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Farewell to Debra Gaunt

Debra Gaunt wasn’t just a mentor and teacher but a friend. Mrs. Debra Gaunt, my first ever floral teacher and most influence mentor, lost her battle with cancer on Friday October 31st, 2014 and will be laid to rest today.


Without this amazing woman I would never had even known about the floral industry and without her push and drive for me to be the very best I wouldn’t have come to be the designer I am today. Deb Gaunt was a American Institute of Floral Design member, Michigan Certified Florist and Michigan State University graduate. She instilled her love for horticultural and animal studies into every student and colleague she encountered. Because of the care she placed into all of her students many of us have achieved great things in our lives wether it be in the floral industry or else where. She will be dearly missed in the industry and in the lives of those she has affected.


Garrett pictured with Debra Gaunt and Brian Bak the night Garrett received MFA Young Person of the Year and his Certified Florist.


Of the many things that I could say about this wonderful woman, Edward J. Stieglitz said it best when he said “The important thing to you is not how many years in your life, but how much life in your years!” and Mrs. Gaunt didn’t just live a wonderful life but challenged us, her students, to do what ever we could to fill our life with adventure and live our lives to the fullest.


This is farewell to a wonderful person that touched the lives of many and created wonder for them all.
Till Friday,


Extra, Floral Companies, Products

Want, Love, Try in October

Happy Monday viewers! Today I am showing you some industry products, techniques and designs I want to try, I just want or I’m utterly in love with at the moment. At the end of the post, tell us about the industry products, techniques or designs that have you wanting, loving and trying.

Let's start it off with my Wants!

Illinois WIllow Wreath

Photo property of Illinois Willows

Illinois Willows - Fresh Rose Hip Wreath

I love all of their willow varieties, so why wouldn't I want a hand crafted Fresh Rose Hip Wreath. Kent Miles of Illinois Willows runs an amazing farm and can help you with almost every kind of willow available and really unique creations such as this and much more. Make sure to contact Kent at Illinois Willow for all his pricing to get yourself one of a kind wreaths and products.
Accent Decor Wool Fabric

Photo property of Accent Decor

Accent Decor - Wool Fabric 15cm X 16.5ft

I want to get my hands on the teal, light blue, and grey so bad. As a product I have experienced before, I have found the texture and uniqueness of this product can create something fun and whimsical to high end, high style very easily. I do prefer the wider 15cm as I can manipulate it to my liking but the smaller sizes are also great. With a great variety of color everybody can find at least one color of the wool fabric that can make them happy. Accent Decor makes this all easy to order online or you can contact them easily by phone.
Anco Lavender Mist Orchid

Photo property of Anco-pure-Vanda

Anco-pure-Vanda - Kanchana Lavender Mist

So clean and so refreshing, I love everything about Kanchana Lavender Mist. I find the small lavender square webbing to be very interesting on the bright white. After seeing the Sunanda Magic Yellow at Baudouin Roelant's show at the 2014 AIFD Symposium, I fell in love with the wonderful variety that Anco-pure-Vanda offers from vibrant oranges to deep blues, and the Kanchana Lavender Mist is the top of the list of what I want to design with.
Second up are some things I Love!

Floral Trends Forecast - Lapis Luxury

How can you not love the power of deep blue lapis and the elegance of white all combined to create this amazing trend Lapis Luxury. What I find the most interesting and love the most about Lapis Luxury is that it's all about simple design with sophisticated details. Go check out all four of the this year's floral trends from the 2015 Floral Trends Forecast and tell us what you think of them.

Flower Trends Forecast - Modern Garden

Texture, texture, texture and just a little more on the side. The combination of the soft palette with a mixture of texture creates that feeling of soft romance on a wonderful spring evening. Though there is a wide combination of containers here, the floral designs take and hold your attention. The last thing I love is the airiness of the clematis and the leaf work taking the design from just another mass of beautiful textures and flowers to a interesting floral creation. All the 2015 Flower Trends Forecast designs where created and designed by Bill Schaffer and Kristine Kratt of SCHAFFER DESIGNS‬ of Philadelphia, PA, USA, so make sure to check out them and the rest of the floral trends.

  McQueens Florist - Youtube Videos. To be taken on a floral adventure is always the most fun to some of us and the McQueens Florist youtube channel, mcqueensflowers, does just that. The videos are usually under 3 minutes and are generally something interesting the McQueen team is up to. From Mulberry fashion show decor to student experience videos, I fall in love with the high quality work, product and teamwork that they show. Go fall in love and be inspired by McQueens Florist as I did.
To round it all out are what I want to try!

Clean Foam

Photo property of Floral Soil Solutions

Floral Soil Solutions - Floral Soil

The very first thing I'm most interested to get my hands on and try out is the new toxic free, 100% plant based Floral Soil. is all about new and innovated floral products and Floral Soil is oozing with everything loves. Once we get our claws on this awesome product we will be doing a review video and then a blog designing with it. Keep your eyes peeled and get ready to see how the floral industry responds to this new age product. Check out Floral Soil and tell us what you think about it.

 DESIGN358 - Mechanics & Techniques with Hitomi. Gilliam: MIDOLLINO SPIRAL Coming in the following weeks I will be trying out the Midollino Spiral and taking you on the ride. When you see a Midollino Spiral no matter what designer has designed with it, your mind will always go straight to the wonderful Hitomi Gilliam AIFD. With the versatility of the Midollino Spiral it's a great way to elevate any simple design or planter to a high style and higher selling creation. Check out this how-to video and then show us how you did with your own Midollino Spiral.

What are some of your wants, loves and tries for the month of October? I have a great line up coming in the next few weeks from renowned event designers to one of the most well known designers in the world! Stay tuned and keep in the loop of all your happenings in the industry.

Till Next Time,

Creative Professional Head Shot?

