Whether you are looking to get started with your floral design business or you want to learn strategic ways to grow your floral design business this year, keep reading to find out exactly what you can expect from the floral industry in 2022 and how to set yourself up for success.
I’m excited to introduce you to Beth O’Reilly, a floral artist living in Houston, TX, with her husband and son.
Beth is a certified Texas Master Florist and an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers, one of the world’s most prestigious floral design organizations. With over 25 years of industry experience, Beth has done it all. Even starring as “the last woman standing” on season 1 of Full Bloom on HBOMax.
Most recently, you can find Beth continuing to hone her skills in the procurement and supply chain side of things while developing educational programs for the next generation of florists.
Now, more than ever, Beth believes success in the industry lies in connections. And interestingly enough, Beth and I share a connection intimately tied to where I am today.
We’ll discuss exactly what to expect from the floral industry in 2022. Let’s get blooming.
Franceska McCaughan: I had launched my floral business in 2015, moved to Houston in 2016, and was shopping the cooler to bid on a hotel account (that I actually still have to this day!).
When I went into the cooler, I saw you and panicked because I idolized you!
I had watched all of your YouTube videos while I was still living in the Middle East, learning how to design, and there you were in the cooler helping me land this account. So I was literally like ‘uh,’ because I was so excited to meet you in person!
To this day, I give credit to you as one of the biggest reasons I’ve been so successful.
Beth O’Reilly: That means so much, Franceska. I mean, really. My people are florists. You guys are my tribe. I want to see florists be successful. So if I’ve had any kind of experience I can share with people to help them on their journey – that’s what it is all about.
And that’s the direction I’m going in with my business since leaving Full Bloom. So this moment of Beth O’Reilly is about educating everyone about flowers and how flowers bring joy into their lives.
And that goes for hotels too. There are moments when someone walks into a hotel, and they’re immediately met with a floral display that just sets the tone, right? So I’m honored to have been someone to help you along with those beginning steps. Look at where you are now. It’s amazing.
Franceska McCaughan: I still count my blessings every day that I had you in my corner. I remember you showing me what type of Dusty Miller would last the longest and even what farm it came from.
Beth O’Reilly: You were a complete sponge. And, really, that’s what I ask people to do. You have to dive in and learn all that you can.
Franceska McCaughan: Beth, what advice do you have for someone who wants to be a florist?
Beth O’Reilly: Networking. Build a tribe of people you can bounce ideas off of. It’s really important. It helps you now and in the future as you build your business.
But if we can back it up a little bit, competence is one of the biggest things for me. I teach new florists that 99% of what we do is problem-solving. So if something doesn’t go your way, have the flexibility and know you can problem-solve confidently.
And to be able to problem-solve confidently, you need to learn the basics of floristry and the principles of elements and design.
Then, as you problem-solve and observe and learn from yourself and others what works and doesn’t work, you pick up new techniques and skills to add to your toolkit.
That’s where I’ve focused my business – on helping florists really understand competence and confidence so they can level up in their business.
Franceska McCaughan: I love that you touched on those 2 key points. I completely agree with you.
The Hotel Florist Profit Method is literally: how can I teach you to be as confident as possible? Because I can teach you the design and what to say and how to automate your business, but ultimately it’s confidence – confidence in who you are, what you offer, and what you’re doing.
I also want to touch on problem-solving. My number one strength is problem-solving. I see every problem as a learning opportunity. I’m grateful for that.
I also know many people get discouraged because they see problems as failures, and failure means they aren’t good enough or worthy enough. And then, it’s not even an issue of competency. It’s an issue of confidence, of your mindset.
Know that you’re going to come across problems and see it as a learning opportunity that, ultimately, will make you a true expert of your craft.
Beth O’Reilly: I completely agree with you. I thrive off of it.
Franceska McCaughan: Can you share a bit of your journey with hotels? What did you learn? What did you walk away with?
Beth O’Reilly: Sure. Most of my hotel accounts were in Austin, Texas. We were the florist for The Four Seasons and the Driskill Hotel.
