Do you remember when there was no social media? No Instagram, no Facebook, no Twitter or Snapchat to share every minute of our lives? No high-tech cell phone to snap a zillion images of your work and then upload in seconds? I can! Yes, I am that old, youngsters. And who am I? Let me introduce myself. My name is Shelley Anders and just like you, I was for many years, a hardworking florist and downright flower fanatic. Alright, I am still a flower fanatic, but I have made the transition from the retail flower world to the wholesale flower world. If you don’t know me already, I am currently Branch Manager for our Mayesh Carlsbad location, and I’ll be writing a series of monthly blog posts (a great novelist is born! Ok, big aspirations maybe... I am terrified already. You lot can be pretty excitable!) taking you down a journey through my many years of being a florist. I’m what you call a “lifer” in this business… you OG florists will know what I am talking about.
Some of my past work from the last 4-5 years.
But to you, the up and coming new generation of floralizers (a term coined by a fave flower friend of mine) can you imagine what it was like being a florist in those dark ages? As little as eight or nine years ago, to get started, a hard working florist only needed to have a brick and mortar in a good location. Here’s how it went: after you agonized for weeks on what to name your new baby business, you created an eye catching and spiffy logo... check. Designed some really great business cards and had them made… check. Placed an ad in a wedding magazine to catch a bride’s attention… check. Talked to the local church and funeral home to get your name out there… double check. Advertised in the newspaper and signed up for a wire service, et.Voila! You were on your way.
And pics? Oh, those wonderful things we take for granted these days. Those were actual, real life photographs and you ordered them from whatever photographer was shooting the wedding. And you waited for weeks sometimes to get those precious few prints back. These were not inexpensive, so you picked and chose from the best of your weddings. You might have to settle on five or ten prints. At $5-10 a pop, ordering prints was an investment. Then you would build a portfolio of your best work, which amounted to a bunch of big ol’ heavy photo albums that showcased your proudest weddings and events.
Ugh, it was a lot of work. These bought and paid for prints from photographers who still used traditional film were such an investment and a time consuming endeavor in itself. I swear, some of the photographers I worked with held my pics like little hostages sometimes for months. See, you were low man on the totem pole in their very busy lives and it was not a money maker for them. It would often take some cajoling and constant phone calls to get those babies back. But the more albums you had the better… that was what couples wanted to see. The alternative was a very dated wire service book (or your own amateurish photos) and those stayed hidden under the counter and only brought out if needed. We are so lucky these days with the new generation of smartphones. They do everything for us in minutes.
More of my work... ahem, Pantone of the Year IRL, four years early ;)
When that very cool advertising option, the web page, came into existence, we lost our damn minds. Now that was cool! An exciting and new way to share your business! Websites, however, were also an expensive investment. I spent several thousand dollars having a website designed, built and maintained. And I had to sell a kidney of course - I could barely afford it.
When blogs were born, even better! By then, I had a snazzy new digital camera and could upload my images and broadcast my work to the world. Digital cameras became a godsend for everyone. Being able to take your own decent quality pics and upload them much faster than getting professional prints back was a godsend… if you were techy enough to figure it out. Before that, most of my flower friends and I would use disposable cameras and hoped we’d remember to get them developed. Lord knows I have a stockpile somewhere of those ancient, dusty things. If I ever did get them developed, those pics would be grainy and a nostalgic look at my past work, to be sure. In fact, I was able to dig up a few...
No, dolls, I have not become my parents whining about “remember when you could get gas for 50 cents a gallon?” I am progressive, I like change! I like technology and how it has helped improve our lives. I have always considered myself a forward thinking, trend friendly florist, and I still do. And right now there is something truly remarkable and life transforming that has happened to the floral industry in the past five years. The juggernaut called Social Media.
