Working Designer Wednesday

I have to deviate from our usual Working Designer Wednesday format today. I hope you don’t mind and will stay with me for a bit. I read a blog post last night that moved me to tears. When I finished reading it, I thought, “I have to contact this designer and thank her for writing that post.” Then I noticed her phone # listed on her page and I did something I never do. I decided I couldn’t wait to write an email, so I picked up the phone and called her just seconds after reading her post. I only tell you that so you can understand how deeply this post moved me. And here’s why…

Week after week all year long, I receive emails and phone calls from designers who are struggling to find balance and purpose while pursuing this passion of floral design. While the world looks at a floral designer and says, “That must be so much fun…playing with flowers all day! Working around so much beauty! I wish I could do that.” …the reality for many of us is a constant pull on our psyche between the “kickin’ ass and takin’ names” mentality and the “I’m not good enough” voices mumbling in our heads. We all struggle with comparison, navigating the the façade of social media, juggling family and work, and wondering if our work matters. Young (or new) designers feel pressure to achieve success at lightning speed…to be published, to be recognized on social media, to have thousands of likes on Facebook and Instagram. Seasoned designers who have been working diligently for 20+ years to build a business and brand suddenly feel the pressure to keep up with an evolving social media climate (that didn’t even exist when they started) or be passed up and left behind as irrelevant and forgotten. While there is a lot of excitement and joy associated with the floral design career, I also hear a constant undertone in the mail I receive of anxiety, stress and depression. It weighs on me. I want more for you. More joy…

And then I read this post last night….written by a 24 year old designer who hit the floral design scene this year with a significant amount of “success”. Hope it speaks to you this morning. I’d like to introduce you to Meredith from Bristol Lane Floral Design and let you read her blog post in its entirety…

I want you to see her…both as a designer and as a person…so I’m including a couple of photos. I think sometimes we see professional headshots on each others’ websites and forget that we are all real, regular people behind the computer/phone screen…all working, hoping, falling short at times…and we all break the same.

Meet Meredith…

bristol lane collage

The new year is here. 2015 arrived a few days ago, ushered in by sparklers, giant glitter-covered hats, champagne, and kisses at midnight. The past few days my instagram and facebook feeds have been filled with people sharing their resolutions for 2015. I am addicted. I love to read how people have grown, re-prioritized, and set new goals and dreams for the coming year. Usually, I am one of them. However, this year, my goals have been slow in coming. I am working through them slowly, trying to determine how to balance seeking excellence and dreaming big while living simply and pursuing what matters. For now, I am content to wrestle with my goals for the year, even if I don’t know what they are for a few months.

However, there is one thing I know I don’t want for 2015. Comparison. As creatives, we are addicted to it. Those of you in the wedding industry know what I am talking about- we stalk photos and blogs and tally up in our heads who has been published, who hosted a workshop, who seems to know the right people, who is getting ahead. Instead of being inspired by great work we are discouraged. Instead of cheering each other on, we write a nice instagram comment then secretly count the ways we are a failure and add “be amazing” to our to-do lists.

This past year I have had the opportunity to regularly meet with some amazing women in the wedding industry.  They have taught me more than I can say but one of my favorite lessons I have learned from them is that creativity doesn’t run out. We all seem to be afraid that if we don’t leap to the top of the industry, get published in magazines immediately, have the best social media, or know the most influential people that there won’t be any room for us. We subconsciously grab, shove, and cling to whatever creativity and position we can find thinking that if we let go we will fade out. It may sound crazy but it’s true. I like to picture the watering hole scene from Mean Girls- that is what goes on inside our head!

This year, I want less of that. Less grabbing and more giving. Less competition and more collaboration. Less silent sulking and more audible encouragement.  Less judging and more respecting. Less fear and more joy. Less stress over being awesome and more contentment with being myself. Less striving and more grace. This applies to myself, giving myself room to breathe, grow, make mistakes, and be a 24 year old business owner who is still learning. It applies to other creatives, the women who have worked hard, put in hours of sweat and tears in order to be where they are. They deserve some respect. They could use some grace. They probably want to feel like they don’t have to keep running non-stop in order to stay ahead, instead they would rather have a true friend who isn’t looking for anything other than to take them to coffee and hear how their week was.

It’s easier to be less grabby and clingy with people who aren’t in your industry. It’s simpler for me to practice this with photographers, planners, calligraphers, ect because they aren’t encroaching on MY thing. This year, I am challenging myself to do this with creatives AND florists alike. Because here is the truth- I don’t own flowers. I don’t own creativity. I don’t own position, popularity, or the right to be published. Those things I am chasing are never going to pour back into my life. They aren’t going to be there for me in hard times, come over for a glass of wine and Scandal, or encourage me when I am down. People do that. And what better people to do that than people who understand what we go through on a daily basis?

