Charlie's Flower Boutique

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Bloomin' Waste!

In my previous life before I became a florist, I worked in the event industry and more specifically, implementing sustainable management systems within events and their organisations.

Being passionate about looking after the environment, staff welfare and ensuring process are in place to help the business or event run to plan - should have ensured that I do the same with my own business.

To some degree I have naturally followed a sustainable way of working by doing the following;

- Not over ordering and creating more financial and actual waste

- Recycling where possible

- Using materials that can be reused by the customer (jugs, gift bags, transporter boxes)

- Combining orders so less transportation required

- Minimal printing of marketing material and always on FSC paper

- Exhibition materials are non dated and resuable so cuts down on waste and is financially sensible!

- Processes for operational control being developed

- Stakeholder engagement though social media

So, all going in the right direction for a fairly new business but I know I can do more and I think that if I can lock down my operational processes and start to measure my waste, mileage, materials etc I will feel happier and more secure about the business and will allow me to communicate more about practices and maybe help others.

I've already started looking into how to reduce plastic waste and sourcing a more sustainable solution - hopefully I may have found this with a VegWare product but it needs further testing. I've reduced the amount used on bouquets by 2/3's by cutting out the 'dressing' and just using enough to hold water for wet packs. (See pic)

So my goal over the next few months will be to identify my targets and set time scales to them, I need to be selfish and set aside a good day to do this without kids, dogs and weddings :D

Any feedback you have would be great, I'd love to hear if you think this is good practise or if you're not at all bothered!

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Are bridal flower workshops taking business away from florists?
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Can I be honest? Understandably some people do not know what to expect or have no idea about the cost of flowers for weddings, there is (I think) a common misconception that we florists hike up our prices when the word 'wedding' is mentioned. Maybe there are some that do, but I think mostly florists want to provide a good service at a fair price, after all, we want a return trade and good reviews which leads to more business. I think alot of people would be surprised at the amount of hours that can go into creating wedding flowers (I'll make another blog on that!). Anyway, I feel that there is a real trend in DIY weddings boosted by the sharing of information and inspiration on sites such as Pinterest and YouTube, where you can virtually find out anything and how to do it.

There can be many reasons why a bride wants to organise her own wedding flowers, being part of the creative process if you are that way inclined,  control, having a budding florist in the family, but I think in most cases it comes down to budget.

Talking to a fellow florist at an industry function about this subject, she commented that if a bride decides she is going to arrange her own flowers, then she will do it and so I think you can't take business away if it's not there in the first place, but what I can do is help be a part of the process. So if they can come along to a workshop, have a nice day and learn a few skills whilst paying for the educators time and knowledge then I think everybody wins. The florist receives some income from a wedding client they wouldn't normally have done and the bride has more confidence in her floristry skills whilst eating cake and drinking champagne, and with my workshops, they also receive ongoing support and advise until the big day which surely will help with any last minute changes.

I think there is room in the industry for freelancers such as myself who can offer workshops and courses along with the more traditional florist shops. I like running workshops, they're fun, give me a chance to connect with some of my Facebook fans and meet new ones, and they allow me to do something different to my wedding work. I'm excited to be running Autumn/winter wedding and Spring/Summer Wedding bridal flower workshops as well as my Christmas and Mother's Day Workshops, I'm hoping that from a business side they grow and grow and I get to do the job I love all the time!

For more information on the workshops please visit the Workshop page

Please feel free to follow me on Instagram (Charliebeeflowers), Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

How to choose the right wedding florist.

So how do you decide which florist to choose when there is so much choice out there?

So you've set the big day, your venue is booked, bridesmaids dresses have been chosen (or not!) and you have your colour theme, next is to book your florist. But how?!

You might not give two hoots about flowers and quite happy with a simple classic rose bouquet, or you've been trawling though Pintrest every night and have about 3 different boards of different ideas and can decide what on earth to go with! Whichever sort of bride you are, personally I don't think you can book your florist early enough but from my experience I would advise on the following:

  • How quickly have they come back to your enquiry? Yes florists are busy people especially during wedding season, but if it's been over a week - I would say move on as they're not going to be able to show you the dedication to your wedding if they can't even email or call you back in a decent time frame.
  • Recommendations - have a look on their Facebook pages, on Google + etc for reviews by other brides, or ask your family who they have used and if they would recommend, it sounds simple but word of mouth is very powerful. As florists, we love knowing our brides are telling people about us! Nicely!
  • Have they just given you a price straight away without asking more questions about the day? If you've not specified your wedding date, I would be dubious of a florist giving you a price for your flowers (unless you are having an all year round flower like a rose).
  • Make sure when you do receive a quote that there is a description so you know what flowers are going to be included, google them and make sure you know what they are and that you like them. 
  • Make sure the quote includes everything including any hidden charges such as hire fees for any props and delivery / pick up fees. Some florists will also charge for their time on the day if you are having your ceremony room turn round into your wedding breakfast and flowers on the table, the florist will be waiting for a few hours in the wings to do this so there may understandably be a charge for their time.
  • Are they flexible? have they kindly agreed to change a few things, or look for budget saving ideas for your wedding? By having a trusting relationship with your florist, you will be more relaxed about what you will have on the day!
  • Be open minded - sometimes florists can have nightmares trying to get hold of specialist flowers for weddings, things beyond our control can go wrong but personally I am up front and honest about this to my clients so there are no nasty surprises.
  • Vintage flowers? Rustic wedding? country, boho wedding flowers? Make sure that your florist knows where you are coming from by showing them pics of what you have seen. With these whimsical and unstructured wedding bouquets, the florist's artistic flare will shine through and they will do what feels right with the materials on the day so it might not look like to picture you've showed them - but it will be better, unique and yours.

