Who is it suited to?
Being a florist involves several things. You will need to design and assemble floral displays for distribution and sale to members of the public or corporate customers. These items can range from individual bouquets - for events such as birthdays or wedding anniversaries - to displays for large scale events such as sporting occasions, conferences or even state occasions.
But because business is made up of a small team, each person has an important role to play. This means that as well as floristry skills you will also have to be prepared to develop a variety of skills, such as sales, marketing, promotion, personnel, accounts, stock ordering, environment and hygiene, for the business to succeed.
Caldecourt says you need to be multi-skilled and prepared to knuckle down if you want to succeed in the world of floristry. “It’s physically hard work. You need to be an early riser, with plenty of stamina, as well as being dexterous and strong - a full florist's bucket weighs about 15-20 kilos. You can't be afraid to get dirty. You also need to have excellent people skills to deal with bereaved people ordering wreaths, or brides-to-be deciding on their wedding flowers.”
But it’s not all about hardy perennials. A certain amount of business nous is a vital ingredient of a flourishing business. “You also need some idea of how to run a small business. Many people start a floristry business having great floristry skills but little business sense – the successful ones have the business skills - or hire someone with those attributes - as well,” says Caldecourt.
Do I need any qualifications?
Becoming a florist is not just about buying and selling, it is also an art and a skill that is taught and developed over many years. Of course, you may already have acquired skills such as flower arranging by working for someone else or because of a hobby or an organisation you belong to but where can you go for professional training and advice?
Many Local Education Authorities run basic flower arranging courses as night classes that range from three months to a year in length. In addition, specialist horticultural or agriculture colleges (NVQ in Floristry), local National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies, Women's Institute or church groups will provide courses and opportunities for flower arranging.
Caldecourt says a blend of passion and experience can count for a lot: “People often choose floristry as a second career later in life as there are no age barriers to success but previous experience in design comes in useful.”