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  • thewestendfs

Do you tell yourself that you're not creative? How do you know that is true?

Perhaps it's time for you to consider that you might be blocking your own creative potential with that inner dialogue.

Creativity, it seems, is a highly coveted trait and although it is desired by many you must know that it is not a gift that is given only to the chosen ones, but something that is worked on and nurtured in order to flourish and grow.

If you find yourself wishing that you had creative skills or, if you're really honest with yourself, even at times feeling envious of others that it seems to come naturally to, it might help to know that the people you see as highly creative have very likely worked hard on developing those skills over time.

Let's look first at some things that can quickly kill creative potential.

Impatience: Needing an instant result and feeling like a failure when you don't achieve it can prompt your creativity to run and hide like a frightened animal. Most creatives don't actually get things right on the first go, rather we accept our failures as part of the process and learn from them incrementally.

Fear: Being too caught up in the result rather than enjoying the process can come from a fear-based mentality. Applying pressure to yourself because you feel you need to be perfect from the very beginning is akin to choking the life out of any creative inclination you might have. And to be fair, it's just not realistic to expect perfection without learning or practising.

Entitlement: This one might feel a bit prickly and if so it's possible you can benefit from hearing it. Absolutely no-one is entitled to creativity, you haven't missed out on your serve because you were overlooked by whoever dishes it out. What's far more likely is that you have not kept trying, failing and trying again.

Now let's look some factors that can nurture creativity.

Openness: It sounds quite simple - and it is - however many of us can find it challenging to simply approach things with an open mindset. It means letting go to an extent and accepting that you are not fully in control. Otherwise known as going with the flow, letting go of control can be an incredibly freeing experience if you let it.

Silliness: Being unabashed and unafraid of doing things that can potentially result in failure or judgement from others breathes life into creative potential. Entering a childlike state of play where the usual rules do not apply and results are unimportant sparks imagination and inspiration in all of us.

Willingness & Acceptance: When we are willing to give new things a try, observing and accepting what comes of it, curiosity and problem solving are sparked. It's as simple as: try it, see what happens, observe what action led to which result, then explore different actions to create different results. Following these steps allows us to think rationally and curiously and can eventually lead to surprising and pleasing results.

Consciously adapting our thought process to quiet our negative feelings and increase attentiveness to observation of process is key to allowing skills to develop.

Here is a sample of a thought process that demonstrates this:

Creative person - I have an idea. I want to try this and see how it comes out.

Ok, that didn't work. Which part didn't work? Why didn't it work? Ok, I see what might have gone wrong here so I''ll try a different approach, but look what happened as a result of my mistake. That's interesting. I wasn't expecting that. I quite like it. That gives me an idea...

and so on.

When we disallow negative emotions to cloud our judgement we are able to rationally dissect the process.

Everything we try that doesn't go quite according to plan contains potentially useful information. To access this information we first need to remove the self-judgement from our analysis.

If you can analyse your own work without getting emotionally fraught about it, you can develop your creativity far more fluidly.

If you're thinking this sounds easier said than done, here's a simple trick to overriding the emotional response to failure:

Try something.

It didn't work? Ok.

Say to yourself: Good. Now I know. What shall I try next?

Leave it at that, turning away from any intrusive, self critical thoughts that try to nudge their way in.

Understand that not one of us is born with all the tricks and knowledge at our disposal. Just like life, creativity is learning. One key difference between successfully creative people and others is knowing that there is always more to learn and being willing to take information or even just a different perspective from other people in order to develop a slightly different approach that may lead to very different results.

There we go, that's all I want to say on that today.

In summary; creativity is potential that is developed by working on it and taking enjoyment from that work. It's learning to tune out our inner critic in favour of our inner observer. We all have creative potential, yet not everyone has the willingness or hunger to keep at it. And that's ok. Whichever kind of person you are, know that it takes all sorts to make the world go around and there is a place for you in it.

For those of you who feel the urge to work on your own creativity, do something today. Do it now. You could pick up a pen or pencil and doodle, go for a walk and observe the detail of the world around you, fold some paper and see what shapes come out or anything else you can think of. Start observing and analysing process and result, see what comes of it.

Most of all, allow yourself to enjoy the process and tell that inner critic to pipe down because you are busy doing stuff that doesn't require that kind of language.

Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy it and find something to learn from it.

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  • thewestendfs

The short answer to this commonly believed myth is that it's not likely at all to be true.

If you'd prefer to keep believing that your florist is rolling in cash that they've gained from pulling flowers from their yard and slapping a premium price tag on, it's probably best not to read on.

However, if you'd like to gain a comprehensive insight of what it takes to get expertly arranged, lasting cut flowers to your home and how that determines their price, I welcome you to stay with me for the duration of this article. I'll describe the surprisingly involved process that happens in the back end of our industry in the hope that it will offer a different perspective on the price of flowers, ideally making space for a more compassionate view of those who supply beautiful blooms to the world.

Let's start by taking a step back and looking at what it takes to get flowers grown in quantities to provide enough for the public at large to enjoy as this is the first step of assigning a price value.

Flower growers sometimes grow from seed and often "plugs" which are basically seedlings that are considerably more reliable than seed, albeit more expensive. From these, plants are grown requiring water, fertilisers, sometimes pesticides and occasionally growing lights along with humans tending them for a wage. There are times when growers need to push their crops for accelerated blooming according to high demand which of course increases the associated costs.

