Hope Holly Chapple
“I lost all sources of income during this crisis. I am telling you this because I want you to know I am in the same boat as many of you. I choose to rebuild again, are you joining me?”
The message I have for our grieving industry is HOPE. Hope is all we have right now, and it is most certainly what we need. Our industry has suffered incredible financial loss. That loss is something we will figure out and endure together. We will need to reassess our businesses and how we will operate in the future, but that is good. Significant changes will need to be made within our companies to come out of this situation on the upside. I hope we all take this time to ask ourselves deep questions about who we are as business owners, entrepreneurs and people.
This COVID-19 crisis presents opportunities for us professionally and personally. So many flower fanatics are true workaholics, the kind of people who don’t stop, and this situation is likely to be the only thing that could have caused us to pause and reflect – so we should. I don’t know a single successful professional in this trade who takes a holiday or a wedding weekend off without an endless amount of guilt or fear because we should have been pushing stems. We make countless sacrifices on a personal level. We are a hardworking tribe that often misses opportunities with family, friends and community, and perhaps it is time to consider the sacrifices made. We work harder, longer hours than most, and our financial gain for all of this is minimal compared to other professions. I love flowers so much it has seemed worth it, but what about my family? What if we look at this break as a gift just for us, the beauty-makers, so that we can find strength, focus on family, rejuvenate and reignite our craft. It’s our chance to envision what we want out of this life and this career. At the very least, we might have a new sense of how lucky we were to be standing at our design tables long into the night.
Another beautiful thing is arising and affecting many of us in profound ways: The very objects that bring us joy – flowers – and the art of designing them is missing from our lives. If you are a passionate designer, being removed from the flowers and the pleasure of sharing them with others has been a painful loss, one that maybe we would have never experienced without this historic change in our profession. Realizing you miss flowers and designing is a good indication that you are in love with your career. This pause gives us time to reflect and decide if we miss the connection with flowers and our customers. It might also give you the clarity to determine if you want to continue on this path. Maybe this is our chance to reconnect with the very heart of who we are and why we love nature, gardens, design and flowers.
It’s also possible that we weren’t celebrating the glory of being artists who work with the most beautiful medium in the world; perhaps we were not honoring the value of a stem itself. I know I have never looked at a single stem the way I have over the last few weeks. Each bloom seems like the delicate miracle I always believed it was. I am aware that each flower is a precious, precious commodity that has great value. Hopefully, in the future, when I am back to work, I will take time to stop and delight in the formation, color and magnificence of a flower and never undervalue its true worth. I need to cherish, uphold and support floral culture. If I do not, if we do not, we will only destroy this industry further. Maybe after all of this, I will never complain about being too busy. We can come out of this valuing the work we do, valuing the flowers we love and educating our consumers on that value through our pricing and professionalism.
I am willing to bet that just about all of us would go back to the way it was, if given a chance, and that will inevitably create a newfound respect for our careers. As we move forward, we will need to have a new connection and commitment for our work, our farmers, wholesalers, sales reps, suppliers and drivers, and that is something we all needed to learn because this was a biggie. I hope this makes us better people, business owners and members of our community. I hope we will recommit to work hard to restore this industry.
Do you love this career so much that you are eager to begin again? We will need a committed force because we are the ambassadors of beauty, and it is our job to share flowers with the world because we know, intuitively, that they are the purest form of HOPE and that flowers have a value beyond compare. I hope we learn to balance family and the pursuit of our careers.