Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: Session 10

We have a new panel member! Meet Nick Priestly, owner of Mood Flowers

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After gaining an Honors degree in International Business & Languages and pursuing a career in London’s financial district, Nick returned to Glasgow in 2003 to open Mood Flowers with his wife Vivienne and retrained as a florist.

Nine years later his business now operates from an 1,800 square foot design studio designing flowers for over 200 weddings per year, looks after the flower requirements for the majority of the west of Scotland’s 5 star hotels and creates memorable flowers for corporate and private events.  Nick also teaches floristry to the public at the Mood Flowers School, allowing students an opportunity to learn all elements of floristry as well as gain an insight into his day to day work.

Nick is the roving international reporter writing a monthly column for Florist & Wholesale Buyer focusing on a different world city each month. He has also served as the florist expert on the live TV show The Hour and written a weekly flower column in Right at Home magazine which is part of Scotland's biggest selling Sunday newspaper.

His clients include: Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens, Cameron House and Blythswood Square. Recipients of Nick’s designs include: Her Majesty The Queen, Rihanna, P Diddy, Cyndi Lauper, Keira Knightley, Kylie Minogue and Joan Rivers.

Welcome, Nick!

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The Question:

“I had a few miscommunications with my wholesale sales rep about some needed colors for my last wedding - I even sent photos and described my color scheme as best as I know how, but this always seems to happen. So, I think I need to start memorizing variety names. Are there any sources for a complete list of flower varieties?  I've found a few wholesale websites with a pretty good list, but are there any other books or an encyclopedia of sorts out there with a complete list?”

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The Answers:

Flower varieties are constantly changing and varieties are constantly being stopped, so any books we have had become old very quickly.  We are just always researching and talking with our suppliers, finding out what they have available in a good quantity and of course good quality.

Everyone sees colours slightly differently so it's much easier to talk on different varieties than colours no matter what flower it may be.”

-Gemma Bain (Planet Flowers)

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Sierra Flower Finder is an amazing resource for many flowers that are available on the auction. Regarding substitutes, I've started putting an "acceptable substitution" line on my orders, so that my wholesalers have a better sense of what I'm looking for. For example, I had an event with a palette of pale pink with dark purple accents. I ordered majolica roses and received vivienne (pure white, and it didn't really work). Now, I add "princess" or something else in soft pinkly white as a sub. I also let them know when a sub is o.k. and when it's not. Sometimes I can go without my preferred flower altogether and it's very important that the wholesaler knows this. Finally, put your order in a month in advance (or ask your wholesaler about timing) and you might have an even better chance of getting what you want. All that said, keep in mind that sometimes it's out of their hands - what you want just might not be available.”

-Clare Day (Clare Day Flowers)

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“Truthfully it sounds like your sales rep is not doing their part to educate you about their product. Finding pictures on the internet is not going to help you know about what your wholesaler offers. Each variety will vary depending on the farm where it is grown or from the wholesaler you buy from. I would suggest a day in your wholesaler’s cooler with a camera. You must remember that each farm produces a slightly different flower. Flowers vary in color and formation based on the sun they receive, the temperature, and even the care they receive. Each batch will be different and unique. It’s by designing regularly that you begin to know the flowers and the unique characteristics of each variety, farm, or wholesaler. I have found pictures on the internet to be very misleading.  I expect my wholesaler to explain clearly the petals they are pushing or I expect them to match their product to a picture I produce. So again, I think you need to speak with your wholesaler and see if they can help a flower sister out!!!”

-Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)

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“I think getting the right colors and varieties of flowers in is the hardest part of the job.  I always specify specific varieties, but at every event I still get a lot of product that comes in wrong.  I think the only solution is to learn to be flexible and roll with the punches, because I’m just not convinced that anything will ever come in all perfect. I always send the person in charge of my order a portion of my proposal for the event so that they can see the entire picture and if they have to suggest subs, they will know where I am trying to take the flowers.  They always thank me for that and say its very helpful.  I have yet to find a really great resource for variety names for all of the flowers that I like.  I spend a lot of time doing Google image searches.”

