Too often we think of sympathy flowers as funeral flowers and lose our creative edge.
Sympathy flowers serve a purpose. They express visible emotional support for the deceased’s friends and family. And helping clients express their emotions with flowers is the ultimate customer service a florist can provide.
“To grow a successful sympathy business, it’s important for florists to have the ability to portray the sentiments of a grieving family with flowers,” says floral designer Donnita Webb.
Donnita clearly met this creative challenge with a recent floral cross design. She submitted the design to the 2017 INSPIRE Design Showcase, where it was selected as most inspirational. Smithers-Oasis Floral Design Director Kevin Ylvisaker AIFD, PFCI recreated her floral cross and added a collection of related designs for OASIS Floral Products 2017 print advertising.
See how Donnita captured the deceased’s personality with flowers and how Kevin designed the collection.
Express personality with color
Donnita was a grocery store cashier helping out in the floral department one Valentine’s Day when she fell in love with flowers. Fast forward 15 years, and she is the lead designer of Prescott Flower Shop in Prescott Valley, Arizona, where she faces the daily challenge of creating expressive designs.
“The emotion behind this sympathy design was important to me,” says Donnita. “I knew the family the cross was going to. My desire to create something memorable was heart felt.”
“I was inspired by the color combination requested by this family. The deceased was very feminine and loved the colors and flowers of spring. The customers didn’t really care about the specific flowers, they just wanted the design to express her personality with the flowers.”
How this design was constructed
To create the design, Donnita wired a FLORACAGE® Grande Holder to a white wooden easel. She added a nail to the easel and hung the Floracage from the nail. She then ran a wire through the floral foam and around the easel for extra security.
In the series of photos above, natural dried bamboo was used to establish the structural lines of the cross. The composition was complete with the addition of snapdragons, larkspur, roses and alstroemeria, swordfern and foxtail fern.
How your flowers can be noticed first
Donnita wants her sympathy work “noticed first in a line of design in a funeral setting.”
One way to draw attention to arrangements is to use the same flowers and colors to create a collection of designs that can be positioned together for greater visual impact.
Flowers for the casket have long been an American tradition. This traditional casket spray is easily arranged in an OASIS® Casket Saddle to ensure design stability, which is important since flowers are often transported between services. Flowers stay fresher in a reservoir of water.
Offer more design styles
Increased options for services such as cremations, memorials and life celebrations in recent years present the opportunity for florists to offer additional design styles that meet the changing needs of the customer. Vase arrangements have become very popular. (photos above)
The asymmetrical arrangement is designed in an OASIS Display Bucket.
Keep the flowers fresh and vibrant
Often, the customer will leave the details to the discretion of the designer. “I love being given the freedom to design in my own style. Fresh. Unique. Vibrant. Expressive,” says Donnita.
She offers these suggestions for keeping flowers fresh and vibrant:
- Order fresh flowers for each funeral, if possible. “Sometimes, flowers are needed spur of the moment and I am unable to do so, but I always give my customers the freshest flowers possible.”
- Add flower food to the water before soaking the floral foam “I soak the foam overnight to get as much food into the foam as possible.”
- Mist every finished design with Floralife® Finishing Touch. Sympathy. Wedding. Everyday orders. “I want my flowers to be long-lasting.”
Do what you love
Donnita believes it’s important to do what you love.
“I’m lucky to be part of a good team at Prescott Flowers. Working with my co-workers is like being in a floral family.
“Steve and Ann Saltz became the shop’s new owners last October,” she says. “It’s fun introducing them to the world of flowers. They’re ex-military and they love it! They care about nurturing and growing the business.”
“I love my job,” she adds. “I love helping others express their feelings through flowers. When you are willing to invest your time and talents into the flowers you respond to the emotional needs of your customers.”
“It’s rewarding for florists to know that their beautiful flowers can help families celebrate the life of a loved one,” says Donnita. She has invested her career in it.
How can you provide the ultimate floral customer service—helping your customers express their feelings with flowers?