More than 150 floral professionals from 31 states and Ecuador and Colombia will meet in Miami next week for the industry’s first event planned by — and designed exclusively for — the next generation.
The Society of American Florists’ Next Gen LIVE! event, July 31 to Aug. 2, is targeted to floral professionals from all segments ages 45 and younger to help them grow professionally, network with peers, and get an insider’s look at the epicenter of floral importing.
“This event really targets the professional needs of the next generation of the industry,” says SAF President Michelle Castellano Keeler, AAF. “It will not only help them with leadership skills, but it also signals that they have support from SAF — and their peers.”
That type of education is critical to the growth of the industry, says Jordan Davis, an event coordinator and website manager at Lafayette Florist Gift Shop & Garden Center in Lafayette, Colorado, who is attending Next Gen LIVE! with two colleagues.
“When florists educate themselves and share ideas, it strengthens the industry tenfold,” Davis says.
Attendees will also learn more about the floral supply chain during a behind-the-scenes tour. The tour kicks off at the Miami International Airport, through which 91 percent of the country’s imported flowers arrive, according to the airport. Christine Boldt, executive director of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida, will be on hand to educate participants about the importing process. From the airport attendees will visit Armellini Logistics to learn how flowers are kept in the cold chain and distributed. The tour ends at the USA Bouquet Company, where attendees will see bouquet processing lines in action.
The education and tour will be eye-opening for floral professionals, says Mercedes Castro, marketing manager at In Bloom Florist in Orlando, Florida.
“This industry is ever evolving, and I believe this event will give our generation insight on how we can make this industry bigger and better than ever with fresh ideas,” she says.
The event also includes plenty of time for networking. Teams will compete in a ‘Chopped’ style design tournament — sponsored by Syndicate Sales — at Continental Flowers’ headquarters.
“I’ve found the best way to learn and connect in this industry is attending events, and I’m very excited that SAF has gone out of their way to curate something for the next gen,” says Freddy Melero, a sales manager at Choice Farms.
Amanda Jedlinsky is the managing editor of SAF NOW.