Lastly, and I think most important is - Do you like them? Afterall, why would you want to part with waht can be a large sum of money to someone you're not that keen on or is a faceless big brand? Support your local florist and seek our those independent florist who are more likely to provide you with attention to detail, time and passion.

Of course, i'm a bit biased :D

 

 

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Vintage wedding fayre - the result!

As some of you may have read I was umming and ahhing about whether to invest in taking part in the National Vintage Wedding Fayre at the glorious Victoria Baths in Manchester.

Well I did! And it was a lovely day, lots of lovely people excited about their wedding, I tested out my new boards I had printed up and spoke to some great suppliers and picked up a couple of wedding clients too.

I was also more than happy to supply my flower creations for the bridal catwalk, the photography taken by Katy McCarthy (www.katemccarthyphotography.co.uk). I love them!

 

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Funeral and Sympathy Flowers

I've always struggled with promoting myself as a funeral flower florist, I guess I just didn't like to see people upset and when I ran my flower shop in Warrington, I saw it alot.

Then I figured out that actually, I could allow the grieving process to be just a tiny bit easier as I spent a bit of time and a bit of thought with the person ordering the flowers, getting to know a little bit more about the person who had died, what colours they liked or types of flowers.

I recently provided flowers for a young girl that had passed away due to a battle with cancer and as I sat down with her Aunty I was told that 'the others were just matter of fact and sounded like they wanted to get off the phone.'

I may not be a huge florist with hundreds of orders, but I like to think that the personal touch and thought that goes into all of my arrangements means that that person has flowers that they wanted, that is more important to me.

 

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National Vintage Wedding Fayre

I've only ever done one wedding fayre before and 1. it cost me alot of money as i totally went over board and ordered to many flowers and 2. I didn't get one job from it!

I'm hoping that now i'm a bit older and wiser and basically more confident in my skills that this time, I will be (as they young kids say) #winning :)

I decided to go with the National Vintage Wedding Fair as it's at the Manchester Victorian baths which is a fantastic venue. If you haven't been, do go!

I'm also hoping that my slightly loose and informal flower style will be met with approval and a general thumbs up, I think I maybe lean more towards the vintage / country feel and it's an interesting creative process, often the bouquet I have in mind doesn't come out in real life and usually (II hope!) it's better, I let my flowery friends do the talking.

So, hopefully if you are going to the fair as a bride you will see lots of amazing things and go home inspired, if you are attending, be sure to pop by for a bit of cake and some flowers.

 

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Why are Valentine Flowers so expensive?
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Whether you are a budding Valentino or a Valentine naysayer - I would like to demystify why flowers are so expensive at this time of year. As a florist, I also find it shocking how much they increase in price and slightly embarrassed that I have to pass this cost on to my clients. 

However, there is a simple explanation. 

Flowers are bought by wholesalers at auction, when there is a popular holiday or occasion, the cost of the flowers go up due to high demand. Wholesalers will usually release a price list prior to the big day with pre-order costs on, this is great if you are a well established florist shop with lots of passing trade. If like me you are a freelance florist, this can be harder to judge and so we need to account for any wastage that may be created (and therefore decrease in profit). For example, red roses can go up by 50% for high grade quality roses, and who doesn't want high grade? 

So, next time you buy some flowers for a loved one, do try and use your local florist rather than a supermarket, if only for the time and skill that has gone into making that bouquet and knowing that you are supporting a local business. 

New Year, New Site, New Goals!

Hello everyone,

Thanks for visiting my blog, as part of my 2017 goals, I'm going to aim to post a blog up once a week (eeeek).

So!! I thought it was time for a bit of a change, out with old in with the new I often think i don't like change, it's too scary, too much effort - but actually, when i stop fannying about and get on with it, I like it. I like a new writing pad, a new page - I'm all for doodling and thrashing things out on piece of paper.

So for 2017, they're not resolutions, they're goals, business goals to help me push what i love doing, forward. I want to grow my business, I love making brides happy, I love meeting new people and being a part of the big day, I love seeing different venues and setting out flowers in them. So onwards and upwards, a new website was required so I used the lovely Squarespace and got it done in a day!

I hope you enjoy the new look, if you have any feedback do let me know!