- Written by Hannah Dunne
"Everybody goes to rehab these days... so make people addicted to you and your flowers!" So says Jens Jakobsen, designer extraordinaire who, with Katie-Jane Pridmore produced whoops, laughter and shed-loads of inspiration for their fabulous audience at last week's Colombian Roadshow at Flowervision Bristol.
We're hitting the road to show-off Colombian flowers at their finest with designers we know are guaranteed to impress with both floristry and business talents, plus if last week's event is anything to go by, plenty of fun and giggles as well.
Compered by our very own Caroline Marshall-Foster, the show wasn't just an opportunity to relax with fellow florists but it also prompted important debate on topics from "should I do my bride's bouquet if the table arrangements are supermarket-bought?" to what mark-up to put on your sundries and crazy tales of high-end hotels and their huge credit demands.
"It was a fantastic evening" says Kate Morrish Bullock whilst Amanda Child said, "Brilliant night!" and Katherine Delve from the Academy of Floral Art who brought two new students to be inspired said, "Great evening, thank you."
Katie-Jane and Jens produced over forty (yes, FORTY!) designs over the course of the evening, each one raffled with proceeds of nearly £400 for Flowervision's chosen charities; The Grand Appeal for Bristol Children's Hospital and The Salvation Army.
Their floristry ranged from totally commercial, cost-effective ways to use just a few stems in style and make a proper profit to an abstract but absolutely show-stopping giant fairy-tale bouquet. Katie-Jane's bridal designs were enough to inspire anyone to give a second thought to their wedding work and Jens offered some fabulous outside-the-box ideas for using the simplest of stems like alstro and dianthus.
Not just about floristry and fun, the evening produced seriously motivational thoughts and ideas. Jens reckons, "As florists, we have to become as important as a doctor, dentist or hairdresser." And who says we can't be? Caroline added, "The consumer will never do flowers as well as you!" We think events like this prove there's so much more to being a florist than meets the eye.
The evening's focus was Colombian flowers and what makes them oh-so very special. Caroline kicked-off the evening with three key words: STRONGER, LONGER & BRIGHTER... and Christina Aguilera jokes aside she left the crowd shouting them from the rooftops by the end of the evening!
Our designers showed how Colombian blooms – be it a boring old carnation or sparkling scented rose - can really add oomph and profit to your product lines whether it's an at-the-till impulse buy or extravagant event work. Caroline even grabbed a Colombian agapanthus grown under the St Patrick brand and shook it around saying "I challenge you to wiggle it to the point it breaks!"
Katie-Jane shared bucket-loads of tips she'd picked up from her years in the shop and since going solo, from social media advice to an insight into how she manages mark-ups. Jens inspired our crowd with his unique attitudes and outlook, saying "Learn to love your enemy. I don't like to work with things I love, instead I challenge myself to work with things I don't."
The consensus was 'dare to be different', so if we leave you with anything at all, why not make it the challenge to pick up some Colombian blooms you'd never have thought to work with before – or perhaps a variety you work with every day but consider it dull or a filler, and challenge yourself to learn to love it by doing something totally different.
Angie Blackwell, Jacalyn Dobson, Holly Harris, Brenda Cornish and Diane Dawe - Cottage Flowers
The Flowervision Bristol team who worked incredibly hard to put it all together!
Mike, Kim, Jessica, Helen and Sarah from Kimberley's The Florist
Helen Reed and Anna Johnstone, Rosina May Flowers, with Caroline Marshall-Foster