So you love flowers and dream of starting your own floristry business, but just don’t know where you’ll get the capital to buy a premises?
We’ve got some good news! Floral design is experiencing a global resurgence, opening up an array of innovative options for entrepreneurs to tap into the market without necessarily owning a ‘flower shop’.
We took a look at the changing face of the industry and put together a quick guide to starting your own floristry business.
- Why start a floristry business
- Different types of floristry businesses
- What skills or qualifications do you need?
- How to get started?
- How much can you make?
- Floral designers to follow
- Professional perspective: Floom
If you’re in search of a profession that will truly make you happy, look no further than flowers. According to a study conducted by economist and behavioural scientist Professor Paul Dolan – and documented in his book Happiness by Design – nearly nine out of 10 florists and gardeners say they are happy.
However, if you aren’t really the creative type and can’t imagine spending hours making other people’s big events look beautiful, it’s probably not for you.
While the practice of floristry may once have been limited to a certain demographic and a specific type of premises (a little shop space filled with blooms, oases, ribbons and baskets), in recent years it has grown to encompass a much wider range of business types.
Here’s a quick look at some of the most prominent:
With the rise of big corporations and franchise, small scale florists that were once a standard fixture in every suburb and small town have battled to survive. However, they are not completely extinct – some still exist in the original form mentioned above, while others have evolved into more chic and modern versions of their former selves.
This includes florists who create arrangements for large-scale retailers and bouquet delivery services. As a commercial florist, you have very little creative scope, as generic bouquets don’t allow for too much experimentation or creative flair.
Taking a hint from the massive popularity of food trucks, mobile florists are becoming a growing trend. You may find a flower truck parked on the side a busy pedestrian thoroughfare or a kitted-out van at your local farmer’s market.
In contrast to commercial florists, independent florists rely on their unique style to gain clients. They typically operate from rented or home studio spaces and work closely with their clients to design floral creations that are artworks in themselves. This would mostly be for events such as weddings or big birthday celebrations, as well as styled fashion shoots.
Technically, you don’t need any diplomas or certificates to practice as a florist. If you can arrange a beautiful bouquet, clients are unlikely to care about your academic background.
If you have no experience at all with floral design, but find yourself drawn to the profession, the very best way to learn would be to apprentice with a florist. In most cases you’d be able to do this part-time, perhaps assisting with big events by doing small tasks the florist her/himself doesn’t have time for.
Should you need a more structured approach, however, there are a number of floristry courses across the UK. Here are a few popular options.
- UK School of Floristry offers a full range of courses – from beginners to advanced – covering topics such as ‘starting out in business’, ‘wedding floristry’ and ‘social media for florists’. Course fees range between £125 (for a 1-day introduction) to £999 (for a 6-day career course).
- Academy of Flowers has two campuses – one in Convent Gardens and the other in the Cotswolds. Most of their one-day/evening courses focus on a specific event or topic and are open to absolute beginners. Their flagship course, however, is the four-week Flower Design Diploma that will cover all the bases of starting your own floristry business. You can expect to pay between £220 and £3,500.
Before signing up for an expensive course or approaching a florist for an apprenticeship, you may want to consider whether you possess the following traits:
- Stamina – you’ll spend long hours on your feet and many weekends working.
- Creativity – if you’re planning on building your brand as an independent designer, clients will turn to you for ideas that set their events apart.
- Good people skills – while you may think it’s all about working with flowers, it’s really about working with people and making them happy.
- Thick skin – not everyone is going to like everything you do all the time. Being able to handle criticism is important.
- Admin skills – having to tell a client “Oops, it seems like I may have double booked” a week before their wedding is pretty much a disaster, so best to have sharp admin skills.
Once you’ve gained a bit of experience and you feel confident enough to call yourself a floral designer, it might be time to set up your own floristry business.
Here are a few basic tips for going about this:
Do your research
Since you’ve gained a bit of insight into the industry through your floral design course or apprenticeship, you probably know which type of floristry business you’d like to set up. Spend some time doing targeted research about your chosen field to find out as much as possible.
Design an identity
Having a recognisable identity for your business is extremely important. Even if you aren’t ready to pursue it full-time yet, having a logo, some business cards and a website is an important step in establishing yourself.
