“Florists and designers share their proactive experiences and the effects on their businesses.”
When working in a creative field such as floral design, getting stuck in the occasional rut comes with the territory. Rather than let those ruts bring them down, many florists look to outside inspiration to get their creative juices flowing again and to reignite the love of what they do
For instance, when Jennifer Reed-Oechsle opened her business, she gave it everything she had. And that might have been too much.
“I burned myself out completely, to the point I felt almost robotic. Nothing I was doing felt ‘creative’ any longer,” says Reed-Oechsle, owner of Jennifer Designs at Lavender & Lace in Mantua, N.J.
So she shut down her storefront, lowered her workload and rebuilt her company on her terms. “The biggest change I made was redefining what success means to me as a person and as a designer,” she says.
Social media was also key, as she reached out to people who were designing beautiful creations. “I then had the opportunity to be involved in some amazing workshops that lit a fire in me creatively.”
Samantha Bates, AIFD, owner of Especially for You, a floral and gift boutique in Ponchatoula, La., says when she starts to get unhappy with what she’s producing, it’s time for a time-out. “I do a restart or reboot and walk away from the project,” she says. “Sometimes just for a few minutes, sometimes for longer. I have to get out of my own head, and I usually find that if I pull myself away, it gives me a chance to reboot and see the problem more clearly.”
Becoming stagnant happens more often than Aileen Casillas, owner of Prescott, Ariz.-based Florian, a floral design and even management company, would like to admit. When it does, she turns her attention to other avenues within the floral industry to find creativity.
“Be it reading a book, identifying floral designers who I gravitate toward or taking a class, I find building relationships with other florists keeps me charged,” she says. “Some steps I have taken are to completely disconnect from social media, emails, phone calls and, yes, even snail mail.”
She’ll often take some time to rediscover the elements that inspire her to be creative, jotting down words that are relevant to the tangible/intangible things that she loves, and bringing them to her next floral design project.
Nature is my top inspiration. I also love looking at artwork; that gets my creative juices flowing
Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
A few years ago, Jalisca Thomason, owner of Rustic Roots Floral Design in Shasta Lake, Calif., was trying to break out of lower-end weddings and advance to a new price bracket, but it just wasn’t happening. So, she took a chance on a different type of project – a stylized, Christmas time photo shoot with a three-month-old baby.
“I went way out of my comfort zone and created something that had been in my heart, not based on a price sheet,” she says. “Those pictures started attracting new clients, based on my style, not my price.” As an adjunct forestry professor, she often finds inspiration in landscapes and interactions with plants.
Usually for me, adequate rest, mediation, a scenic drive or inspirational music helps jump-start my creative juices
“Luckily for me, I have lots of field trips and outdoor laboratory classes,” she says.
For Lindsey Neff, owner of Dumont, N.J.-based Larkspur Botanicals, finding a new outlet for her creativity also resulted in a new revenue stream for her business. At first, her business was a wedding-only florist, but after a few years she got bored with seeing the same Pinterest pins and color schemes, so she expanded her horizons to cover corporate events, product launches and fashion events.
“We pivoted, and now corporate events are more than half of our business while we are more selective about the amount of weddings we do,” she says. “I walk through a Home Depot and see raw materials (electric conduit, spray paint, wood stain, tiles) and start to think how I could manipulate them. I still want to make a fluorescent-bulb-holder flower wall; I just need to find the right client for that one.”
Al-Nisa Reid-Jenkins, MPA, AED, CWEP, owner and creative director of ARJ Signature Design & Event Planning, in Brooklyn, N.Y., remembers a time in her career when she became stagnant with the uncertainty of how her business would be structured and how it would function. At the time, she was doing both event planning and floral design, but she decided to focus on her true passion – floral design and décor while partnering and collaborating with various wedding and event planners.
“I have experienced being stuck and feeling uncreative on many occasions,” she says. “When it happens, I usually stop and redirect my attention to something totally opposite of the task at hand. Usually for me, adequate rest, mediation, a scenic drive or inspirational music helps jump-start my creative juices.”
Ann Blick had reached the point in her floral career where she felt burned out. She was running her business out of her home when a friend told her about a job opening as a floral coordinator at Via Christi Health in Wichita, Kan. Though she thought it sounded boring, a corporate job with steady hours held a lot of appeal.
“Six years later, I am still there creating floral pieces for patients and families and large corporate events,” she says. “I have even designed weddings for patients who got married while in the hospital.”
What always gets me out of a rut and back into the joy of designing and creating is a design contest of any kind.
Balance is so important in staying motivated to create and grow. Exposure and education have definitely been key in my journey.
Looking Outside the Box
When Adrianna Duran-Leon, AIFD, owner of The Flower Company in Albuquerque, N.M., needs to ignite her creativity, she gets competitive. “What always gets me out of a rut and back into the joy of designing and creating is a design contest of any kind,” she says. “That forces me to stop and create something out of the norm. When I do that, I get excited about what I do, and the passion for this industry starts to flow again. ”During recent years, she has faced challenges such as her husband dealing with a brain tumor and the passing of her father last year, but she has kept moving forward. “Nature is my top inspiration,” Duran-Leon says. “I also love looking at artwork; that gets my creative juices flowing.”
Meagen Lee, owner of Meagen Lee Floral in Kirkland, Ill., says floral industry professionals can feel stagnant and burned out after putting so much energy into the holiday season. And she says mothers face a particular challenge to drum up excitement on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
“During stressful times, I like to design one-of-a-kind arrangements that I would like to receive as a gift,” she says. And her creativity has flourished beyond the floral industry. Some of her amazing endeavors include making jewelry out of cremation ash, using flowers from bridal bouquets to make shadow boxes and even using breast milk to make jewelry.
“I truly believe that, as designers, we should never stop thinking of how to make ourselves stand out as one-of-a-kind artists,” she says. “Listen to what your clients are looking for and make it happen.”
Stephanie Garrett, AIFD, owner of Durham, N.C-based Floral Dimensions, has been in the industry for more than two decades and says stagnant periods are not uncommon at the end of a holiday, after wedding season or after a life-altering event. “I work as a design manager in a retail environment, and I do get worn out and tired at times. I find that if I take a step back and delegate more, I have time to rejuvenate,” she says. “Balance is so important in staying motivated to create and grow. Exposure and education have definitely been key in my journey.”