Episode 381: A Year in Review – Slow Flowers’ Highlights for 2018
December 26th, 2018
The Slow Flowers Community and listenership of this program have grown larger than ever, with more than 390,000 total downloads since this show launched in July 2013. That’s amazing news and I’m thrilled to share it with you.
Every single week this year; in fact, every single week for the past 282 weeks, it has been my privilege to feature the voices of our Slow Flowers community with you.
Unlike any other internet radio show in existence, the Slow Flowers Podcast is tailored to you and your interests, making its “must-listen” programming a habit among flower farmers and floral designers alike.
In producing and hosting the Slow Flowers Podcast, I seek out pioneers and personalities, style-makers and influencers — as well as unsung or little known heroes — who together are changing the floral landscape, disrupting the status quo, and bringing flower sourcing and growing practices, not to mention eco-conscious design methods, to the center of the conversation. And thanks for joining in. Whether you’ve just discovered this podcast or are a longtime fan, I encourage you to take advantage of the immense body of knowledge that can be found in the archives.
As I have done since the beginning of 2014, I would like to devote today to the Slow Flowers Highlights of this past year. Next week, on January 2nd, I will present the annual Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast for 2019.
I’m motivated as a storyteller to connect with the Slow Flowers Community in real and personal ways — and that was certainly the case in 2018. Rather than share a chronological travelogue of the year’s calendar, I’m mixing it up today.
I’ve looked in the rear-view mirror to remember 2018 and — wow — the themes bubbling up to the top are impressive. I’m humbled by the warm embrace of the Slow Flowers Community and more than ever, I realize that making authentic human connections with you is what really matters. Each experience is more meaningful because of the relationships we forge with one another.
I’ve identified 10 Top Themes of 2018 that I want to reflect on and share with you today.
Our speakers, from left: Mary Kate Kinnane, Kelly Shore, Debra Prinzing, Jonathan Weber, Jessica Hall, Walker Marsh, Christina Stembel, Kit Wertz & Casey Schwartz (not pictured: Mud Baron)
NUMBER ONE: the SECOND ANNUAL SLOW FLOWERS SUMMIT
The Slow Flowers Summit is the LIVE event in the midst of American Flowers Week, created to serve the Slow Flowers community of progressive, sustainably-minded florists and designers and to engage attendees who want to network with one another.
Planning and producing the 2nd Summit was a huge financial risk, especially since it was the first time on the east coast, away from our original Seattle venue.
I knew we could lose money but my heart told me it was important to forge ahead, as I found myself inspired by the amazing sense of inclusion, connection, new ideas, beauty and humanity surrounding our floral-filled lives.
I believed taking that risk was essential. That risk paid off and we actually had a sold-out Summit on Friday, June 29th in Washington, D.C., with a remarkably welcoming venue host – the American Institute of Floral Designers.
I have so many people to thank for helping produce the Summit, so let me get started. First of all, thanks to Bob Wollam and his team at Wollam Gardens for opening up their Virginia farm the day prior to the Summit for tours, lunch and community. That bonus pre-event was so positive that it inspired us to add two pre-event flower farm tours for our 2019 Slow Flowers Summit. THANK YOU all!
We had wonderful day-of volunteers, but I mostly want to single out Ellen Seagraves of Chic Florals and Dana O’Sullivan of Della Blooms, both Slow Flowers Members and part of Independent Floral Designers of Maryland, for volunteering to create the Summit’s interactive floral installation. We had so many wonderful donations from flower farms to pull this off — including Charles Little & Co., FernTrust, Green Valley Floral, LynnVale Studio & Farm and Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers — as well as EcoFresh Bouquets, which provided wraps for the foam-free installation.
I can’t forget to thank our speakers — without whom the day would have been an empty room, of course. Our keynote speaker Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers wowed us with a frank discussion of building a self-funded floral business through grit and determination.
We enjoyed two visually and intellectually-inspiring design + business presentations geared toward florists who are committed to the Slow Flowers ethos, in their sourcing and in the ways they build community — Thank you Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore and Mary Kate Kinnane of The Local Bouquet and thank you Kit Wertz and Casey Schwartz of Flower Duet.
Our Flowers + Tech panel introduced a fascinating discussion about the challenges of transportation, infrastructure and shipping — thank you to Jonathan Weber of greenSinner, Jessica Hall of Harmony Harvest Farm and Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers for their excellent presentations and for helping us look toward the horizon of new business models.
And finally, thank you to our final two speakers, men who are passionate about flower farming as a tool for improving the lives of their communities ~ Walker Marsh of Tha Flower Factory in Baltimore and Mud Baron of Flowers on your Head in Los Angeles.
Among other messages, we learned from them about sowing future seeds of hope through flowers. If you were in attendance – or if you followed the fun on social media, you also know that Mud was a flower force to be reckoned with as he festooned our heads with bouquets to fulfill his mission of photographing as many humans as possible for his Flowers on Your Head photographic project.
