Do you have friendships with other floral designers in your area? How did you meet them and form the friendships? I find it hard to connect with other designers in town. It seems like they only see me as a competitor and feel threatened by any interaction with other designers. It’s a lonely existence!
Yes, and I cannot imagine life without my flower friends! It does take time to find a circle of flower friends in a region, but once it begins building I believe others see the benefit and want to join in. Here in Seattle we have two groups for floral designers, GSFA and Flower Power. Perhaps you could start a flower group in your area? The obvious number one benefit is to have friends in the floral industry. Other benefits include people to refer back and forth to, maybe loan each other hard goods, a pool of people to freelance for each other, etc.
I remember when I just started I was warmly welcomed by two of the most well-known designers in the city. Since then we’ve kept in touch, sent weddings to each other when booked, borrowed vases, helped each other out with freelance support, extra flowers, supplies, etc. These relationships are invaluable. That said, it’s somewhat understandable that someone may see you as competition and some of that is unavoidable. If it’s really important to you, think about a way to build relationships in a way that the competition factor gets tossed aside – for example, an end-of-season get together to celebrate successes, or a studio sale where the florists get access a day before the public, or hosting an industry-wide gathering that they won’t want to miss. Or just reaching out to say, hey, if you ever want to borrow vases, etc. I’m here. If you take the first step with grace and openness, not all doors will open, but some definitely will over time. And in the meantime, consider joining groups like Holly’s (the Chapel Designers) or some of the great groups on Facebook for designers like Real Flower Business with Alison Ellis. It can really help you to not feel so isolated.
Clare Day (Clare Day Flowers)
Making friends within the industry does seem to be on the more complicated side when it really shouldn’t be! We all have our own style/ideas and should be able to appreciate each other and share experiences with one another. That being said, I attended a 3 day flower workshop in another state and felt a lot more camaraderie among designers who were not my direct competition. We could respect each other’s businesses and be totally open with one another. Giving each other tips, sources, etc.. It’s definitely a great feeling to know you can call someone in the industry, even if they’re not in your state, who can offer advice and be a sounding board. You may want to reach out to people you admire who aren’t in your direct area and see if you can forge a flower friendship even if it’s just via phone and email!
Beth Zemetis (Blush Floral Design)
I have friendships with other florists in the same town. It’s a tough balance though to maintain a feeling of support and friendship while also not feeling like you’re giving away all your secrets to the competition. Sometimes friendships come and go as a result. One thing I’ve learned is that it helps if you keep the conversations to broad topics like bitching about crazy clients over cocktails or how you’re trying to get to the gym twice a week instead of working non-stop and maybe you try to take a yoga class together. Once you hit on topics that are too specific, like where you source that one special container you’ve made your signature piece or how much you price your bridal bouquets, it can get a little dicey. It does help though to be able to call a florist friend in a pinch and borrow some votives or candelabras! My local friendships have come about in one of two ways: meeting in a professional development setting (i.e., a design class we were both taking) or having a shared freelancer who helped build a bridge between myself and the other florist.
But my best floral friendships are actually with florists who are not in my immediate town/market. With these friends who would never bid on the same jobs as my business, it’s so easy to dive into all the topics without concern. These friendships have been forged by attending large-scale professional development events, like national conferences or master classes on the other side of the country. I’d be lost without them!
Jennie Love (Love ‘n Fresh Flowers)
Well considering the fact that we are set in the middle of nowhere… I would take the word “town” at a large sense. Yes I have friendships with other floral designers and I am very grateful for these. For a long time I felt very alone, but I met some amazing florists via the social networks and then by having my own workshops. Meeting other passionate florists through my workshops has been a great way to make friends and develop a network of other florists to hire when I need extra help too…
Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)
While I haven’t actively sought out friendships with other local designers, I have definitely developed many close bonds and supportive friendships with floral designers via the virtual world (perhaps less of a direct competition than a designer down the street?). I have often found that the energy you put out there is often what you get back- if you exude positive, non-competitive, supportive energy, (hopefully!) that is what you will get in return (obviously not always the case, but let’s hope that those negative experiences would be the exception rather than the norm). I have also created close friendships with other local growers. While at first I thought that I was alone growing flowers here in Belgium, I have since met not one but TWO awesome local ladies with a similar mind-set and passion for plants. Sometimes you just need a bit of luck to find those special someones in the creative industry that will fuel you with both a sense of healthy competition and moral support.
Emily Avenson (Fleuropean)
Yes, I do have close flower friends in my area, and I am deeply grateful for each of them. There are 4 of us that are quite close, and it started with one of us reaching out to the others for coffee and a chat. We weren’t best friends right away, but we made a point to have dinner every so often, and before we knew it, we were talking (texting) nearly every day. We bounce ideas off each other, ask for advice- (floral and otherwise), share rentals, refer each other for jobs, trade labor, and most importantly, we are there for each other. This work can be extremely stressful and isolating, so it’s essential to have support from people who know exactly how crazy it can be! I encourage everyone to reach out to designers in your area that you respect and admire. People who you can see being friends with. Start with a coffee, then see where it goes. The right people will recognize what a gift camaraderie is! If this approach simply isn’t working in your area, you could consider joining a floral organization. I’m a member of the Chapel Designers, and as such, I have 200+ flower friends all over the world to share this awesome flower life with. I can’t begin to list all the blessings these relationships have brought me!
Susan McLeary (Passionflower)