In the floral supply chain there are growers that distribute their own product and wholesalers that buy from growers to distribute to florists.

Buying from growers can be, but is not always, cheaper in a wholesale context.

Buying from wholesale distributors involves our suppliers receiving, unpacking, assigning, conditioning and displaying fresh stock along with administration, customer service and more. Most of this can happen in the very early hours with it being common for our hardworking suppliers to start work at unappealing times such as 2am, when we'd all rather be tucked up in bed asleep. Of course, nobody expects them to do this for free, which logically tells us cost is involved.

Now we reach the stage of the flower moving process where the florists get involved.

From as early as 5am florists are on the move, racing to buy fresh flowers and foliage and get them ready for consumers before their businesses commence trade for the day.

After receiving stock, materials are unwrapped, picked over & cleaned up, cut, conditioned, arranged for display. Buckets and vases are scrubbed and sterilised, floors swept and orders sorted for the day and this is just what happens before the business doors open. Throughout the day, arrangements are made at high speed in a shifting order of priority, customers served, emails answered and phone calls taken plus anything else the day throws at them.

Just to reiterate the theme of this article, all of the above costs money.

As flowers are a perishable and fragile product, unfortunately there is a constant loss from both breakages and wastage in flowers thrown away that are past a healthy selling point. In Adelaide's winter flower sales plummet which brings another financial strain on our flower shops.

In peak trade times, think Mother's Day and Valentine's Day, the volume of sales increases dramatically but so does the wholesale cost of flowers which can cut into profit margins of the retailer. Also let's be realistic, 2 good days of accelerated trade in a year is not enough to allow any business to profiteer off their customers.

If we compare florists business models to any others in terms of assigning prices it's not so different in the way that labour and cost of materials both have significant bearing on the end price to consumers. I invite you to consider trades, personal services such as hair & beauty, even food, clothing and most other things that we buy. Labour is always factored in as a requirement for providing goods and services and that simply comes down to the unavoidable fact that people must be paid for their work in order to survive. Isn't that fair?

When all of these factors are taken in consideration, it's remarkable really that we are able to purchase fresh flowers without having to resort to taking out a loan and honestly, this comes down to florists working for a considerably lower wage than comparable labourers. That, my friends, is love.

In summary, I will never try to convince you that flowers aren't expensive - they are. From the birth of a seedling through to the delivery of a beautiful arrangement of flowers, the stakes and costs are high. All I ask from you is that the next time you feel tempted to squeeze your florist for a lower price, perhaps you might think twice, knowing that they are already doing their very best to look after you while balancing their books and bringing a bit more joy into the world through the expression of emotions that is embedded in the gifting of flowers. And next time you have fresh flowers please enjoy them knowing that a series of small miracles were quietly performed in order for you to receive the benefits of being around the best that nature has to offer.

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  • thewestendfs

Updated: Jan 24

Here's an opinion that might seem slightly controversial to some:

I would venture to say that there is not a single florist on the face of the earth that knows absolutely everything about floristry. I include myself in this of course.

There, it's been said, I mean it and am not sorry for saying it.

It's not really as controversial as it first sounds though, and here's why:

Floristry is an ever changing journey, and can be a life of learning if you are open to it and in my own humble opinion that is a hugely positive thing.

Let's break this down.

The techniques you understand and use will depend on a few factors including who you've learned floristry from and where. Although there are tried and tested methods that can be surprisingly consistent around the globe there are also many adaptations developed by individuals over time; these may have emerged to make the work more efficient, faster to produce, more aesthetically pleasing, structurally sound or any other factor you can think of. You might consider this the evolution of floristry as an industry.

Another factor that promotes regular change and learning is that different aesthetics/styles/looks will come in and out of fashion - this is a given in any creative industry that works in a visual medium. While this might sound like a lot and could potentially cause feelings of being overwhelmed at the thought of keeping up, it's not as difficult as it might sound.

Learning the commonly used techniques gives us the power to invent.

Changing styles can provide inspiration for development.

How do we sort this out in real terms?

It's about taking in the information you have available to you from the very beginning, recognising there is always something to learn and remaining open to embracing new knowledge as it comes to you. Having enthusiasm for your subject makes this easier to digest and learning the basics thoroughly from the start of your journey will empower you to develop your skills to suit your own needs.

Remember that fashion tends toward being cyclical. Trends reappear, often with adaptations made to form new iterations of the same. At this point in time it is rare that a truly unique idea emerges - this is not a bad thing, it simply means that as we are inspired by things we have seen before and those that we have loved the most tend to inform our work.

An effective way to stay on top of trends is to look beyond your own piece of the world.

Understanding how flower arranging styles have developed through history is a great help, as is checking out what's happening in cities and countries that are the style leaders of the world. It's easier than ever to stay connected and informed through social sharing, an excellent tool for staying on top of your game.

Sustainable floristry is a great example of the adaptation of the floral industry. As recently as 10 years ago, very little thought was given to the environmental impact of floristry. But now, in response to awareness of environmental issues, it is a much more prevalent consideration, an opportunity even, for growth and skill development. On a personal level I have found that my own skills are far stronger and my style is freshly evolving since removing the option of using floral foam in my work. It's challenging for sure to re-learn the way you've always done things but the rewards in that can be surprisingly and deeply satisfying.

Having said all of that, the choice is always yours depending on how you'd like your flower journey to play out. The key (I think) is staying open, curious and receptive to the opportunities that life can bring. Enjoy your journey future florists & flower lovers alike.

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