In the last month or so I’ve seen a few posts regarding peoples head shots for floral industry shows and classes and have even seen a post about a person maybe finding advise that she may not get floral jobs since she was wearing blue jeans in her head shot. This week will be short and sweet as more of a personal opinion; this is something that has been sitting at the back of my mind.


As I know the person’s personality and amazing skills that wore blue jeans in her head shots, I see nothing wrong with her choice. A head shot to me should always show me a little bit of the person’s personality and get me interested to attended their class or program. The person in question is none other than Patience Pickner AIFD, PFCI and she has an exuberant personality and is known for that, so I could never see her putting on a suit or all black for a photo that should sell me her as a product or get me excited for her presentations. When I had first seen her question the persons advise about her head shot in a facebook post, I found it interesting how very quickly floral industry leaders and designers jumped at her for liking or disliking her picture. When I had seen the picture that had sent the facebook post a flitter I was surprised because the photo that was in front of my face was exactly how I would expect Patience to be in a head shot. She had florals, which you don’t find in many floral professional head shots, a nice necklace and a beaming smile that was inviting and happy. Knowing that in the future I will hire Patience due to her kindness and professionalism when it comes to floral presentations and teaching, I find it silly that a person would even think to not hire her due to some blue jeans when she is one of the most up and coming floral presenters and educators paving the way for the future of floral design. Most of the response to Patience’s head shot were supportive in her being a individual and I say thank you to them and the many others that shared how they have been treated due to weight, and even piercings. An interesting thought that was written questioned how Patience wanted to be perceived and I feel that when I see Patience on stage she is always dressed in something lovely in a dress or black pants but in the picture I see someone that is welcoming and interesting, that I would like to attend their show and I would have a great time at it. We are a creative industry that I personally feel needs to show our personality when every we can. We are not lawyers or bankers, we are floral designers that are in a CREATIVE industry and should be selling ourselves as such.


Many opponents to this thinking say that head shots need to be professional and to take a headshot in a solid colored outfit and also many feel that you should be in a business casual attire. As this is considered professional I may just have a young persons view but we are professional floral designers and to me we are artists. Now I’m not saying to pull out your very best Nascar T-Shirt or cut off jeans but I would rather see a designers personal style and expression than a cookie cutter of what a none related industry considers professional or a proper head shot.


When someone is uncomfortable it will show in a picture and as someone that is utterly uncomfortable wearing pants I opted for flat front, kakhi shorts knowing I wanted to have a photo that was me. In most head shots you will not see whats below the collar but many people put a lot of stock in a full outfit and sometimes the cost. I don’t know how to dress myself for crud but in my photo I was comfortable had a interesting floral piece and I actually enjoyed myself. The major issues people had with my picture was my shorts and my floral collar and it all goes back to not being professional enough. I was told that the succulent piece was not appropriate enough for a head shot and shorts are not professional at all. It is time to come to the cross roads of accepting that many have a different view of what a professional florist looks like and as the floral industry evolves it will only broaden that image even more.


Garrett Fairbanks CFD, CF


Garrett Fairbanks CFD, CF Head Shot for Canadian Floral Business Forum in January 2015


Here are some of our favorite designer head shots we like for their personality and individuality!


Annette von Einem – Article


Joseph Massie – Article


What do you think about professional head shots?

Is there a set way that should always be followed?

Are we an industry that should be showing more individuality and interest in our photos?

Tell what you think below or on social media. I think that we are missing flowers and personality that a smile just doesn’t give us in a head shot and really look forward to what you think a head shot should be.

Join us for some of our floral industry favorites this coming #FloralFriday,

Extra, Feature Designer

Joseph Massie | Inspiring Collections

As promised from Monday’s Joseph Massie interview, here are more photos of the beautiful Joseph Massie creations you already got a small taste of.

Enjoy the magic of all of Joe’s beautiful designs and make sure to tell us and Joe what your favorites are.

Living With Flowers | Atlanta Antique and Lifestyle Show Installment | 2014

 Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 09.45.18Image 3 Image 2
Twelve Roses | Installation | 2014


Fresh Flowers X Ice | 2014









Coming Home | Singapore Garden Festival 2014




United By Design | Group Collaboration | The Chapel Designers 2014

Floral Live | Touchwood Couture Installment | 2014

  Image 2 

Image 1


As one of our favorite international designers, always enjoys to see what Joe is up to in the world and fun projects he’s working on. We wish Joe all the luck in the world on his ventures with the UK School of Floristry and all the wonderful things the floral industry has to look forward to with the school. The UK School of Floristry will be relaunching October 1st, 2014 so get ready to see all that the school is going to be offering. Again thank you Joe for taking the time for an interview and sharing all these beautiful designs with us and all our followers. Check out the Joseph Massie, Joseph Massie Flowers and The UK School of Floristry by clicking on their names and show your support to one of the brightest stars of our floral industry.

Till Next Time,

A Title’s Touch

As I sat enjoying a lovely Sunday sketching, planning and preparing for a great showing at the 2014 AIFD North Central Nature’s Creative Edge, it hit me how difficult it is to give a creation a name or a title. To try and fit all of your emotion and love for a design into only a few words is always so difficult. How do you try and express everything about a design to the world without using too many words or emotions? I find it interesting to see what others feel or find when they look at a design or its title, you never know how you will affect someone’s life or bring back certain memories or feelings.


What have some of your favorite design titles been so far? and I would love to hear about how designers came to their final titles or what inspired their design names. We always welcome your photos along with their titles to see what is inspiring our followers and readers.


From all the shows, competitions and demonstrations that have been happening lately, here are a couple of our favorite titles and pieces designed by some of our favorite designers from all the world.

