Nothing is better than being able to educate yourself from any type of floral presentation, and all those that were lucky to be able to attend the 3rd Annual AIFD South Central Design Forum got two for the price of one this year at the Baisch and Skinner Linda Kay Center in St. Louis, MO. The design forum this year was titled “Wedding Magic” and was presented by renowned designer Jackie Lacey AIFD, CFD, PFCI, and he did not disappoint. The show was organized into a 2-part day, with Jackie presenting on how to be more business smart with your company and events. The second part of the day had a wonderful design focusing on a combination of trend forecasts. With the assistance of many different AIFD South Central members, he was able to complete four full tablescapes, with a plethora of bouquets in many different styles and technical levels.
Before we got to experience the wonderful Mr. Lacey, we were introduced to the present AIFD South Central board and an introduction to the current American Institute of Floral Design President, John Kittinger AIFD, CFD. This was followed by Mr. Kittinger being given an honor by the City of St. Louis, MO and the AIFD South Central Region in which we give Mr. Kittinger our congratulations.
Once Jackie took the stage for the start of the business session, he was very kind as the current AIFD Membership Chairman to introduce the crowed to AIFD and the process of becoming AIFD. He gave great information on all the new changes which include new mentoring programs, the new tool list for the PFDE (Professional Floral Design Evaluation) which allows some portable music devices that do not feature cameras in the PFDE area, new scoring changes, and some tips to help while taking your PFDE. One of my favorite sayings during this part of the presentation was “You don’t get into the industry, the industry gets into you” and floral.today could not agree more. The other point he pushed to make sure was very clear was that AIFD is a family, when you join that family you gain the support of every other member and their knowledge.
Jackie moved to the wedding portion of his business session by making sure we understood that weddings and special events are one in the same now, and asked who knew the average cost of a wedding in their area. We were taught to look at our chamber of commerce, and google for our averages, and then gave us some statistics to roll around in our head. One thing that I know a lot of people in the crowed didn’t know, including floral.today till the show, was that the wedding and event industry has been worth $40 billion dollars the last few years, the average budget is $20,000, and the average spent is $19,581, so brides and grooms are staying close to their budgets. He also noted that the average amount of money being budgeted for flowers is 8% to 10% of the overall budget, which he gave us first hand experience and suggestions for selling up to with a margin of 8% to 15%.
We then moved on to practices in my opinion of strengthening your business as a whole, not just in events and he advised goal setting, always having a physical plus a digital business plan to always reference and follow a to-do list. Some of the great advice that had to do with the goal setting, was goals keep you on track, give you direction on what you should be striving for and they need to be specific goals that are written down so they are concrete, detailed so you know exactly what it is you want to achieve, and tangible so you can achieve said goals. Not only should the owner be setting goals, but so should designers, since without goals you can never grow and if you’re not growing then you’re becoming obsolete. Another great point Jackie made was that without a business plan, how do you know what your averages are or your actual sales are? When you have a business plan physically at hand close to your workspace or computer you can always see it and reference it. When your business plan is on your computer, same as the physical, it is always available and visible so there can be no leaving the path you set yourself and your business on. To-do lists are what keeps you organized day-to-day. The to-do list is what will keep your day to day activities in a feasible list so what ever wasn’t checked off today will be checked off tomorrow first thing and you can always know what was done and never have to question if and when something was completed. Two questions we liked and stuck with us the most were “Why should a bride or event planner use you and your business to make a brides dreams come true?” and “What do you and your business do best?”
A great focus of the business session leaned toward consultations and selling which we found very fascinating. Not being an event business, we were pleasantly surprised how some of the business practices Jackie uses in his consultations and sales applied perfectly to almost any type of company. Some that we liked the most were to educate yourself on the proper names and terms, sell style and design not the list of flowers in the arrangement, lead and direct your consultation, you are the expert and where you confidently lead them, they will usually follow. What we took away was to always be realistic about the cost of everything, never ballpark because this where you loose money or words get crossed, be educated and confident so you can educate and make sure that whomever you are consulting knows you are the expert and you are going to make everything work perfectly, know the traffic to your site and always have it very clearly stated what it is that you do since 60% of consumers will visit your website before ever taking a step into your door and be the interest that sells your company 100% of the time by wearing flowers, always having your business cards on hand and being confident along with educated in every situation.
We then took a brief lunch that gave us time to peruse all the interesting hard-goods available at Baisch and Skinner St. Louis, MO and also meet the wonderful owners Mr. and Mrs. Greene of Jet Ram Inc., whom for the past 30 years have provided the industry with all their floral shipping materials. We also go to take the time and enter into some of the amazing raffle prizes that the AIFD South Central had available. This years offerings were an Autographed Rene Van Rems ‘Rene’s Bouquets for Brides’ Hardcover book, three ‘The Knot Book of Wedding Flowers’, A very large selection of Fitz Design goodies, a selection of Milton Adler goodies, two Registrations to the October 26th 2014 AIFD South Central Design Forum in Denver, CO, two NeatReceipts Portable Scanners, and one Registration to the 2014 AIFD National Symposium ‘Transition Transformation’ in Chicago,Il. It was a great selection of prizes and floral.today ended up winning the Autographed Rene Van Rems ‘Rene’s Bouquets for Brides’ Book and one of The Knot Book of Wedding Flowers!
Once everyone was well fed and returned to their seats the design portion of the day began. Jackie being the super busy man that he had sent sketches and concepts to the Forum days before and had them interpreted and designed by AIFD South Central professional designers. The tables where designed to the 4 trend forecasts Aqua Culture, Expressive Confetti, Romantic Revival, and our personal favorite Natures Couture. Before the designs started getting brought out Jackie took a second to educate us about Fades versus trends and that difference being fads only last 2 to 4 years where a trend will last 4 year and more.
