female florist

How to become a florist and make a creative career change

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Floristry is a dream job for many people, but how can you turn it into a career? Emily Baylis, who founded her own successful floristry business after 10 years in a different industry, explains how to get started.

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The life of a florist seems pretty idyllic. Maybe arranging flowers for a living is even something you have dreamt of after a long day at your desk. If so, you’ll be glad to know that this particular pipedream might be closer in reach than you think.

There are many routes to becoming a florist and it’s something you can start as a hobby before quitting your day job and committing to it full-time. Whether you want to open your own shop or create arrangements for weddings and events, there are many ways to upskill now and bring your floristry dreams a little bit closer.

We asked Emily Baylis, the founder and creative director of June in March, to share her advice on getting started as a florist. Emily became a florist at 31 after 10 years of working in hospitality. She now creates installations for popular London restaurants like Gloria and Circolo Popolare and has showcased at the Chelsea Flower Show twice. 

“I’ve never taken any floristry courses but I’ve always loved flowers and I think I have the creative eye for it,” Emily says, explaining that passion and creativity are the most important skills for a career in floristry.

Here, Emily shares her guide to switching up your career to become a florist, including how to start upskilling and what to expect from this career path.

What you can expect from a career as a florist

Arranging flowers might be a relaxing thing to do in your spare time but being a florist requires a lot of hard work and early starts.

“I usually start my day at 5am,” says Emily. If you’re interested in events floristry, getting up early will be non-negotiable as you will not only have to prep venues early – sometimes during the night – and also get to the flower market as early as possible.

 “Choosing your flowers in person is very important, as is building a relationship with suppliers,” Emily says, explaining why you must make an effort to go to flower markets. 

After starting early and choosing her flowers, Emily will spend the morning prepping them before delivering them to clients in the afternoon at about 2-3pm. She will then prep any administrative or operational details for the next day and finish work at around 5pm.

“Florists work seasonally and some times of the year are much busier than others,” Emily says, explaining that January to March tends to be a quiet period, with business peaking in the spring and early summer months. 

From August to the end of October, things will be quiet again until the lead up to Christmas, which is one of the busiest times of the year.  

How you can upskill to become a florist

“You can absolutely teach yourself the art of floristry,” Emily says. You should start by learning the basics about flowers including:

  • When flowers are seasonal
  • The names of flowers
  • The basic forms of a flower (e.g. raceme, spike, umbel)

You can do this by visiting flower markets and asking questions, as well as doing your own research. Emily recommends buying the books, The Flower Recipe Book, The: 125 Step-by-Step Arrangements for Everyday Occasions, as well as a flower dictionary or encyclopedia.

You should also learn about how to cut, condition and preserve flowers, which you can also do through asking advice from a local florist, researching different methods and trying these techniques out for yourself in order to improve at them.

A creative background is useful for a career in floristry, as the job requires a lot of creative thinking and problem solving. However, a passion for floristry is more important and there are some other more practical skills that are also crucial.

“Most florists are self-employed so operational and organisational skills are really important,” Emily says. You will be working with numbers on a daily basis as a florist, figuring out quantities of flowers for events and dealing with your own accounts. 

“You also need good timekeeping skills as you’re often having to manage lots of clients and tasks at once, sometimes within the same day,” Emily adds. 

The formal qualifications you can get to become a florist

There are no qualifications required to become a florist, however, there are some formal courses available if you are interested. For example, you can take Level 1-3 Certificates in Floristry or Floral Design. This might allow you to set your rates slightly higher at the beginning of your career. 

However, Emily stresses that experience is the most important thing to help you progress in your career. Clients will be willing to pay more when they can physically see what you are capable of.

What you can do now to start working towards a career as a florist

It may sound obvious, but the best thing you can do is to build your own bouquets and arrangements. Go to flower markets and experiment with different flowers and styles of bouquets to see what you enjoy the most. 

“You can also reach out to florists to ask if you can observe them or get some experience working with them,” Emily suggests. 

Creating an Instagram page for your floristry can also be really useful to help you share your work and provide you with a space to see your progress. 

  • Emily Baylis, florist and founder of June in March

    Emily Baylis, florist
    Emily Baylis is the in-house florist for all of the Gloria restaurants across Europe.

    Emily founded June in March in 2017. Her clients include The Big Mama Group in Europe – she is responsible for the much-Instagrammed floral displays in Gloria and Circolo Popolare in London. Other clients include St Germain, House of Holland, Sézane, Veuve Clicquot, Hotel Grand Boulevard Paris and The Phi Center in Montreal.

    June in March showcased for two consecutive years at the Chelsea Flower Show.

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Images: Getty and Emily Baylis

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