David Ragg
‘Spikey Balls’ By David Ragg Of David Ragg Florist Ltd.
Photo Property Of David Ragg.
Schaffer Designs
‘Kindinsky’s Canvas” by Bill Schaffer and Kristine Kratt of SCHAFFER DESIGNS.
Philadelphia Flower Show 2014
Photo Property of Steve Ladner.
Joe Massie
‘Coming Home’ By Joseph Massie
Singapore Garden Festival 2014
Photo Property of Joseph Massie

Whether the title is very literal, emotional or thought provoking, you can find a great many details in a title and you never know how that title will touch, inspire or make others think just because of a few simple words describing a marvelous design. At the end of all those sketches, planning and preparing, I took twice as long to discover ‘Burst’. So after all the time trying to bottle all of the wonderful emotions and beauty that my design will be, ‘Burst’ came to fruition and I hope you will all have the chance to experience that design as it comes to life. What are some of your favorite designs and design titles right now and if they don’t have a name or title, what would you call the design?

Till next time,










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Extra, Industry Events

A Woodland Affair



Imagine a walk in the middle of the woods that is lit with nothing but thousands of candles, a beautiful Michigan autumn evening and over 30 professionally made large scale floral designs created by designers from all over the United States. Now stop imagining and pencil in the date to attend ‘Suspension’, this years theme of the 2014 AIFD North Central Chapter‘s Nature’s Creative Edge, September 19-21, 2014. You can find all the information at this LINK and show them support on the Nature’s Creative Edge Facebook page.

NCE 2013 First 5 Designs Pic 1
2013 Natures Creative Edge Entrance to the Woods, Picture Property of A. Carmolli

Nature’s Creative Edge is a one of a kind public awareness event hosted by the AIFD North Central Chapter to raise funds for floral industry education September 19 through September 21, 2014. As a designer of the last 4 years I enjoy every year more and more as this is a floral event for refueling your creativity and bringing back your center. Every designer should experience this event as it is one of the few events that is all about you in the woods creating something beautiful for the world to see without any major stress, few requirements and a plethora of world class designers all around you.


This event is hosted on the property of Bob Friese AIFD in the beautiful Fruitport, MI woods. You are parked in a a field then loaded on to a bus which takes you to the depths of the woods to be welcomed into the woods by an AIFD member and directed down a wood chip path all lined with thousands of candles. It is a night of dreaming, fantasy, professionally executed designs and beauty. As you walk down the path experiencing each design you have many opportunities to actually meet the designer and discuss their designs and thought when it came to creating their designs. Get ready for one of the best themes yet as this year for ‘Suspension’ all the designs have to be elevated in the air no closer than 6 inches to the ground.

NCE 2013 First 5 Designs Pic 2

Chandelier Designed By James Lutke, Picture Property of A. Carmolli

The other great part of the night to be known is that the designers have donated their time, the flowers have been provided, and all the support from the community is for the cause of raising money for education. It’s this that makes this night of floral magic worth every second, knowing you are part of keeping floral education and the floral industry strong for a bright future. My other favorite part of this wonderful event is the army of designers and helpers that makes this event happen. It is always great to see how people come together and give so much of themselves for such a great cause, it makes your soul warm and makes you want to get involved that much more.

NCE 2013 First 5 Designs Pic 4

Design by Jim Rauch AIFD, CFD, CF, Picture Property of A. Carmolli

All are welcome to attend and designers are always welcome to assist in designs or creating their own exhibit. The public and designers can contact Alice Waterous AIFD, CF, CFD, PFCI or the Nature’s Creative Edge facebook page with any questions or comments. Make your best effort to attend this once in a lifetime event as you will not find anything such as this display of design anywhere else in the world.


Join us for more pictures on #FloralFriday,

The Power Of A Word

You can find all kinds of words throughout the industry for marketing, sales, and to individualize a company from order-gather’s and the like. What do or your company use to separate yourself from the rest? What words are you using to extend your reach on the internet and to your consumers? We found only a few of our favorites and also some statistics on how certain words are affecting you, your company, and the industry as a whole. There will be some personal opinions and thoughts as we go along also and we always welcome yours in the comments here or on social media.


Negative Word Associations

This week we will start with the negative as we here at always prefer to get that out of the way first.

- Email Marketing -

One of the best ways to get yourself and company out to the masses is the most underutilized of all marketing in the floral industry is email marketing. As this is free and easy to do it's a very easy way to get mass amounts of information but only if your smart with your words. The first thing that all your recipients will see along with all the ads from other stores, credit cards, or individuals is the Email Subject Line. Jay Baer's 15 Email Statistics That Are Shaping The Future at Convince&Convert tells us 69% of people will report an email spam by just the email subject line while 35% will open an email purely because of the subject line. 

- Social Media -

As a visual industry everybody sees what we are doing and if they aren't you are becoming irrelevant without even realizing it. With 75% of adults on the internet using social media this has become the new 'Face' of your business as most people 16-60 go to the internet to find services along with reviews, ratings, and pictures to see if they want to even go to a location physically. So the way you word your posts can seem winded, exhibit good or bad emotions, like or dislike for products, and even a like or dislike for employees and customers all through simple wording. We live in a digital world filled with people that like to make a mountain out of an ant hill so a simple phrase or post with the wrong wording can create a very quick exodus of consumers or industry colleagues. 

Interestingly enough, words to avoid are associated with these groups Sales, Charity, Slang/Trend Words the most according to MailChimp, one of the most recognized emailing and internet marketing websites.

Sales - Avoid using %off, help, sale, discounted, save, don't miss, and last chance. Every major retailer has stuffed this down consumers throats for so many years that society has an automatic negative effect to seeing it in an email versus a store front. Most consumers will not even look at the company and just delete these emails especially on phone or mobile devises. 

Charity - Avoid using Donate, Help, Assistance. Before you go crazy see reason. People that receive these emails associate these very quickly with spammers that steal money or mass donation sites that repeatedly ask for donations after you donate.

