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So you want to be a florist?

Are you mad?

Have you lost all sense of reason?

Do you have ANY idea what this is going to involve?

Are you sure you wouldn’t like to do something (heck anything) else?

OK I am being a tad OTT but trust me … I’ve been in the industry a long old time and know how hard floristry is.

You see being a florist isn’t just about playing with flowers …. in fact, it’s not about playing full stop.

Floristry … whether you have a studio or shop and assuming you’re doing this to make a decent living rather than pocket money, is bally hard work. Not just physically but mentally as well.

In fact, being a full time, proper commercial florist is darned challenging and not for the faint hearted.

I'll talk you through some of the things you need to think about

If it’s for the money forget it.

I don’t know any millionaire florists but plenty of struggling ones. Unless you can really scale up your business and scale down your overheads and COGS it will never be a big earner. The margins are tight and, as a result of Covid, even tighter as every cost has gone up. Make sure you have plenty of reserves to tide you over when you begin.

If it’s for creative freedom forget it too

Doing flowers for friends is totally different to working for strangers. They will be far fussier, less forgiving and will want you to make things you might not actually like. Yes, you can stick to your style guns but that may limit your earning potential and if you have overhead to cover or savings to recoup tis hard to refuse work.

Are you physically fit enough?

Being a florist is cruel on the body. Early starts, late finishes, lots, and lots of heavy lifting of flower boxes, buckets, dry goods etc, oh yes and your hands will be wrecked, your feet permanently cold in winter and swollen in summer and your diet will be rubbish as you grab a chocolate bar to keep you going. OK I’m dramatising a bit (actually, only a little) but floristry is bally hard work. This is not a sit-down job so be sure you can cope.

Are you mentally strong enough?

Mentally the pressures will be real too. Not just making sure you balance the books, buy the right stock (wastage should never be more than 5 – 8%), keep your creditors happy (cash flow, especially in event floristry, can be tough) but dealing with customer’s emotions is hard too.

Weddings and birthdays are fun but taking and making a funeral order can be very tough as you will be dealing with the bereaved and unless you are very hard hearted will feel their pain too. Complaints happen and need to be dealt with, sitting waiting for orders to come in can be draining … make sure you have the mental capacity to deal with it all.

Have you got enough knowledge?

Watching a few You Tube videos or attending a short course … however expensive … simply won’t cut it. And don’t even think about setting up your own business unless you have got some real-life experience under your belt and have seen what it’s like at the coal face. It may be hard to find placements but you need to see it first-hand to really understand what is involved.

Being a florist means you need to have a whole breadth of knowledge and not just about the design side … that’s actually the relatively easy bit!

I won’t go into all the technical skills side here … you can read that in our Careers & Qualifications section … but trust me not only do you have to have good and fast (time is money) make up skills but a whole host of other skills too.

You need to be mathematically savvy to make sure you are on top of the cash, have good written and oral skills to make sure messages and orders are taken correctly, and be organised so that deliveries go out on time.

You need to know how, and what to buy to make the best margins, understand flower and plant care so they don’t die on you - or the customer, oh yes and be totally internet savvy with a good dose of marketing knowledge so you can generate enough business to cover all your costs and make a living.

Are you determined enough?

I see a lot of people set up a shop or start working from home set up thinking it will be easy, only to fail after a few months and with a lot less money than they started with.

It can work but it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make a good floristry business and is not for the faint hearted. As more and more people leap on the floristry bandwagon so the market has become more and more competitive, so you really need an unlimited determination to succeed.

So please make sure there really is a gap in the market for what you want to do, not just a pipe dream because you think it would be fun to work with flowers.

Go for it!

If you are still with me and still mad enough to come into the wonderful, crazy, exciting world of floristry then I would say go for it and go for it BIG time!!

Financially you are unlikely to ever drive a Rolls Royce … even some of the most successful florists still only have a van!!

And it most certainly won’t be easy so you need to do your homework, prepare your business plan, make sure you have the right skill base, read and study everything you can, offer to work for free to get hands on experience (expect to start at the bottom sweeping and washing buckets) and attend every event you can!

However, get it right and I reckon being a florist can be one of the most rewarding careers you could choose. Because truth is flower power is really rather remarkable. A way of sharing peoples most precious moments as well as bringing a smile to everybody’s faces. That’s worth a lot I think.

Caroline Marshall-Foster

Editor, Florist Magazine


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