If you missed the Summit, you can find all the video presentations available to watch for just $48 on Vimeo — a full day of ideas, information, inspiration, inclusion and instigation with each of these speakers.
Watch a free clip of my opening remarks about the origins of the Slow Flowers Summit.
And I can’t finish this section without reminding you to register for the 3rd annual Slow Flowers Summit, taking place July 1-2, 2019 as an expanded conference, offering you more value and benefits for attending.
The early-bird pricing continues through Dec. 31st so there’s not much time left to save $100 and grab a seat to join me and some wonderful speakers in St. Paul Minnesota!
NUMBER TWO: AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK 2018 (June 28-July 4)
This original flower promotion holiday, launched in 2015, celebrated its fourth annual campaign. I was encouraged and inspired by friends behind British Flowers Week to create American Flowers Week (and to continue their generosity, I helped support the creation of Canadian Flowers Week this past September).
This grassroots, all-inclusive campaign provides editorial, branding and marketing resources to flower farmers, florists, designers, retailers and wholesalers who wish to promote American grown Flowers.
And wow, did you participate this past year! We have been tracking engagement on Instagram and Twitter, which this year was tricky because new rules on those platforms restricted our ability to measure the potential engagement of our followers’ followers (IF you saw what happened with Facebook this year, I’m sure that make sense)
Even with those tracking limitations, you and your participation in American Flowers Week generated amazing numbers — 3.6 million impressions in the month leading up to the 2018 celebration. We know the real total engagement was much higher, due to tracking tools not being able to capture Facebook traffic.
All I can say is THANK YOU to each one of you who joined in the fun by designing red-white-and-blue bouquets, taking photos and posting/tagging them as #local #american and #seasonal and #slowflowers.
Thanks to those of you who ordered our bouquet labels to use on your market and grocery bouquets, and for CSAs and popup events. And thanks for building the buzz to raise awareness about the importance of conscious choices when it comes to buying flowers. The more fun and fashion we can share with flowers, the more their origin becomes a top-of-mind decision at the cash register.
And speaking of fashion, 2018 was the third year of our American Flowers Week – floral fashion collection, a brilliant season of botanical garments revealing the beauty of flowers, the people who grow those flowers and the floral artists who reimagine them into garments.
This year, we called the theme “Field to Fashion,” and revealed all five floral couture looks in the pages of Florists’ Review magazine. Producing this floral narrative began in Homer, Alaska, where Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore partnered with Beth Van Sandt of Scenic Place Peonies to envision a styled shoot reflecting just-picked peonies with a storyline that reflects the character, history and geography of Homer.
The series continued with photo shoots taking place through subsequent months of the year, as designers and flower farmers collaborated to turn cut flowers into haute couture, including a session in Sonoma County, with design talents from farmer-florist Hedda Brorstrom of Full Bloom Flower Farm and dazzling dahlias grown by Kate Rowe of Aztec Dahlias;
a winter woodland narrative reliant upon farmer-florist Carly Jenkins of Killing Frost Farm’s penchant for foraging from the forests and woodlands of the Pacific Northwest and Montana;
Alison Higgins and Nicole Cordier of Grace Flowers Hawaii’s Big Island homage to locally-grown tropical flowers and foliage with two regal looks for male and female models;
and Faye Zierer Krause of Flora Organica Designs’ tribute to the Iris, straight from the Sun Valley Flower Farms’ greenhouses of Arcata California.
It is a privilege and an honor to experience this level of creativity and commitment to American Flowers Week. The inventiveness expressed by the Slow Flowers community — flower farmers and floral designers alike — elevates American-grown botanicals to new levels.
Click here to find the photos of the entire 2018 American Flowers Week collection of botanical fashions, including the stories behind each look.
I also need to thank and acknowledge the talented photographers who made each of these beautiful ideas come to life through their lens, including Alex Brooks, Becca Henry, Megan Spelman, Joshua Veldstra and Leon Villagomez.
One more artist gets a big thank you for helping make American Flowers Week more beautiful – and that is Ellen Hoverkamp of My Neighbors’ Garden. We invited Ellen, a Connecticut-based artist, to create a red-white-and-blue bouquet using her signature scanner photography technique and the result was a stunning image that helped us promote the campaign all year long. Her all-American botanical tribute wowed everyone and I’m excited to be able to use American Flowers Week as a way to highlight the work of such a talented artist.
And now’s the time to mark American Flowers Week 2019 on your calendar — June 28 through July 4 — because it will be our fifth annual campaign celebration! I’ll have more to share in the coming months, but you are invited to check out two links I’ll share in today’s show notes — first, a look at the 2019 botanical art branding we commissioned from Josephine Rice, and second, a sneak peek to introduce the florists and flower farmers who are busy creating American Flowers Week botanical fashions for next year’s editorial package.