Slang/Trend Words - Avoid using LOL, Awesome, YOLO, Cray-Cray and all others. Firstly you've instantly started off your interaction with your consumer as very immature. Never sacrifice your social intellect to try and seem like your keeping up with the youth.

Situational Suggestive Words - Avoid using suggestive words unless you know the audience you are servicing it to will all appreciate it. If a few people get offended that may be fine but loosing to many or loosing influential consumers can be bad for business.

Positive Word Association

- Email Marketing -

For those interested in trying email marketing there are many different service we suggest you check out. There are many different services that help you to get out to the masses without to much effort while still assembling a good looking product (email) for your consumer. Make sure to click on their links to go check them out. Our two suggestions to try out email marketing would be MailChimp and Mad MiMi Email Marketing as they are easy to use and you can start getting those well thought out words out there for a better presence and consumer awareness.

- Social Media Posts-

As the new 'Face' of your business, just like in life you have to watch what you say since with the simplest words you can elevate the image people have of you and your company. Though designers and business owners "don't have time" for social media they need to get on the train before others start taking their business. We suggest Hootsuite to help manage your social media for you. This always you to post an almost all your social media at one time and schedule it months ahead of time to reduce the time trying to do it every so many days. Try and be as short and sweet with your words when posting on social media to capture a persons attention as most people only read the first 2-4 lines of a post and then move on. To use your words to best affect post pictures and link, posts with a well worded explanation of what is in the link or post or why they should click on it can be kept really short with enough buzz words and it also lets your work speak for itself instead of trying to explain what's already there. If you need an example check out Blumz by JRDesigns, Floral and Event Professionals as they take the time to try and connect with their consumers through good short interaction and their loyal 4.3k followers are your proof.

Positive words to use when posting!

Sales - Descriptive Words, 1-2 Lines Minimum, Excitement Words, Proper Names and Terms. When you use words such as extravagance, delicious or other descriptive words create an emotional connection where they look into the post to find those descriptions to experience the post. The shorter the better as very few have an attention span now a days. Using emotional response again you can get them excited by using emotionally responsive words yourself just be careful of using to many capital letters. Those that matter will always appreciate when you use proper names and terms as it shows professionalism and how seriously you take your industry and craft. 

Charity - Fundraise. Of all the words used in trying to raise money for any type of charity, scholarship or really anything the most responsive word to get the most clicks is fundraise as it sounds exactly like what your doing, raising funds for something. Your should avoid writing a lot in a post as most people will ignore your post for being to long, create a link with all the particulars and have a brief post linking to your post.

Slang/Trend Words - Not to much to give you here. Wen you use proper english, you present yourself and your company on a professional level and show good social intellect. Avoid being that one immature designer and keep your industry and consumer image presentable with good posts and content.

Situational Suggestive Words - Our favorite word right now that is perfect for this situation is 'Florgasm', as this team has been able to keep their professionalism and design skill at such a level that the name of the company doesn't outshine them and become overly scandalous. It grasps your attention and makes you wonder but it doesn't step to over the line of being inappropriate. Make sure that using a word that can be scandalous or attention getting that you don't lose yourself and your company in a word that is bigger than you'll ever be. It takes a big personality and sometimes a few to be able to use such words as florgasmic and still maintain a level of professionalism while still having fun.

You should never underestimate the power the words you are sharing have so always be wary how it can affect your business and career. Sadly has found people that we won’t be able to work with until they work on their professional presentation to the industry because of how they use their social media in industry groups or personal pages about industry content. As we work on our grammar and word use we challenge you to always to and elevate yourself and how you use your words on the internet when it comes to your company, you or the industry because you never know who is watching you and how it will affect your future.

Enjoy your day and until next time,


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Extra, Industry Events

2014 Texas Cup Experience

I had the honor of chairing the Texas Cup competition at the 100 Year Celebration of the Texas State Florists’ Association‘s annual convention in Austin, Texas on July 18th, 2014. I came straight from my computer and finding out that I passed my PFDE Exam in Chicago and was asked to be a member of the American Institute of Floral Designers so there was no stopping this girl, so I knew the weekend was going to ROCK!


Upon arriving in Austin I had found that my flowers, generously sponsored by American Agro in Dallas, Texas, had arrived and were waiting for me, and oh how beautiful they were! The flowers I chose were lime green cymbidiums, orange and yellow roses, bells of Ireland, yellow lilies, much more fresh along with a large beautiful succulent plant and a variety of awesome greens, mosses and cool wire from Smithers-Oasis.


The contestants were aware that they would be bringing a prop to fit in the theme of the event, “The Spectrum of Design.. Treasured Memories – Future Vision”, they had $50.00 that they could spend on their prop and could do no advanced design work on it. They also knew they would be doing a wedding design and a surprise situation design.


We had a 5pm pre-competition meeting to inspect props, tools and where the designers could ask any questions they may have had and then were dismissed for 15 minutes before the dinner program started. The show featured Kevin Ylvisaker AIFD, CAFA, he put on an awesome program of how designs have changed over the decades, I unfortunately was busy with the Texas Cup preparations and was unable to see the show but I heard it was amazing. Kevin has a huge personality and shines when he is on stage, so I’m sure it was amazing!


The Texas Cup Crowd


Directly after Kevin’s show we had 15 minutes to set up and the competition began as the audience from Kevin’s show, 167 people in attendance, were served coffee and dessert as they watched the competitors. The first design was the interpretive design and the designers were allotted 45 minutes to complete this design. As I walked around the room I saw some of the first time contestants using ALL of their flowers in their first design, so being a first-timer at chairing I walked around the room nervously and loudly saying, “These are all the flowers you will be receiving”. LOL I truly didn’t know what else to do to give them some sort of chance to remove some of the flowers.


The second design was a wedding bouquet that the designers were given 40 minutes to complete and it went off without a hitch.


