How I became a florist and what I love about the job

Imogen Parkin, 26, lives Bristol and has been a florist for nine years. Here she explains how she started out in the industry and shares her tips for budding florists.

Florist Imogen Parkin

I always knew I was creative and artistic but was unsure which career to embark upon. But I’d loved flowers from a young age. My dad is a very keen gardener, and I have always liked making things beautiful so floristry appealed to me.

I believe flowers and plants are the most beautiful things you can work with. A florist is there for your wedding and funeral; flowers make the happiest day of your life beautiful but are also the last thing you can do for someone.

After doing A-levels and a foundation degree in art and design, I did two years floristry qualifications alongside work experience in florist shops. That said, A-levels and foundation degrees are not necessary for a floristry course.

Read more: Building a business selling bejewelled headbands

What I love about my job

I love that every day can be different. You see the seasons change through the flowers you use; in the spring you use beautiful pastel-scented blooms and in the winter gorgeous, dark reds and greens.

Decorating a venue and making a bridal bouquet for a wedding is such an honour to be part of. But simply making a beautiful arrangement that will make someone’s day is just as important.

I love that you’re always on your feet, it keeps you fit carrying vases and heavy flower boxes. As a florist, there’s always something to do and you’re constantly creating whether it’s a bouquet, a vase design or a flower crown.

I moved to London alone when I was 19 to work for a top florist. That was nerve wracking but within a few months I was loving it and now have many experiences and friends from it that will last forever. I learnt so much from working in luxury London florists; they expect perfection and you learn very quickly how to deliver it.

Get some experience

Being a florist isn’t all pretty flowers and Instagram photos. It can be 4am starts at the flower market, going back to a cold shop and working on your feet all day. I would also advise anyone who wants to be a florist firstly do some work experience in a florist shop so you get an idea of how it works.

Then do a college course so you can start and learn the basics. Being a florist is not just spiralling bouquets, there’s technical wire work for headpieces and buttonholes. There are the flower varieties you learn as well as flower and plant care. A college course can teach you those things. Although you learn most once you’re in a shop or on-site, it’s always good to have to basics in case someone asks you to quickly whip up a flower arch.

When you start as a florist expect to start from the bottom, you may be sweeping the floor and making tea for a while but you will be learning every day.

With the Instagram culture nowadays it’s very easy for people with a lot of cash to start a florist business and make it look gorgeous with an iPhone image. I believe if you start from the beginning and work your way up, getting experience from a number of trained florists who have been in the industry a long time, your flower knowledge and floristry skill will be greater in the long run and give you more longevity in the industry.

Advice to my younger self

I suppose my only advice would be to have more confidence in my work. I look back at things I have done and made and wish I’d appreciated it more at the time but you’re so busy, you just don’t!

Becoming a mother and no longer being able to work full time as a florist is hard. But it’s a skill you never lose, and in time I plan to start my own florist company where I can have full creative control. Hopefully, my daughter can follow in my flowery footsteps.

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