I want to be a florist… but how? (4 part series for starting your Australian wedding floristry business).
Are you like me and dreamed of being a florist when you were little? It was my standard answer to all the primary school questions of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It only took me 35 years to make it a reality. I would like to share with you how I actually went about opening my floral business and winning clients to keep me in business.
*A note – my own business started as a hobby. A way for me to enjoy my passion of flower arranging) without it costing me a fortune. Flowers are expensive! My business is not a full time business and I currently operate from my home. I take on average 2 -3 wedding a month. I’m just about to open a studio in my third year.
In this 4 part series I share with you my own journey to floristry.
Part 1: Floral education / training
First things first. In order to become a florist you need the skills.
Floristry in the minds of many looks easy. Throw some flowers together, how hard can that be? The cliché of oh how nice it would be to be a florist, you get to play with flowers all day, is something many florists hear on a regular basis.
But… it is true that in Australia, floristry is actually a profession that does not require formal education. Any one can call themselves a florist, whether or not they have a formal qualification. But in my opinion, the best way to start on your path to a floristry career is to get some formal, technical, training.
Below are several options to develop your skills, and learn the ‘tricks of the trade’:
1. Government Recognised (and Funded) Training Providers
Certificate II / Certificate III / Certificate IV (in Floristry)
There are three formal certificates you can do in floristry. Each one will give you the fundamentals and training and get more complex as you progress. There are a number of different providers qualified to run these courses and they offer them in a vartiety of study options.
DIPLOMA of Floristry Design
If you have prior experience or have completed the Certificates III / IV you can go onto to do the DIPLOMA. This is a higher level course and as such there are not as many providers who are registered to run this course. Only one in Victoria currently. You are going to learn high level design and business skills in this course.
For an amazing round of available courses in Victoria – read this fantastic blog: http://blog.flowersacrossmelbourne.com.au/floristry-training/
2. Private Colleges / Flower Schools
Private schools have been popping up all over the place these past few years. These schools do not have Government Funding so you are paying full fee. Definitely make sure you check them out (and their reviews) before signing up. If you are looking for a formal qualification then these may not be suitable. Many florist shops and businesses ask for Certificates, which these schools can not provide.
Google is friend here for finding schools near you. Just check out the reviews!
3. Self Taught / Short Courses / Workshops
You would be surprised how many known florists (both Australian and internationally) are self-taught and have learnt on the job.
Being “Self-Taught” is certainly possible, and with the endless stream of available information from the internet you can teach yourself the basic skills you need. But. And a big but, the basic skills are not what is going to keep you in business. All of the successful self-taught florists have learnt from practice, practice, practice. Long hours of on the job training.
There is a huge number of different short courses and floral workshops in the market place now. If you have a favourite floral designer I would be surprised if they weren’t offering their own workshop or even private 1-1 classes. This is a great way to get your practice by attending these courses. You can travel the world doing courses from very famous florists… This is certainly my dream…
What about an apprenticeship? Do I have to do one?
Like a formal qualification you don’t have to do your apprenticeship. They are available and quite attractive if you are fresh out of school. But for career changes or return to work parents, probably not a great fit.
My own training journey…
For myself, I wasn’t at the stage in life where I wanted to go back to TAFE and do my apprenticeship. I was already running a business and had been to university for a Science degree. As well as having the slight issues of a mortgage and two primary school age kids. Yes, giving up work and going back to school wasn’t an option, so I took the Private College option.
I had done a 6 week short course with Bloom College in 2014, this was just as a hobby but I loved it. And then was fortuitous that Bloom were starting a 6 month long career change course on Saturdays. My first thought was six months of Saturday’s to myself learning flowers. Hell Yes.
And so I booked. Not with the intention to start a business but just to satisfy my hobby. So for six months I had a ball, learning floristry skills each week. Wrapping; prepping; wiring; care; varieties; styles; techniques…
At the end of my course I was lucky enough to get an internship with a wedding florist in Melbourne and move on to casual work each Saturday (yep I still had a full-time job). Lots of practice and watching skilled florist navigate their businesses. I worked with the girls at Thrive for almost two years before taking the plunge and officially opening my own wedding flowers business.. after a minor step backwards.. but that is a story for Part 2 – I want to be a florist… but how (4 part series for starting your Australian wedding floristry business).
Part 2. My first wedding…Year long pause… My Second Wedding.
Cover Image Credit: Claire Mossong