What's it really like?Jo Rivers, 42 is an independent florist operating from Hampshire and servicing events all over London and the UK from her independent florists joanna rivers flowers. How long have you been in the florist industry? About 15 years. I began by taking a Jane Packer course; that's a big florist up in London. My first full-time job was working in a shop in Guildford, and after that I set up on my own, after about a year. I was able to do that so quickly as in between other things, I had worked for various freelance florists, similar to what I do now; you learn so much on the job. What did you do before this job? I worked in the holiday catering industry. I was a chalet host and worked on yachts in the Mediterranean for a few different catering companies. I spent about 6 years doing that. What do you do in a typical day at work? Well, we operate out of a barn in Hampshire and therefore do not have a shop front as such. We only do contract flowers and events, weddings etc. We are not in the market for one-off bouquets, so each day is different. I buy my flowers directly from Covent Garden in London; some days I do contract flowers for private houses and businesses; I also meet with clients to discuss events; I arrange flowers in marquees, churches and venues all over the country (mainly in London and the South). What do you like about the job? The variety of different events and being creative with flowers. Each day is different so there's never a dull moment. Being one's own boss too is definitely a plus. What do you dislike about the job? Dismantling arrangements at the end of an event - clearing it all up! That's hard work. What advice would you give to someone thinking of doing this job? It is a lot more physical than people imagine and not as 'girly' as some might think. For example we carry heavy trees in and out of venues as well as concrete blocks and huge urns of flowers in order to get the look we need. What job do you think you might do after this role in terms of career progression? I don't really want to do anything else; I want to keep going as I am but there is the possibility to expand my business into event organising. Over the years I have met a lot of people in the marquee business and catering business and so forth and you get a lot of experience in seeing how the whole event works together. It's a possibility. What other inside-information can you give to help people considering this career? You should try to get as much practical experience as possible and offer your services to other florists to get a taste of different styles.
A florist works with flowers, plants and hand crafted flower arrangements, selling them to the general public or attending functions to create flower displays. Since time immemorial, flowers have held a special place in human society. Different flowers are used to celebrate special events all over the world such as weddings, funerals, births and festivals. Some flowers are historically imbued with a particular meaning, while others are valued purely for their fragrant or decorative properties. In the UK, over 6,000 florist businesses employ nearly 29,000 people. The value of this to the UK economy is estimated at £1.5 billion and statistics show that over half of this is comprised of people buying flowers for themselves. The huge range of flowers and plants available, each with its own particular set of requirements and properties, means that a fully qualified florist is a highly trained professional.
- The starting salary for florists is usually around the national minimum wage (£4.77 aged 18 - 21 and £5.73 aged 22 and over).
- An experienced florist can earn up to £19,000 per annum.
- A florist shop manager can earn from £24,000 per annum.
- Florists running their own business can earn in excess of the above amounts, depending entirely on the success of their business.
ResponsibilitiesThe day to day duties of a florist would include the following:
- Selecting flowers according to freshness, seasonality and appearance for displays and decoration.
- Creating original bouquets and bespoke bouquets for individual customers.
- Helping customers choose the right flowers for a particular occasion.
- Advising customers on plant and flower after-care.
- Taking flower orders by telephone and arranging delivery.
- Attending special functions and events to create flower displays
- Basic administrative tasks such as book keeping.
QualificationsThere are a great number of qualifications available to prospective florists at school leaver, college, university level and beyond. To begin work as a florist you don't need an official qualification; however, it takes between 5 - 7 years to become a truly professional florist due to the depth and breadth of knowledge required. Below are just some of the training options available.
ApprenticeshipsAimed at young people aged 16 - 24, apprenticeships allow you to gain valuable work experience in the industry while studying for a nationally recognised qualification. To learn more about apprenticeships visit apprenticeships.org.
NVQs and SVQs
- Level 2 in Floristry is equivalent to GCSE or Standard Grade.
- Level 3 in Floristry is equivalent to A-level or Advanced Higher grade.
College and University
- City and Guilds National Certificate in the Floristry Industry.
- BTEC levels 2 (First Diploma) and 3 (National Award) in Floristry.
Professional Florists qualificationsThese qualifications are awarded by the Society of Floristry for experienced florists already working in the industry. Level 5 represents the highest professional qualification available to florists in the UK.
- NPTC Level 4 Higher Diploma in Floristry.
- NPTC Level 5 Master Diploma in Professional Floristry.
SkillsTo succeed as a florist, the following personal skills and attributes would give you an advantage:
- A genuine love of flowers and a desire to work with them.
- A keen eye for design, colour matching and style.
- Some knowledge of plant care.
- Good interpersonal skills, good at dealing with the public.
- Good time management skills; you may be your own boss one day.
- The ability to work quickly and efficiently while under pressure; florists can be busy places.