Rey Rey
‘Rey Rey’ Rodrigues During The Surprise Piece of The Texas Cup

Now for the Surprise Package…. the contestants were asked to leave the room and step outside for 10 minutes while we set up for the surprise portion, at this time we brought in 20 easels and 20 Smither-Oasis 18″ square and round funeral wreaths. Under their desk I had placed a manila envelope that included the surprise package situation and a photograph of a deceased past president of the Texas State Florists’ Association, the designers were instructed to use the oasis wreath and they had to incorporate the frame into the design to honor the presidents of the past that have paved the way for our floral association to be what it is today, one of the strongest and innovative in the country.


Texas Cup Honorable Mention Debbie Lyon Designing Her Surprise Piece


With many groans and dirty looks being directed at me I knew the posted allotted time of 20 minutes was unreasonable so I added another 10 minutes to the time and they were off and designing. At this time it was 8:30pm approaching 9pm and the judging was underway. That 30 minutes went by extremely fast and some of the contestants are only just now forgiving me for the surprise situation and some may never forgive me, but it was a surprise design. The designers did honor the past and came through as the true designers that they are and made it happen in 30 minutes, I am so proud of all the designers.


Texas Cup Third Place Josh Anderson Designing His Surprise Package


Now it’s 9pm and the judges are working hard behind the curtains, the judges worked from 8:30pm to 1:30am before emerging with a winner of the competition. My judges were Debbie Gordy AIFD, Susan Tate AIFD and Dov E. Kupfer AIFD who is also a certified American Institute of Floral Designers judge so all of my judges were extremely qualified to do the job and it was not an easy task with 20 contestants and 60 designs to judge before they emerged with a winner.


Texas Cup 2nd Place Nora Cisneros Designing Her Surprise Piece


In the end Sheri Jentsch TMF of Blumen Meisters Flower Shop in New Braunsfels, Texas was the first place winner, Nora Cisneros of Flowers of Kingwood in Kingwood, Texas was the 2nd runner-up with Josh Anderson of James Madison High School in San Antonio, Texas receiving third place. Honorable mention went to Debbie Lyon of Hubble and Hudson Bistro in The Woodlands, Texas and Luke Harwell of Baack Flowers in Abilene, Texas.

Texas Cup Winner Sheri Jentsch TMF Designing Her Surprise Piece

I want to thank all of those that helped me get through this experience, being my first chairing experience I had a few Uh Oh’s but we all got through it and I have learned a few valuable lessons for next year. This was one of the most successful Texas Cup Competitions in many years and I am very proud of all the contestants that stepped up and put their hearts and designs on the line to be judged by others. It’s never an easy thing to do, but when you win it is life changing and the most awesome feeling in the world. The sense of accomplishment for all your hard work is acknowledged and you can’t take that away!


Congratulations to all the contestants, you are all winner’s in my eyes!
Hope to see you next year!
Nicola Parker CFD, TMFA



Smart Owner, Healthy Business



Unlike yesterday’s post full of our opinions and thoughts about your personal floral health, today we have collected articles and thoughts about what florists may be missing when it comes to running their business. Please keep in mind we are not business experts or doctors here at, we just have observations and know how to google solutions to some of the issues we see or drive us crazy. For the floral industry to stay strong for many more years to come we the floral designers, crafters and professionals need to stay on top of ourselves and good business. For today we will give you links for each category provided and only 1-3 comments of what our favorite or thought was very educational about said article. So Here We Go!


Business Practices That Go Unnoticed or Get Ignored Do To Stress Or Being "To Busy"

- Employee/Customer Relations
- Owner/Employee Relations
- Online Reviews and Comments
- Industry or Business Image
- Product Sales or Organization
- Business Issues
- Scheduling or Meetings


Employees and Customer Relations

How often have watched your employees sell your products and company to people on the phone or in-store? Even if they have been at your store for 15-30 years they should be representing your company to the very best of their ability and treat every customer as their next pay check. When your customers walk out your door, no matter who they spoke to at your business, the customer should not have a single reason to doubt your companies professionalism and quality and most of the shoppers experience will be placed on the shoulders of your employees.

1. How to Evaluate an Employee’s Customer Relations
This article written by Chris Miksen, for gives you different situations of how to watch you employees customer service to great effect. From how they talk to customers, contact customer, and even the importance of having employees do a quick self evaluation are all include in simple short explanations so this is a quick and easy read and even easier to implement into your business practices to see who may be loosing you customers by they are interacted on behalf of your company.
2. How Does Poor Customer Service Affect a Business?
Lisa McQuerrey lays it down plain and simple the many different ways that your business’s customer service is driving you into the ground. We really like how Ms. McQuerrey shows the impact on profit, customers, and reputation through one solid domino affect. You will find the harsh truth laid out simple for you of how customer service is one of the biggest problems with failing small business.

Owner and Employee Relationships

Are you friends with all of your employees while at work or are you their boss? There is always the struggle of keeping your employees happy but still being a boss. Your employees must always understand that you not a charity and at the end of the day you are running a business and they were hired to do a job. It is also important to make sure that employees understand that you are not running a high school, so they can keep their grips and moans at home about work, each other or any other plethora of topics that have nothing to do with doing their job. This makes for a acid filled workplace that can only lead to a mess of issues at the end of the day. What can you do show you support your employees to better them and your company?

1. Small Business: It’s All About Relationships
Investopedia has broken down really well and simply what relationships a small business owner should have from employees to bankers and they can affect your business and it’s future. As small business owners how many of the those relationships that were listed do actually have established? DO you understand the difference of how to treat an IT guy from a driver? As is made up mostly of a technical side and a creative side with a small in between, learning about these relationships has been been a great read in understand who is better to deal with certain people and parts of a business.