Register your business
The easiest way to do this is to become a ‘sole trader’. This means that only you own the business and you can work alone or employ other people. It’s pretty light on paper work and also free, so there’s really nothing to lose. Read Gov.uk’s guide to setting up as a sole trader.
If this is all part of a career change, you may want to start out on a part-time basis. Offer to do flowers for friends and family and then expand slowly by taking on larger events. Once you’ve found your feet and built a client base, you make the big leap.
Because floral design is such a visual art, maximise on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Get clients to post photos and share their appreciation by leaving reviews on Facebook or Google.
Find a suitable premises
Floral design is one of those jobs you can easily start doing from home, which keeps overhead low. However, once demand for your work increases, so will your need for space.
If you can’t afford a shop/studio from the start, you could share a space with other artists/designers at first.
CHECK WHETHER YOU’RE ELIGIBLE FOR GOVERNMENT HELP
You can get special help for your floral business if you’re registering as self-employed. Sign up for Universal Credit – this can help support you in the first few months while you find clients and get started. You may also be able to access free business mentoring courses through the Job Centre. Once you start earning, your amount of Universal Credit slowly decreases – but as it’s a monthly assessment, if you earn loads one month and nothing for three months, the safety net is still there to help!
Once you start earning above a certain amount you’ll also be eligible for the Help to Save account. You can save up to £50 a month for four years – and receive a 25% FREE Government bonus every two years. That’s a potential £1,200 for free! It’s a great way to build a savings buffer for your new business. Find out more about Help to Save here.
If you’re pursuing floral design on the side, it could offer a pretty solid bit of pocket money.
If you’re doing it full-time, however, it may take a while to show a noticeable profit. This would probably not matter too much if it’s your passion.
There are many clever ways to keep your cash flow going, even outside of wedding/party season. Some ideas include:
Host a flower appreciation Airbnb experience
Anna and Ellie from the Flower Appreciation Society host 2-hour workshops at their headquarters in London. During this time guests gain a bit of insight into life as a busy florists and then make flower crowns of their own. Check them out on Airbnb.
Make weekly posies-to-order from seasonal blooms
You can keep your overheads low by closing orders for posy deliveries a week in advance. This way, you’ll know exactly how many flowers to buy.
It’s always great to draw some inspiration from those who have already established themselves in the field. Here are three UK-based florists to follow on social media:
bloomon started out in the Netherlands, but now has branches all over Europe.
According to their website, “Bloomon was founded by three rebels on a quest to turn the flower industry on its head. And spread happiness throughout the world. So far, they’re doing pretty well.”
Find out more about them on the Bloomon website.
Disappointed by the lack of inspiring bouquets available for order online, Lana Elie decided to fix that by founding Floom.
Working on the same premise as large-scale online flower sellers, Floom creates bouquets to order, however with one important difference: they work exclusively with talented local florists who each have their own style and flair.
Find out more on the Floom website.
Willow and Blossom Floral Design
Covering Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and surrounding areas, Willow and Blossom Floral Design specialises in creating bespoke wedding pieces that catch the eye and complement the look and theme of any given wedding venue.
Find out more on the Willow and Blossom Floral Design website.
To get a bit more insight into the nitty-gritty of starting your own floristry business, we popped a few questions off to Lana Elie from Floom and this is what she had to say:
1. What inspired you to start a floristry business?
2. What challenges did you face in the initial set-up of your business?
3. What have your greatest achievements been so far?
It’s hard to choose between getting the first customer sale on Floom (which was obviously a huge moment), and building my team. It’s been the most difficult thing to perfect, especially with the speed we’re required to grow. But when you realise how incredibly intelligent and hard-working your team is, there’s not much else that feels as rewarding.
4. Do you think floristry is experiencing something a global renaissance? Can you explain your view?
We want the florists and their stories to take centre stage – Floom is about using my tech background and giving them an easy platform to shine on. The world would be worse off without some of these craftsmen and women, so it’s our responsibility to share our talents and build something that helps both our businesses.
At Floom we try to make it about your individuality, about the uniqueness of different flowers, their stories and their smells. I don’t often like to say you should use “this flower here for this occasion”, because I believe it’s that kind of advice that has led so many people to only really know about a select few flowers.
5. What would your tips be for anyone who dreams of starting a floristry/floral design business of their own?