So no goals yet but I do want 2015 to be marked by less fear of there not being room for me or there not being enough creativity. Instead, I want 2015 to be marked by respecting, encouraging, and forging friendships with the women I respect and admire. I want it to be a year of genuine encouragement, relationships, and love. More open handed, more contentment, more putting people over power. Anyone want to join me?”

bristol lane collage 1

And there’s Meredith on a recent trip to Africa…the caption under this photo reads:

“Even in Africa I found a way to use cornhusks and flowers to make a floral crown for this gorgeous newlywed! Ashley and her new husband gave up part of their honeymoon to serve in Uganda with Palmetto Medical Initiative. That is a woman who deserves to feel beautiful!”

To contact Meredith at Bristol Lane Floral Design: Website | Facebook | Blog

13 thoughts on “Working Designer Wednesday

  1. Jody

    Lovely! I feel so fortunate to have a handful of incredibly talented floral designers in the Metro Detroit/Ann Arbor area whom I call my friends and my cheerleaders. We help one another when one of us has a busy weekend and needs an extra set of hands, we encourage one another, we counsel each other, we dream together, we share ideas but one thing we don’t do is compete with one another. I read a great quote, “I’m not interested in competing with anyone, I want us all to succeed!” And having a group of young, successful, wildly talented women to share both daily woes and exciting moments with is a blessing. Collaboration and sharing fills us all up and makes us all grow in this industry. Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Amy McGee

      Love that you all have adopted the attitude of collaborating and encouraging rather than competing, Jody. We’re stronger together and can accomplish so much more than we could on our own. Thanks for chiming in this morning! xo

      Reply
  2. Maria Maxit

    thank you Amy for this post. Here in Houston a group of new floral designers have been gathering fairly regularly to chat and create., commiserate and help. I am thankful for them and couldn’t image how I could do it without them! I suggest to other designers to reach out to other creatives in their area. We can’t do this alone!

    Reply
    1. Amy McGee

      I’ve heard about your Houston group for quite a while now and have witnessed some of your successes, both individually and collectively. You are an amazingly talented and kind group of designers…and a great reminder of all that is good in the floral design world! Can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for you all!

      Reply
  3. Nicola

    Such a great post!! Everything she is saying resonates so much!! As someone who has worked in the industry for a while but just started my own business this really hits home. It’s hard not to constantly compare yourself to others, and seriously feel the social media pressure. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Reply
  4. Susan

    Nail on the head! So incredibly thankful for the florist friends I have- Jody above being one of them!! It’s a conscious choice to let go of fear and comparison- and it must be practiced daily. Wonderful sentiment, and good for all of us to hear.

    Reply
  5. Sachi R Pollard

    Well said, Meredith! How refreshing! If you’re ever in New York, I would love to meet up and have a flower pow-wow. Same goes for all of you talented ladies 🙂

    – Sachi (from Sachi Rose)

    Reply
    1. Meredith Speer

      Sachi,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! I was up in New York in September and am hoping to be back up again in the fall. Would love to meet up! I am so grateful for women who pursue friendship in our industry, yourself included!

      Meredith

      Reply
  6. Tracy

    I loved this post, Amy! It is so real and so encouraging! And what a great idea Maria Maxit has. I know of several designers in my area that I am on good terms with. It would be wonderful take it up a notch and work on actually encouraging each other!

    Reply
  7. Tobey Nelson

    Huzzah Merideth and thank you Amy for helping us all be able to see this. You both nailed it exactly on the head for me. Here’s to collaboration, not competition, for 2015 and beyond!

    Reply
  8. Jess McEwen

    Thank you- both of you! i so enjoyed that read. I opened my shop when I was 26, and now 14 years later so much has changed and it is truly hard to feel that I am enough but both of you have helped me feel that maybe I am. After coming in with a bang and getting published on the big wedding blogs and having wedding magazines call asking for pieces to feature, things changed rather dramatically when I had my son 8 years ago. I couldn’t take on the late Friday night weddings any more, or do the larger events that needed me all weekend, or stay here till the wee hours of the morning getting stuff done because my husband and I are and have been juggling my son’s care between us by working opposite shifts. When I started there wasn’t facebook or twitter or instagram, and there were very few blogs. Now, everyday i get to see images of the newer younger hipper cooler floral studios that have sprung up out of nowhere it seems. And it is hard not to feel bitter. It is hard not to say “well, of course they can do that amazing event and get those superstar clients, they are all young and don’t have a kid that kept them up all night and is now camped out in the back of the shop throwing up.” I appreciate this reminder that we are all human, and we all have our burdens to bear. I have some truly beautiful conversations with the floral designers and shop owners that I have come to know over the years, conversations and friendships that I wouldn’t trade for the world. i will focus on that That, and the fact that I am what I am, and I am enough. Thanks again- Jess M.

    Reply
    1. Amy McGee

      Love your honesty, Jess. And love the way you so eloquently made it clear to me again…we are all connected. When your son in grown, you’ll look back and be grateful for the time you spent away from the studio with him…even if there was a professional cost. At least that’s how I felt when my son left for college! Thanks for sharing!

      Reply

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