NUMBER THREE: TRAVEL and MEET-UPS
Slow Flowers travel took me on the road quite a bit in 2018, including appearances in Texas, Washington, D.C., Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas, Minnesota, the Pacific Northwest, and Canada’s British Columbia.
Whenever I travel and for whatever reason, be it business or pleasure, I manage to connect with florists and flower farmers to see and discuss local flowers.
Over the years, the idea of a “meet-up” has emerged as a way to be both intentional and spontaneous in gathering with you.
I learn so much from the people attending a Slow Flowers Meet-Up, be it at a potluck dinner or a simple wine-and-cheese function. I get to see retail flower shops, design studios, nurseries, urban flower patches, expansive country farms, all spaces that educate me about myriad ways people bring flowers to life and to their marketplace.
I want to thank my hosts and Slow Flowers cohorts for helping plan the following meet-ups in 2018:
First, Christine Hoffman of Twin Cities Flower Exchange in St. Paul, Minnesota, who hosted a Sunday afternoon meet-up in August, where we invited each in attendance (more than 30 folks) to share about his or her relationship with locally-grown flowers.
The Twin Cities’ local floral scene is alive, well, thriving and growing.
The meet-up-style open house introduced me to farmers and floral designers who comprise the dynamic change taking place there.
We tasted signature cocktails with a floral note (of course), sample butters flavored with petals and herbs to spread on delicious local bread, and munched on local veggies, all part of the festive day.
I can’t wait to return in just six months to experience the Slow Flowers Summit with these fabulous folks.
Just a few days later, on August 14, Beth Barnett of Larkspur Chicago, hosted a Slow Flowers Meet-Up with about 18 of us, joining together for an after-hours Windy City meet-up in her beautiful new studio, where we talked flowers, shared personal stories and enjoyed drinks and bites while making new connections and renewing established ones. I’m so grateful to the many who made the time to attend: flower farmers who traveled two to three hours into the city for our evening together; florists who closed busy retail shops or broke away from producing flowers in their studios to come for a special gathering of kindred spirits.
Thank you so much to Kath LaLiberte of Longfield Gardens, a sponsor of this podcast, and to Mackenzie Nichols, a writer and floral designer friend from New York, both of whom were in Chicago with me! They joined me in shopping for food and wine and helped Beth and me get everything set up for the fun gathering. It was a great night and so rewarding to invest in the time to make face-to-face connections with Chicago’s Slow Flowers Community. Thanks to all who helped make it happen.
In September, Andrea K. Grist of Andrea K. Grist Floral Art and Florasource KC, hosted a sold-out dinner gathering in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. It was wonderful to meet Slow Flowers members — flower farmers and floral designers alike — as well as people from the horticulture and gardening worlds.
We enjoyed a farm-to-table meal at The Homesteader Cafe, followed by my presentation on the 2019 Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast. I loved hearing from many who shared their floral stories with me.
A huge thank-you to Andrea for turning my visit to Kansas City into a three-day jaunt through the heartland. We visited flower farms in Missouri and Kansas, we toured a massive field of sunflowers — of course , ate great KC barbecue, and even took in tourist sights in Iowa — to see the famous covered bridges.
Like the other Meet-Ups we’ve had this past year, the energy and momentum I experienced was contagious and it revealed to me that more and more people in the floral marketplace — from designers to consumers — want to connect with the roots, fields, and farms where flowers originate.
By the way, you can see photo highlights of these three meet-ups in today’s show notes. And . . . if you’re interested in hosting me in the coming year, reach out so we can get your regional meet-up on the calendar now!
NUMBER FOUR: TEACHING and LECTURES
In 2018, my presentations and workshops reached hundreds of people — audiences large and small. I spoke about the Slow Flowers Movement using visual slide galleries of you and your stories; I demonstrated sustainable design techniques using flowers from local and regional Slow Flowers Farms; and I led larger hands-on group workshops, finding that the more opportunities we give consumers to touch and experience fresh, seasonal flowers, the more we change their perspectives about those flowers.
The venues for teaching and speaking in 2018 were more formatted versions of Slow Flowers Meet-Ups. The similarity, though, is the chance they offer to interact with other wonderful floral and garden people, audiences and colleagues.
2018’s appearances fall into four categories: Creative Writing as part of the Slow Flowers Creative Workshops; Floral Industry Forecast/Insights; The Slow Flowers Story + Floral Design Workshops and Business Forums.
First up, Slow Flowers Creative Workshops:
For the 2nd year, I returned to Tobey Nelson’s Whidbey Flower Workshop, a multi-day spring gathering focused on innovative and sustainable floral design and art installations.
Tobey wanted to give her attendees a chance to sit quietly and put pen to paper, reflecting on personal journaling and to also gaining new skills for describing flowers, gardens, nature and art. It was a joy to lead those exercises.