Jackie stared with the assemble of the Aqua Culture Table done in blues, yellows, sand colors, green, ivory, gold and bronze. This table was to give the initial feel of small worlds living underwater in smaller glassware and then the large piece were added to create a more grand design. Aqua Culture is is a reflection of all things water so you can find nautical, beach, submerged, and any other water themed design working into this trend and this trend usually a crowd favorite, as most people have calming thoughts or memories when it comes to water. This trend also utilizes a lot of clear glassware so you can express the design better with the water elements. The bouquets were an interesting mixture of different styled cascades and hand-tied bouquets, some being very simple and an enhanced traditional to the more unique design such as one of our favorites that was a simple Accent Decor willow orb with cascading yellow cybidiums blooms threaded together and long stands of string-of-pearl succulent plant. This bouquet was very simple but had great impact and was interestingly unique. This table was designed by Marisa Guerrero AIFD, CFD of El Paso TX, and Bradley Shane Cranford AIFD, CFD of Little Rock, AR.
The second trend brought out was Expressive Confetti, which gave us a bright burst of very strong colors such as pink, orange, yellow, turquoise and bright green. This trend is what you’re finding the new Generation Y falling in love with. With Expressive Confetti you can have more free form design styles, and the more creative you are with it usually gets better responses. The bouquets that were designed with this table introduced the arm bouquet back into the arena where hand-tied has been dominating the last few years. The bouquets to this trend also had the more traditional hand-tied, but with bright colors and sparkly eye catching accents to spice it up. For this set one of our favored bouquets used a simple technique and achieved a huge impact with a small amount of materials. It had a beautiful pink long structure of 8-10 midelino sticks bound and woven in different directions with a simple addition of 4 pink anthurium, 3-4 pin-cushion protea and what I believe was 2-3 teddy bear sunflowers. Very simple, but absolutely gorgeous. This great display was the work of incoming President Elect Eva Riter AIFD, CFD, OaCF of Bartlesville, OK and Lee Martin AIFD, CFD of St. Peters, MO.
Our third treat was to the trend Romantic Revival where you’ll find you more vintage, lush, garden, and opulent designs. With this trend you’ll see more pastels, carnival glass, pearls, lace and simpler pieces grouped together. With their table-scape they captured a lovely garden essence with a couple different mercery glass compote bowls and additional tall mercury and silver containers. Of all the bouquets this is where you seem to find the most detailed brooches and fresh floral bouquets in many different styles from traditional cascades to cone shapes to composite cascades. One of my two absolute favorites of the whole show came from this group of designs and I fell in love with its detail. The designer made a composite of lush dark purple gladiola petals, collared with dusty miller and with a simple lily grass cascade and then add a beautiful Victorian brooch to the center of the compost and finished the lily grass of with some amazing large Fitz gems threaded onto the grass. The creators of this beautiful collection were belonged to Marie Ackerman AIFD, CFD, PFCI, AAF of Oklahoma City, OK, Lisa Weddel AIFD, CFD of Highlands Ranch, CO and Barb Terry also of Highlands Ranch, CO.
Our last and final adventure led us to the final trend, Nature’s Couture. We here at floral.today must say that this is one of our favorite trends right now because of our love for woodsy, outdoor inspired design with a rustic touch. With Nature’s Couture, they took us to a very shiny and forward natural table-scape with white manzanita tree branches, lots of greens with the succulents, grasses and greenery,whites with the dendrobiums, lilies, hydrangea, manzanita branches, hyacinths, and roses, and a touch of light peach roses. The interesting accenting colors came from the silver dusty miller, the gunmetal muslin ribbon, silver and gold assorted Fitz Design Leafs, the large assortment of Fitz gems and the light touches of Ivory ribbon. My number one design and bouquet of the whole show was the hand wired succulent bouquet. The skill and simplicity was amazing with this bouquet as you had around 20 assorted sizes and colors of succulents all individually wired and taped, along with wired and taped string of pearls and equisetum there was skill there that not many appreciate. This was a round bouquet shape of succulents that had a slight cascade with the string of pearl strands and then a side accent of bent and shadowing equisetum for detail over the succulents. The collar consisted of dianthus ‘Green Triq’ to cover the taped wire mechanics and the 3 variegated aspidistra leaves for balance and line with a finish of salal leaves to cover the rest. So clean and fun but sophisticated and great technical value. Nature’s Couture came from the designs talents of Suzie Kostick AIFD, CFD, PFCI, MCF of Rio Rancho, NM, Sandi Yoshihara-Sniff AIFD,CFD, AAF, CPF of Lafayette, CO and Ken Senter AIFD, CFD from Houston, TX.
Floral.today wants to thank all of the time and effort put into this great educational opportunity by the American Institute of Floral Design South Central Chapter and all the amazing designs and helpers who donated all their time and effort. It takes a village and what a village they have. Some of the other incredible vendors we want to make sure to thank are Connie Duglin Linens for the beautiful linens, Fitz Designs, Inc for all the amazing product and bringing the fabulous Jackie Lacey AIFD, CFD, PFCI to us, Baisch and Skinner for the use of their Linda Kay Learning Center, Accent Decor for their great containers, Acolyte and all the fun lights they provided and Milton Adler for all their supplies and products. It was a fun day of learning and growing whether you learned a little or a lot, there was plenty to take away from this wonderful experience. AIFD is at the forefront of education and keeping the future of the floral industry strong for many years to come. Make sure to take the time to thank all those involved and all the companies that made this event possible because it is them believing in you and the future of this industry that makes it able for us to attend these educational ventures and grow to be better people and designers.