Ask Lush... I'm just getting started in event and floral design any advice for a beginner?
I know this may be a long shot I follow you on Instagram. I'm just getting started in event and floral design any advice for a beginner? Thanks in advance
Thank you for following me on Instagram and reaching out with your request. I love sharing and helping so thank you for thinking highly enough of me to ask. When I first started in this industry I would have loved someone to share with me the things I didn't know so I make it a goal to be able to share with those who have a desire to learn. Here's my advice for you:
Get training - Some people are naturally talented and can recreate what they see while others need to have the mechanics broken down step by step. Even if you are one of those people that can recreate what you see, get proper training. You have to study your craft and be aware of the little mechanics that make an arrangement, the things that people don't or shouldn't see. There are plenty of technical colleges and design schools that have great programs. Take every class that you can even if it seems old school.Those old school techniques is what the newer things are formed from and sometimes the old school foundation is needed when the new doesn't work.
Apprentice - Once you finish your training, find a reputable floral designer to apprentice under. There is nothing that beats hands on training. Learn all that you can, challenge yourself, gain confidence as your skills begin to grow. Volunteer to work for a florist during the major floral holidays (valentine's day, mother's day, wedding season) to be sure that you have a clear understanding and know what you are getting yourself into. Even if it's just washing buckets, you will get a good idea of how a shop runs. I would apprentice at minimum for a year. I apprenticed for 4 years before I went out on my own. I still to this day freelance for other designers just so I can develop my craft and learn something new. I learn a new technique from every designer I work with, some I keep and others are just good to know about especially when it comes to clients. You may have someone come to you and request something that you are unfamiliar with but since you have worked with another designer that does that request very well, offer to refer them and then ask to be apart of the designer's team so you can book the next event that wants that particular service. There is enough business to go around for everyone and sharing is caring.
Set your vision - While you are getting training and apprenticing, you should definitely be trying to determine what your niche is going to be. There are so many different types of floral designers. You could own your own shop specializing in weddings and events, freelance for other designers, work for an event design company own a full service retail shop. Know whether you want to be an entrepreneur or not because that's on a whole other level.. I can tell you the ups and downs of that but that's a whole other loooooonnnngggg conversation. We can talk about entrepreneurship at another time if you'd like.
Stay current and study your craft - Attend workshops, read everything (books, blogs, magazines,etc.) Join floral groups, follow other designers, etc. Anything that has to do with florals and plants, learn about it. I see too many people in this industry who don't know beyond the basics. Become an expert so that people will value your opinion and advice. Study... study... study... STUDY!!! I can't say that enough.
Be Prepared - Be prepared for early mornings, long days, long nights and a tired body. If people only knew what pain, torture and abuse a designer's body can go through on a day to day basis. This work is definitely not for the faint of heart. Who needs the gym when you can lift and carry heavy buckets full of water and flowers?
Be consistent - Be consistent when it comes to your work. Set the standard and continue doing quality work. Have a strong work ethic. You can't have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic. It just won't work.
Network and connect - Network not only with other designers but everyone in the event industry and business in general. You never know who you will meet that will use your services. I say everyone I meet is a customer or knows someone who is shopping for what I offer. Remember that you are your brand and your brand is you. You carry your business everywhere!!! Create your own opportunities and leave no stone or person rather unturned. Find a mentor that you can talk to and help you nurture the gift in you. Find someone who wants to teach and isn't about ego. Connect with someone that wants to see you succeed and can also learn from you. You don't make it in this business alone. You need someone who understands exactly where you are coming from, your frustrations and been where you have been. If you want to be an entrepreneur, I would even get a second mentor in another field other than florals or events to share about how to grow a successful business. Form a mastermind group of like professionals so that you can share triumphs victories and business. Again, sharing is caring and you never know who you will inspire or be inspired by you. You also may never know who can send business your way and you you can refer to them. You need a support system, so build and connect your team. If you are going to hire staff, make sure your team members have your same hunger and drive or greater than yours. They got to have your back better than your own family has your back. Set the tone for who you want and how you want their work to be. I would never ask my staff to do anything that I wouldn't do myself. Now, I can't do everything myself but I'm right there in the trenches with them. If they're working... I'm working. It's hard work but we have fun at the same time. I insist on an atmosphere that's almost like a close knit family but they know when momma don't play, momma don't play.
Take Risks - Be fearless and take risks. Tell your own story. Everything I touch, tells a story and is my personal style. Even though you get formal training, develop your own style. Find out what inspires you; colors, textures, flowers, etc. What makes you different? What sets you apart? I have a particular style in how I design and particular clients come to me for that. It feels natural to me. It may not be right or everyone's cup of tea but it's definitely somebody's shot of whiskey. Feel me? I love a lot of designers and I find inspiration in each and everyone but I can only be me. As long as I put out out quality work and my clients are happy that's all that matters to me.
Practice makes perfect - Everybody wants to be David Tutera, Preston Bailey or Diann Valentine immediately. Don't worry if your not. Practice and you'll get there. Better yet, practice defining your style to be at their level or greater, just don't copy their exact style. Push yourself to put out the greatest version of your gift so that you stand apart from everyone else. Don't be afraid to fail. Start over.... I do it all the time. I'm not always perfect but I make sure that I put out quality work done in excellence. I will keep pushing myself and trying until I get it right, no matter how long it takes. Eventually you will get to the point that you can do it in your sleep.
Build your portfolio - Build a portfolio and learn how to take good photos. It helps to show prospective clients your work but it can also be a tool to asses your own work. As you grow in this business, you can start a collection and see how far you grow in time.
Find and maintain balance - Establish work/ life balance early and immediately. It's easy to get burned out quickly. Establish a schedule and stick to it. Do whatever is going to bring you peace and refresh you. When you need a break, take a break and then get back right to it. Don't forget to spend time with your family and friends. They need you as much as you need them.
Be Passionate and know your purpose - What is your end game? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15, 20 years? Figure out your "why"... Why are you starting on this path? Why do you want this? Currently, I'm living out my dreams and working my dream career but my purpose is to allow my business to be the vehicle that drives me to my purpose. My purpose is to encourage other people to be outstanding leaders not only in business but in their personal life and to speak life into their dreams. Use your business to fuel another dream. I'm so passionate about what I do because I love creating but I also love sharing. I have a heart to serve people. My business is my baby, my brand, my ministry, my love, my joy, my heart and interwoven into every one of my prayers. I use it to inspire and encourage others. When you know the "why" it helps in making decisions that much easier and pushes you to reach higher heights and deeper depths.
Keep the faith and don't get discouraged - I don't know what your religious beliefs are but I am a woman of faith. My business doesn't function without God being in the midst of it. Everything I have I owe to Him. He gets all the glory in everything I do. This business is tough and can get discouraging sometimes but keep the faith. If God gave you a vision He will always provide the provision. There are a lot of designers out here but if you keep your trust and faith in God, He will take care of you. Proverbs 18:16 says "A man's gift will make room for him, and bring him before great men." Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I keep both of those scriptures daily. Have a good support system and seek first the kingdom of God and He will add all things to you. Keep pushing, keep fighting, keep believing but most importantly, keep praying. I pray first, and then I grind.
I know that's a lot but I hope this truly helps you. If you ever need advice or have another question to ask, please feel free to reach out. If there is anything further that I can assist you with don't hesitate to let me know.