For the past 134 years, florists have flocked to the Society of American Florists (SAF) Annual Convention, where organizers “work hard to come up with programming that is attractive to all segments of the industry,” said Laura Weaver, CMP, SAF’s director of meetings and conventions. Attendees include event and retail florists, researchers, wholesalers, growers, and suppliers.
The “Advanced Design Techniques” workshop — one of several — was described as “speed dating meets design education.” Participants were given the opportunity to cycle through six presentations within an hour, touching on topics such as floral-crown design, bouquet-making techniques, and leaf manipulation. Each hands-on, practical presentation lasted for nine minutes before attendees were asked to rotate to the next presentation. “We wanted to let each attendee walk away with learning new techniques or a way of doing things,” Weaver said, “to make their business better, save time, and save money — in a short burst of time.”
SAF seeks to attract younger generations to the floral industry, and the 2018 program offered sessions on preparing millennials for leadership, developing internship programs, mastering social media, and the importance of company culture. “We have consciously tried to incorporate more social-media topics, [such as] SEO and Google Analytics, so that our members can stay competitive,” Weaver said. “We really wanted to have a variety of sessions that would help them out personally, as well as become better business owners and leaders.”
Best in the Bunch
SAF has hosted the 50th Annual Sylvia Cup Design Competition — the industry’s longest-running annual, live national floral design competition — since its inception. Some of the nation’s most talented floral designers and winners of state floral contests compete, and the flowers, supplies, and theme they must work with come as a surprise to contestants until the competition begins. In 2018, they were instructed to “Follow Your Yellow Brick Road,” with such Wizard of Oz–based challenges as creating “a whimsical container design,” Weaver said, “that would be fitting for the Wizard’s castle.”