The fellow instructors inspired me as well, and I’m grateful to Tobey, Susan McLeary, and Joseph Massie, as well as to photographer Heather Saunders, for a beautiful experience. I know Tobey has a 3rd Whidbey Flower Workshop in the works, so sign up here for future announcements.
On September 8 & 9, Jennifer and Adam O’Neal of PepperHarrow Farm in Winterset, Iowa, hosted seven students for their two-day flower farming workshop packed with essential information and incredible value for those who attended. Margaret Ludwig of Giverny Design taught an inspiring design workshop and I enjoyed a fabulous morning teaching writing modules from the Slow Flowers Creative Workshop curriculum.
In October, Holly Heider Chapple welcomed designers and flower lovers from near and far to Flowerstock at HOPE Flower Farm.
Floral professionals and members of the floral community gathered for two days of demonstrations and talks by renowned floral designers, including Holly, Steve Moore of Sinclair & Moore, Nancy Teasley of Oak & the Owl and Alicia and Adam Rico of Bows & Arrows.
I led a number of creative writing exercises for attendees, guiding floral creatives through various modules of describing flowers, color and memories in a new way.
We gathered upstairs in the dairy barn, where there was a creative space for writing, photography and floral design.
Together, we learned that the personal floral narrative is a powerful one, and the timing was perfect for those who brought pens, paper, their open minds and a little vulnerability to the process.
Slow Flowers Forecast Reports
In next week’s Podcast, the first of 2019, I will reveal the Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights & Industry Forecast report for the year. I’m excited to share it with you! As it turns out, I compiled the report a little earlier than usual in 2018, thanks to four invitations to speak about the cultural shifts taking place in the Slow Flowers community. So let me acknowledge and thank the conferences that invited me to bring those insights to their audiences.
The series began in Vancouver, B.C., where I was a guest of Hitomi Gilliam at the 2018 Floral Trend Summit, a marvelous and inventive experience encompassing five days of creativity and reimagination. The Trend Summit occurs every two years and is nothing short of a powerful gathering of leaders, educators and thinkers from all facets of floral.
I joined the speaker lineup with design innovator Holly Heider Chapple of Hope Flower Farm, Chapel Designers and the new Holly X Syndicate collection; Pantone color trends maven Leatrice Eiseman; and global floral design icon Gregor Lersch, as well as Hitomi Gilliam and Florists’ Review publisher Travis Rigby.
I’m grateful that Slow Flowers is invited to have a seat at that table. To me, that is a significant indication of the strides we have made in the past five years since this concept took root and became my passion — the idea that progressive and mindful flower farmers and floral designers can collaborate for a better and more sustainable profession for humans and the environment alike.
In August, I traveled to Charleston, SC, to speak at the first-ever Southern Flower Symposium. A number of incredibly talented farmers and designers participated in the one-day conference, which was themed: “Future Forward Flower Success.”
I was honored to be invited by and hosted by Jim Martin of Charleston-based Compost in my Shoe and the Lowcountry Flower Growers leadership team who produced the Southern Flower Symposium. Thank you to Jim, to Laura Mewbourn of Feast & Flora Farm, along with their core group of local growers for setting up such a great, one-day symposium. Rita Anders of Cuts of Color in Weimar, Texas, an established flower grower and Slow Flowers Member, led off the day with a fabulous, zone-specific presentation on growing premium flowers in the humid, hot southern climate.
I shared a preview of the 2019 Slow Flowers’ Floral Insights and Industry Forecast as well as to moderate a floral design demonstration focused on appealing to millennial customers. All the arrangements were created with flowers donated from attending farms, displayed in USA-made vessels donated from Syndicate Sales.
ASCFG National Conference
I also shared my Future-Looking Floral Industry Overview and early peek at the 2019 forecast with the flower farmers and farmer-florists of Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. I last spoke at ASCFG six years ago, at the 2012 Symposium in Tacoma, Washington, right when The 50 Mile Bouquet was published. So much has changed for the good in the subsequent years and I was excited to share my forecast, insights and experiences with ASCFG’s attendees.
Washington Tilth Conference
I joined Katie Lynd of the Washington State Department of Agriculture and Slow Flowers member Beth Mort of Snapdragon Flower Farm on a panel presenting consumer research findings for marketing your local cut flowers!
Supported by a Specialty Crop Block Grant, the session featured research and reporting on best practices within the cut flower industry as well as forecasting marketing trends.
By the way, that session was videotaped by the Tilth Coalition — see above!
