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“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!

Big Congrats To Our Winning Members

Way To Go Florists!

Floral convention season is just kicking off and already our florist members are making their presence known! Check out all of our member’s latest great accomplishments in today’s post!

Florist Awards

  • Big congrats to Norton’s Flowers & Gifts in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, MI for being voted Retailer of the Year at the Great Lakes Floral Expo 2013.

Doug Bates - 2013 Young Person of the Year

Doug Bates of Designs by Vogt’s in Sturgis MI

  • Congratulations to Doug Bates of Designs by Vogt’s in Sturgis MI for being voted the 2013 Young Person of the Year at the Great Lakes Florist Expo.

This young person has been excited about the MFA since their first conference and has never stopped.  Their energy has just kept growing. To watch them participate in classes and then in design events and competitions you can see the passion and energy in their eyes and it is contagious.  Always with a positive attitude toward the industry they have nothing but great admiration for their peers and respect for their fellow florists. From the Michigan Florist Association Press Release

Design Contest Winners

  • Way to go Debbie Royal of Royal Expressions Flowers & Gifts, Blissfield, MI for winning 3rd place in the Great Lakes Floral Expo professional division design contest themed Loving Memory. Debbie also took home 2nd place in the professional division design contest themed Surprise, Surprise.
  • Congrats to Robbin Yelverton of Blumz… by JR Designs in Detroit MI for taking home 1st place in the Great Lakes Floral Expo academy division design contest themed It’s A Party.
  • Big congrats to Rae Roberts-Griffith of True Colors Artistry for winning 1st runner up in the prestigious 2013 Lincoln Cup at the 2013 Illinois State Florist Association Convention.
  • Congratulations to Judy Fitzpatrick of Just Judy’s Flowers in Pensacola, FL for winning second place in the Northwest Florida Florists’ Association’s February Design Contest.
  • Congratulations to April Ridge of Alyce’s Floral Designs in Ft Walton Beach, FL for winning third place in the Northwest Florida Florists’ Association’s February Design Contest.

Congrats again, everyone!

I do my best to find our florists’ achievements through various association emails and online posts. If I left you out, please let me know and I will add you ASAP!

Floral Couture at the 2013 Northeast Floral Expo

Flora Couture at the Northeast Floral Expo

At the recent Northeast Floral Expo in Groton, CT florists were asked to do something a little different for a design competition. This Project Runway-inspired design competition, Flora Couture, had florists creating stunning cocktail dresses out of botanicals, complete with celebrity judges. All proceeds from the event benefited the Pediatric Oncology Program at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital.

[Read more…]

Shout Out To Some Very Awesome Florists

Way To Go Florists!

Our member florists never cease to amaze me with their incredible talent for floral design. We saw where several of our florists recently got recognized for their talents and really want to give them a shout out!

Glendale Flowers – Best Florist

“Glendale Flowers has been the West Valley’s go-to florist since the 1930s. Owner Maureen Wilson marries traditional European arrangements with modern styling, much like Glendale Flowers’ historic but contemporary storefront. The craftsman bungalow is filled with beautiful greenhouse-quality foliage and brimming arrangements of premium flowers. Wilson’s favorites change daily — today it’s a tie between circus roses, lily of the valley and French tulips – so customers can expect reliably fresh ideas.”

ELGA Best of BurtonWay to go Maureen and team!

Bentley Florist – Best of Burton (MI)

  • Congratulations to Bentley Florist in Burton MI for being voted best florist in the Best of Burton competition for local businesses. (photo right)

Blooms-A-Million – Best Florist / Best Wedding Florist

  • Blooms-A-Million in Pensacola FL was recently voted Best Florist AND Best Wedding Florist in Florida’s Best of the Coast competition by their local In Magazine.

Playa Del Rey Florist – Placed 5th in Best Florist of Los Angeles Hot List

North Raleigh Florist – Floral Design Winners / Designer of the Year

Wake Co Designer of the Year Competition

  • Two of North Raleigh Florist’s floral designers were recognized at the 2011 Wake County Florist Association Designer of the Year competition. Samantha Bunn (photo center), shop manager, won top honors and was named the Wake County Designer of the Year 2011 and received a $1,000 scholarship to further her education. Competitors were tasked with completing floral designs in the categories of bridal, sympathy, buffet centerpiece and surprise design in 90 minutes. Each contestant received the same flowers to complete their arrangements, which were judged on mechanics, color, texture, design, aesthetics and originality.