-Sarah Winward (Honey of a Thousand Flowers)

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“I went through this exact issue with a local wholesaler I used for the first couple years of starting my own business. It is really frustrating not to mention a little nerve wracking when you are unwrapping flowers and you're not sure what you are going to find! It didn't seem to matter how many visuals or descriptive words I used we just weren't seeing eye to eye.  I would peruse their cooler on my days off and write down the names of flower varieties as well as look at online flower distributors and have my own little handbook I could refer to when placing orders, but there was still a disconnect. Eventually I found another wholesaler and a salesperson I adore and when I say purple she asks me exactly what shade I'm talking about--aubergine, lavender, antiqued, etc.. When I open a box of flowers I know that what I was imagining is in there. It is a huge relief and a completely different experience--much less stress and more focus on designing with great materials rather than trying to figure out how to make something work when it isn't what you were expecting!  My advice is to find a salesperson you can trust who can act as your eyes in the flower market and understands your color vision and what you are trying to accomplish. It's not the easiest task but once you find that person you will be so grateful you did! Having a salesperson that specializes in events is key as they understand the event/wedding flower industry is much different than retail.   The bottom line is that it's difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish your envisioned designs without the proper materials and a great salesperson is a huge part of that process. Good luck!”

-Elisabeth Zemetis (Blush Floral Design)

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“This always happens to me and I always order by the variety.  When I first started I ordered an extra bunch of roses in a different variety with each wedding order so I could see what it looked like in person (because sometimes photos aren’t very accurate for colours) and how it opened, smelt, the strength and thorniness of the stem.  Basically I did the research myself.  But that all goes out the window most of the time because I will order the varieties I want and end up not getting them but being given just a basic white rose to replace my off white with a tiny hint of blush one for example.  It’s just something I have learnt to accept now.  A good source for names and pictures for all flowers which I have found is actually Floret Cadet’s “Flower Types” Pinterest board, just the best!”

-Kristy Marek (Imbue Weddings)

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“I used to ask my wholesaler about this. Most of the time they are happy to provide me with leaflets and booklets from growers, the auction in Holland, associations etc.. It's in their interest as well,  that I can get exactly what I want. Now they know I want this kind of information, so as soon as they have something new they let me know.”

-Emelie Ekborg (Svenska Blomsterbloggar)

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“I use a couple of reference books published by the Flower Council of Holland; however, there is still the issue of the colour of the flower in the photo versus the colour in real life. To counter this I educate my brides to let them know that because Mother Nature grows the flowers there can be variations in colour even from week to week. Wedding flowers often look better when there is variation in a palette of colours rather than the colour of each flower variety being an exact match to the other flowers.”

-Nick Priestly (Mood Flowers)

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“I used to have a paper version of Flora Holland's catalog on my bed table... but somehow, I got to learn the names and not use it anymore. I am not sure they still edit it anyway, but it is available on the internet: http://flowers-catalog.com/en. Flora Holland does gather all the varieties grown in Holland and supplied mostly in Europe. They have a very loooooong list, and their website is not so user friendly... but I like the fact that you can search for species by availability periods.”

-Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)

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Thanks Emelie, Nick, Kristy, Sarah, Elisabeth, Holly, Clare, Laetitia and Gemma! I would have to say that this issue was the most stressful and frustrating part of designing events for me. I had the same experience that Elisabeth described and I would agree with her advice. Life is too short to try and force a harmonious relationship with a wholesaler you don’t “click” with. Go out on a limb and find one that suits your needs better. You won’t believe the difference!

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Enjoy a few amazing Flowerwild designs before heading off to work…

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Happy Wednesday!

1 comment:

Mimi said...

Found this post so helpful I agree with those who said that you need a great salesperson who is really going to work for you. I basically work with the particular varieties I know my wholesalers carry. I also keep records of the names of the flowers in various colors that I like. Keeping an open mind is crucial. My contract also states that I'm not responsible for slight variations in colors though I work very hard to please my clients.