Floret Workshops Scholarships are near and dear to my heart for so many reasons. Earlier this week, I re-connected with two past scholarship recipients as part of a little series of posts about the Floret Scholarship program. Be sure to check out the post that features past winners “then and now” here and also read more about last year’s scholarship recipients and how you can apply.
Floret Scholarship applications are open now through Monday October 30th at 12 midnight PST. If you haven’t yet applied, don’t delay!
As I reflect back on the Floret Workshops, I am reminded of just how many wonderful friendships and professional relationships that have grown out of these life changing events. As a result, I now have flower friends from all over the world! It is through our workshops that I found most of Team Floret and also recruited the vast majority of our workshop dream team too.
Today, I’m checking back in with three other past scholarship winners. What’s so special about these three amazing souls is that I first met them as scholarship recipients and through the process they became colleagues and life long friends. The best part is that they each came back to join our workshop dream team and share their incredible gifts with so many of our attendees.
I asked each of them to reflect back on when they first applied for the scholarship and share a little bit about their experience as students in the Floret Workshop. I hope you enjoy their stories.
BECCA BLUE, Becca Blue Flowers
Before I received the Floret scholarship, I was burned out. The daily grind had me worn down. So. Worn. Down. I felt like I was being pulled in many different directions, all at once- and, if I was asked for something I would never, ever say no. To anything- or anyone. Ever. I struggled (and admittedly, still at times do) with pricing and seeing not just my product’s, but my own self worth. I think I had given so much of my self away- literally & figuratively that I had begun to lose sight of who I was- a woman, a wife, a mom, a friend, a business owner, a flower lover…and was left with a small echo of who thought I was supposed to be. Who I wanted to be. (Who I was trying to be?) I was stuck standing still.
Attending the Floret workshop… was a dream. I cannot use any other word to describe my experience. Since the workshop I have found a very clear flower voice, that is all my own. (In which the word “no” is included in its vocabulary.) I have two other MASSIVE takeaways from the workshop…and about a million smaller ones…but the biggies are that I have allowed myself to push my dream further than I thought it could go and have been working as a part of Team Floret these past three summers during their florist workshops. I discovered with Erin’s help, that I love teaching. I am at my best when I can help others- guide them, support them and show them my (if you have met me, you know this to be true) absolute giddiness for working with flowers. There is nothing more exhilarating for me than sharing this passion with others. The second take away for me- and this is as true and as real as can be, are the friends I have made through Erin. My life is so rich due in great part to the women (and men!) I have been blessed meeting through Floret. I have a wealth of friendship that I did not have before. I am blown away -almost daily- that I am a part of this community filled with beautiful, amazing, creative and massively talented flower friends. I more often than not am in shock that I have found you all. What amazing gifts I have been given.
ANTONIO VALENTE of Antonio Valente Flowers
Antonio’s scholarship essay was so terrific, that I just had to post it again:
“I was in the 2nd grade and asked to draw a picture of what I wanted to be when I was older, just as the principal came around to our classroom. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” he asked. “I want to be a florist” I replied. He chuckled and exclaimed that “boys don’t play with flowers!” It was one of the earliest lessons I learned. I never did pursue a career in floral design, but it was always pumping through my veins, and so was my love of gardening. When any of my older sisters received roses from a boyfriend, I couldn’t wait to arrange them! Six years ago I planted a cutting garden. I started with four dahlia tubers. I soon added some zinnias, some roses… Suddenly I had neighbors requesting bouquets and a small Saturday morning flower stand on my driveway. This year I started taking my bouquets to two different farmers’ markets, completely selling out nearly every week! I still have so much to learn however. I need to efficiently grow and arrange more flowers, and have dreams of doing weddings! A scholarship from Floret would help me make up for the lost time of not having pursued my floral passions earlier, and show the world that boys DO in fact play with flowers!”
“I still remember the very morning I woke up, when I felt so inspired and compelled to finally sit down, tell my story, and apply to the Floret Flower Farming scholarship. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be chosen, but I took the chance. I knew I needed to invest in myself and this tiny little flower farming business of mine if I truly wanted to take it to the next level. I recall seeing the email from Floret and assumed it was a generic, auto-reply message thanking me for my application. As I opened the email and began to read it, realizing that I had been invited to attend one of their esteemed workshops, I literally sobbed like a baby in utter joy and disbelief.
