Grow with Joe

Embrace Education In All Shapes and Forms

I passed my CAFA evaluation and was inducted into the organization in 2012; five years later, I became a board member. Last year, I built up the confidence to travel to Seattle and test for my AIFD designation. I came up short, achieving the next tier (Certified Floral Designer designation) instead. Some might say I failed, but I was ecstatic having achieved that honour on my first try. I learned so much in the testing experience and subsequent symposium. I can’t wait to go back and conquer this AIFD challenge. I have the European Master Certification in the back of my mind, as well!

Say yes to any learning opportunity—especially if it will challenge you—and offer to get involved. Say yes to floral friends, industry committees and boards, design competitions, teaching and mentoring experiences, a magazine column or blog, accreditation, workshops, and more.

And build up your fellow florists; we’re all stronger together. I challenge you to always be learning from each other! Interested in joining CAFA? Purchase your 2018 membership package before March 9th.

See you at the Canadian Florist Business Forum, April 21, and the Niagara International Association of Florists Design Show, April 22!

It takes many years for most of us to get to a point where we feel like confident, superstar florists who are eager to take on any project. One way to gain that confidence is to jump right in. Sign up for every floral design competition you can find; there are so many out there! Some of my first awards were designs I made in my apartment, photographed myself, and submitted to different floral organizations. It’s such an ego boost to be recognized by your industry peers!

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Get excited when a complex event concept comes your way. Use inspiration from someone’s life to create a meaningful design to help a family grieve in their time of loss or to capture a bride’s vision of her dream day. Push and challenge yourself to learn something new everyday! Confident florists love the brainstorming and the problem solving that goes with it—visualizing the styles, themes, and colours that could be.

Join groups and pages all over social media, there’s so much inspiration and advice that florists all over the world are sharing. It’s important to stimulate your creative brain. My biggest fear is getting stuck in my ways!

Floral design workshops and industry organizations like CAFA and AIFD can offer us even more opportunities to be creative, learn, and share. I attend the Niagara International Association of Florists’ design show every year with a few of my floral friends. And you’ll always see me in the crowd at the Canadian Florist Business Forum. (Incidentally, the two programs will be held back to back this April.)

The best florists are always learning. We share our experiences, good and bad, in the hopes we can help make life easier for our floral tribe. It’s great to have people with whom you can bounce ideas. There are often other perspectives we didn’t initially consider. This can help you avoid costly mistakes or make a good idea great. Floral design requires us to constantly learn new techniques, flower varieties, and trends; absorb new care and handling science; and find solutions that save time and money. We’re all students and we’re all teachers.

Having a background in the arts, horticulture, or business can give you advantages. Additionally, a formal floral education, like the one Seneca College offers, provides a very important foundation for a career in flowers, ensuring you understand proper care and handling, the elements and principles of design, botany, floral artistry, floral design development, and practical design techniques and processes. Formal programs also offer opportunities such as student memberships within industry organizations including the Canadian Academy of Floral Art and the American Institute of Floral Designers. So many networking opportunities arise just by being present.

Joseph Delarge
Joseph DeLarge, CAFA, CFD, is the owner of eco|stems in Toronto.
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