A new approach to doing floral business.
For Shean Strong, a 31-year-old former biochemistry major working toward becoming a doctor dramatically changed career paths and became a floral designer, finding that, for him, wedding and event work was just meant to be. Embracing his lack of formal training with his strong love of floral education, Shean has carved a niche as an industry influencer, opening doors to a new generation of thinking. His passion, energy and romantic spirit has helped the “2019 Mayesh Design Star” launch a successful career as a self-professed event designer who also happens to host workshops.
“I was helping a friend about five years ago with a wedding, and afterward, two couples asked me to do their weddings. I just sorta dipped my toes into the industry. I started by taking some tutorials on Instagram, going to business conferences and being a freelancer.I give tutorials and workshops in the United States, the Netherlands and Italy, and I have created a brand. I am open and honest with people who I am instructing. I share how I would handle a project or design, and it is very well received.”
“When I get interested in something, I get involved 100 percent. I want to do everything with the sky as the limit. I am really a problem solver by nature. When I was a kid, I would lay in bed trying to figure out a way to turn the lights off without getting out of bed. This translates into how I work from a concept to creating a specific arch for a wedding or event. It might seem to some that I am an overnight success, but I have worked hard to build a business. I did Valentine’s Day pop-ups, Mother’s Day corsages and anything to try to make it work. It has been a lot of tears and wondering if anyone will show up for a ‘How to Build and Shape Your Business’ workshop. I know I will have arrived when I have a show on HGTV!”
“I feel like I am more of an influencer in the industry. I don’t believe I have ever been in the proverbial flower box. I am a straight black male doing flowers in the South. I am a hopeless romantic, the kind who sits on the couch, watching Hallmark movies with a box of tissues! I have always been creative, and the new renaissance of the Dutch masters in the floral industry really resonates with me. I guess I am a rogue designer. I strive to find my own style by designing what I like, which is always classic, romantic, timeless, tailored and refined. I love doing weddings. I want to elevate every big- or small-budget wedding. I love the idea of love, marriage and two people who love each other. I love seeing unconditional love being found, celebrated and exchanged. I love the experience and feelings that flowers bring to an occasion. I love the passion and the beauty of the day. I love leaving my fingerprint on the entire occasion. I try to do subtle things so that the couple knows I am paying attention. I especially try to create something special like adding rosemary or lavender to a bouquet or boutonnière. Maybe in the future, when a couple is walking down a street and smell that scent, they will be taken back to their wedding day.”
“My key to success is transparency, honesty and being authentic. I am now teaching what I know and am transparent about it. If I do not know an answer, I will tell an audience that I don’t know but that we will figure out the answers together. I love education—the end results, and I believe continuing education is key. When I was looking to learn, people were apprehensive about sharing their knowledge. If you are a teacher, it is more than just having a pretty picture; it is about empowerment and helping florists become profitable.”
“I share with my workshop participants my pricing system and how it has worked for me. It is a business style. Before, it was about three-times markup. When I saw that model, I thought, that doesn’t work. We need to change our mind-set. This has allowed me to find my own path, to do what I want and to give myself permission to be successful. I created my own system that explains how we see our own value. We are designers with value who people want to work for them. I realize that we are blue collar working in a white-collar world. We want to work with the best of the best but also want to be the best of the best.”