Monthly Archives: March 2018

Mornings With Maggie: Building a Retail Business

There are a lot of sources these days reporting that the brick & mortar flower shop is a thing of the past, and it isn’t uncommon to see retail florists trading in their keys and daily deliveries for studio or home based wedding and event design businesses. The cost on staff and overhead alone can make or break flower business. But my husband, Mick, and I are the crazies who aren’t ready to let the local flower shop drift into the past!

After running a wedding and event design business for 3 years, we decided that we wanted to expand our community reach by opening a store front, offering local deliveries and pick up orders as well as a home and gift boutique. After a year and a half of business as a storefront, we thought we’d share some of the lessons we’ve learned!

First –  Find your niche! You can’t be everything to everybody. In the area where we opened our shop, there are 2 florists who’ve been around for at least 20 years. We didn’t open our shop to compete with them, but to offer something different! We couldn’t find a shop that delivered one-off bouquets in the same style that we were designing for weddings, so we decided to be that shop! We specialize in European style hand-tied bouquets wrapped in paper and we really try to guide our clients to let us do designer’s choice on flowers. For example, on Valentine’s Day, we offer a designer’s choice bouquet (with a list of the flowers and colors we will be using) at small, medium, large, or extra large price points. If you want a dozen red roses in a vase, we are not the shop for you! The same goes for prom corsages- we don’t do them. But we do alternative prom options like floral jewelry or head pieces!

Second – Be a savvy business person! Make sure that you have a good idea of what your overhead will cost and what, if any, additional staff you will need. First, we determined that the profit from our wedding business could support the added overhead long enough for the retail side to become profitable. Then we had to factor in marketing and networking costs, as local flower businesses are built on making local connections. While our wedding business is entirely built on referral and word of mouth, we have to feed the retail side a little more. We joined the Chamber of Commerce in our town, regularly contribute arrangements and gift cards to local fundraisers, and even sponsored a float in the town’s Christmas parade. Visibility and community-mindedness go a long way in a small, Texas town!

Lastly – Develop your brand! These days, people want to buy from people and in the age of social media, most of your clients will know you and your style before they actually contact you about flowers. Make sure that what you put on social media is representative of what you will sell so there’s no confusion! Know that branding is more than just your product- especially with a brick & mortar shop.  Your space, your staff, your non-floral offerings (candles, giftables, etc.) should all be cohesive. Coming to our shop is an experience. We have a big, fun mural on our outside wall when you first arrive that’s super instagrammable. Once you make your way inside, you’re greeted by a friendly, knowledgeable designer and an adorable boutique full of specially curated items (our focus is on American made or socially conscious brands) and all of the products a.) we love and b.) have complimentary branding and design. Once you make it past the boutique, you enter the workspace, which is open to the public. We love our customers to see what we’re working on and wander through the buckets of flowers! All of the intentionality we put into design style, our building, and our packaging, combined with our personalities, come together to create our customer experience. And a positive customer experience is what establishes brand loyalty and repeat customers!

It’s hard work, and there’s so much more to it than 3 paragraphs in a blog post can communicate, but we feel strongly that brick & mortar is due for a revival, and we cannot wait to see the ways that you interpret the flower shop of the future!

Bramble & Bee: Website | Instagram Facebook 

Images 1-2: Dana Fernandez Photography

BB Podcast Episode 16: Nick Priestly

“This job has never felt like work.”

-Nick Priestly

Today we’re sitting down with Nick Priestly, owner of Mood Flowers and Flower School Glasgow, as well as co-owner of MUD Urban Flowers in Glasgow, Scotland to discuss:

  • how he ended up in the flower business (hint: it wasn’t exactly a life-long dream!)
  • what led him to co-host the Chapel Designer European Conferences with Holly Chapple
  • how his business background keeps his flower businesses profitable
  • the many facets of his flower business portfolio
  • the story behind the MUD “Little Bouquet”
  • why he said at one point, “I’m not going to be a florist.”
  • how he finds time to relax and what helps take his mind off his fast-paced businesses
  • how he handles competition
  • why he believes his most experienced staff member has remained at Mood Flowers
  • how he gets to freelance for his own company
  • how he was able to decrease the number of  staff members while still making a good living
  • how he runs three businesses from an 1800 sq. ft. studio space
  • how a messy studio sometimes works in his favor with potential clients
  • MUD Urban Flowers franchise opportunities on the horizon