What I learned is the importance of relationships. For example, The Four Seasons was a training hotel, so we had General Managers come and go. It was frustrating constantly having to build a relationship with the newest GM because, each time, you really have to help them understand what it takes for me to be successful for them.
And using flowers that last a long time is an absolute must. You don’t want to be spending more time than necessary on the account. I like to plan things out a month in advance, so if I am doing 4 installs for a hotel in 1 month, I will literally sit down, do a sketch, come up with a recipe and a plan of action – allowing for flexibility, of course – and everything works like clockwork.
I don’t have to rethink things every single week. I do it in batches. I guess I was doing batches before batches were a thing.
Franceska McCaughan: One of the reasons I love working with hotels is because it’s a 1-day-a-week thing, and the rest of the time, you can travel or do weddings and events – whatever works for your schedule and your life.
As you mentioned before, relationships are a massive component of the hospitality and floral industry, and I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to start that relationship over and over again.
Beth O’Reilly: Really, I only have good memories. We also did the Christmas installs for both hotels. It was intense and wonderful. It’s definitely something I’m glad to have experienced.
Franceska McCaughan: What would your advice be for a florist wanting to work with hotels?
Beth O’Reilly: Play your cards right, have a great relationship with the hotel, and you can naturally become their preferred florist, meaning you get their wedding and event business. That can be a big win.
Franceska McCaughan: I became Tiffany and Co.’s Texas-wide florist through an introduction made by a hotel client I had at the time.
Beth O’Reilly: Also, have a portfolio. I tell florists all the time, ‘you have to document your work.’ We are a visual industry. Learn how to use your camera correctly. We know how important it is nowadays with social media. Anything you capture for your content can be a huge marketing lead for you.
Franceska McCaughan: That’s so important.
Where do you see the floral industry headed? What can we expect from the floral industry in 2022?
Beth O’Reilly: I see a lot of different things happening.
There is a connection between growers and florists that wasn’t necessarily there before. We see a lot more communicating happening. Growers adapt and want to get their product in front of florists and educate florists on what they grow.
Florists are learning where their flowers come from. There is the slow flower movement and the American-grown movement, which I totally love and support. I’m also an advocate for people working really hard all around the world in all parts of our industry.
I see floral installations becoming more and more important. People want an “Instagrammable moment.” Whether that’s fresh flowers or dried, permanent installations. Installations evoke a sense of joy when people see them.
The sustainability movement is a high priority in our industry right now.
Everyone is talking about how hard product is to get and how prices are increasing because of the after-effects of COVID. There aren’t any people in the field to tend to the crops, there’s nothing new being planted, and we’re afraid to plant too much because they didn’t want to dump product like they did in 2020.
The positive side of that is that there is a demand for flowers – people want flowers in their lives. I think that’s wonderful. We just have to be a little bit smarter in selling what we are selling. We have to be flexible and creative with what’s available.
We are artists. We should be able to be creative with what’s available.
Another significant change in the industry is with retail florists. Retail florists are going through a Renaissance of sorts. I love seeing that. In the past, wedding and event florists and studio florists were on the rise, but with COVID, what people really need are retail florists for birthday arrangements, pick-me-ups, ‘thinking of you,’ that sort of thing.
Many of my students are studio florists, though, and what I find interesting about them is that a lot of them have been inspired to start their studio because of COVID and want to create and bring more joy and beauty in their life and share that with others.
Franceska McCaughan: In summary, the industry is growing, and there is room for everyone. I have a student who really wants to go into sympathy arrangements. I personally think there is so much value in that industry, and it is entirely underserved.
I say that to say there is literally a place for you, no matter where your gut is calling you. Beth, before we finish, I have one fun question I want to ask. It is one of my favorites. What is the most useless talent you have?
Beth O’Reilly: I can touch my nose with my tongue. Is there anything more useless than being able to touch your nose?
Enjoyed this conversation? Send Beth a DM on Instagram at @beth.oreilly.aifd and say ‘hello!’
Want to learn more about hotel floral design? Check out my free masterclass for florists looking to create consistent $5K months without depending on unstable wedding and event income at www.thehotelflorist.com.
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P.S. Be sure to check out my FREE masterclass for florists looking to create consistent 5k months through hotel partnerships here.