) and there wasn't that much of a price difference between Pearsons and Tafe. At Tafe you have to make a trip into the flower market and source and pay for your own flowers/tools as well as spend the other days travelling to and from Tafe. If you pay altogether with Pearsons vs a payment plan, they give you an early bird discount. So these are just some of the reasons I can think of now as to why I went with Pearsons... and no I'm not being paid to say this :).
I can't speak on the teaching differences between Tafe and Pearsons but I am so impressed with the quality of the teaching I experienced and how much I learned. I think you'd just have to weigh up the pros and cons for both and I always believe that you get out what you put in no matter where you go!
Here are five reasons why I became qualified: *not in any particular order
1. Foundational skills
I think this is one of the most important parts to being a good Florist! You're not going to really learn everything that's on trend but I can't think of anything more important than getting those basic foundational skills, which will help you to securely and professionally create. You can definitely find your style later and once you get the foundational skills down, you can experiment and try out different things that are more to your liking. No amount of information is wasted. You're always learning and changing/adapting.
There is nothing that I can't create. Before you judge me for being overly confident haha I don't mean that I don't get scared or anxious, or even that I don't make mistakes, but I know that I have been given the best information (at the time) to go out into the world and create with flowers. Because I have gained those foundational skills and have resources to turn to for help to create even those harder, more nuanced pieces anything new that I learn just gets added to my knowledge. As someone who lives with anxiety (despite being high functioning) I can't tell you how much I value the confidence I have to create or even problem solve, which is a huge part of Floristry. That and cleaning haha.
You'd be surprised at how much you learn and because you love something so much it just sticks. You learn about the flower market and who to source what from and just simple house keeping. You learn about the different flowers, how to care for them, their common/botanical names and origin. You learn about the different products a customer might order and what things are like in a shop. You also learn how to price for your work, weddings etc. What you learn here is so valuable and cuts out a lot of the guess work. I've been to webinars where I see lots of untrained Florists ask about pricing because it is a big one! There's so much that you learn and luckily you have workbooks you can refer back to you as you grow. Not only that, but having someone guide you each lesson as well as the feedback you receive from your classmates is so so valuable. Even as qualified Florists you should always be continuing your learning :).
I see businesses like If I Made or short courses from a beloved self-trained American Florist Sarah Winward and lots of people have questions that get covered in your course. You could spend a few grand on these short courses and still not have the confidence, knowledge or foundational skills you will absolutely benefit from if you just went ahead and spent the money on the training. I love dipping my toes in the free stuff offered by these guys and others—it's important to keep learning even once qualified as there's soooo much to learn. Depending on how crazy your spending on these types of e-courses is, it may or may not be cheaper but I believe it is the more reliable option and cuts out a lot of the guess work. You can spend lots of money on workshops to get bits of info dribbled here and there or you can get it all, sequentially and reliably over a period of your course term/s. Tafe and Pearsons also have accreditation to teach and so you know that what they teach is going to be reliable. But again, foundational stuff is just the beginning... you can and should always be learning from anywhere.
5. Protect the flower industry
This is something that I don't think I would've ever considered before becoming a Florist. Literally anyone can say that they're a Florist, get an ABN and run a business. I'm not saying this looking down on anyone but just to highlight how saturated the market is with both the qualified and unqualified. The water gets muddy. There are many downfalls to this and is why I do believe that there does need to be some protection for the flower industry as it's an actual trade and is a lot of hard work despite what is shown—this, I had no idea about also! I see many people come into the flower market, which is essentially for me, a workplace and have water from a bunch they've picked up dripping all over the flowers. I've also experienced matching my prices to my competitors because they haven't learnt about pricing and undercut purely because they're unaware of all the costs that are involved in Floristry and why flowers are priced the way they are.The reality is that flowers are a luxury and so they are quite expensive, especially if someone else is sourcing them, arranging them and delivering them for you. I used to look at flowers and think, wow, that's overpriced haha but now I see all the work involved and now I get it <3
So these are just five of my reasons for getting qualified. I hope you learnt something from this week's #APRflowerEd. I really love flowers and I really love talking about them and the flower industry! If there's anything you want to know more about then let me know and I can definitely look into it for you :). Have a great week!