Theresa Colucci AIFD, PFCI is one of those unique floral educators that put not only time into educating the future of our industry but also her time into building her successful floral business Meadowscent! Throughout all of it though Theresa has faced the saddening decline of collegiate floral design programs going from teaching floral design at the State University of N.Y. At Cobleskill and at the NY botanical gardens to becoming the SAIFD Advisor to the rural Upstate, New York school. As a SAIFD Advisor, Theresa still inspires future floral designers and growth in the industry.
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What advantages do feel SAIFD chapters provide that normal college programs do not?
Having the support of AIFD provides us with many educational and industry opportunities. We host guest AIFD designers to work with students for our Artist in Residence program, our students attend National symposium to compete with other SAIFD colleges and take advantage of our educational shows. This symposium also provides the students the opportunity to work side by side with world renown designers on designs for their programs.
What struggles have you found university and college programs have faced in recent years?
The number of students interested in floral design has declined, therefore making it difficult for the colleges to continue their programs.
In your personal opinion what are some of the shortcomings in floral education that the industry should strive towards working on?
I think the industry needs to support floral education programs as best they can. There is a lapse in age of people taking on floral design careers. We need to invest in our college students as well as current florists furthering their careers, in order to keep our industry alive. Education is the best way to help floral design flourish.
What has been one of the most interesting floral topics you have taught so far in your career?
Because working with flowers is appealing to many, we often see people opening flower shops that have no real design skills or business skills for the floral industry. I find it most interesting to teach industry business skills to this group. If the desire to design is there, you won’t stay in business very long if you can’t turn a profit. Teaching these skills are a vital part of keeping our retail florists in business and creating opportunities for floral entrepreneurs.
As a past instructor of State University of N.Y. At Cobleskill, what did you find to be the most challenging part of running a floral program?
It’s difficult to run a program with a very tight budget. In order to keep floral design relevant, you need to show the students new products in our market. These can be costly and often impossible for most programs to afford. This would be an area that the industry could lend support to. Manufacturers, growers and wholesalers would benefit to have their products being used by students who are the future of our industry.
Do you have a philosophy when it comes to floral education?
Exposure to the floral industry globally. Whenever I have the chance I let the student see how large our industry is and that it goes beyond a mom and pop shop in your hometown. Exploring all facets of the floral industry worldwide creates an excitement and possibilities for them to find careers.
With our ever-changing industry, where have you seen the floral industry change the most over the past 5-10 years?
Sadly, I think consumers have lost a lot of faith in Florists. Order gatherers and wire services have promised the consumers more than the retail florist can deliver and as a result our consumers have been dissatisfied. Retail florists need to do everything they can to provide quality customer service with excellent product in order to regain the consumers trust. It may not be an easy task, but it needs to be done on every order and every customer that chooses to do business with you.
What advice do you have for designers looking to become floral educators or presenters?
Continually educating yourself should be your priority. Advance your career to AIFD, and PFCI. Become a member of the Society of American Florists. Take classes from other designers. Travel to other countries to experience cultural differences with flowers.. The educational opportunities are endless. Experience them and share them with others!
What do you think are some of the top floral educational advancements that have helped progress the industry?
I truly believe in The American Institute of Floral Designers. They are dedicated to the advancement of floral education to the individual, the student, the public and the industry. I believe the standards they uphold continually cause designers to strive to be some of the best designers in the world.
With your extensive floral education knowledge, along with your AIFD and PFCI accreditations, where would you like to take your experience and skill to further educate the industry?
Flowers and nature should be a part of everyone’s lives. We, as florist’s know it. Dozens of studies have documented the benefits of flowers in our lives. European and Asian cultures understand it. I want the United States to grasp it. I hope that by educating with my enthusiasm for the industry, it will trickle down from growers to retail florists and students to the consumer and we will become a nation of flower buyers!
Theresa Colucci AIFD, PFCI Website: meadowscent.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 845-255-3866 845-255-3910 Facebook
Thank you to Theresa for sharing with us her passion and thoughts on Floral Education. Best of luck to her and her SAIFD Chapter with it’s endeavors this year and in the future.
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