"We are stronger as a team." A resounding statement made by Kate Whelan, florist and joint-owner of Paragon Floral Design with Lisa Holroyd in Oldham, who will be among the delegates at Vision '16 fighting to make 2016 the year our industry took off into the stratosphere.
"Last year saw a great attendance from event florists to high street shops with speakers who tackled real issues and encouraged debate," explains Kate, who will join others from across the UK's floral spectrum in Leicester this April to discuss moving the sector forwards. Flower businesses of all shapes, sizes and allegiance are welcome to attend.
"We're going because it's important to participate in any major industry event – we are in the business and intend to stay in it after all!"
So says David Costa, entrepreneur and owner of Flowers Unlimited in Brighton. His business became the talk of the web a few months back as florists praised his ideas which had led to two major business awards and a video by Entrepreneurs Circle which divulged a few of his fascinating marketing and business secrets.
Naturally, David was at Vision last year to witness the event that led to established florist Mark Bennett at Flowers by Nattrass saying, "One of the best discussion meetings for our industry I've been to."
David comments, "Last year was interesting with its variety of speaker content, the opportunity to meet old and new faces and exchange ideas and stories. We're hoping that this year will deliver further inspiration, information and education."
Kate from Paragon adds, "There are so many talented and enthusiastic people in our industry and Vision gives us an opportunity to network and gather information to work together and push floristry into the future."
Joanna Eagelton of Eden Florists in Leatherhead spoke on the benefits the conference had on her business. "Last year's Vision helped me to refocus my attention on what my customers need, and has prompted me to pass on my knowledge and prove that a professional florist doesn't just play with flowers all day!
"It's an occasion to hear tips and ideas from fellow florists and guest speakers. Somewhere to support each other rather than bickering and fighting."
Vision conference is the brainchild of Brian Wills-Pope, chairman of the BFA, who will be expressing his thoughts on the future at this year's event. Joanna added, "By attending Vision '16 I'm showing my support to the BFA, who in turn are trying to support a fragmented industry. I'm looking forward to attending this year to find out what changes the BFA have made following on from their report at last year's conference."
New knowledge and ideas are guaranteed, but equally important is the opportunity to get to know other likeminded florists, in a welcome and comfortable environment where all delegates are encouraged to share and boost one-another.
Sian Wild is a Manchester-based florist who last year returned to her business, The Flower Lounge, with new knowledge and new floral friends, "Last year's conference was really useful and gave a great insight into the industry. We learnt interesting statistics and lots of useful information to mull over. It was great to take a step back from the business and return with new ideas and inspiration.
"Plus I really enjoyed the social aspect; I caught up with lots of other florists and swapped ideas."
Something seconded by Kate at Paragon who also said, "It's nice to spend time with so many like-minded, truly professional and experienced people to share ideas."
It's an event guaranteed to help you boost profits, but if you're in it for love not money, remember it's an event with industry progress at its core, aiming to unite anyone with a real passion for flowers. As Kate says, "This is the platform for floristry to up its game!"
Vision '16 takes place on Sunday 17 April at the Leicester Marriott Hotel, from 10am until 4.30pm. There is a cocktail party and hotel discount for those who wish to stay overnight on Saturday.
Pictured top from left to right: Kate Whelan & Lisa Holroyd - Paragon Floral Design, Sian Wild - The Flower Lounge, David Costa & team - Flowers Unlimited, Joanna Eagelton - Eden Florists