It has created something akin to a “gold rush” in the floral industry. Thousands of young people, and mostly women I might add, are embracing a new career as a florist. I suspect it is the result of all the amazing imagery we are seeing from florists like Sarah Ryhanen from Saipua, Anna Potter from Swallows and Damsons, Ariella Chezar and a host of other high profile Instagrams that influencer-florists share. Sarah Ryhanen herself can almost single handedly claim the birth of this wild garden movement just from her own gloriously stunning photos of her work. I can still remember the day I first saw her work in a magazine… this was back in April 2010. As was the trend, we were all designing tight AF roundy little sculptural art pieces with florals. Almost anally controlled to the point of rigidity. But Sarah’s work (Sarah is a disciple of Ariella Chezar’s style of design and if you don’t know Ariella’s work... you should) suggested something from another time and place. Loose, wild, Dutch master gardens with naturally grown-from-the-garden flowers... and we haven’t turned back since. I was not surprised to find out that she was a fan of Ariella Chezar’s, and Ariella, I am sure, inspired by designs from “The Godmother” of wild and natural botanical designs herself: Constance Spry, a British florist from the 1920’s who single handedly changed the way folks designed back then. A big thank you also to Ariella for always staying true to her own style over the years and giving inspiration to this new generation of florists. In the nearly three decades I have followed her, she has never deviated much from her own personal style.
Constance Spry pioneering the garden style movement. Image
So back to Sarah.
What was even more truly remarkable about Sarah’s work were the images she created with her floral designs. Shot with a Canon 50D, the quality was unsurpassed and not what we were used to seeing from a florist. Sarah spearheaded the moody look. Often darkly lit, the gorgeous flowers almost emerged into focus right in front of our eyes. This critical turning point in how the image looked was just as important as how the design looked. Not only did we care about how the arrangement was designed, but the overall aesthetic as well. This is important because later that same year, Instagram (launched October 2010) would give us a free platform to showcase our work in real time, 24/7.
Moody magic in the Saipua studio / Images from @saipua
What once seemed like a moderately cool job for your artsy friend (most of us were in fact frustrated artists that needed to make some kind of art and get paid) has turned into a glamorous and desired career choice. These beautiful, aesthetically pleasing images have spoken to a new generation of consumer as well. Got a smartphone? Is that a dumb question at this point? Well if you do, you now have the ability to create and curate your own floral business through Instagram. As a consumer, you have the ability to see the “real real” in real time like never before.
I also think there is a new romanticism attached to the industry at the moment. Scores of girls raised on the Queen herself, Martha Stewart, and Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic aesthetic have become women who want beauty and elegance with an edge; domestic bliss and picture perfect lives while still being smart and savvy business entrepreneurs and leaders. And they are doing it.
All Hail the Domestic Queens!
With Instagram (and other social media outlets) you have instant access to some of the best designers and their work right at your fingertips… a very far cry from my clumsy, heavy photo albums. Even websites are less and less popular… they take too much time to look at on our ten minute coffee break! Woe is the website that is not designed well or is not mobile friendly. Everything I need to know about you is in that Instagram feed… look at five to six pics and either you’re hooked or you’re not. Otherwise I am outta there.
And likewise for you! If our blog posts are too long you will be outta here too! And we can’t have that. We are busier than ever before. Holding our collective attention… that struggle is real. With so much to share about our wonderful industry I hope to do just that. Flowers are bringing us closer together like never before. So what does all this mean for you? Stay with me on my ever continuing floral journey and I will share with you my thoughts on this new floral world in part two of my series “ Beyond the ‘Gram: The Flower Industry IRL."
Woohoo! If you've made it this far with me on my FIRST BLOG, I have a fun little treat for you. Writing this post inspired me to dig through all my old photos, so I thought we'd take a trip down memory lane and look back at some of these old-school disposable prints. Enjoy! #nineties #throwback
#BeyondTheGramWithShelley | #theflowerindustryIRL
If you have any questions for Shelley or topics you'd love her to cover, send us your thoughts & questions in the comments below! And be sure to catch Shelley IRL (well, on your screen, but close enough) on next week's Mornings with Mayesh!