Are you or do you know a florist achieving great things in their community? Share your story with us!

Florist Stories: Memories From Design Competitions

We are excited to share with you our very first Florist Story submitted by Lori Mudge of De’Vine Floral Design & Gifts in Granville, IL.

For the past 3 years, Lori and her team at De’Vine Floral Design & Gifts have taken the floral design contest at Bonnett’s Wholesale’s by storm.

Lori tells us all about it here:

“Floral supplier, Bonnett’s Wholesale in Milan, IL always has there annual open house in August. They host a big design contest for all of their mid-west customers, guest designers and floral professionals, which we enter every year.

Bonnett’s Design Contest has three design categories to enter:

  • Anything Goes (anything you want in fresh, silk or whatever, with a wholesale price of $50.00)
  • Corsage + Boutonniere
  • Surprise Box

Florists are able to enter all three categories. The winner of the competition is determined by votes from Bonnett’s staff, as well as florists and industry professionals from all across the mid-west. I feel it is more of an honor to win here because it is judged by florists from Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa.”

Lori shared these photos with us of her winning entries for the past 3 years in a row:

The first year, Lori received two 1st place awards in the Anything Goes and Corsage + Boutonniere categories. Her out-of-the-box designs set her apart from her competition.

Bonnett's Flower Competition

[Read more…]

Big Congratulations to the National Floral Designer of the Year!

Robbin Yelverton - National Florist of the Year

Congratulations to Robbin Yelverton AIFD, CF, PFCI

Over the weekend (Oct 2-4), the National Alliance of Floral Associations had their annual conference in Columbus, Ohio. The National Floral Designer of the Year competition also took place at this event! The competition was fierce, but Robbin Yelverton AIFD, CF, PFCI came away with the win! Robbin is co-owner of Blumz… by JRDesigns in Detroit/Ferndale MI. Big congratulations go to Robbin from everyone here at Flower Shop Network!

Florists: We would also like to say ‘thank you’ to ALL florists who attended this or any other florist association convention this year. (Maybe even more than one!) It is very important to get out and support your industry! You will take away years worth of fabulous ideas, tips, trends and more from just one day at a convention like this! We got to meet a lot of you at the conventions we were able to attend, and hope to make even more friends next year!!

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Florists Association‘s Facebook Page. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for their conference, The Great Lakes Floral Expo, coming up in March!

This post is brought to you by local Columbus OH florists.
Not in Columbus? No problem! Use Flower Shop Network’s handy directory of local florists to find a florist near you!

Design Inspiration Challenge Winner Announced!



Flower Shop Network is very proud to bring you the inspiring work of ART by Sandra of MaryJane’s Flowers & Gifts.


Sandra interpreted this painting by famous artist, Van Gogh, into a floral masterpiece.


Sandra did a fabulous job of matching the textures of Van Gogh’s work with various types of flowers. The tiny rose petal path really shows her attention to details.


When paired together, the works of Van Gogh and the inspired floral arrangement really take on a new life. Amazing work and very inspiring to floral designers everywhere.

Sandra is receiving the beautiful, personalized Design Inspiration Challenge trophy plaque and FSN prize pack!

For more inspiration from our Design Inspiration Challenge, visit these links:

View All Entries For Round 1
View All Entries For Round 2

View All Entries For Round 3

View All Entries For Round 4
View All Entries For Round 5

View All Entries For Round 6

FSN would like to thank everyone who participated. We had a lot of fun with this contest this summer and plan on next summer’s challenge to be EVEN BIGGER!

Design Inspiration Challenge: Round 6 Winners

The WINNER of the Design Inspiration Challenge Round 6: Jelly Fish

This week was a busy week for florists. With Labor Day and the beginning of fall, its no wonder we only had two entries for Round 6. In the spirit of fun and because this was the very last round, we decided to make both WINNERS! So…


Shirley’s Florist Inc. in Birmingham AL

MaryJane’s Flowers & Gifts, Berlin NJ

These were so fun and different! Who wouldn’t want a jellyfish wedding bouquet? (LOL)

They both win a beautiful award certificate, great FSN tote bag and is now a finalist for our grand prize! Congratulations!

