More than 1,000 people gathered this week in Washington, D.C., for the American Institute of Floral Designers’ 2018 Symposium.
The event this year included dozens of educational sessions and main stage presentations highlighting trends in floral design and best practices in marketing, management and operations, along with an awards dinner, induction ceremony for newly accredited designers, and FTD America’s Cup, a qualifying competition for FTD’s World Cup 2019 in Philadelphia.
Some highlights from the first few days of the five-day event:
- AIFD organizers co-hosted the Slow Flower Summit before Symposium. Developed by Debra Prinzing, writer and founder of slowflowers.com, the event coincided with American Grown Flower Month.
- Designer and main stage presenter Holly Heider Chapple invited past wedding clients to walk the stage, showcasing personal flowers custom created by Chapple, who discussed her practice of sourcing product widely — from traditional wholesalers to growers, roadside bushes and her own farm and garden. “I love muddy, in-between colors,” she said. One tip for florists looking to build the kind of devoted following Chapple has inspired? Blog, she said, and get active on social media. “You have to find your tribe,” she said.
- Renato Cruz Sogueco, vice president digital strategy and education, was one of several expert speakers on-site to discuss best practices in online marketing. He shared results from the Floral Purchase Tracking Study and encouraged retail florists to divide and conquer online tasks, including social media management — focusing first on Facebook and Instagram — but also Pinterest, which he said is an underutilized platform. “If you work with your web developer to ‘pin-enable’ all the photos that appear on your site, Pinterest will start driving clicks back to your site, which builds SEO,” he promised. “It’s a great strategy that not enough florists do.” Sogueco also dished tips on building an online following during “How to Be an Internet Superstar” with Donald Yim.
- During “The Flower Shop of the Future,” Vonda LaFever, AIFD, PFCI, shared practical tips on creating in-store experiential retailing, such as terrarium bars and macrame-making workshops, and creating dedicated, efficient workspaces to make room for the evolving need for freelance employees. “This is the time to recreate yourselves,” she said.
- Former chief floral designer for the White House Laura Dowling shared stories from her six-year job producing larger-than-life arrangements for presidential events. Dowling deems her style “casual elegance” with a European flare and said she uses her designs and floral choices to evoke “inspired creativity,” pulling from her knowledge of the symbolic and historical significance of the flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
- During “Communicate, Relate, and Profit-Make” Tina Coker, AIFD, PFCI and Robert Coker discussed interpersonal effectiveness in the workplace. Some easy-to-implement tips: When approaching an employee, avoid using words such as “must” and “need” to describe a task that ought to be completed. “An employee needs to know why it is best to do it a certain way,” Robert said. “Instead, say ‘it is important, or ‘this is the best way because…” If you find yourself struggling with certain employees, a simple, calm voice tonality or open body language can also go a long way.
Look for additional coverage next week and in Floral Management magazine.