Studio florists typically work out of nonretail spaces, often outfitted for large-scale wedding and event design. Clients are served via online, telephone or in person by appointment. The majority of studio florists design for weddings, parties, corporate events and other specialized work. Here, we take a peek into the business of a studio florist in a commercial space.
By Nita Robertson, AIFD, CFD
Élan House founder Shannon Hill, started working out of her home in 2019, but after a year, she took on a commercial space in downtown Raleigh, N.C. She made the change because working from home provided no separation between her work and personal lives. Currently, Hill is moving to a more creative workspace, also in the downtown Raleigh area, that will provide her with the ability to host workshops, do set design and handle other projects that require more space.
FR: How did start in the floral industry?
SH: Honestly, it’s in my DNA. I know that sounds cliche, but my mom is a creative. She designed bridal and formalwear gowns—and florals. Growing up, I was never interested; however. in 2009. I began to dream about having a flower shop called Blush. Over the years, I created flower arrangements for my home and friends. In 2019, I decided to officially move forward with my business.
FR: Walk us through a day in your business life.
SH: No day is ever the same, and there’s never a dull moment. I wake up around 6:30 a.m. most days. I read and journal to set my intentions. I call my mom, eat breakfast, review my calendar and head out. I get to the local flower markets early to secure the best blooms. I check in with my team to discuss project timelines and designs. Next, we process flowers, hand-paint or dye pampas grass or greenery, order supplies, and update social channels. And that’s a calm day.
FR: What is the main segment of your business?
SH: I service events of all kinds. I also get a lot of inquiries requesting floral designs for photoshoots, activations, corporate events, brunches and dinners—as well as wearables. I do get requests for weddings, and I’ve been flirting with some different ideas in that space.
FR: How and where do you meet potential new clients?
SH: Social media, referrals and random places while I’m running errands, especially when I’m wearing my Élan House gear.
FR: What is your most effective marketing strategy?
SH: Being authentic, having a genuine personality, and showcasing that on social media. On TikTok, you get to see a day in my life as a cultural florist. I’m more relaxed, you see everything that inspires me. I’m trying to do more of that on Instagram, but the platforms are so different. A friend told me that I am more of a lifestyle florist, which I never thought of. I research and understand my market and the markets I want to tap into. My strategy is organic and staying true to my business, never trying to follow what someone else is doing.
FR: Do you ever think about opening a retail location?
SH: Yes and no. I’ve had an idea to develop a “space” for years, but it wouldn’t be a typical retail flower shop. That’s not me.
FR: Why is the studio florist business model right for you?
SH: It enables Élan House to constantly change and grow. I get to be more personal with the clients and create one-of-a-kind pieces and test the waters. It allows me to take on projects in other cities and states, and, most important, it allows for more flexibility and balance in my life.
FR: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the studio florist business model?
SH: One advantage is that I get to serve the community and create art that speaks to and supports initiatives that are dear to me. I’m always learning, developing relationships and connections and seeing how clients and supporters react to my work. Disadvantages are really no different from experienced by any type of florist who does event work, including working early mornings, late nights and weekends.
FR: What floral designers inspire you?
SH: I love Drew Rios from Rogue & Fox Floral Co., in Los Angeles. Her overall vibe makes me feel like we are homegirls. When I first saw Maurice Harris, owner of Bloom & Plume, also in the L.A. area, in the commercial for Microsoft Surface laptops, I asked, “Well who is this?” He keeps me cackling, but I love how expressive he is in his work.