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MFA and WUMFA Winners 2015

The Michigan Floral Association and the Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Florists Association has announced the winners of the 2015 awards. From various areas in the floral industry, these winners have excelled in talent and leadership. We wanted to offer a congratulations to all the winners.

We wanted to especially congratulate two of our members. First, congrats to Pamela Prough of My Lady’s Florist in Westland, Michigan who received the MFA Retail Employee of the Year Award at the 2015 Great Lakes Floral Expo held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Second, congrats to Smith Floral and Greenhouses of Lansing, Michigan who received the MFA Retailer of the Year 2015 Award.


Here are the other winners:

Michigan Floral Association (MFA)

Past President’s Floriology Scholarship
Shelley Adair

Certified Florist of the Year
Arlon Slagn

National Service Award
Jack Howard

Lifetime Award
Bob Friese

Special Recognition Award
James Lutke

MFA Supplier of the Year
Kennicott Brothers

Young Person of the Year
Angela Christi

2015 MFA Wholesale Employee of the Year Award
Ric Gaunt

Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Florist Association (WUMFA)

Lifetime Achievement Award
Dan Grogan

WUMFA National Service Award
Lee Sorenson

WUMFA Special Services Award
Kathleen Johnson

WUMFA Wholesaler of the Year
Rojahn and Malaney

WUMFA Young Person of the Year
Melissa Maas

It’s always a great day to celebrate the floral industry! Check back with the Bloomin’ Blog for more floral industry news!

Photos courtesy of MFA and WUMFA.

Shop Talk: Success in Design

We are always proud of our members when they accomplish personal goals and one talented florist did just that!

Doug Bates during his AIFD testing.

Doug Bates during his AIFD testing.

Doug Bates of Designs by VOGT’s of Sturgis, Michigan, will be initiated into the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) this July 2015.

“It’s always been a personal goal of mine,” Bates said. “It’s like the PhD of the floral world and it’s a level of skill and ability that is recognized worldwide.”

Bates hasn’t always had this goal on his bucket list–in fact, he never thought he would be a florist to begin with!

It All Began

In March 2006, Bates’ son was born and he was looking for a part-time job so his wife could stay home with their newborn. In his teen years, Bates used to do pizza delivery, so he ventured out to all the pizza businesses for work. No one would hire him. Thinking of other businesses that required drivers, he headed to a local flower shop who was in need of a new driver. They hired him on the spot.

The second Saturday he was working deliveries, the flower shop was bombarded with orders and the only people working that day was Bates and the owner of the shop.

“I was handed a stack of orders and told to get them done,” Bates said. “That started something.”

Of course, the orders he did were fairly simple: fruit baskets, etc. But since that day, design clicked for bates and the owner saw the talent.

Setting Goals

In 2010, Bates became certified through his state association and began designing professionally. Once he heard about the AIFD certification, he attended Symposium and made it his goal to be part of the institute.

“This certification has give me confidence as a designer,” Bates said. “As creative people, we all second guess ourselves. To me, something could look good, but there is a theory to design. There is a reason something looks right.”

This designer took the three-year journey through the certification process. Throughout the course, he learned about different materials and techniques. He also learned that becoming a part of this certification also made him a part of the AIFD community. His final exam took place at the Chicago Symposium in July 2014, and he will be inducted into the institute this year.

“I never finished college, so this is my great accomplishment,” Bates said. “To think that before this, I made windows for RVs. You never know how things are going to work out!”

If you’re a florist who is interested in getting the AIFD certification, contact your state association chapters who have scholarship opportunities and information available for you.


“Surprise, Surprise” Victor West Wins a Design Competition!

Victor West with 1st Place Design

Victor West, owner of Vanessa’s Flowers in Plymouth, MI, is known among friends and other Michigan florists as the “numbers guy”. He was the kid who attended computer camp in 1975, went to school for accounting and business and then chose to open a flower shop over 22 years ago because he “thought it would be easy.” He quickly learned differently on that last point.

The floral industry is a lot of things. Fun? Yes. Rewarding? Yes. Easy? Not so much. Still, although it wasn’t what he expected, Victor gave it his all and was one of the first florists in the state to become a Certified Florist once the program was implemented. And as no surprise to anyone who knows him, his was also one of the first small shops in the industry to utilize a computer.