Online Reviews and Comments

Good, mediocre or bad reviews or comments, you should always try your very best to address them all. For the good or mediocre, a response to the personals review or comment can show you value you customers and their opinions. Especially with mediocre and bad reviews you should always be on top of responding in a timely manner. When other’s see that you tried to professionally and calmly rectify the issue or problem they see your professionalism and wether the person with the review was right or wrong in other’s eyes you will be given a chance do to your professionalism and your caring about your customers. You don’t have to give the whole shop to a person but a simple “Thank you, we appreciate your business and support”, or “We sincerely apologize for this mishap, please feel free to contact us so we can fix this issue you for you right away”. It’s all about serving that professional controlled face to people even when you are ready to throw things. According to PricewaterhouseCoopersLLC in 2012 83% of consumers checked reviews, comments, and social media before actually going into or contacting a brick and mortar store.

Does the name of the website not say it all. finds the amount of content amazing when it comes to the topic of reputation. breaks down many different ways of how marketing, hiring or exposure can affect how your company is viewed by others. From being featured on blogs (wink,wink) to how potential hires you can find a great amount of articles on how to handle a multitude of questions when it comes to internet review and comments and the best way to handle them and getting what now is the ‘Face’ of your business out there and well received.
2. Online Reviews – The Small Business Owner’s Guide
Educate Yourself! This step by step helps you to understand the many different ways people can search, review, rate or find you. If throughout the article you don’t understand, google it, if a term comes up and you don’t understand, google it. We live in the world where knowledge is power and knowing how people are finding your company, perceiving your company and deciding to use your service is one of the most important things to understand if you hope to survive in the ever changing world.

Business Image

We live in the world of judging a book by it’s cover, and that’s what can hurt many really good designers and businesses in the long run. If we were to log into any of our personal facebook pages right this second and click on almost any floral industry facebook group, we will find at least 3-4 people that seem to always be complaining about a lot of everything. We don’t have problem with venting as most of us have been there and can support but when it’s all that’s seen from a designer it would make us very weary of working with those designer, is there a reason that seems they always have customers complaining, why are they quick to criticizes but don’t show their own work, why do all of their comments have personal opinions and nothing to contribute to helping the person.

Do you post photo’s of event you’re designing for your own company or freelancing before the event is held? You can believe our freelance designer list can be shortened if one you have time to take pictures on my time and two if I see a photo before the event is done and struck. If you are doing it with your own business be wary that your clients may have some type of connection or way of seeing your post before their event is held. Hell hath no furry like a bride who’s wedding flowers are online before she even walks down the aisle or a marketing team who see’s all their party planning on twitter before the owner even see’s what the company has paid for. Just be careful what or how many times you say something and be very careful when you post pre-event photos no matter how beautiful they are.

1. How to maintain a good online reputation
The reason we like this blog is because it is a personal list by Liz Dexter that is easy to understand and implement into your business or personal life and is a super way of creating your own kind of rules for posting or  doing anything online that could affect your ‘Social Face’. We appreciate how Mrs. Dexter has explains being human and yourself and good place to avoid like complaining about customers and everything in between in short and quick explanations so it doesn’t take a lot of time to read but has a great impact on how you present the ‘Social Face’ to the industry and the consumer.
2. How to Clean Up Your Online Presence and Make a Great First Impression
What does your internet presents say about you as a design, person, or as a business? There is nothing better than being able to start right at the point you’re at right now and being able to follow steps to clean up your ‘Social Face’ on the internet. Alan Henry and have laid out all the steps for you and like i said before, if you don’t understand a term or suggestion google it, they have really created the perfect cleaner for anybody to make personal and business social presence clean and professional.

Product Sales and/or Organization

How many times has been slow and you haven’t went to your straight to the cleaning supplies, you go to grab a vase and your out, your plant section area is all dead? When you get busy you don’t have the time to baby sit your employees so always have well trained staff that know what to do when they are done with their designs for the day or it’s slow. Even doing a walk through with a notepad right before walking out for the day, you can jot down things to be addressed the next day. The great thing about a well trained staff or manager is that they will instantly go to the next project that needs to be done without having to stop you to ask what to do next. It’s very hard to give up that kind of control but it’s very satisfying when you know they will wash the windows and display glass when it’s slow or how much water each plant needs so reduce over watering or under watering. Every shop has it’s own amount of extra time or none at all but there should always be ways of making sure that a business is kept clean organized and well stocked. The biggest part of it all is communication so that you know how your business is operating, when products need bought, or the quality is lacking and not to your standard. With good communication you should never have issues with product sales or organization because you should always know when your getting low on something not when you’ve run out after just selling something.

Business Issues

Along the same lines as before, you owe it to yourself and staff to always be communicating. Leave drama at home unless it effects the work place than squash it like a bug and always keep communication open about how the company is doing to avoid rumors starting. Like we said up top, you do not run a high school so when people are on your time you should solve any drama that has to do with your company and all other drama should be left at the door when employees come in. If employees can work and talk (A rare true trait in designers) then tidy ho talk about that ice cream social last wednesday but if it interferes with the work process in any way turn the music up and get the job done.

When we say to keep communication open about the business we don’t mean everything. An example of what we consider sharing is tell all the employees at the same time that hours are being reduced because it’s one, slow so not as many people need to be there to accomplish the work and two, you honestly can’t afford it with it being slow. When your upfront and honest with your employees, customers and yourself about why you can and can’t do things you will receive respect from that situation. When employees understand why something is happening, it reduces everybody jumping to conclusions such as all of a sudden your shop is closing or you’re firing someone because you just didn’t like them personally. If your business can’t handle something than you need to be honest with yourself, you can’t just keep taking out more and more loans if you know you’ll never pay them back or buy those containers when you can’t afford to pay for this weeks pay checks. When it finally hits you, it will hit you hard and it will be nobody’s fault you didn’t listen or realize what was right in front of your face to begin with.

