Florist

What does a Florist do?

Florists, or floral designers, use their creativity and knowledge of plants and flowers to design and assemble flower arrangements such as bouquets, sprays, wreaths and vases of flowers. They also organise the storage, sale and delivery of floral arrangements. Tasks that florists may perform include: discussions with clients about their requirements; working with vases, wire, plastic bases, ribbons and other trimmings; taking into account the temperature, watering and storage needs of plants; decorating venues for weddings and other special occasions; rotating inventory and managing stock.

Most florists work in small, independent floral shops that specialise in custom orders and also handle large orders for weddings, caterers or interior designers. Some florists work in the floral departments of grocery stores or for Internet florists, which specialise in creating pre-arranged floral decorations and bouquets. Self-employed florists must handle the various aspects of running a business, such as selecting and purchasing flowers, hiring and supervising staff, and maintaining financial records.

Interview with a Florist

Natalie Haarhoff | FLORIST AND CO-OWNER | Aspen and Co Flowers

Why did you choose this profession?
My grandmothers were florists, and I always felt I needed to do something creative and work with my hands. Flowers have a profound effect on one.

Where did you train
I studied part-time at The Soanesbury School of Floristy whilst I was working full-time for a fashion designer, Malcolm Kluk. I completed a number of courses before starting on my own from my spare room in my home, with only a small amount of money, a telephone and an old hand-me-down computer.

Describe a typical day
Ordering and buying of fresh flowers; taking orders and briefs; arranging flowers; working out quotes; conceptualising and sourcing materials; meeting with clients and viewing venues.

What do you enjoy most?
The beauty of our creations – flowers stimulate all the senses!

Anything you don’t like?
The stress of receiving poor-quality flowers on the day of a wedding and the suppliers letting us down at the last minute. Having to tell a bride that her favourite flower (which she has been dreaming about since she was a little girl) didn’t arrive in time is a very unfortunate position to be in!

Career highlights include…
Working on high-profile weddings and making people smile.

Your future career goals?
To keep pushing the boundaries creatively and to maintain our business as the success it is today.

Experience versus formal training?
Experience is key in this field – there is a lot to be learnt technically and this can only be achieved by getting stuck in and getting your hands dirty.

What makes a ‘good’ florist?
You definitely need to be creative and to be able ‘to think outside of the box’. It’s also important to have good people skills in order to understand different individual’s needs.

Any advice for a budding florist (excuse the pun!)?
To first work as an assistant at an established florist’s. This will give you a good understanding of what it is really about. People have a misconception that working with flowers is peaceful and serene. It is this, but there is a lot more to it.

Describe your job in three words
Creative • Unpredictable • Rewarding

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO I NEED?

Florists usually start their careers as entry-level designers at retail floral shops; experience is gained on the job. Certificate programmes in floral design are the most common way to gain theoretical knowledge. Though not necessarily a requirement for employment, certification demonstrates to potential employers a familiarity with floral terminology and an ability to design different types of flower arrangements.

WHAT SUBJECTS DO I NEED?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• Visual Arts
• Design

WHERE CAN I STUDY?

Sandy Floral Academy
Multiflora Flower Course
www.multiflora.co.za

Nkele’s Florist
Flower Arranging Course
www.nkelesflorist.co.za

INTEC
Flower Arranging Diploma
www.intec.edu.za

National Floristry Training Institute
Floral Arrangement Courses
www.flowerconnexion.co.za

Cape School of Floristry
Floral Arrangement Courses
www.capeschooloffloristry.co.za

Soanesbury Flower School
Floral Arrangement Courses
www.flowerschool.co.za

College SA
Certificate: Floristry
www.collegesa.co.za

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFO?

The South African Flower Union – www.safu.co.za
South African Nursery Association – www.sana.co.za
FloraCulture International – www.floracultureinternational.com

Sources:
www.collegegrad.com
www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk
www.myfuture.edu.au