Bill Schaffer AIFD, AAF, PFCI & Kristine Kratt AIFD, PFCI

In 1852, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to pass a Compulsory Education Law. Since then, it is generally accepted in the United States that compulsory schooling ends in most states by age 16. Through self-motivation or a parental push, many in society continue their studies through trade schools, college and beyond.

In the mass-market segment of the floral industry, once an interviewee becomes and employee: is that the end of their floral education? Many job-seekers bring years of floral design and floral management experience to their newly hired positions while others are wide-eyed and unskilled, but willing to learn. For years, the newly-hired employee has been trained on care & handling and merchandising and finally as a floral designer. Floral Department Managers and other experienced designers are often designated as trainers for these new hires. In some it is hard work that nurtures success; in others it is a natural talent that emerges: but again, is that the end of their floral education?

In 2012, we were in attendance at a Floral State Convention when the audience was asked to raise their hands to the questions: Who works at a traditional mom & pop, brick & mortar flower shop? Who works exclusively in the wedding/event industry? Who works out of their home or non-storefront studio? Hands were going up everywhere … though not all hands were being raised. After some serious consideration; the other 30% + attendees finally and timidly raised their hands when a lightbulb turned on and the question – “who works in a supermarket?” was asked. It was an eye-opening realization for both of us. We always believed it didn’t matter how flowers found their way into a consumer’s hands and these people were there to do exactly what we believed in. We were educators because we have always been concerned about the quality of floral design that was being produced.

Since then, we have both had the continuing opportunity to work with mass-marketers through overseas product development through nationally recognized companies in both the fresh flower and hardgoods industries. It isn’t that we just started working in that capacity – it is now we were working with a better understanding and a heightened awareness of who was actually using the products that were being developed. So, we ask; is floral education a new trend. For years, companies have invested in their floral division through available Wire Service Design Shows and other industry-related events. What makes floral education a trend is that more and more companies are investing in the conscientious education of their employees.

Companies are no longer waiting for design shows to come to them. Mass-marketers are bringing the education through the front door. They are educating their floral division through internal design shows, design workshops and merchandising competitions. Some companies have created local, regional and corporate-wide design competitions. These competitions push the limits of their floral designer’s skills in not only design but recipe and time management. These internal floral education business and design shows offer conversation through their in-house networking. The designers are pushing their skill levels at each event.

Four years ago, during a floral design presentation for a grocer; the hundreds of attendees were asked if they knew who many of the top Instagram floral designers were. Less than 5% of those in attendance knew who they were. At the same company’s show this year almost 50% of the audience raised their hands in awareness of knowing who some of the top online Floral Design Influencers are from around-the-world. Their company’s educational dollars are nurturing their employees desire to reach out, become more aware of what they do and what others are doing. They are challenging them and in turn their employees are challenging themselves to improve their skills, to better themselves and in the end – through education – become better employees.

Floral education in the mass-market segment is trending – at least it is in many companies. If not in yours: it should be.

Originally published in the March 2018 Issue of Super Floral Magazine

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