The Slow Flowers Story + Floral Design Workshops
Sharing the Slow Flowers story with horticulture and floriculture audiences is part of my ongoing mission as a professional speaker. In 2018, the Slow Flowers message reached avid gardening audiences and professionals alike at the following events:
the Magnolia Garden Club in Houston where we sourced all local Texas-grown flowers for the design workshop, mostly from Cuts of Color, owned by Slow Flowers member Rita Anders;
the American Institute of Floral Design national conference in Washington, D.C., where Right Field Farm, a Slow Flowers member in Maryland, generously donated buckets and buckets of flowers to help decorate the stage where I spoke about Slow Flowers on July 3rd — Talking about local and seasonal flowers and floral design surrounded by fresh, beautiful, just-picked flowers on display was my “illustration” of the difference between local and far-away blooms.
Fellow Slow Flowers member Ellen Seagraves of Chic Floral Design graciously lent her creative talents to arrange those Maryland-grown flowers. My remarks had more credibility because I had just visited Right Field Farm and felt like I could speak with authority about the sustainable and earth-friendly practices that David and Lina Brunton use in their fields.
In September, the Garden Club of Denver hosted me for a fabulous evening sharing the Slow Flowers Story and designing with locally-grown flowers from Slow Flowers members Chet & Kristy Anderson of The Fresh Herb Co., in Longmont, Colorado.
The following two days were devoted to a series of workshops, tours and lectures as part of Denver Botanic Garden’s annual Bon Fils-Stanton Lecture Series. Associate Education Director Sarah Olson and her team developed a comprehensive package to engage Denver Botanic Garden audiences with local Colorado-grown flowers.
We toured two local flower farms, hosted a design workshop with Meg McGuire of Red Daisy Flower Farm and shared a public lecture about Slow Flowers. The community is progressive, engaged and interested in sustainable agriculture, including flowers — and it was wonderful to return to the Denver-Boulder area to reconnect with so many wonderful people.
My final lecture and design workshop of 2018 took me in early November, with a car filled with locally-sourced flowers, to Bellingham, Wash., north of Seattle, where the Whatcom Horticultural Society hosted me for their annual Membership Meeting. More than 40 members signed up to create a seasonal arrangement using sustainable design techniques. We were so incredibly lucky with the weather; miraculously, I had with me oodles of PNW-grown dahlias and heirloom mums, grown by many of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market flower farmers. It was yet another successful forum for connecting the gardening community with the floral community and encouraging understanding and support for a dynamic local marketplace for floral agriculture.
I had two other successful experiences this year that brought me in contact the larger business community, which I want to acknowledge. As a longtime supporter, frequent speaker, judge and now program consultant to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, now called the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, I agreed to moderate a social media panel for the first-ever GardenPro Conference. It was a great experience to interact with fellow communicators and green industry professionals.
This past fall, at Grapevine, a Seattle lecture series for women in business, I was asked to moderated a panel on the Slow Movement, partnering with founders Joanie Parsons and Monica Smith.
The panel focused on the Slow Movement, and how does it apply to food, fashion, flowers and lifestyle?
Grapevine defines the Slow Movement as a: “Cultural revolution against the sense of hurry and craziness generated by a desire to do more and have more. The Slow Movement is about making conscious choices. What would happen if more people adopted this way of thinking and living?”
The experienced allowed me to lead a group of amazing women making conscious choices about how they live their lives—as we each shared our commitment to the larger “slow” movement.
My Lectures and Presentations will continue for 2019 — and I’m launching into it immediately with a return trip to Vancouver, B.C., to teach creative writing in a social media workshop paired with Colin Gilliam’s photography course, all part of Hitomi Gilliam’s Creative Design Master Class series. Looking forward to it — and check out the link to more details here.
NUMBER FIVE – MEDIA ATTENTION
Coming from the media myself, I have a keen appreciation and understanding for the power of third-party endorsement . . . the independent observations expressed on the page, screen or audio broadcast that shine light on the people, places and flowers that comprise the Slow Flowers Movement. I love being asked to talk about this community and the amazing work we’re achieving together in the floral marketplace.
I don’t do this alone. In the past, I’ve worked with a fabulous publicist, Lola Honeybone, originally to promote many of my books, including The 50 Mile Bouquet and Slow Flowers. Lola joined me to launch the debut of SlowFlowers.com in 2014 and she has jumped into PR projects since then, including Valentine’s Day in 2018.
Since then, we have earned some amazing media attention on our own. We are doing great work and shining the light on great people and their stories . . . and that alone helps attract attention of writers, bloggers, editors and producers in search of beautiful and inspiring stories.
SO here’s a round-up of some of the outlets that covered Slow Flowers and flower gardening topics by interviewing me in the past year:
ABC Nightly News
Country Gardens Magazine
Elle Decor Italia
Garden Center Magazine
The American Gardener
The Cut Flower Quarterly
The Wall St. Journal
I haven’t even taken the time to try and add up the earned media impressions from these lovely placements — many of them in national major news outlets and I’m sure I’ve overlooked a few outlets. It’s humbling and awe-inspiring to learn that others want to know the Slow Flowers Narrative. It captures the imagination of anyone who appreciates flowers and that’s one reason why I believe what we’re doing is so essential and universal.
