BB Podcast Episode 23: Max Gill

“[The] boundaries between what it is we do and what it is we actually are…they get blurred for all of us.”

Max Gill

Today we’re sitting down with Max Gill, owner of Max Gill Design in Berkley, California to discuss:

  • how he “stumbled into flowers”
  • the parallels between his love of theater and floral design
  • how gardening influences his floral design composition
  • what he grows in his personal Berkeley garden
  • the advantages of sourcing local nurseries
  • his work at Chez Panisse
  • the responsibility he feels to his flower vendors
  • how his talented production manager helps keep his business thriving
  • the challenges of being artistic and living up to public perception
  • overcoming artistic fears
  • the joy he finds in sustaining relationships with clients
  • the importance of self-care in the floral industry

Links mentioned in Episode Twenty-Three:

 Josh Gruetzmacher Photography

Links of Interest:

 Website |Instagram

Amanda Crean Photography


Today’s episode is brought to you by:


BB Podcast Sound Engineer: Landon McGee

Master Your Pricing: Stay In The Driver’s Seat

Today, we’re welcoming back our friend Alison Ellis, owner of Floral Artistry and Real Flower Business, for Part 3 of a 4-Part Series called Master Your Pricing. Please feel free to leave comments and questions for Alison at the end of the post!

Have you ever had a customer tell you how much you should charge? Maybe you’ve heard something like, “This is exactly what I want, but it’s a bit over my budget,— let’s take $10 off each centerpiece.”.

How about a client who e-mails you a revised copy of your quote with their own calculations on how to get the price “closer to what they had in mind”? Cross-outs with reduced prices that fall below your minimum (they just marked down the $50 flower girl basket to $25!) ….Oy vey, it can be a real “moment of truth” when you have to deal with presumptuous price pushback.

In business we may be more than willing to adjust pricing to accommodate a client’s need, but as a design professional, part of our job is to sometimes say, “No. That’s simply not enough money to create what you’re asking for.”

If you can’t make a wow-factor happen for a lower price point, it’s your job to let the client know that. “I can fill this order at a lower price, but we’ll lose the “wow” when we remove the peonies, garden roses, and compote bowl because that’s what makes it feel this lush.”

It could still be very pretty….but it won’t be this.

That’s what it means to be in the driver’s seat. It’s up to you, the expert, to know what it costs to do this job. Not just “any job”; this job. What does it take to do this work?

Can you lower this price and still meet the client’s expectations?


Underpricing is the first step towards under-delivering.

If a client wants $5,000 of work, but they’re working with a $3,000 budget, it’s not your job to magically make $5k worth of flowers appear for $3k. Truly. Not your job.

But what is your job?—fulfilling promises. That’s your job.

Will the $3k budget really allow them to get the $5k look they expect, or will you end up with a dissatisfied client who can’t even appreciate your “discount” because the results let them down?

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Stay in the driver’s seat when it comes to pricing your work.

Remember: If you’ve already offered your best, most accurate price, and the customer can’t afford it, you’re not “losing” a client. If a client doesn’t have the budget required to book you; you haven’t lost anything.

Next Wednesday is part 4 in our 4-part series and the topic is Raising the Minimum (aka giving yourself a raise!). I hope you’ll tune in here next week! 

Alison -xo

Check out Alison’s free training this month:  It’s called ‘What Does it *Really* Take to Run a Floral Design Business?’ and the entire month will be jam packed with tips, tricks, downloads and advice for floral designers of all experience levels.

Click here to grab the free training!

Mayesh Design Star Workshop | Charleston

We’re excited to share a bit about the latest stop in the Mayesh Design Star Workshop Series today. Here’s a peek inside the MDS Workshop in Charleston…

The second workshop of the 2018 Mayesh Design Star workshop series brought Kaylee Young and the Mayesh team to Charleston, NC in late May. The workshop was held at the Cedar Room, a wedding and event venue located in Charleston’s historic Cigar Factory. This dreamy space was the perfect backdrop for Kaylee’s vision to come to life. The whitewashed brick walls and glossy wooden floors provided a gorgeous backdrop for the florals and the floor to ceiling windows on each wall flooded the space with beautiful natural light.

Each workshop Kaylee hosts with Mayesh is unique. Although the same overall concepts and design methods are shared, the inspiration for the workshop is always something fresh and exciting. The inspiration behind this workshop was “over-the-top”, “80’s ruffles”, “spring”, and “feminine.” Kaylee hand selected a color palette of playful pastels in shades of yellow, ivory, blush, peach, light blue, and lavender for the students to use when creating their hand tied
bouquets and working together on a ceremony installation. From gigantic Clair de Lune peonies to frilly tulips to delicate vines, the product was some of the best from Mayesh’s Luxe Blooms line.

The workshop kicked off Monday evening with a networking event, giving the students the chance to meet one another while enjoying appetizers and wine. The students watched presentations from Jodi Duncan for Design Master, and Ryan O’Neil discussed his business software platform, Curate. Kaylee then led the students in a mood boarding activity with the goal of helping each student define their design style and come into the next day with a vision and intention when working on their designs.

