Today, we’re delighted to introduce you to Nick Priestly, one of our Expert Panel members and Principal Tutor at Flower School Glasgow as well as Managing Director of weddings and events florist Mood Flowers. Nick kindly sat down with us to talk about Flower School Glasgow and his vision for the future. And he presented us with a nice surprise during the interview. (Be sure to read all the way to the end of the interview for a chance to win a place at a forthcoming class!)
BB: Welcome, Nick! We’re thrilled to introduce our BB readers to Flower School Glasgow. Tell us all about it…when and why you founded it, where it’s located, what you teach, how many students are in a typical class?
NP: I started the school in 2008 as an add on business to my core weddings and events business. Initially I provided hobby class to non florists looking to explore their creative side. Around 4 years ago we introduced the One Week Career Course and the success of that allowed me to develop more professional classes for would-be florists. Today, Flower School Glasgow, located within our studio space on a business park in Glasgow, Scotland, is specifically aimed at professional florists looking to enhance their business or design skills as well as those who wish to start their own business. Typically we have up to eight people on our professional courses. The exceptions are our guest tutor classes where we have 12 people to meet demand and the Large Structures one day course where we have up to 16 people.
BB: There’s a lot to learn when starting up a floral design business. What do you teach in your One Week Career Course?
NP: I can’t teach absolutely everything but what I can do in six days is teach someone the fundamentals of floral design as well as focusing on how to market and start up a floral design business. We also cover things like how to attract clients both wedding and corporate to your business, planning and delivering a wedding, buying flowers, working to client briefs and most importantly pricing and making a profit as well as giving students pointers on their own brands and business plans. Unlike many schools which have a 6 hour teaching day we start at 9am and finish at 5pm so every day is a very full working day. After that it’s up to each individual to develop their floral business at their own pace to fit in with their lifestyle.
BB: Have you had the opportunity to watch some of your past students create successful floral design businesses?
NP: It has been a pleasure to watch many of our formal students set up and develop wonderful businesses. The successful ones have taken everything they learned from the course and then added their own take on things to create unique brands and businesses rather than a copycat of Mood Flowers. Past students like Sylvia Abraham of Bella Botanica in Ireland, Natalie Dalziel of Natalie Dalziel Flowers and Yvonne Ramsay of Ollie-Rose and Blu all started their businesses after attending Flower School Glasgow. Some of my students have also gone on to become Chapel Designers, an international collective of event and wedding floral designers. I am proud to be the UK Ambassador for the organization and will co-host the annual London conference for the third time in April of this year alongside the founder of the organization (and fellow BB Expert Panel member) Holly Chapple.
BB: Which course seems to be most popular?
NP: Our Large Structures one day course was the biggest success of 2016 – the photo of the 16ft hanging centrepiece which we create on that course had a big impact on social media and we have had florists travel from all over the UK and Ireland to attend that course as it ran on four different dates last year. In 2017 we will probably run it on three dates. We have a large space at the studio allowing lots of movement and creativity for building large structures such as flower curtains, archways and of course the hanging installations. Our One Week Career Course also remains popular and we normally run this two or three times a year.
BB: Tell us about some of your guest teachers.
NP: We have been blessed with some of the best guest tutors on the planet! In 2015 Susan Mcleary from Passionflower (also a fellow BB Expert Panel member) came all the way from Michigan, USA to teach two days of classes which featured her amazing botanical jewelry along with her wedding designs. And in 2016 we had Jay Archer travel from just outside London to teach two days of wedding flowers using mostly British flowers and foliages. Both sets of classes were sold out and we had some great feedback from the students. We will shortly announce our next guest tutor for Spring 2017. For advance notice you can sign up on our website.
BB: I see that you are also offering business coaching?
NP: I have always been passionate about teaching others the fundamentals of being a business owner – In a previous life I graduated with an international business degree and worked in tax accountancy and financial recruitment for 6 years before retraining as a florist almost 14 years ago. I offer 121 days at the school where we work on a mix of practical floristry as well as business issues. I also visit established businesses for a minimum of two days where I provide a business healthcheck, working with the flower business owner to improve all aspects of their current business offering.
BB: Where does the school fit in with your brand and Mood Flowers? Do you run both? Have you cut back on Mood Flowers to devote more time to the school?
NP: Flower School Glasgow is very much an extension of Mood Flowers. For example, I feel I can teach all styles of wedding flowers and guide people through the process of marketing to today’s brides because I run a studio that designs over 100 weddings a year. It is not unusual that weddings designed by my team are leaving the studio on days that I am teaching. This gives students a real insight into our day to day business. They are fascinated by our processes and everything that happens behind the scenes. After almost 14 years of running Mood Flowers I have a very strong team in place which means when I am teaching, I am teaching. I do not break away to answer the phone or talk to clients.
BB: What’s next for Flower School Glasgow?
NP: We have lots of exciting things going on! We have just launched a brand new website (flowerschoolglasgow.com) allowing people to book online for the first time. We are currently finalizing our next guest tutor as well as designing new courses including a photography course.
BB: You’re very kindly offering a prize of a place in your next Large Structures one-day course on Monday 16th January 2017. How can Botanical Brouhaha readers win this prize?
NP: The prize is for one person to attend the class (value £220). For a chance to win readers must leave a comment at the end of this post stating why they would like to attend the class and how they feel it would benefit their career or business. Both aspiring florists as well as current floral business owners can enter. They should leave their comment by midnight (Central Standard Time) on Monday 9th January. The winner will be chosen by random drawing and announced on Wednesday 11th January. (Please note this is for the 16th January class only and the prize cannot be exchanged for a future class.).
BB: Thanks so much for stopping by, Nick. We wish you the very best for 2017 at Mood Flowers and Flower School Glasgow!