Links mentioned in Episode Sixteen:

Links of Interest:

Mood Flowers: Website |Instagram| Facebook

Flower School Glasgow : Website | Instagram | Facebook

MUD Urban Flowers: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Images courtesy of Andrew Rae PhotographyMUD Urban Flowers, and Flower School Glasgow


BB Podcast Sound Engineer: Landon McGee

Mornings With Maggie: Building A Wedding Business

As a relative newcomer to the business (4 years in weddings and 1.5 in retail), I don’t have the wisdom of some of you who’ve been in the business for 10, 20, even 30 years. But as a designer who’s grown a business from 15 weddings in year one to 90 in year four, I feel like our growth trajectory alone, gives a little credibility! That being said, I wanted to share some of the things that I contribute to our success as a wedding & event floral design studio (more on the retail side later!).

Bramble & Bee | Dana Fernandez Photography

First– Make friends! The majority of our business comes from referrals and word of mouth. In general, I think we are nice people who get along well with others and the relationships we’ve built with other industry professionals like wedding planners, photographers, and venue owners has been the most valuable resource for booking brides. Our relationships with other florists in our area have also proven incredibly valuable. Have you heard the phrase, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’? In our local floral design community, we find this to be especially true! When one of us receives an inquiry for a weekend that we are already booked, it’s wonderful to have options of designers you trust to refer your brides to. If one of us has more inquiries than we can handle, then all of us are successful! To that end, it’s so important to have a community who knows what challenges you are facing and is there to celebrate your successes. Find people to help you process difficult brides and celebrate booking your biggest event yet! Doing it alone is not nearly as much fun!

Bramble & Bee | Dana Fernandez Photography

Second– Consistency is key. This is true both in building a social media following and in maintaining a good reputation. Part one, we all know how important social media can be to a modern business. Especially in floral design where our product is incredibly visual, platforms like Facebook and Instagram act as a portfolio and keeping your images consistent, as well as  consistently advertising the types of designs you want to sell is incredibly important. Part two, posting gorgeous photos is one thing, but the proof is in the pudding! If what you produce in real life isn’t the same as what you advertise on Instagram, your clientele will quickly figure it out!

Bramble & Bee | Silhouette Studio 

Third– Find a good balance of confidence to humility. Be confident in the product and design you are selling. Your brides are coming to you for your artistic ability and your experience with weddings and events- sell that knowledge! Your confidence that you will be able to bring their vision to life and handle anything their wedding day might throw at you puts your clients at ease. At the same time, remember that no matter how long or short your career in flowers has been, there are always things to learn and improve. Never stop seeking educational opportunities and pushing yourself to expand your knowledge of the craft!

Bramble & Bee | Two Pair Photography

Lastly– The hustle is real! We as floral designers know how physically and emotionally demanding this job can be! Know that you will work long hours on your feet, occasionally in high pressure situations. Know this, and accept it! Power through and be intentional about time off and self-care. Schedule that massage, take a day sans consultations or emails, and treat yourself to that pair of slightly expensive but uber-supportive pair of shoes. Burnout is just as real as the hustle and balance is key!

Bramble & Bee: Website | Instagram Facebook 

BB Expert Panel: Budget-Friendly Wedding Packages With Signature Style


Over the years I’ve tried to find a way to cater to brides who cannot meet my minimum. I only take a limited number of events each season but would like to fill in some of my open weekends with some smaller events that don’t require the amount of attention, prep, setup, installation work, and breakdown as my larger events. At the same time, I don’t want to lose the integrity of my style in the process. I notice that some floral studios have different offerings for the lower budget client, but I haven’t been able to master a plan that maintains my style and also doesn’t require too much of my time/energy to make it worthwhile. I was wondering if anyone on the panel had ideas! I should mention that I am a small studio and do the majority of the work myself with the addition of freelance designers on the days leading up to the wedding and for setup.


Several years ago we started a “From the Garden” offering. My husband had increased the amount of stems we were growing and we noticed the flowers were going unused in our higher end weddings. The point of creating this option was to give the stems a market and opportunity to be sold. Over time “From the Garden” has evolved into essentially a “Designer’s Choice” option. We explain to clients that we are not changing the quality of our designs or our stems, but we are willing to offer designs below our set minimum for full service weddings if the client is willing to go without a consult and willing to pick up their order or pay our minimum delivery and set up fee. Because we will not be spending hours consulting, sourcing, and writing recipes, this offering has a large reduction in labor which makes it easy for us to execute. Often the pieces we create for this offering are the same value as our full service designs, but we are willing to forgo our minimums if the client will work with us to reduce the overall labor associated with doing an event. I have always believed that offering bouquets/personal flowers only is a sound business model. After all, it’s the most enjoyable part and if you can remove the delivery and set up work, we are really talking about a fabulous time to create.