Brimming with fresh ideas from the mood boarding activity, Tuesday was spent focusing on design. For the ceremony installation, Kaylee wanted to show how it could be set up two different ways. The students arrived to a simple set-up with a bare arch and two large urn arrangements, and then Kaylee and her assistant, Jamie, led the students in an archway and aisle demonstration to show them a second, more elaborate option. The students then worked together to complete the second ceremony installation using spirea, garden roses and peonies.

Following the installation, the students learned how Kaylee creates her signature petite bridal bouquets. After perusing the gallery of florals and selecting a few stems to inspire their pieces, they set to work designing their own bridal bouquets, which they then tied with flowing silk ribbon from Adorn. Afterwards, their bouquets were photographed with a model for them to use in their professional portfolios.

To join Kaylee & Mayesh at one of their final two workshops in Santa Barbara or Salt Lake City, click here for more information!

Blog Post Sponsored by Mayesh Wholesale

Workshop Credits:

Hosted by Mayesh Wholesale
Taught by Kaylee Young of Flourish by Kay

Photography: Nicole Clarey Photography
Venue: The Cedar Room
Rentals: Ooh! Events
Ribbon: Adorn
Model: Hilary Rose
Dress: Fabulous Frocks Bridal
HMUA: Pampered & Pretty

Workshop Product Sponsors:

Master Your Pricing: Set A Minimum

Today, we’re welcoming back our friend Alison Ellis, owner of Floral Artistry and Real Flower Business, for Part 2 of a 4-Part Series called Master Your Pricing. Please feel free to leave comments and questions for Alison at the end of the post!

From Alison:

In business we reach milestones from time to time. Finding the courage to set a minimum on weddings was one of the more important (and scary) milestones in my business. I was wary of declaring out loud on my website that “you have to spend this much to work with me” because I didn’t know if this bold move would actually create the results I wanted or completely tank my business.

The decision to set a minimum did not come easily. I work from a home-studio and at the time I only booked 25-30 weddings per season (which is only about 5 months long in Vermont from the end of May to mid-October!), so I knew that enacting a minimum was inevitable if I wanted to grow my business, but it still required a huge leap of faith.

Before I took that leap to set a minimum, I worried that it might be a mistake. I knew I was a good designer, and I knew my customers received outstanding service prior to the wedding day, and if I was ever going to quit my day job/bridge job, well, I’d have to define what a reasonable income per wedding would be, whether I felt “ready” or not.

Minimums can seem like you’re turning away “perfectly good business”, but in truth, setting standards in your business helps attract perfectly better business—and if you do it right, explaining your minimum can actually feel like excellent customer service.

You don’t want to turn away perfectly good customers, but not every florist can work with everyone at every price point, which means you have to set some standards on your work and determine your own worth.

A minimum budget is a clear and direct way to communicate what sort of work you do and who you work with.

How do you set a minimum?

I suggest you make 3 easy calculations to help determine a reasonable minimum:

1. Before deciding on a minimum spend, first, determine your current “average spend”. You can determine this easily if you add up all of your wedding sales and divide by the number of weddings. (Example: $80,000 in sales divided by 20 weddings = an average of $4,000 per wedding.)

2. Now, look a bit closer at your numbers. If you have $80,000 in sales for 20 weddings, but one of those weddings was a $15,000 sale and a 2 of them were pick-up orders of less than $1,000 each, then your $4k average may be skewed a little high, in which case, I’d discard that $15,000 sale (even though it was a wonderful sale & a great accomplishment!) and I wouldn’t include the two $1,000 pick-ups, and by doing that I’d end up with an average spend of $3,700. ($63,000 in sales divided by 17 weddings = $3,700 per gig.)

3. If you want to be even more accurate on the “average” spend you can look at the “mode” or the number that appears most often.

(Example: You have an average/mean sale of $3,700 per wedding, but the budget that appears most frequently is $3,500.)

Based on all of the above info, it would be reasonable to set a minimum budget of $3,500 because you’ve proven you can achieve this goal consistently in your business.

If you set a minimum of $4,000, it’s possible you may also reach or exceed your sales goals, but you could be pricing about $500 above that reasonable starting point for your current clientele.

Note: In addition to the 3 calculations mentioned above for determining a minimum you should consider your income and sales goals when setting a minimum order.

For example, if you want to sell $100,000 in events and you’d like to do no more than 25-30 weddings per year, then you need to book an average wedding at $3,300-4,000 to reach that sales goal.

If your ultimate goal is to do fewer weddings at a higher price point, then you’d need to get the average sale up a bit; for example, 15 weddings at $6,700 a piece.

If your current average sale is $3,500, then setting a minimum of $6,700 may be a bit of a stretch; it may not be feasible to “up the minimum” and expect customers to get in line.

There isn’t 1 right way to set a minimum. Know your market and set prices that fit your business model.

The Moral of the Minimum:

Over the years, my minimums and the way I present a minimum to a client have changed quite a bit, but I’ll never regret taking that leap and setting that minimum because it transformed the way I do business.

We can’t keep doing the same thing year after year in our business and hope for change; we have to “be the change”. We have to take the steps in order to forge our path and reach our goals.

In Week 4, I’ll share some tips on how to raise your minimum so stay tuned!

Do you have a minimum? How do you present a minimum to your clients?

Still to come in this series:

Customers Can’t Set Prices

When Should You Raise Your Minimum?