Meetings and Scheduling

When people get busy they get frazzled and forget things. No matter if that appointment is in 3 hours or 3 months way you should always have it document in at the very least 1 place. Many schedulers are inexpensive or free and will save your life as being late in our book is one of the most un-professional things you can do. So you aren’t missing those meetings or showing up late to those appointments we have collected our favorite schedulers and a couple articles of helpful time organizing tips for busy small business owners.

1. Our Favorites
Google Calendar – Emailed Notifications
iCloud Reminder – Computer Notifications
Phone Calendar – Phone Notifications
2. How to Make a Busy Schedule Effective
In this article you find suggestions in how to manage that crazy schedule without just having a scheduling book. Our favorite tip is having a trusted employee that has enough of your confidence to do things for you. When you have those types of employees you will want to book even more consultations and events but then your just forcing all your stress onto yourself and now more people instead of just focusing on just focusing on the meetings and projects at hand and making them perfect.
3. How to: Keep your sanity with a busy schedule
Do you get flustered when you’ve missed a meeting and it ruins your whole day? You control how being late or missing something effects you, so a few of these suggestions could help you come back down to earth and help you stay from going crazy. You are the one that makes you schedule and it is your own fault if you over schedule yourself not the people you say yes to when scheduling.

Final Bits and Bobs

– Busy people can be perfectly happy and you’ll find some good tips for that here : 10 Happiness Tips for Busy People
– Do you know what your money is doing : Cash Flow Statement
– What makes a Small Business a Small Business? : 16 Surprising Statistics About Small Businesses
– Make Personal and Business Goals : 8 Benefits of Goal Setting
– Why Small Businesses Fail or Stop Growing : Why Small Businesses Fail (or Fail to Thrive and Grow)

Don’t be another statistic of a fail or stagnate business because you were to busy trying to run that business. As we enjoy history here at it may sound cruel but just like great people and civilizations we find the rise and fall of a company to be interesting since it is a learning experience. We hope you are able to find just a little bit of one of these observations to be helpful toward the success of your business since the floral industry is only as great as it’s weakest designer.

Till next week,


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Better Yourself Before Wrecking Yourself

It is very well known that florists take very poor care of themselves. When you aren’t taking proper care of yourself, you’re just causing yourself more health issues, stress, and this may start to affect your company and designing. The other issue of not taking care of yourself is that it can effect those around you, making for weird environments at work and home. dove into the internet to find statistics, advice and easy steps to help super busy people take better care of themselves, their company and their future.


How not taking a second to evaluate yourself or your business could be effecting you.

1. Personal

- Business 
- Nutritional and Physical Health
- Relationships, Business and Personal
- Mental
- Organization and Schedule Outside of Work

2. Business Practices That Go Unnoticed or Get Ignored

- Employee/Customer Relations
- Online Reviews and Comments
- Industry or Business Image
- Owner/Employee Relations
- Product Sales or Organization
- Store or Shop Issues
- Scheduling or Meetings

Even though you don't have the time, it may be worth your time to take a step back and find some answers instead of taking to the internet to complain, communicating with your employees to see if they are really happy with their jobs, taking a bag of carrots to work instead of those Pringles to snack on, or contacting that customer that left you a bad review.
We will be doing the personal suggestions today and the business statistics and helpful thoughts/opinions and suggestions on Friday! 

Here are some things to try doing, check out, or think about!

1. Leave business at work and home at home! 

- When you take your work home, you take away the time to spend with your family and for your body and mind to rest. When the body and mind do not rest, no matter how much sleep you get, you will start to become easily tired, emotionally touchy, burned out or unorganized. The other important part of your life is your family, and when you have no time for them, then they in turn will find they have no time for you. It's hard to love someone when you have to compete with a business or job for affection or you miss important life moments because you're just too busy. It's when you miss those first steps or look at your partner and find the spark gone in their eyes that you will understand what I'm saying.

 - On the other side of the coin, unless it is urgent or important, when you are at work be at work. You should be updating photos on Facebook or websites or pushing a sale on those gerberas you have extras of, not checking out beach wear. You should be focused on getting the wedding finished instead of discussing so-in-so aunt's cousin's sister that got a new cat and it hates snow. There is always a little time to appreciate everybody's life, but you are there to make money, and unless you are one of the few designers that can work and talk at the same time, put that energy into your work. If you have to remember to do something at home, set yourself an alarm on your phone or write yourself a note and stick it to your steering wheel. This will reduce having to spend time worrying about getting that milk after work, and more time getting your proposals all done and sent out.

2. What are putting in your mouth?

I'm not saying you have to be on a diet or become a vegetarian, but you are only as good as your body. As a designer that has dealt with life threatening illnesses and now dealing with long term things such as arthritis, I completely understand how important it is to take care of your body. Not only can you try and avoid illness, your energy levels, blood pressure levels and overall mood can be affected. Heart issues, Diabetes, and muscle/bone deterioration are some of the worst issues florists are dealing with today and since you're all adults I'm going to be offering easy food ideas that are hopefully quick, can be prepared ahead of time, or are good replacements for an easy start. I will never be able to replace those Christmas cookie plates that cute little old ladies bring in or the shop pot luck every so often, but simple changes can make a great impact.

~ Plain Donut with Mixed nuts. A plain donut has around 280 calories compared to your basic bakery muffin's 510 calories. This is based off a Dunkin Donuts' plain donut and a basic bakery muffin. The nuts provide you with a great source of protein and you can throw in a milk or juice along with this.
~ Breakfast Sandwich! Throw toast or english muffins into the toaster while you're getting your coffee and when they are toasted throw some deli meat or an egg(if you have time) and a slice of good cheese and you're good to go. This takes a lot less time than it seems as everything is already cut up and this can be wrapped into a paper towel and easily travel.
~ To-Go Parfait. Fill a tupperware container (I use the 2 cup/473 ml Rubbermaid container) with the yogurt of your choice, throw in some granola or trail mix, some nuts for protein and some fruit to help give you energy till lunch. You can put the yogurt into the container the night before so that when you are running out the door, all you have to do is throw whatever sounds good into the container, pop on the lid and you're out the door!

