Meet a florist.

Heidi Webber—Gold Coast Florist

I became interested in floristry when I was around 16 or 17 years old, when working a normal 9-5 job seemed tedious. I needed a career that was creative, challenging and always changing. I first began a casual position in a local florist sweeping floors, washing buckets and eventually making basic floral arrangements. This progressed to more casual work and training until I was working full-time in a florist with on-the-job training. I found it difficult to obtain work when I moved to Queensland without formal qualifications. Eventually I found a florist willing to put me through a comprehensive apprenticeship which lasted four years. Once my studies were complete I was full of knowledge and ready to tackle the floral industry head on, taking on any opportunities that came my way. This helped me to gain enough drive and passion for the industry until I bought my floristry business in 2010.

I could not imagine my life without floristry. There is a saying within the industry that if you don’t love floristry and it’s not your passion you will not succeed. Floristry is my passion and it opens many doors of opportunity when you apply yourself. There are many facets to floristry including weddings, corporate work, large-scale functions, and day-to-day floristry. Each day at work is different as there are so many different types of floristry being presented to you. Work life is never mundane and it is a very demanding yet rewarding job, providing it is your passion.

I learnt the majority of my skills through a professional floristry college. There are many skills that you can only learn from on-the-job training, but a formal training organisation sets you up with the basics to get you started. It is very important, in my opinion, to have formal training and qualifications. It sets the standard within the industry (which is not monitored by any outer corporation or organisation, as with other industries, such as hairdressing). There is nothing worse, for an owner of a floristry business, than hearing horror stories from customers about unqualified florists (or hobbyists) and their low standard of work. It is bad for the industry on so many levels. Floristry is a career that takes time to learn. You cannot become a florist overnight and you need to have a natural flair for design.

An average day in my floristry business consists of taking orders by phone, in person or online, writing up message cards, making up orders, serving customers, making the orders for the following day, filling the shop with beautiful arrangements, talking to brides about their wedding flower options, unpacking flowers arriving from the wholesalers, doing quotes for weddings/functions, responding to email enquiries, sending out invoices and, of course, general housekeeping such as cleaning.

Working in a florist shop requires flexible working hours. Weekend work is essential as this is when weddings and most functions are held. The hours can be long, especially at peak periods such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. The job can be demanding as you are working to a deadline to have orders ready in time for the couriers, as well as requested delivery times. You must be very organised, be able to multi-task and know how to prioritise. It can be both physically and mentally demanding as you are required to think quickly, do five things at once (such as make an arrangement while taking an order on the phone, and then serving a customer in between!) and there is not a lot of room for error. All of these requirements you learn over time with hours of experience. It is not a job that will make you wealthy, but rather a job that brings many rewards from your working day and inspires you by all things beautiful that nature creates.

The best advice I can give to someone interested in taking up floristry is to make sure you are passionate about flowers and creative design. If you are, apply yourself accordingly, as the process to become a knowledgeable and experienced florist can be lengthy, but if it is your passion, you will enjoy it every step of the way.

Careers in flowers and foliage