FSN would like to thank everyone who was a part of this contest!

Congratulations guys! We will be announcing the official rules and prizes for determining the DESIGN INSPIRATION GRAND CHAMPION next week. Because the vote was canceled we are going to have to change a few things up. :)

Design Inspiration Challenge: Round 6

FSN is PROUD to bring you the NEXT Design Inspiration Challenge! Florists everywhere are buzzing about this new Challenge, we hope to see designs from each and every one!


The WINNER of the Design Inspiration Challenge Round 5: Stained Glass

A hard inspiration to interpret, Keith from Buds ‘N Bows Flower Shop did a great job with this one! Congratulations Keith! Great use of carnations to interpret the small inner circles! All of our finalists did a great job on this one! Keith from Buds N’ Flower Shop won by just 1 points! We loved the unique design they submitted. Keith wins a beautiful award certificate, great FSN tote bag and is now a finalist for our grand prize! Congratulations!

We Would Also Like To Recognize:
2nd Place – MaryJane’s Flowers & Gifts (48/60 points)
3rd Place – Forget Me Not Florist
(45/60 points)
View all entries here…

We think everyone did a FANTASTIC job on their arrangements. It was so close, and a very tough decision!
FSN would like to thank everyone who was a part of this contest!



A delicate jellyfish with lacy white tentacles. . Study this photo carefully and use your imagination to interpret it into a floral design. I can definitely see this as a frilly bouquet or cascading arrangement. This inspiration is a great exercise for your textures, usage of line and other elements/principles of design. We hope these challenges are helping you to learn to see design in your every day lives.

This contest is over, click here to see the winners.


Entering is EASY! Simply:

  • Go to our Facebook Page
  • Post a photo of your design on our wall or email it to mandy@flowershopnetwork.com
  • Be sure to include the name of your shop. (If your shop has a Facebook Page, link it by typing @ and your shop’s name)
  • Include the name of the designer (Optional if you are only submitting one per shop.)
  • Please specify it as being an entry to the contest. “My entry for the design contest.”
  • Include a brief description of your design and how it was inspired by that week’s challenge (Optional)


You have 2 weeks to create and enter your challenge arrangement. Then, there will be two types of voting — think Idol. Round 1 is open public voting on our website for your top 5 finalists! Then those finalists move on to Round 2 where our FSN Design Team will judge them based on creativity, style and how well their design interprets that week’s inspiration.

How the judging works: Our design team will score each finalist on 3 categories: style, creativity, interpretation. Each category is worth 20 points for a total of 60 points. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at mandy@flowershopnetwork.com


  • Contest Begins (Today, Aug 27)
  • Two weeks to design (Aug 27-Sept 9)
  • One week to vote (Sept 10-16)
  • Winner Announced/Finalist Round Begins (Sept 17)

Each winner will receive a great FSN tote bag and awards certificate, plus a special feature on our blog with their arrangement, a link to their shop’s website, an awards certificate and a great, big FSN tote bag! They will also be promoted on our Twitter and Facebook for two weeks. After 6 challenge winners (September) we will have a Tournament of Inspiration and our top winning designers will compete for a grand prize! (More on this later)

You are allowed to enter the weekly contests more than once, but only entered as a Grand Prize Finalist once. Shops may only submit one design per designer. (Please no cheating :P This contest is just for fun and to stretch your creativity)

Vote For Your Favorite In Our Design Inspriation Challenge: Round 5



The entries are in and are lookin’ GOOD!
Flower Shop Network asked talented floral designers to create unique floral art inspired by a subject we selected. For this one, we chose a photograph of a stained glass ceiling, from the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. It really piqued our florist’s interests and they delivered fantastic results! Find more about the Design Inspiration Challenge here.

Now it’s your turn to participate! Look at the photo carefully and choose a floral design you think best interprets this masterpiece. Look closely at all of the designs before picking a winner! There is a poll at the bottom of this post — Be sure to cast your vote!!

FSN wishes all of the florists who entered GOOD LUCK!! [Read more…]