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This is our 4th 3rd Annual Report -- inspired by YOU and your stories!
Since 2014, I have drawn from the input of the Slow Flowers Community, past guests of the Slow Flowers Podcastand other progressive leaders in the floral industry -- including farmers, florists and design creatives -- to "predict" the future. While by no means a technically statistic survey, the Slow Flowers' Floral Insights and Industry Forecast serves as a botanical crystal ball to identify emerging themes affecting the domestic floral industry. I'm excited to share these new key insights for the fourth year in a row. In addition to online and audio versions, this report appears for the first time in print form, in the pages of Florists' Review's January 2018 issue.
I've titled 2018: "BOTANICAL DIVERSITY WITHOUT BOUNDARIES,"an overarching theme which reflects the disappearance of silo-like barriers that previously separated growers of flowers from sellers of flowers from designers of flowers. Thanks to technology and social media, the ability of conventional "gatekeepers" to control the flow of information and product has greatly diminished. Transparency is power, making it easier than ever before to identify sources of fresh and uncommonly beautiful flowers and foliage. So here's to a new floral landscape where accessibility is the driving force -- and I hope these TEN Slow Flowers' Insights for 2018 resonate with you!
#1 Flower Farmers Diversify into Seeds, Bulbs and Plants
Beyond selling their crops to wholesale, retail and independent florists, entrepreneurial flower farmers are finding new ways to turn expertise into cash flow. This phenomenon has moved far beyond seed-swapping and informal exchanges of plant cuttings. One story of diversification comes from Bailey Haleof Ardelia Farm + Co. in Irasburg, Vermont. A trained horticulturist, Bailey now raises specialty cut flowers for farmers' markets and florists and provides full-service wedding and event design. He turned his own hunger to find sources for uncommon "couture" flowers into a spin-off venture called Farmer Bailey, a custom plug brokerage.
Smaller farms are getting in on the act of shipping to florists outside their own markets. I'm tracking a number of micro and boutique flower farms that are expanding wholesale sales to florists via direct-shipment programs. There are challenging logistics behind these American-grown connections to meet demand from florists who desire seasonal and domestic product when it's not available in their local market. Innovators are overcoming those challenges
Last year's report highlighted "Return of Brick and Mortar," a reversal of the decades-long decline in floral retail, as we witnessed studio florists with a distinct local and community focus open a new generation of retail flower shops. The next wave in this movement continues the shift with a number of retail nurseries and garden centers opening or reviving in-house floral shops with a distinctly local emphasis.
#4 Flower Farmers Shift into Retail
While it may seem "counter-trend," we've identified a number of flower farms who are opening retail spaces in prime locations where their flowers are marketed alongside related hard goods and artisan products.
As flower farmers enter retail with their own shops, pop-ups and store-within-a-store formats, it's a move welcomed by consumers who want to buy farm-direct in urban and suburban markets. We've identified Chicago, Boston and Albuquerque, among other cities where flower farmers have opened retail spaces where their blooms are on display with other homegrown offerings. The reasons vary, but the upside for flower farmers is to provide a service that might be otherwise missing in their town.
#5 Aromatherapy and Wellness Remedies
Botanically-inspired fragrances, body care remedies and other herbal and scented goods have a natural affinity for floral consumers, and I've noted some brilliant ways that florists are taking advantage of this. From developing their own candle and soap collections to offering aromatherapy-themed events, florists are tapping into ways to cross-promote flowers and aromatics. Making the connection for floral consumers who want fragrance of all kinds in their life, well, that's both inspiring and also a smart way to extend your passion into a new revenue stream. (c) Photo from Stacey Carlton, The Flora Culturist
#6 Cause-Related Flowers Flower farmers and florists alike are investing their talents in helping nonprofits and others in their communities. Floral philanthropy or "flowers with heart" efforts are inspiring, and I love seeing flowers used as a currency to change lives and advance important causes. A number of feel-good projects caught my attention in 2017 and I am certain they will continue in 2018. (c) Photo from WOW Farms
#7 From the Forest: Woodland-inspired botanicals
Past Floral Insights have identified Cultivated Wildflowers, Flowering Native Plants, Modern Everlastings and Luxe Tropicals as newly or re-emerging floral styles worth noting. Those have remained important and to this list I'm adding "From the Forest."
While the authentic, natural, earthy appeal of woodland-styled botanicals has long felt relevant in specific regions or seasons, the stylistic influence of the forest environment is reaching into unexpected places like bridal, wearables and tabletop, not to mention everyday blooms. (c) Tobey Nelson bouquet photographed by Sullivan & Sullivan
#8 Slow Pottery Florists are stepping into the realm of product development via innovative collaborations. This means an emergence of curated pottery and vase collections, as well as other product lines that allow florists to expand what they offer to clients. When it comes to vases, however, the demand for American-made pottery has never been higher. This idea first caught our attention when the New York Times published an article in December 2015 called "The Budding Ceramics-to-Table Movement," and the subtitle: "Why handmade ceramics are white hot." The article points out: " . . . the rejection of factory-produced sameness in dinnerware and vases reflects a desire to get back to something more essential." (c) Photo from Flowers by Semia
#9 New Chemical-Free Mechanics
Progressive manufacturers are on the lookout for new products, and I anticipate a splash from one inspiring partnership about to hit the marketplace in 2018. Floral designer and educator Holly Chapplehas teamed up with Syndicate Sales to unveil a new line of mechanic accessories and related vases called Holly x Syndicate.