Attending the Floret workshop was an inspiring, informative, and very well-rounded experience. I left the farm with a newfound energy and direction. In fact, the workshop finally gave me the confidence I needed to do my very first wedding – my most profitable flower farming venture to date! I strongly encourage those, both dreamers and realists, who wish to learn the ins and outs of a working flower farm to apply to the scholarship!”
Before attending the Floret workshop my greatest challenge was efficiency. As a one-man-show, I needed to know how to streamline my operations. I was selling my flowers at farmers’ markets, which was certainly a step-up from my start with a roadside stand and selling to neighbours, but I still wasn’t running a sustainable and largely profitable business. I was also struggling with how to get the word out about my flowers. I loved my flowers, and I loved growing them, but at the end of the day they needed to sell! I hadn’t realized that there was so much more to this gig than just growing top notch flowers.
Upon completion of the Floret workshop I knew that I needed to allocate my time where it really mattered most! For example, the simple lesson on how to make market bouquets helped me realize just how inefficient I was at the task. I had essentially been making bridal quality bouquets, and then selling them for 20 dollars at the farmers market! Crazy, right? Having said that, however, I have since streamlined my operations even further and no longer sell my flowers at farmers’ markets. Today I sell my blooms directly to florists throughout the city which is far more time efficient, profitable, and has virtually eliminated product surplus.
Today I regularly get emails from florists who have heard about my blooms and would like to start purchasing my product. At the moment I’m limited by my growing space, and I’m unable to meet the demand (not such a bad thing, I guess), but I love being able to refer these florists to fellow growers in their area.”
JENN HENRY of Field Day Creative
“I applied for the Floret scholarship in the fall of 2014 despite the long odds. I dreamt of taking a seat amongst the company of many fellow flower enthusiasts at that circle inside the Basye Family Barn. At that time, I had recently rebranded my business but was doing only a few small jobs here and there. My goal was to begin my path towards becoming an accomplished floral designer taking on large weddings and events. To increase my number of events, I needed to overcome my largest hurdle- a severe lack of confidenc
I went into the workshop intently focused on overcoming my struggle and as it turned out I left Mount Vernon with much more than a little self-esteem. Instead of focusing on the number of events I hoped to book in the coming year Erin pushed me to develop more of what that goal really meant. She taught me how to establish a strategy to approach each of the challenges I would face in achieving my goals. I was heading home with a plan. In addition, I made lifelong friends with my peers that I would cherish for both support in my business and in my personal life. Not only did I create enduring friendships with fellow attendees but also in a handful of incredible mentors from Team Floret as well.
Establishing these relationships opened the doors for me to later return and work as part of Team Floret in later workshops. I hadn’t imagined I would enjoy teaching as much as I did and I began to offer a few small workshops through Field Day Creative back on the east coast during the slow season. Between attending the Dahlia Floral Intensive workshop in 2015 and assisting at subsequent workshops that followed I came to realize that I wanted to do more than strictly design for weddings. Offering a few small workshops myself was just the beginning of branching out for Field Day Creative.
I had the opportunity to see first-hand how much Erin was growing in such a small space at Floret. I realized my need to grow too, which would offer me access to more select varieties of flowers that would help to set my work apart. What’s more, my own cutting plot offered the opportunity to use more local, fresher product. I often heard from flower farmers that they wanted to design more and from designers that they wanted to grow more. I too recognized this necessity for balance. I needed to quench the desires of both the horticulturalist and the creative in me.
Currently I still design and create florals for weddings and events and have also established a small urban cutting plot which I aim to expand upon each year. I have learned a great deal from Erin, fellow farmers that I have met through Floret and of course through a great deal of trial and error- but I truly can’t wait for the online workshop Floret will be rolling out soon. I hope to learn more techniques and tips on how to maximize my growing and to expand my knowledge of farming. Erin is constantly pursuing new challenges, never growing too complacent with any one project at Floret. I hope to continue evolving my business over the years and never lose the desire to chase new goals as she seems to do so tirelessly.”