I have to add that there is one other way you can get involved in and help spread the Slow Flowers Story — and many of you indeed do this. When you have an opportunity to share the story of your flowers, your farm, your shop or workshop with local media, please connect the writer or reporter with Slow Flowers.
We have lots of free resources, statistics, reports and data — all the fact-based research and findings that journalists love to sprinkle through their article or news report. We are a free, valuable resource and in fact, having more details about the Slow Flowers movement actually helps validate that this is a “real thing” in the marketplace. I want to help you underscore that foundation behind any media attention you receive! Reach out!
You can always reach us at: email@example.com
NUMBER SIX: FLORISTS REVIEW
I mentioned in our media section that Slow Flowers has appeared in Florists’ Review and its sister publication SuperFloral during the past year. Well, there’s a really great reason for that and if you’re a regular Podcast listener, I am sure you haven’t missed the fact that we have an association with Florists’ Review. In fact, I’m a contributing editor for the regular monthly Slow Flowers Journal, found in its pages.
I hope you realize how incredibly fortunate we are to be given a literal seat at the table inside the leading floral industry trade publication, the only independent periodical in the floral marketplace.
I want to publicly thank Travis Rigby, owner and publisher of parent company Wildflower Media, for his vision and ambition to deliver a wide range of editorial content to readers in all facets of floral wholesale, distribution and design.
Since we launched the Slow Flowers Journal standalone section in August 2017, I’ve produced hundreds of thousands of words about the progressive, mindful, intentional people engaged in pioneering Slow Flowers.
Always told through the lens of professional floral design, this section has provided an important platform in the mainstream marketplace. Each month’s stories are beautifully illustrated and written with the goal of sharing solid, inspiring information on how to succeed in the floral business while also staying true to domestic sourcing goals, sustainable design values and a deep commitment to community.
Since January, we’ve featured 49 articles in the Slow Flowers Journal and elsewhere in Florists’ Review’s pages — covering floral designers and artists, farmer-florists, retailers, manufacturers who produce hard goods and floral accessories in the U.S., events and projects centered around the values of Slow Flowers. That is important and incredible – and I am so grateful to share it with you.
Also in 2018, I started a monthly feature in SuperFloral, the magazine originally developed to reach mass market and grocery store floral professionals, which has expanded with the brilliant tag line: “Flower Industry News from Seed to Consumer.”
Over the course of 2018, my 12 stories featured flower farmers who partner with grocery floral departments to give shoppers the choice about the flowers they buy, not to mention fresh, local and seasonal product; There’s no doubt that these stories signaled a perceived shift in the marketplace.
Are you curious about these articles? They are posted each month at slowflowersjournal.com, complete with free, downloadable PDFs.
Are you curious about subscribing to either publication?
Subscribe to FLORISTS’ REVIEW — check out this special offer — $5 for 3 months of the magazine
Subscribe to SUPERFLORAL – free subscription offer here
NUMBER SEVEN: AWARDS
The work I’ve done to promote and communicate the Slow Flowers story earned three accolades in 2018 and I want to highlight them here because your support of this mission is one important reason for the awards.
In June, the American Horticultural Society recognized me with its Frances Jones Poetker Award in honor of achievement in the field of floral design.
The award highlights my work advocating for and promoting domestic flowers and recognizes significant contributions to floral design in publications, on the platform, and to the public. Both Florists’ Review and The American Gardener published articles about the award and you can find links to those in today’s show notes.
When I traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the gala dinner and awards ceremony, held at the beautiful River Farm in Virginia, I was in awe of the deep talent pool of other Great American Gardener awards recipients. I was mindful of the platform this award gives Slow Flowers. In accepting it, I shared the five attributes of the Slow Flowers Manifesto, I talked about the amazing reach of the slow flowers hashtag on social media and I highlighted the network of flower farmers, florists and creatives shaped by you and others.
I talked about community over competition and about the importance of collaboration in growing this movement. It was an incredible honor and I was touched that family and fellow garden community members and Slow Flowers friends were in attendance, too!
Speaking of Gardening, the Garden Writers Association, recently rebranded after more than 65 years as GardenComm, gives media awards each year.
I’ve received numerous awards in the past for book and magazine writing, but 2018 was the very first year that the Slow Flowers Podcast and Slow Flowers Journal received Silver Awards for journalistic excellence from my peers in green industry communications.
Again, these awards put a spotlight on our work and our commitment to growing the Slow Flowers Movement — and in many ways, encourage me to keep working toward promoting greater awareness in the floral marketplace — through storytelling on radio, in print and online.
NUMBER EIGHT: COLLABORATIONS & COMMUNITY
The ongoing theme of community — that together we achieve so much more than any individual could possibly do on her own, is one that I know you believe and one that I’ve devoted many stories and interviews to.