Vanessa’s has always done amazing work. 22 years in the business is a testament to that, but Victor takes no personal credit for the breathtaking beauty Vanessa’s has created over the years. “The ladies who work for me are easily twice as talented as I am,” he said, giving them their due accolades for the daily designing that goes on behind the scenes. Victor normally does what he does best, run the business.

An Out-of-Character Choice

It came as a surprise to everyone who knew him when Victor decided to enter the Michigan Floral Association’s Design Contest at the Great Lakes Expo. It was not the first time he’d entered such a competition, but the instances were few and far between and he hadn’t done so in a very long time. Most of his peers were ignorant of his design capabilities, but his close friends and family new the truth. In fact, many of them had been encouraging him to showcase his ability in a more public forum.

The Right Competition

Victor looked at the four competitions and chose to compete in the Surprise, Surprise portion which required the designer to do what he could with a bucket of flowers and 20 minutes. He felt that he had a better chance at an impromptu design than one that could be prepared ahead of time. He did his best and hoped it was enough.

Victor was disappointed after the second and third place winners were announced because he had hoped to at least place in the competition. He held out no hope for first so no one was more surprised than he when the 1st place winner was announced. “I didn’t know what to think,” he said. “I just started laughing.”

He spent the rest of the Expo fielding congratulations and exclamations of surprise from those who were unaware of his hidden talents. Victor is a long-standing member of Flower Shop Network, and now he is also an award-winning designer. Congratulations, Victor!

Please Help Our Friends in Connecticut

This is a note sent out by  Bob Heffernan the Executive Director at Connecticut Floral Association (CFA) concerning the tragedy this week in Connecticut. If you or someone you know could help with these points, please email the contacts below. If you would like to send a donation, you can do so via the Michigan Floral Foundation, details at the bottom of this post.

 Connecticut Floral Association Special Notice

"Peaceful Comfort" Sympathy FlowersBecause there is the potential for a huge amount of funeral flowers this week for the funerals of the victims of the Newtown school murders, CFA will coordinate our industry’s response:

  • Volunteer designers. There’s only one real florist in the town (Newtown Florist) and one funeral home. They may be overwhelmed with orders on this, the busiest week of the year. If you would like to be on a stand-by list to volunteer for design help, please send an email to ctflorists@aol.com.
  •  Assistance to Newtown families in need. We don’t yet know if there are lower-income families of the victims. There could be a major draw on flowers for memorial services. President Obama may also come to Newtown. If you are a wholesaler who would like to make donations of flowers or product, OR if you simply would like to contribute to providing the funeral pieces in some other way (financial, product, etc.), please send an email to ctflorists@aol.com.

We all know that flowers can and will ease the pain of the families and loved ones of the Newtown victims, as they do for every other person who suffers a great loss.

Send Your Donations via Michigan Floral Foundation

The Michigan Floral Association has established an account for cash donations to be used to help the CFA provide for the victim’s families that are in need. If you would like to make a donation please make checks payable to the Michigan Floral Foundation and note CFA on the memo line and mail to MFF – PO Box 67 – Haslett, MI 48840.

If you would like to use a credit card please call Cindy at the MFA office (517) 575-0110. She will be able to assist you over the phone. The MFF will send 100% of your donation to the CFA to help with their efforts. You may also contact Cindy via email here cindy@michiganfloral.org.

Thank you for your support, this is going to be a difficult week for our industry friends in Connecticut. Thanks so much to Rodney Crittenden for sending this to us so that we can share with others.

Rustic Beach Wedding by Back to the Fuchsia Florist

This is a guest post by Jeanne Smiczek of Back to the Fuchsia, a flower shop in Saugatuck MI.

Rustic Wedding - Alter Flowers

The bride for this wedding gave me a few flowers that she liked, the colors that she wanted and the rest was up to me.

The ceremony was taking place in a beautiful, old chapel by the lake and the reception was in a tent right on the shore of Lake Michigan. The bridesmaids were wearing “clover” dresses, so I chose 3 sunflowers with bear grass and wrapped in raffia. The boutonnieres were Viking bloomies wrapped in raffia.

