There's a great divide amongst florists that you're probably not even aware of. Do you design with a knife? Chances are, those of you who use a knife can't imagine what other tool a person would use. You probably have a hard time believing that there are entire flower shops where a knife is only used to open cardboard boxes, never on flowers. Those of you who don't use a design knife know that there are people who use a one, but you never learned. Maybe you believe you can't learn, and further, you may be convinced that there's no reason to learn.
Having found myself in many design positions as an employee rather than an employer, I've developed a habit of mirroring the design style and techniques of whoever the lead designer of the day is. It's just a matter of survival for a free lance designer. I'm a hired hand for the project and not there to change the florist's style or process. In most cases, the florist is up to his or her ears in work and the last thing they are looking for is my two cents. They just want my two hands. When I find myself in a snipper shop (no knives), they marvel at my knife, but always resist the idea of using one themselves.
Most often, working in different shops gives me a new technique or great idea for improving design mechanics and productivity. After all, florists are an industrious and ingenious group. Someone always has an idea for design, delivery or installation that saves time, money and heartache. It's those gems that keep me interested in the business that frankly can be repetitive and somewhat drudgery on a day to day basis.
And it's those innovations that I can add to my tool box and share with other shops as I move around from job to job that probably add to my value as a freelance designer. It's a delicate balancing act, deciding when to share my ideas for improvement and when to take orders and work hard for the hourly rate.
It gives me a perspective on florist operations that is not afforded to many florists. Biding respect for all florists aside, I've got to say, I see things from time to time that just curl my toes. If there's one thing that makes me crazy its inefficient processes that get repeated as a matter of daily work. There's bound to be inefficiencies in a once in a lifetime job...There's no chance to practice and work out the bugs. But when the job is a daily one that's wasting time, my brain adds up all the time lost over a year and it really becomes a problem.
Now imagine the inefficiency comes in the form of an action we perform hundreds or even thousands of times in a day! What can I be referring to? Cutting a flower stem and inserting it into an arrangement. With a knife, the motion is cut and insert. With snippers, you've got to snip, transfer hands, put down the cutters and then insert. Even those who cut with one hand and insert with the other still have to do something with the rest of the stem when they've cut off a lateral for insertion.
Resistors will claim that knives are dangerous... "I'll cut my thumb". Certainly caution is advised. Develop a motion that involves pulling the knife through the stem, rather than pushing the stem through the blade with your thumb, and don't do anything crazy like try to cut down a mache with your design knife. I've seen more snip cuts than knife cuts and having experienced both in my life; a snip cut hurts more and takes three times as long to heal.
Buy yourself a good red-handled design knife. Clauss makes the best one. Practice and employ it in your design and I promise you'll double your design speed. With all your free time, you can sell more flowers, work on your shop display, plan your holiday or just go get a haircut and pick your kids up from school!
Mrs. Marinelli provides consulting services to retail florsits and authors a website designed to help others Start a Flower Shop.