One perfect fall day, a group of seven designers gathered in New York’s Hudson Valley to create their own floral bliss.

In the crisp, cool, October weather the retail florists, freelancers, and passionate floral enthusiast arrived in warm sweaters to spend a few days together sipping hot tea and decorating an old barn.

Photo: Angelique Hanesworth; Eye Spy Photography

How can testing new design ideas and products help open the door to new sales for your floral business?

Using an abundance of fall flowers, these designers experimented with new floral mechanics to turn an aging structure into a floral sanctuary. Then, invited their potential customers in to see.

What designs did they create? How were they constructed?

The group used the trending color palette “a New Leaf” from the 2020 Flower Trends Forecast.  This aided advance planning and ordering from suppliers. Autumn was a natural theme.

Why Autumn?

Autumn is the perfect season for decorating in a rustic space. Seasonal designs feature natural elements that customers enjoy outdoors, and want to take indoors.

Photos: Theresa Colucci

“It’s never a challenge to sell fall flowers in the northeast,” says Theresa Colucci AIFD, AAF, PFCI of Meadowscent in Gardiner, New York. This florist of 37 years says fall is her favorite season of sales.

“Just mentioning descriptive words – seasonal, rich, or autumnal colors, seals the deal when selling to our customers in fall,” says Theresa.

Everyone embraces fall foliage and customers welcome the introduction of warm colors and rough textures in their flower purchases.

Autumn arrives

You can tell when autumn arrives. Kids are back in school as of September 1st and the fall décor season begins.

Photo: Angelique Hanesworth; Eye Spy Photography

Foraged natural materials like grapevine, bittersweet and rosehips show up in table centerpieces; like this one made in Midnight standing spheres.

Fall wreaths accessorize doors. Dried cornstalks decorate mailboxes and porch posts. Apple-picking. The pumpkin patch. Apple cider donuts and warm mugs of cider appear.

Cones, pods, vines, sticks, fruits, vegetables, stones, feathers, and grasses, are added to arrangements for visual interest.

Bridesmaids dress in autumnal shades of purple, persimmon, burnt orange or umber.

Theresa suggests capitalizing on the popularity of seasonal decorating.

  • Decorate your shop exterior to draw shoppers in.
  • Create in-store vignettes with ‘grab & go’ decorating accessories.
  • Keep at least one fall vignette in place until Thanksgiving.
  • Teach in-store, hands-on classes. Promote the DIY design online.
  • Offer an upgraded version for attendees in class.
  • Name designs with local or seasonal titles to create a connection.

Theresa believes the key to a successful business is offering proper sales and customer service training to employees. Once her staff learned how to connect with the customer by making the purchase feel special, shop sales dramatically increased.

The Floral Bliss ladies wanted to learn how to add an unpredictable vibe to their classic autumn arrangements.  

Flowers for the fence

Photos: Angelique Hanesworth; Eye Spy Photography

They started with the fence; creating a welcoming feel with a repetition of flower spheres decorating wooden form.

By threading a wire through each Midnight standing sphere and placing the flat base against the wood planks, the orbs could easily be tied into place. Flowers were then added.

Two weeks later, Theresa removed the secured spheres from the fence. To her surprise, many of the flowers were still fresh due to the moisture that remained inside the spheres.

Décor for the doors

Photos: Angelique Hanesworth; Eye Spy Photography

Similar designs were repeated on the barn doors. The standing sphere’s flat base making the designs easy to attach. The round forms providing ample space for flower insertions.

“We loved incorporating Midnight foam into arrangements,” says Theresa. “We liked using its receding black color as an element of our designs.”

Midnight spheres were used inside the barn, hanging from rafter centerpieces.

Photos: Angelique Hanesworth; Eye Spy Photography

Raquettes to the rescue

Raquettes were used atop beams to create the lofty designs. Otherwise this narrow space can be difficult to design in. The 4-inch width of the raquette fits perfectly atop the rafter and can be secured with ½” waterproof tape, cable ties, or bind wire.

Midnight spheres were suspended in a flat wire hanger at the bottom of the designs. Accents of flat wire accessorized the rafter arrangements.

Hands-on learning

The goal for this relaxed retreat was hands-on learning of techniques, design styles, and new products.

While the group spent time together designing, brainstorming or sharing meals they exchanged ideas, and discussed the everyday challenges florists all face.

“We all work really hard in our day to day floral lives,” says Theresa. This event offered the time to experiment that you don’t have during daily business.

 “Together we learned new techniques, expanded our knowledge of design, andexplored new concepts of profitability and customer service,” says Theresa.

They prepped on-site for two days. For half of the first day, they worked on hands-on European wire techniques they later incorporated into table decor.

Textural tablescape

The table armature was created out of 18-gauge wire and wrapped in brown bind wire.

The natural look of the cork planters worked perfectly as a base for the elevated designs made in moss and bark baskets.

Photo: Angelique Hanesworth; Eye Spy Photography

The display of designs showed how the event space can be used for weddings or other life celebrations. The suspended flowers for example.

Suspended flowers

To support a suspended floral chandelier, a wooden triangle was formed from 2 x 4s and attached to barn rafters with cable ties (zip ties).

Photo: Theresa Colucci

floral foam-filled corso was used as a water source for the design. The flaps were left open to be cable tied to the wooden triangle. Foliage and flowers filled the cages to form a floral chandelier with a casual vibe.

Photo: Angelique Hanesworth; Eye Spy Photography

The size of the arrangement was expanded by circles of decorative wire that incorporated negative space into the design.

Copper circles

The circular theme continued with a collection of hanging copper metal rings laced with copper wire armaturesWater tubes were attached with metallic wire and filled with fresh flowers.

Photo: Angelique Hanesworth; Eye Spy Photography

Strings of lights highlighted the space.

Armature and accessories

An old metal can was the perfect base for an armature made of floral netting. The wire squares were filled with foliage creating a structure for attaching flower-filled water tubes.

Photos: Angelique Hanesworth; Eye Spy Photography

On the last day attendees learned to make a flower crown by twisting chenille stems into a halo form that was glued to felt strips. Fresh flowers were glued into place using floral adhesive.

“Our photographer suggested we take head shots and group photos. It was a wonderful way end to our retreat!” says Theresa. “Everyone is very excited about using the photos on social media to promote fall weddings and in-store events.”

The event was celebrated with a small cocktail party in the barn for friends and family. They plan to expand next year by inviting the public.

What advice does Theresa offer for planning an inspirational retreat?

  • Provide an explorative experience where designers can connect and collaborate.
  • Encourage participants to create new designs that are both fun and challenging.
  • Promote meal times as a time for relaxed socializing and open discussions.
  • Create an encouraging space where everyone can enjoy the friendship of others.

While the theme fall-centric for this event, these design and sales techniques can be used to promote flowers in any season.

How do you promote fall flowers in your floral business?