My own involvement in this valuable theme was a highlight of 2018, through several Seattle area projects and they add up to some valuable and positive experiences.
Last January, I teamed up with three other women to form a group called We Fleurish. Slow Flowers member Tammy Myers of First & Bloom was the catalyst of this project, as she had a personal connection with me, with photographer Missy Palacol and with event planner Karen Thornton of Avenue 22 Events.
Together, the mission of We Fleurish took shape. We defined it as such: to support fellow creatives who produce their own blogs and social media channels and who are hungry for new resources to produce stylish and meaningful content to share with their audiences.
In 2018, we produced two parties where women business owners gathered in a convivial environment, engaged in hands-on sessions of styling and photography and other skills and amused their taste buds with delicious bites and beverages. Along the way, everyone learned new tips, techniques and info and networked with other attendees.
In January, We Fleurish threw a Galentine’s Party for 40 local creatives. In May, we threw a pre-mother’s day party called BeYOUtiful for about 25 attendees.
Working with Tammy, Karen and Missy has been a great opportunity to learn what’s needed and relevant in terms of programming and content for creatives and to deepen the practice of collaboration. I am so grateful for this group, as it enhanced my appreciation for each woman’s talents and gifts. Plus, since they are all so much younger than I am, it didn’t hurt to hang out with a dynamic generation of women!
Last February offered a different sort of collaboration – with the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival in Seattle, which for 30 years has produced a fantastic, five-day indoor flower and garden show that is a right of early spring for the region’s professional and consumer marketplace.
The garden show invited me to produce five days of events on the new floral stage allowing me to showcase the talents of 10 Slow Flowers members — all professional florists in the Pacific Northwest. Together, we produced a lively and interactive floral design competition called Floral Wars. Each day, two floral artists received our challenge: to create three arrangements in less than one hour. It was a test of the contestants’ grace under pressure as they showcased American-grown flowers, USA-made floral accessories and eco-design techniques.
Thanks to Jessica Gring, Odd Flowers Floral Design, Melissa Feveyear, Terra Bella Flowers, Gina Thresher, AIFD, From the Ground Up Floral, Jon Robert Throne, AIFD, Countryside Floral & Garden, Rizaniño “Riz” Reyes, RHR Horticulture, Mick Payment, Flowers for the People, Anne Bradfield of Floressence, Kelly Sullivan of Botanique, Tobey Nelson of Tobey Nelson Events & Design and Tammy Myers, First & Bloom — you were awesome ambassadors for Slow Flowers!
Our judges included: Janna Lufkin, Raw Materials Design; Alicia Schwede, Flirty Fleurs; Nikki L’Ami, Floral Supply Syndicate and Jane DeMarco, Florists’ Review.
Product and flower donations came from Certified American Grown farms and the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, as well as Syndicate Sales, Offray Ribbon, Raw Materials Design and NWFGF Sponsor Corona Tools.
For 2019, I will return to the Floral Stage at the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival and I hope to see you there.
The dates are February 20-24, 2019, at the Washington St. Convention Center in downtown Seattle. We have a new format and a new theme this year, called “Blooms & Bubbles,” and you can learn more about this new “make and take” workshop format offered for the first time at the show.
I’m excited to again use the opportunities that come my way to help promote others in the Slow Flowers community! Maybe you can be part of future collaborations and community-minded Slow Flowers programming.
NUMBER NINE: The SLOW FLOWERS PODCAST
Well, I earlier mentioned that the Garden Writers Association honored the Slow Flowers Podcast with a Silver Media Award for podcast programming in 2018. We also earned a spot on Mayesh’s list of top flower podcasts, for which we’re so grateful!
Each week the Slow Flowers Podcast releases a new episode featuring timely interviews with flower farmers and floral designers whose wisdom and insights will inspire you! In July, the Slow Flowers Podcast reached a MAJOR MILESTONE — our 5th Anniversary!! What an incredible achievement, especially in an industry in which the typical podcast has an average lifespan of seven episodes.
I am so grateful to the original roots of this podcast, inspired back in 2013 by Kasey Cronquist and the California Cut Flower Commission, which urged me to start a flower podcast and provided the seed money for me to learn how to produce programming on this new platform. That original investment has yielded exponential benefits to the entire floral marketplace — and that’s mostly because of you, our loyal subscribers, members, listeners and donors.
As of year-end, The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 390,000 times. The milestones keep coming — and I know we’ll be tossing the confetti and popping the cork very soon to celebrate 400k downloads.
I can’t end my remarks about the Podcast without acknowledging two people who helped me get it off the ground with their technical and engineering expertise. Hannah Brenlan was my original producer and after about one year, she handed the weekly production over to her husband Andrew Brenlan. Andrew has taken our audio to new levels, with beautiful musical transitions and his patient and loyal efforts to improve my limited technical skills! Let’s face it: I know how to find great guests and I know how to interview them. But beyond that, this podcast would not exist without Andrew! Hat’s off to him and here’s to another year to come!
