What's it like to be a florist
19 September 2018
"Ooooh how lovely to be a florist, you must be so creative!" is the usual response to people when I tell them my job, or what people say to me in my shop. This is swiftly followed by "You must have to get up really early to go to the market then do you?" and "So, did you train to be a florist?"
Well yes, it is a lovely job and my "office" is certainly a beautiful, uplifting and inspiring place to work! I'm also told that my shop smells lovely too, but unfortunately I don't notice it anymore, I am pretty much nose-blind to the smell of most flowers now. It is also a very physical job, with lots of lifting and carrying, and plenty of behind-the-scenes bucket-washing and floor-mopping to keep the place as beautiful as it always is.
Here are my top 5 Florist Myths for you:
- "You must get up really early to go to the market don't you?"
Well no. I don't like mornings much, and thankfully the days of getting to the market at 5am to pick out a selection of flowers are well and truly gone. The markets are still there, but most florists now buy their flowers online. I use a marketplace platform which allows me to shop across 1000s of varieties from a number of suppliers, to get the best quality and value. Around 75% of my flowers are ordered direct from the grower so they are cut and delivered to me within 36 hours of harvest. That's why my flowers last such a long time.
- "You must be ever so creative."
Of course there is a large amount of being a florist which requires creativity, and an understanding of the principles of design, of colour and form but there is equally a need to understand the product I am working with. I have learned how to "condition" my flowers when they arrive so they in best condition for sale, I know which will last well in a warm house or a cool spot, I know which flowers are available throughout the seasons, I know how to technically tie bouquets or wire wedding flowers to make a design - it's creativity combined with technique. And remember, I'm running a business, so its no good being creative without being able to pay the bills!
- "Its such a lovely job to have."
Definitely. Absolutely. I'm surrounded by beautiful flowers and plants, I make people happy or soothe their sadness, I share their joys, celebrations and sorrows, I laugh with my customers and cry with them too. It is a lovely job. It's flippin cold in winter though! And no, I don't keep it that cold because of the flowers, I just have rubbish heating in the shop!
- "Did you have to train then to be a florist?"
Um, yeees. I'm a second-career florist, as many of us are. I left university and worked in sales and marketing for some big Blue Chip FMCG companies like Coca-Cola and Diageo for over a decade before I changed my career. I started floristry as a hobby at evening class, then did an NVQ and work experience in other shops, before working at the lovely Darling Buds in Baslow. I then found the premises for The Dandelion Clock and opened my shop in 2010. I continue to learn every day.
- "What's your favourite flower?"
I honestly couldn't tell you. Right now I'm looking at some wonderful big fat yellow Sunchaser roses, huge British sunflowers, golden bronze chrysanthemum blooms and hypericum berries and loving the autumn tones and textures. I also love the simplicity and honesty of tulips, ranunculus and anemones when spring bursts into bloom. Oooh, then a big blousy peony in early summer!
The changing seasons are a joy to work with, and that's one of the best things about the job I think, the variety and choice of what I have to play with - I'm a kid in a sweet shop really!