Those of us who detest designing with floral may also know that chicken wire and flower frogs are the only realistic alternatives for floral design mechanics. The design freedom that comes with using these egg and pillow shapes is quite freeing, and frankly, guilt-free, because the chicken wire can be used over and over again or recycled — rather than just going into a land-fill and leeching formaldehyde into the ground, as is the case with foam. (c) Photo from Holly Chapple Flowers
#10 Plant-Based Dyes for Ribbons and Tabletop Textiles In the way that contemporary calligraphy and hand-lettering have become an essential part of the "branding" of weddings and events, custom-dyed fabrics and ribbons are now inspiring components of couture floral design. In keeping with seasonally-harvested and foraged botanicals, nature's pigments elevate floral design to a new level and we anticipate that artists will continue to experiment with petals, leaves, seeds or bark to expand their design palette. (c) Photo from Nettle Textiles by Susanna Luck
Covering the Slow Flowers Community has put me in a lot of airplane seats this year. I’ve been able to meet with, interview and gather together with florists and flower farmers in thirteen states and one Canadian Province. I thank friends and colleagues who hosted Slow Flowers workshops, potluck dinners, cocktail parties, events and meet-ups Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Florida, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Ontario, Canada, for amazing and inspiring experiences.
The #slowflowers hashtag is the floral industry’s most widely used brand intended to convey seasonal, local and sustainable floriculture — and I am humbled by the impact and reach of a term that has exploded far beyond my imagination in just five years since the publication of my book, Slow Flowers.
"Slow Flowers Journal" (print edition) appears in the pages of Florists' Review. Inspired by our online magazine, also called Slow Flowers Journal, the print edition is packed with beautiful, relatable stories about florists, flower farmers and other pioneers in the Slow Flowers community. Discover more fresh, original content online at SlowFlowersJournal.com.
Save the Date: Upcoming Slow Flowers Events & Workshops
Galentine's Party is the official kickoff event of We Fleurish, a new social media and branding collaboration involving Slow Flowers' founder Debra Prinzing and Tammy Myers of First & Bloom, a Slow Flowers member based in the Seattle area (and photographer Missy Palacol and event planner Karen Thornton).
Our first event takes place on Tuesday, January 30th in Bellevue, Washington -- You're invited to join us at the Galentine's Party -- a networking and social engagement party geared to lifestyle bloggers and Instagram influencers.
We're excited to engage with creatives in cross-over lifestyle categories including food/beverage, travel, fashion/beauty, health/wellness, design and floral, of course.
Tammy's design demonstration will feature all American grown flowers, while our exclusive guest list of attendees will try their hands on a romantic floral DIY project that helps them connect with flowers as they develop Valentine's Day content.
Presented by American Grown Flowers, “Floral Wars” will be held each day from 3-4 p.m. on the North Hall Stage. It pits two top floral artists against each other as they create three arrangements—a bridal bouquet, a centerpiece and a “surprise” floral creation—all in an hour or less. It’s a test of the contestants’ grace under pressure as they showcase American-grown flowers, USA-made floral accessories and eco-design techniques.
“Garden enthusiasts yearn for more flowers in their lives and ‘Floral Wars’ delivers on a promise—to inspire and educate our audiences with great ideas for floral design. It’s a fun way for showgoers to learn how to choose, combine and arrange flowers from your own backyard.” -- Debra Prinzing
Each week the Slow Flowers Podcast releases a new episode featuring timely interviews with flower farmers and floral designers whose wisdom and insights will inspire you! Listeners have downloaded more than 266,000 to date!
Check out the wide range of guests introduced to you last month and join the thousands of listeners we educate and inform each week:
Where: Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, D.C. Why: We're excited to co-locate with AIFD's National Symposium "Discover"
What is the Slow Flowers Summit?
Called a "TED Talk for Flower Lovers," the SUMMIT is a one-day lecture series for creative professionals, thought leaders and pioneering voices in the progressive American-grown floral community. Designed to stimulate curiosity, examine conventional assumptions and explore conscious and ethical practices in the floral industry, the Summit agenda asks speakers and audience members alike to inquire, inform, include, instigate and inspire.
Who: Debra Prinzing developed the SUMMIT as an a new "live" component to the American Flowers Weekcampaign (June 28-July 4). AFW devotes a week of activity via events and social media platforms to promote domestic flowers, raise consumer awareness and unite America’s flower farmers with the U.S. floral industry.