We offer the “From the Garden” option on our website and show images of past designs prepared for clients.

The prices are actually still standard industry pricing, which would be at least 3.5 times markup. The reason the “From the Garden” option is helpful is not because the flowers are less expensive, but because it allows people to use our services without paying minimums. We sell the package approximately 15 times per year. We tell the clients the garden is most glorious from mid-May to frost, but then we added in the “Designers Choice” component so that we could provide this service all year.

Holly Chapple / Holly Heider Chapple Flowers & Hope Flower Farm

Images courtesy of Jodi & Kurt Photography and Abby Jiu Photography 

I provide a service to both types of wedding clients, but do so under different brands/companies. I have seen a number of florists around the world do it this way and I prefer it this way as it saves confusion to couples as to what level of service they can have from my main business Mood Flowers or from my other business/brand.

At Mood Flowers we offer full service wedding flower design which includes two consultations, a full written proposal, a named lead designer, 30% retainer and final balance payment options, agreement of specified flower varieties and colours, delivery of up to four locations on the day of the wedding, transfer of ceremony arrangements after the service if required, collection of hired items the day after the wedding. For this service we have a minimum spend required in order to discuss and take on the wedding. However, this means that we turn away almost 70% of our enquiries, so now we offer wedding packages through another brand/company, MUD Urban Flowers which offers a completely different service:  online ordering only, no consultation, colours can be specified but not specific flowers, full payment must be made on booking, only one delivery address on the wedding day, no named lead designer.

Both of these work well and each brand/company actually refers clients to the other when they either don’t meet the minimum spend requirement or if they require a full service design package. Another way to look at your situation is to build up your business so that you have the desired number of larger weddings so that you can have your other weekends off. I like to be busy so this is not an option for me!

Nick Priestly / Mood Flowers & MUD Urban Flowers (wedding details: click here)

Images courtesy of Visual Aspect

It is definitely possible to offer a lower price point for events without compromising your style. We do this at Love ‘n Fresh Flowers by using a much more streamlined approach to an event that greatly reduces the amount of time we have to spend with the client and the amount of stress the event will ultimately cause. Let’s face it: wedding flowers cost so much because of the time and stress on us, not just simply the cost of the flowers. So rather than reducing your flower costs for weddings/events, focus on reducing the time and stress you put into them leading up to game day.

For our streamlined approach, we send the client an online menu from which to select the items they want us to design. These items are all “standardized” on our end, meaning we have 3 or 4 simple vases they can choose from at any given time. We update the vase selection each season so choices are current with trends. With this approach, we can buy containers in larger quantities at one time and save on shipping. Same with ribbon choices, etc.

Love ‘n Fresh Flowers | M2 Photography

Additionally, the client picks from 3 or 4 “standardized” color palettes we put together for each season. They do not get the opportunity to give any input into what specific flowers will be used, just colors.. So that means we can also keep flower costs and stress down the week of their event by just using what is most beautiful at our farm within their selected color palette, rather than freaking out that we don’t have mauve-but-not-purple lisianthus to match the bridesmaid dress swatch.

Love ‘n Fresh Flowers | Emily Wren Photography

While this sounds a little limiting for the client, we tell them this system really actually gives us a lot of flexibility as designers to create something more beautiful and yet less expensive. And it’s really worked well for both us and clients over the past two seasons. I think clients are actually appreciating not having to make so many decisions. Wedding planning gets out of control sometimes so some clients just want an easy, quick process that doesn’t require hours of meetings and phone calls.

Love ‘n Fresh Flowers | Maria Mack Photography

Regarding quoting/pricing: There is no consultation for this service option. We generate a quote based on what they choose from the online menu. Everything happens online. Pricing is listed per item in the online menu so they know costs up front as they are making their selections.

It’s worth noting that we do still offer full service, hyper-detailed design work for clients who are willing to pay for it.

Jennie Love / Love ‘n Fresh Flowers