A florist is someone who arranges flowers and other plant elements into a pleasing design. The arrangements are used primarily for celebratory events like weddings, birthdays and Valentines Day, but are also used for hotels, catered events, homes, funerals and saying 'I love you'. Florists were once almost exclusively owners of small independent shops; however, with the recent invention of internet-based delivery services and all-in-one convenience markets, many are now employed by larger companies.
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Florists design and create arrangements of flowers in wreaths, bouquets, vases and centrepiece elements. Sometimes florists may design entire rooms or outdoor areas, and fill them with flowers in a pleasing arrangement. This is especially true in the case of extravagant weddings or parties.
Some florists stick to pre-formatted layouts in order to design their flower arrangements while others are true artists, or floral designers, who create their own patterns or design original works on commission. Typically, floral designers earn more for original creations, though the demand is much less due to both the cost of original designs and the availability of a wide variety of pre-existing designs.
Though creating floral arrangements for events and parties is the typical responsibility of florists, they are also artists who may create designs for other purposes. There are floral competitions, for instance, where floral artists create elaborate displays and art pieces. Pieces can include a ladies hat made entirely from leaves, or a temporary sculpture of a horse made from the stems and heads of sunflowers. With success in these competitions, florists improve their reputation and often receive more business as a result.
In addition to arranging flowers, florists are also responsible for their care. They must be proficient in all aspects of plant care and be able to maintain a wide variety of species in the flower, foliage, herb and ornamental grass families. Plants used in arrangements must be picked at the peak of their beauty and last as long as possible after being delivered to the client. Successful florists will choose a balance between the hardiest and most beautiful species.
Though many floral designers work in retail, some become so knowledgable and passionate about plant care that they are able to transition to working in a wholesale capacity. Wholesale florists operate business-to-business organizations in which they grow plants specifically for retail floral shops. In addition, they may create pre-designed floral arrangements that are disbursed to convenience stores.
The minimum requirement for floral designers is usually a high school diploma. Floral designers traditionally come into the field by applying for work at a local floral shop. After gaining years of practical experience, some branch out and form their own companies.
Florists must be skilled in the three basic types of floristry: Ikebana, English Garden and High Style. Each has it's own distinct look and type of flora, and floral artists should be knowledgable of each. Moreover, they must understand which types of flowers or decorative styles are appropriate for which event, whether it be a funeral or wedding. Furthermore, they must keep current on the latest fashions and trends in floral design in order to meet the needs of their customers.
Of particular importance is the knowledge of the individual attributes of each type of plant species, and when each is in season. This is important so that the floral designer is able to keep the correct plants in stock, maintain them appropriately and know how they will interact with other species. Florists should also know about how long each flower will last, so that they can create arrangements that will last as long as the events in which they are used.
Most florists, if they are not working as part of an internet-based flower retailer, carry out their daily responsibilities in an independent shop. In addition to a private area for working on floral arrangements, shops will usually have a large retail display area with a wide array of flowers customers can browse. Depending on the regional area and season, floral designers will maintain this front office space or even a street side display of their offerings. They also maintain one or more coolers, depending on the size of the shop, where flowers are stored to lengthen their useful life.
Along with these responsibilities, florists work with customers in the shop or on the phone to take orders and discuss custom floral designs. Floral designers working in these shops usually have a regular schedule, arriving when the shop is open and leaving at closing time. In some cases, floral designers who also manage the shop must work after-hours, usually to catch up on bookkeeping duties or to fulfill large orders.
Florists employed by larger companies, especially internet-based floral shops, almost always work a traditional 40-hour work week. They usually work in an industrial environment, creating arrangements according to specifications set out by the work orders they receive. These designers may also be responsible for packaging the flowers and preparing them to ship to customers.
Florists typically earn around $23,000 annually. The very talented and business savvy, however, may earn $35,000 or more. Income is largely weighted on the state of the economy, since consumers tend to spend much less on extravagant weddings and other parties during difficult economic times. Other factors include geographical location and clientele demographics, with more success typically found in large cities with a wealthier population.