As most designers skip lunch, I have one good snack and one good lunch suggestion.
~ Healthierish Sandwich! Try and use a whole wheat or multi-grain bread (look for whole wheat flour, avoid wheat flour and enriched bleached flour) for a higher amount of nutrients. If you don't like bread, use a pita or a tortilla. Add hummus instead of bbq, ketchup or mustard, as it is high in fiber and protein, so it will keep you feeling fuller longer and it is a great low calorie substitute. Throw your favorite veggies on it, mine are usually spinach, peppers, onions, and sometimes shredded carrots. All can be cleaned and prepped beforehand saving time. Wrap that baby in some wax paper or a tupperware container, grab a couple pieces of fruit and get to work.
~ Grazing Replacements and Ideas! Pre-cut vegetables are so easy and can be prepared way before hand so there is no time wasted and only excuses made to not eat them over chips or popcorn. The easiest are peppers, baby carrots, grape or cherry tomatoes and celery. Nuts are also a great snack as there are many different kinds and they are one of the best snacks for you if you get lightly salted or unsalted. Natural trail mix or granola have such a wide variety to choose from, you get sweet, nutty and granola flavors all for the price one. 

-Dinner is the least important of meals, but the one meal that most people focus on, so here are some recipes to do. These may not be easy but as a person that finds cooking therapeutic at the end of the day, you might enjoy it also.-

~ Cajun Shrimp and Rice ~
~ Thai Noodle-Steak Salad ~
~ Gnocchi with Summer Vegetables ~
~ Rosemary and Ranch Chicken Kabobs ~
~ Lemon Cheesecake with Baked Plums and Blackberries ~
~ Tangerine Ginger Sake Sangria ~

3. Relationships

Even when you're tired and maybe you had a bad customer, always be careful how you express your work day to those outside your workplace so people don't think that it is the only thing you ever have to talk about. Too much complaining to or in front of some people will usually result in those people not wanting to work with you or find ways of avoiding you. Though it's good to let off steam every once in a while try and monitor how much your doing it on social media or repeatedly to people around you to avoid losing friends, customers, or future jobs.For every time you unload on someone try to listen to someone or a couple people twice as long so that it shows you are aware of others and not just yourself. Always remember the boy that cried wolf too many times and that should help you in the end. My final thought for relationships is how do you treat other designers or industry colleges when not needing something from them? It's always good to try and get to know those people you call your friends but only see them 3-5 times a year. You never know where you'll find an amazing real friend instead of just trying to find user friendly friends you just get rid of when you get what you want. Interestingly enough, the one person that was the most user friendly I've ever met, that cared very little for people unless they are a benefit to that person in some way, taught me that it's important to invest in friendships for a strong relationship in the future and I hold that very dear when it comes to making friends and keeping them.
DSC04389 DSC03268
4. Deep Breath and Count to 10!

No matter how strong of a person you think you are if you don't take a second to breathe and relax your mind you'll find yourself dealing with anxiety, depression, confusion, and any other major issues that can ruin your every moment. 9 different major kinds of depression affect 6.8% of american adults and 6 different kinds anxiety affect 18% american adults making anxiety the top mental illness in the US according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Sadly there are many large names in our floral industry that have suffered greatly from debilitating depression and anxiety, but some have been able to find their way back to running powerful business and rebuilding strong careers through meditation, medication, time management, simple added lifestyle practices and additions of routines to their days. 

You can always find help in our industry when ever you feel that everything is just falling apart or you are coming to a point of not being able to handle things. We here at are always here to help point you in the right direction and so are so many of the great people throughout our industry all you need to do is take the hardest step and contact us. If you ever get to such a severe point you can always call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24/7 or you can visit any emergency room and they will help you with anxiety attacks or any questions or problems.

Easy Tricks for Mentally Relaxing

- Step back, close your eyes, count to 20-30 and do deep breaths -
- Carry A Notebook, You can always write down what you need to do in a day, what is stressing you out, or thoughts you don't want to forget but don't have the time to remember them at that moment. This creates a referents for later in the day or for the next day so you don't have to keep 5000 things in your brain. -
- Meditate, as one of the oldest ways of helping with depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure this is one of the best ways of relaxing your find and your body. This can be done at the end of the day or to start the day. From yoga to Tai Chi there is no wrong way to meditate. Check out this LINK to get yourself a confidence boost and to get started! -
- Create a routine where you have more structure and a formal schedule to follow so you will have more control of your time and have a better feel of what will happen during the day. -


5. Scheduling

Whether it's a physical planner/scheduler, computer calendar or program, phone calendar or phone alarm clock. Taking 5 seconds to jot down when and where you need to be is a great way to reduce a ton of stress and save great amounts of time. The great thing about computer or phone programs such as google calendar is that you will be notified with messages or warnings so you won't be late and don't have to worry about remembering the meeting or event all day long. When you can reduce the amount of things going on in your head you can focus on whats going on around you and devote more of yourself to it and make it perfect and reduce the stress of remembering who, what when, where and why until you have to. 

Though this was a bit of a rant and many of you will disagree with the points I have made, I remind you that it’s an opinion and observation that has been stated throughout the article. There’s so much more to taking care of yourself and bettering yourself. If anything, think about how you are affecting family, colleagues, customers, and people around you, as well as how they perceive you. I could care less that you wear nice clothes, have a nice car, or have a bunch of things because at the end of the day if you can’t take of yourself or others around you, then what are you really stressing out and being so busy for? Remember, we don’t live forever so make the best of the very short time you have, and try and enjoy your life while you still have time.

Join Me Tomorrow,