Professional development

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The U.S election result has been a stark reminder of how rapidly change can happen, bringing with it knock-on effects for all of us. So, as early winter can be one of my more quiet times, I’ve been thinking this month about my business in the wider context. Whatever line of work you do these days, a rapidly changing and competitive world means it really does pay to try to stay ahead of your game. The best way I’ve found to do that is through continuing professional development. This has been CPD month.

Technically, it all started at the end of October when I went to a workshop which explored ways of working with ribbon, following on with attendance at Fleurex, The Annual Floral Fair for today’s Professional Florist at the Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth. I was particularly interested in watching two outstanding demonstrations, one by Laura Leong (who I have mentioned here before) and the other by Annette von Eimen. Wonderful work. The British Florist Association, who organised the event, has posted one of Annette’s displays on Facebook, so if you would like to see a florist working really fast with flowers, have a look here. 

If someone had told me when I left school how many more qualifications, workshops and CPD events lay ahead of me in my lifetime, I wouldn’t have believed them. But I’ve been lucky enough to have had a varied and interesting career path so I’ve taken part in plenty of fascinating, enriching, challenging, difficult, frustrating, and fabulous professional development events, which have all added up to bring me to the point I’m at today – running my own floral design business and loving it.

When you’re working for yourself the demand to create fresh business and meet orders is always there, on the calendar, right in front of you, and it might seem tempting to put CPD on ‘the back burner’, especially when you are building the business, but I’ve found that CPD activity goes hand in hand with those other vital parts of the business cycle.

Attending courses and professional events away from the hub of your SME cave can feel like a luxury but as much as technology is altering the way we do business (yes, even in floristry) it can also help save on costs by bringing CPD to your desktop. The growth of online forums, social media, webinars and e-newsletters all make it easier to take part in training, even from home.

That said, I do like to get out and about, so my final CPD for 2016 was a trip to a special workshop on floral ‘mechanics’ with Laura Leong. I returned with a box of interesting structural items in autumn and winter colours to inspire a variety of glittery, light-reflecting creations perfect for winter work.

As to be expected in November, there are fewer weddings at this time of year, but I will mention one commission from last month I particularly enjoyed. The bouquet for the couple is featured at the top of the page. As you can see, the bride and I settled on an arrangement suited both to the season and to the couple’s choice of venue, Knightor Winery, with its wild winter garden and Cornish granite outbuildings and barns. That combination allowed me to use those freshly honed CPD skills and draw on recent inspiration for ways of mixing beautiful winter textures and colours.

Lastly, before we start to prepare for Christmas, I’d like to say thank you to all the brides and grooms who voted for me in the Simply Wedding awards. I didn’t win, but I really appreciate all the support that made me a finalist. Thank you!

Happy New Year!

Here’s wishing you all a Happy New Year. Thank you to my customers, and to my friends and family for all your support through 2014.

Happy 2015!

Last year was an exciting and hair-raising mixture, as I let go of the security of being part of a large organisation as an employee and set off to be my own boss, start my own business, and pursue the dream of working at something I love – floristry.

This time last year, I was studying for the next stage of my professional qualifications and doing some background research to see if there was a gap in the market and an opening locally for a contemporary approach to floristry, with a complete personalised service. I decided there was. So, by February, I’d chosen my company name, worked out my logo and my brand colours, and was ready to launch my new business, Floral Creations St Austell. Business cards, flyers and exhibition banners followed, and in March I commissioned this website so potential customers could see a range of my work and find me.

The next step was… to jump… head first. I started my professional Facebook page, began posting pictures of my work and getting ‘Likes’ and… booked my first Wedding Fayre.

After that it’s all a bit of a blur! Setting up my workshop was [cough] hard work, but it was fantastic when it was all done, tools and equipment sorted, just the way I like it, a place for everything and everything in its place! I was busy networking, and through various meetings and events, established a fantastic relationship with Frocks & Frills Wedding Studio in Falmouth as one of their trusted suppliers, and became part of The Wedding Alliance Cornwall (they put on ‘roving’ Bridal Fayres and events in the county to appeal to every kind of bride). I also attended several specialist workshops to top up my skills – one of my highlights from this year was an amazing two day workshop with Bridal Master Florist Wally Klett as well as learning the hard way fulfilling tricky orders to deadline. So many new skills and knowledge – it’s been a great year.

And now it’s 2015! it’s been a busy start to the month, replying to bride’s email inquiries, buying and conditioning my flowers to order, and just last week it was me this time, up on the podium at the demonstration table, leading a floristry workshop for a group of students at Cornwall College. It was lovely to be able to provide an introduction to aspects of my job and send them each away with a floral creation, as part of their Industry Week at Cornwall College. Who knows? – one of them might become an apprentice with Floral Creations St Austell in years to come.

Meanwhile, any bride-to-be looking to chat over ideas for a 2015/16 wedding, I’d be delighted to meet you at the Bridal Extravaganza at The Atlantic Hotel, Newquay, 11am – 3pm on January 18th. The Atlantic is a great venue, the event is free (courtesy of The Wedding Alliance Cornwall), I will be exhibiting a lovely selection of bridal flowers, and happy to hear all about your Big Day.