Tuesday, 9 August 2016

At 10am on Tuesday morning, 26th July (yes, 2 whole weeks ago)  having got myself organised in the shop as well as having all the deliveries ready to go out, I started to write a blog entry. Now 14 days later and I think I may finally have 5 minutes to myself to get it finished.

I feel all I do whenever I start a new blog entry is apologise for being so tardy in keeping it up together; in my defence the shop is so busy it’s a wonder I find the time to write quite as often as I do. Of being busy I am most definitely not complaining.

We are currently still in full refurb mode – with the day to day shop being so busy it’s not that easy finding the time to finish the decorating, etc. However in the past fortnight we have had some new lights fitted in the window which should come into their own once the sun sets at night. They will also give us more options for themed displays - we already have a list that we would like to do. On the subject of the window, the 2 main glass panels are being priced up right now so that we can replace the darkened glass with clear glass enabling people to be able to see the window display along with everything in the shop without having to strain their eyes. It’s all moving forwards wonderfully.

I had a bit of a bolt out of the blue a fortnight ago when Becky came in to work. After 6 years she informed me that she is going to be leaving us. Because she is now level 3 qualified she now feels that she should be receiving pay for the work she does; youngsters these days certainly come out with some crazy ideas. :) It just shows how times have changed though since I entered this business all of those years ago. My starting salary (allowing for inflation) would now be £146.07 for a 48 hour, 6 day week. That doesn’t even meet the living wage; no wonder small shops are struggling. Well done Becky though, you passed with a distinction – now that you have a paper qualification, just like passing your driving test, it’s time to learn all you can from as many different avenues about how to become an all-round florist. Unfortunately as busy as Moonstones is, I just cannot justify a full-time, 6 day a week trainee, apart from which it is really now time for you to see how other florists operate so a parting of the ways can only be beneficial to you.  Since writing this bit 2 weeks ago, Becky has now moved on to pastures new - she started her full-time job yesterday, and I wish her every success and happiness as she progresses through her floristry career. 

I was asked the other day why I am not a member of a very common florist’s association? Apparently if I join as an individual it would enable me to add letters after my name but I can do that anyway if I choose – Sarah Bradbury WOAM (woman on a mission) - that just shows how useful letters can be to anybody who doesn’t know what they mean anyway. The only real advantage would be that I could get discount from wholesalers I would never use, or cheap subscriptions for magazines I will never have the time or interest to read, ooh and I could clutter my shop window with stickers so that customers know that I belong to something, but not necessarily what. Years ago it was regarded as a prestigious community to be part of, but now, as long as one has completed some kind of floristry exam, whether they passed or not, for the relevant fee one can become a full member. It seems to negate the whole idea behind it. Yes, it’s a great way for shops to network with each other and some of the competitions they run are great for younger florists aiming to make their mark in the world, but to me it’s actually just another kick in the teeth to those genuine florists who have worked hard for their skills, experience and qualifications, when individuals without any formal training or skill are also able to join effectively just by 'coughing up the dosh'.

To carry the above theme on there is a ‘florist’s directory’ that is supposed to ensure that any florist you may choose to use is ‘up to the mark’ To me the very wording of the directory suggests all the florists in there have been vetted and deemed to be of an exceptional standard, yet I know of one shop listed who purchase all their flowers from a well-known supermarket because “they are cheaper than the wholesalers”. I can’t even begin to tell you how much disgust I have for them in doing such a thing; it genuinely infuriates me. I, along with many of my florist friends, work tirelessly to remove ourselves from the cheap bunched flowers you can buy in a supermarket. I took (and passed with flying colours) numerous floristry exams to get to the position I am in today, using only fresh quality flowers. I had to prove myself worthy to potential employers and members of the floristry world as being capable of providing quality floristry alongside the very best quality flowers. I’ve been blessed to work for, and with, some of the best florists in our business who put me through my paces, to ensure one day I would be in the position to open my own shop, to be able to compete with them on the same level. One of my bosses would send me out for 2 or 3 weeks at a time to work for her friends so I learned as much about the trade and different styles of floristry there were – believe me when I say the standards they set were exceptional, and not all of them were the nicest people in the world to work for/with. It was done though, to ensure I knew not just how to make floral orders, but also how to look after the flowers I was working with. Quality control was one of the very first things I was taught in college, and via my first job as a trainee, all those moons ago. The staff of the shop mentioned earlier have completed a part-time evening class at a local college in flower arranging, opened a shop and managed to get in a guide that is meant to sort the good from the bad. Sending in a few selected photographs along with a nice fat cheque is not how I go about my business. It’s reminiscent of the old “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality. If someone wishes to put my name on a list of recommended shops that is brilliant but it will be because I have earned the right to be there, not because I have paid them handsomely to put me in it. Until such times as they actually go out to visit the shops that they are promoting, test them on a number of different floral items and physically check the quality of the flowers they are providing, then I will never put myself forward to be found in such a thing.

Thankfully my customers are happy to share reviews, both good and bad about the shop on Google and Facebook. They’re the reviews I want to see, the promotion that I am interested in. Those of the general public who have spent their money here, who have been happy with the flowers and service that they have received, not someone I have paid to say I’m worth it and knows nothing else about me.