The Bridal Bouquet [Read more…]

Free Flowers With A Catch for Good Neighbor Day

Good Neighbor DayAt Bentley Florist in Burton MI, they take the upcoming Good Neighbor Day (Sept. 7th) to heart. Steve Welch, owner of Bentley Florist, and his staff have teamed up with Michigan Warriors hockey team players, staff members, and even the mascot to promote the spirit of neighborly love in their county.

“We hope that the people of Genesee County will be able to get acquainted with new people or renew old friendships during Good Neighbor Day”, Welch said.  “We hope to create a friendlier, more caring and compassionate world starting right here in our community”.

Bentley Florist will give away 3,500 roses in dozen bundles absolutely free, while supplies last, to anyone who visits the shop. There a catch though: anyone who picks up the roses will be asked to sign a promise to keep one rose for themselves and give the other 11 roses away to different people — in the spirit of neighborly friendship.

[Read more…]

FSN at the Great Lakes Expo 2011

This year’s Great Lakes Floral Expo was a big hit! Flower Shop Network had a fantastic time meeting many of our Northern florist friends.

In the above video, Loranne Atwill of Flower Shop Network interviews Rod Crittenden, executive vice president of the Michigan Floral Association. Rod tells FSN followers all about the incredible show they’ve set up this year. Florists enjoyed an amazing design contest, 7 design workshops and an all-day workshop by J. Swanke. There were 10 business sessions, 6 stage design shows, and more! (View video on YouTube)

As a florist, it’s so important to stay on our heels when it comes to business. Attending these floral conferences is the best way to stay ahead in this industry.

We can’t wait to see YOU at our next convention!

Feel Like Visiting A Flower Show in Grand Rapids?

Here’s the one for you! The 2009 Great Lakes Floral Expo will be held March 6-9 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, DeVos Place in Grand Rapids Michigan. Florists, floral designers and other floral industry professionals are welcome to attend.

One great thing about shows like the Great Lakes Floral Expo is that these events provide a great foundation of knowledge for beginning florists. Each meeting is formed to help “Discover, Inspire, Promote” the floral industry and a love of flowers. Beginning florists will welcome the chance to learn helpful techniques from experienced industry professionals. Experienced florists will welcome the chance to discover new techniques and ideas for reaching untapped niches. It’s a great time for everyone!

Want to learn how to create unique sympathy arrangements? There’s a course for that at the Great Lakes Floral Expo. Want to provide better wedding flowers or learn how to appeal to the modern bride? There’s a course for that too! There’s a lot to learn at this year’s Great Lakes Floral Expo so make your reservations today!

No Rest For The Weary – Florists Are Busy With Conventions

Although Valentine’s Day 2008 is over, the next two weeks is a busy time for many florists. Several florists’ conventions are taking place February 29th through March 9th.

The Northeast Floral Expo will be celebrating its 75th year, February 29th –March 2nd in Hartford Connecticut. Florists attending have the opportunity to attend workshops, programs and a trade fair. Some of the Flower Shop Network staff have their bags packed and are ready to go.

Florists from Georgia attending the Georgia State Florists Association Convention February 29th – March 2nd in Atlanta Georgia. Florists will have the opportunity to network with others from across the state.

Florists from Michigan can attend the Michigan Florists’ Association Spring Conference and Great lakes Floral Expo February 29th – March 3rd in Grand Rapids Michigan. Florists will have the opportunity to enjoy many activities all revolving around the “Visionary Concepts For A Bright Future” theme

Florists from Illinois can attend the Illinois State Florists Association Conference March 6th-9th in Springfield Illinois. Florists will have the opportunity to attend workshops, competitions and other useful programs.

Although many florists are exhausted from the Valentine’s Day holiday, they can’t pass up the excellent opportunity to network and learn the latest floral trends. So for all of you attending these great conferences, remember its not all work at the conventions – you get to play quite a bit, too.  For those of you attending the Northeast Floral Expo our network coordinators look forward to seeing you. In fact if you stop by the Flower Shop Network  trade show booth, we have a great totes bag to give you.