NUMBER TEN: OUR SPONSORS & STRATEGIC PARTNERS
Slow Flowers sponsors support our work to connect consumers with florists, shops, studios, and farmers who supply and source domestic and American-grown flowers and Made-in-USA floral hardgoods and accessories.
I just want to take a minute to thank them for their financial support in 2018 and to tell you a little bit about how each partnership is uniquely tailored to meet mutual goals of promoting American flowers:
You’ve already heard about our partnership with lead sponsor Florists’ Review — but I want to thank Travis Rigby, editorial director David Coake, assignment editor Brenda Silva and art director Kathleen Dillinger. They and the rest of the Florists’ Review team are a joy to work with and I respect and value our relationship!
Arctic Alaska Peonies has been a podcast sponsor this year and a major sponsor in the past. Thank you to Chris Beks and to all of the peony farmers of Arctic Alaska Peonies for your ongoing support, your willingness to donate peonies to Slow Flowers events and campaigns, and your commitment to this cause.
the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market –wow, I’ve been the imbedded journalist at the SWGM since day one, when it opened in 2011. This tribe of amazing Northwest flower farmers and market staff leadership have come onboard as a financial and in-kind sponsors who provide support in so many other ways, both in our own backyard and beyond.
Longfield Gardens has supported the Slow Flowers brand and platform for three years and I’m so grateful to their financial and product support for numerous events, workshops, swag bags and more. They connect florists to gardening and they connect gardeners to floral design — and that is a sweet spot that I value and appreciate
Johnny’s Selected Seeds has been a partner for the past two years and their sponsorship goes far beyond my original vision. This year in particular, I am grateful for Johnny’s support at the Garden Writers Association annual symposium where we partnered with an interactive trade show booth to help garden writers, bloggers and editors engage with the topics of growing flowers from seed and DIY floral design. Thank you Johnny’s!
The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers has supported Slow Flowers this year in new ways, expanding on our past collaborations to promote the art and science of flower farming. This year, in particular, I’m grateful that ASCFG invited me to present at their national conference in Raleigh, where I connected with so many of you from around the country.
Certified American Grown has been another financial supporter this past year, providing resources that help us generate events, editorial content and more. Thank you to America’s flower farmers who believe in the Slow Flowers mission and platform — it has been an honor to support you in return.
Mayesh Wholesale Florist has supported the Podcast this year as well as American Flowers Week and we’re so grateful to have a wholesale partner like them, especially as the floral marketplace begins to make room for domestic flowers as an essential category for florists. We value your support!
The Slow Flowers Podcast has been supported in the past six months by Team Flower, and as that role comes to an end, I want to say thanks and best wishes as you plan your 2019 Team Flower Conference in March!
The Slowflowers.com directory has received additional support from two sponsors and I want to thank them publicly here. First of all, our friend Sarah Hinton of Ularas, the event florists’ software so many of you use!
We love partnering with women-owned businesses and that’s one reason why we love working with Sarah. It’s also an important reason why we love Farmgirl Flowers and its founder/CEO Christina Stembel, and thank her for providing financial support this year to Slowflowers.com. I am humbled and touched by the level of personal support from both of these women and their companies — it means more than I can say!
Well that’s it, folks. A year in review with a twist — focused not on the calendar, but on the important themes that touched me, touched you, and influenced the Slow Flowers role in the floral marketplace.
I mentioned this at the end of last year, but it’s worth repeating:
The #slowflowers hashtag is the brand most widely used in the floral marketplace to communicate and convey seasonal, local and sustainable floriculture — and I am humbled by the impact and reach of a term that originated with a tiny, 144-page book measuring 7-1/2 inches square — as it has exploded far beyond my imagination in the five years since.
It has been another record-setting year in so many ways. According to keyhole.com, our tracking service, Slow Flowers’ metrics are higher than ever. Our social media maven, Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media, has worked tirelessly to represent Slow Flowers and its members through the medium — with great results!
In the past 365 days, on instagram and twitter combined,
Slow Flowers has appeared in more than 47k posts
had engagement of more than 1.4 million
had reach of more than 10 million
and exceeded impressions by more than 79 million
To that I say, What are YOU Waiting For?
We’d love you to join Slow Flowers and put your resources, creativity, personal engagement and passion to work for a Movement that gives back to you in volumes. You can start the new year with a commitment to supporting Slow Flowers and you can join us for as little as $50 a year to enjoy the many programs and benefits for members. Join Here: slowflowers.com/join.
Thank you for being a part of this movement and I hope you’ll make the next step by investing in the continued relevance and success of this brand
I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto iTunes and posting a listener review.
The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.
The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at soundbodymovement.com.