In the last decade, there have been reports that family flower businesses are on the decline. The industry is changing and long gone are the multi-generational shops, they say, leaving behind shops that are less connected, both internally and in their communities.

But I want to let you in on a secret. The family flower shop is not gone … it just looks a little different. Citation

Once you take the plunge and tell your loved ones that you are leaving your corporate job with its fabulous pay (but soul sucking work), they will look at you and think you are crazy. But I say, good for you! You are following your passion. What your relatives don’t know is, by no choice of their own, they have also become a part of this wonderful world by extension.

As soon as you start your new career, you will quickly discover you need your closest people around you to achieve your dream. This is not to say that you don’t hire wonderful staff and support people. It’s just that you will need to call on your inner circle to lend a hand from time to time.

As a freelance designer, I have been privileged to go into shops and studios of all shapes and sizes all over the world. I have met many relatives and friends whose only connection to our industry is the love they have for the owner or designer. As florists and designers, we instinctively ask, recruit and “voluntell” many of those closest to us when we need help.

We bring mothers, husbands, sisters, brothers-in-law, neighbours and friends—and even sometimes your hairdresser’s son home from university—to help us get through all of the holidays, weddings, and big design jobs we have.

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Why does this happen? Why is Cousin Charlie delivering on Christmas and Crazy Aunt Annie processing hundreds of hydrangeas during wedding season?

Well here is my theory:Citation

We bring in family and friends during busy times not because we can’t hire and staff properly, not because we take on more than we are capable of, and not because we don’t want to pay extra for overtime. It’s because we know that, during our most stressed out manic moments, our loved ones will keep going and we can trust they won’t leave. It’s never a problem. They are used to us freaking out and will still call us their husband/wife/mother/father/sister/brother/cousin/friend or simply “Crazy Aunt Jennifer.”
The kids will still take us out to brunch the Tuesday after Mother’s Day, once we’ve slept off the week of nuttiness. Our neighbours will still invite us to their New Year’s Eve party, even after we asked them to make flower deliveries in 39 feet of snow on December 24. And your partner will have that glass of wine ready when you finally lock the door at 10:45 p.m. on February 14. They will tell you they are proud of you, and will point out that you survived with little to no bloodshed!
It’s an amazing industry we work in. We have intense deadlines, late nights, and highly emotional events. We become close to our staff as we push through these high stress situations. They become family too. So to set the record straight, traditional family-run shops are not gone. The family has just gotten bigger as we adopt more loved ones to help us celebrate the lives of our communities. This is what makes our industry evolve and improve. I, for one, am blessed to have a huge, international floral family.

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Jennifer Harvey
Jennifer Harvey is the owner of Jennifer Harvey Designs and Beleafs Home and Garden Care in Brockville, Ontario.

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