Starting a business

How to Become a Florist

The history of floral design goes back to Ancient Egypt, all the way to 2800 B.C. From the classics to the middle ages to the modern era, humans have been enjoying flowers for thousands of years and that interest isn’t changing any time soon. 

Do you have a green thumb and an interest in floral design? Maybe you can turn that love of plants into more than just a hobby. The market for florists and flower shops in Canada is big, and there’s plenty of space for freelancers. Starting your own florist business just takes space, equipment, and a bit of creativity.

Here is what you need to know about becoming a florist and working in the floral industry- whether freelance-based or owning your own flower shop. Learn what popular floral design courses you can take in Canada and the necessary equipment and setup needed to start your delicate arrangements this season.  

Ask yourself these questions when deciding on becoming a florist in Canada and starting your new venture.

What Type of Space Does a Flower Shop Need?

Working from home as a florist is doable if you have the square footage to support it. You can convert a well-lit garage or basement into a floral studio with a little effort. If you live in a cool climate, a less-insulated space, such as a garage, helps keep flowers fresh during the summer months of the year.

Flowers are fragile, so your space needs to be safe and secure. If you live by yourself or with other adults, a home business is a great option — but if you have pets or small children, you might want to rent some studio space. You can also talk to a local floral shop about working in-house on a freelance basis.

What Equipment Does a Florist Need?

When starting out, don’t worry too much about specialized equipment. Just invest in a good pair of pruning shears, a watering can, a selection of glass vases, and a sturdy table or work bench you can use to cut flowers and wrap bouquets.

Flowers last longer when they’re kept slightly chilled. A regular fridge can do the job, but, as your business grows, you may want to invest in a flower cooler. Before getting a flower cooler, make sure you have the right electrical hookups and a large enough space for it.

For deliveries and on-site arrangements, you need a vehicle, whether you take on the role of a delivery person or hire another to do so. The car you already own might work fine, as long as you have an excellent way to stabilize delicate cargo. If you’re planning longer trips, you might also need a portable cooler or larger trunk space.

Does a Florist Need a License?

Florists do not need an industry license per se. However, anyone conducting business, whether freelance or otherwise, will need to ensure they are following all provincial and federal laws regulating work and taxes. 

Although there are no specific licenses needed to operate a flower business, you may still need to register your operations as a business. You can register as a self-employed business owner, or work freelance without a license. 

On top of the proper business registration, you need the right qualifications, things like floral design skills. Formal education can help you obtain the design principles and horticultural knowledge for beautiful arrangements.

What Florist Education and Training Do I Need?

All you really need to become a florist is a delicate touch and an eye for aesthetics. That said, the growing demand for complex, exacting arrangements means a bit of formal training might help you stand out from other floral businesses. Therefore, you can become a certified floral designer by enrolling in various courses and programs in Canada after you have obtained your high school diploma.

Many institutions throughout Canada offer floral design training. For example, the Canadian Institute of Floral Design in Ontario offers a full curriculum on how to design attractive floral arrangements. Canadian Academy of Floral Art offers another great roster of flower arrangement classes. That being said, there is a mandatory two-step process to obtain CAFA membership from this Canadian institute, including a mentorship program and examination of the applicant’s floral artistic abilities.

You may also consider reaching out to established florist business owners and independent flower shops to see if they would be willing to help further your florist education and training with hands-on experience. Independent floral designers might also be willing to train you or hire you as an intern. If you know someone in the business, talk to them about the skills you need, and see if they’re willing to teach you.

How Do I Source Bulk Flowers in the Floral Industry?

Now that you have all your equipment, it’s time to source your flowers. Growing them in your backyard probably isn’t an option. When sourcing bulk flowers, a quick internet search can show you your local flower wholesalers, where you can purchase flowers in bulk.

The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers , which has been around since 1988 and has over 1,000 members worldwide, helps connect florists with flower growers. If you’re looking for a grower near you, use the ASCFG website to find local growers and wholesalers.

You can also use the Canadian Greenhouse Growers Directory, which has been in operation for over 26 years, to source your flowers from trusted vendors and growers.

Will I Need a Floral Design Portfolio?

Becoming a professional florist and enticing new customers will be a lot easier if you have a floral portfolio to show potential customers. Therefore, you will want to ready a collection of photos of your new arrangements and centrepieces to show others. You may consider creating a catalogue of sorts, with your various arrangements, wedding bouquets, wreaths and funeral tributes, terrariums, and centrepieces you will be offering to individuals and for events. 

Building your professional portfolio is an ongoing process. Whenever you create a new personal bouquet or special event centrepiece, snap a photo and add it to your collection. People like having a full range of choices when selecting the perfect arrangement, so creating a collection of themed bouquets, with different textures and colours, is always a good idea. 

How Do I Start Marketing Flower Arrangements?

First things first, you will want to create a marketing plan for your small business or freelance flower gig when starting out. When marketing yourself as a floral designer, you will want to take advantage of the many benefits of social media marketing, especially platforms that share stunning photos of nature and design elements. 

People love to appreciate the beauty of floral arrangements, considering them an art form all their own. The photo-sharing app, Instagram, is the perfect platform to share pictures of your exciting monochromatic arrangements and wedding designs. In addition, following other florists and industry-related influencers, like wedding and events planners, can help you widen your market and reach greater target audiences too.

When it comes to the business side of your flower gig, you will also want to create a My Business Google page to further establish your floral presence online. A Facebook business page can also help reach potential customers and boost your search visibility online. 

Once your space is set up, it’s time to start arranging flowers. Friends and family members make for good clients, but a little networking with local businesses is how you’re going to grow. Of course, you can always find clients through word-of-mouth, but you can also get the ball rolling by helping floral businesses during a holiday rush.

How Do I Get Paid For My Flower Arrangements?

Feel free to use this handy freelance invoice template when taking on contractors of your own. Whether creating arrangements for weddings or one-off bouquets for individual customers, be prepared with the right tools, like invoicing templates and quality accounting software, to help you get paid for your time and efforts. 

Arrange your business finances as expertly as your flowers when you use QuickBooks Self Employed accounting software to help get your floral career up and running. Create customer invoices, track sales tax, and sort marketing expenses like a professional accountant when you start your free trial today.


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