Tips for aspiring florists

I am often asked “What does it take to be a successful, working florist?”

Having worked in the florist industry both as a florist and a teacher for over 20 years, I have had the privilege of working with some amazing people. They come from a range of backgrounds and have a range of skills that have made them invaluable team members.

Some are floral designers with a real passion and creative flare, knowledgeable about both flowers and design. Others are amazing merchandisers that can create stunning in-store floral displays and make the setting up of a flower shop look effortless. Then there are those that really understand how to build relationships with our clients and take customer service to the next level. There is the organiser: the person that keeps calm and manages the Workflow on the those crazy, busy florist days and big wedding installations.

A successful florist business needs a team of people with this range of skills to work in their high energy environments. Yes, its hard work, can be long hours and physical yet working in the florist industry can really get into your blood. Being a florist is more than a job, it is a lifestyle and a privilege.


So, you are inspired to make flowers your world …. what skills do you need to be successful?

 I have broken it down into these five areas:

  1.  Become the FLOWER EXPERT
  2. Develop your Floral Design Eye
  3. Know how to create beautiful floral designs
  4. Be work-ready (this can be more than a hobby)
  5. Understand your client’s needs 
  1. Become the FLOWER EXPERT

A florist needs to know more about flowers than just their names. You will need to know their natural season, what colours they come in, how to care for them, where to store them, how long they last as cut flowers and what designs they are suitable for.

As an example, a bride sends you through an image of a bridal bouquet she would like you to use for inspiration for her wedding. An experienced florist would be able to identify the key flowers and foliage and know whether they are in season, what colours they come in, if they are suitable to use in that particular design and where to source them. If those flowers are not available, a florist could come up with a list of other blooms to use in the bouquet to create that same look and feel. 

  1. Develop your Floral Design Eye

A floral designer is in touch with trends in floristry, with an eye on the future and a respect for the past. You will have a strong feel for colour and the impact of different colours combinations.

Through a florist’s understanding of the Elements and Principles of Design and how they relate in floristry, you can create different looks in your arrangements from classical to contemporary, depending on the client’s brief.

Instinctively you will understand the role that each flower plays in a design, be it a focal or transitional flower, so you know what to substitute if that flower is not in season.

To build your floristry portfolio you will need to need to style and take beautiful images that best represent your own floral brand. 

  1. Know how to create beautiful floral designs

On any day in the Pearsons workshop you could be asked to create a wide range of designs from beautiful bouquets, large exotic floral displays for an office reception, table centres for a corporate event, wedding bouquets right through to a spray for a funeral.

A florist needs to understand how to create a wide range of displays and how to adjust to the changes in fashion and season.

The three key techniques to start your learning are called Hand Tied, Base Medium and Wiring. Using these three key techniques you can create floral arrangements from gift bouquets, table decorations, sympathy flowers and wedding party flowers. 

  1. Be work-ready (this can be more than a hobby)

What happens in a florist business or studio? When do the flowers arrive and how do you need to process them? How do know how to quote for a bouquet or wedding? How much should you charge for your time and the flowers?  

At Pearsons we encourage students to gain practical experience in the industry as part of our program to ensure they are Work Ready.

A florist needs to be an active member of a team… a great communicator. Enthusiastic and happy to share the load. 

  1. Understand your client’s needs 

I often think of a florist as a poet …. using flowers rather than words. Flowers make a statement. Flowers say something to people whether they are being delivered to commemorate a life lost or to celebrate a new beginning.

When starting out in floristry it is important to build your repertoire of questions to ask your clients, so you know why they are buying flowers. Then you can design the perfect gift or wedding installation for them.

Once you understand your client needs, they will trust and allow you to be creative and run with your design ideas.  



How can you get the skills to be a Florist?

Floristry is a commitment to life-long learning but SFL30115 Certificate III in Floristry is a great place to start. At Pearsons we match our industry knowledge of the skills required to be a successful florist with the requirements of the curriculum. Through our innovative program we build your underpinning flower and design knowledge, and strong practical floristry skills.

Our focus is to help you get started on your floral career.  

Learn more about SFL30115 Certificate III in Floristry

Subjects covered or Units of Competency 

My story

I have had the pleasure of being involved in the flower industry since I was 4 years old. Our family purchased Pearsons Florist in 1969 with Mum as the Florist and Dad the Buyer. The family lived above our first Pearsons shop in Bondi Junction and all the four kids helped in the store and at busy times.  Fast forward through school, university and even my first corporate role …. It was obvious that flower pollen was in my DNA. I too joined the family business in the mid 1980’s.

Hand on heart I can say that flowers still excite me, our industry inspires me and our projects with clients and at Pearsons School of Floristry still creatively challenge me. Yes floristry is hard work, Valentine’s Day means long, long hours and running a business means that you work till the work is done.  But I know I have been blessed to have a career I can be passionate about.

And then there are the flowers!

Barbara Pollak - CEO Pearsons School of Floristry

Barbara with brother Bernard and the lovely Mayor Clover Moore at Pearsons 50th Anniversary celebration.