design company Archives - Curious Lola

Curious Lola

Floral Business Pricing Foundations.

Okay, do this with me. Shut your eyes….. Tighter.

The tighter they are shut, the better your wish will come true.

Okay, now say this with me, “I wish, I wish, I wish, I could just make pretty things and create memories and the money part will just… work out.”

(pause…. did it work? ya, me neither.)

Aw crap, well, so much for money magic. I guess we’ll just have to do some real work to make sure we are making a profit and covering our butts.

Raise your hand if you’ve searched for pricing formulas and financial advice with dismal to so-so results? (woosh) Whoa, I need to reposition my eyebrow hairs from that breeze you created. Ya, me too.

And I get it. PRICING IS PERSONAL. It’s based on so many tangible and intangible things. It’s in some ways math, in some ways marketing and positioning.

The only real thing your pricing and financial plan has to do is cover YOUR needs and your businesses needs.

For the first 7 years of my business, I searched and searched for the golden nugget of a pricing plan for a business as weird as wedding floral and event design.

And then it occurred to me… I have 7 years of details expenses and price data and can directly relay those into what they yielded in money to my pockets. I can figure this out.

Hindsight is 20/20, right? so I literally can go back, see if there were any “purty deeds done dirt cheap”, revise to my preferred scenario, and apply that data to what is going on now.

Boom.

So I did. And, well, I like it.

Everything I’ve found is oversimplified, incomplete, or just irrelevant.

“Just multiply your materials by 4.5X” they say…. Ya well, what do I charge for that botanical armature thing that is made from what’s in my recycling bin that will take forever to not look like trash?

What about the linens and vintage furniture I am renting for my client? That’s a lot of money that looks like my revenue but just flows through my business?

What about the hours I am spending figuring out what this is even going to look like.

What about the people that I am going to hire last minute but didn’t charge for because I am so freaked out that I don’t have enough setup time and would rather pay more people than allow more eyeball twitching stress than is absolutely necessary?!

Ya, I get this pricing formula is set up to reap massive profit but that doesn’t help me determine sales goals and whether or not I can experiment with that new high end wedding show.

Where’s THAT pricing plan?

Well, there isn’t one. But now I see that there is YOUR pricing plan.

Because what’s success looks like for you is different from the other gal who has three kids under school age.

Success for the farmer-florist isn’t going to look like the success of an event designer and producer.

And success for you now isn’t going to look like what success will be for you later.

But there are some shared foundation principles that we can all agree upon. AND surely for all of us. Success is NOT being in survival mode.

And HOLY FLAMING FIELDS OF FRUITFUL FREEDOM FLORAL FRIEND, when you know YOUR pricing, so much of the mental gunk that causes uncertainty and doubt just goes away. And your hustle has direction.

Your beginning of the year looks like this…

(more…)

Slow Flowers Summit – Flower Wall Demo

Hello, hello! Today I want to show you a super cool new way to build a flower wall.  We built this beaut as a communal building experience for this year’s  Slow Flowers Summit attendees. If you haven’t heard about it, read about it here. Need I tell you that its foam free? No,  I do not. Of course it is!

We’ve used this flower wall technique in the past for Seattle’s 2016 Art Fair; where it  wowed outside during a hot, sunny August day in Seattle (hot  and sunny DO happen in Seattle, we just don’t tell you about them). The point is, it holds up in heat, is pretty easy to construct, and is more sustainable than a van full of foam. This particular construction is strong enough to be stacked into an enormous wall. You can see such enormous wall stacking and construction of this in video from last year’s ART FAIR if you click here!

PS, if you are here looking for FLOWER WALL PRICING AND SPECIFIC INGREDIENTS, we are giving that away to folks who want to be part of our email flower posse. There’s a link at the bottom.

But back to our flower wall demo. About a month ago, I had the privilege to speak at Seattle’s first Slow Flowers Summit. Have you ever had a communal experience where you are surrounded by inspiring people and all you can think is “YASSSS, These are my people.” And suddenly it’s all you can do to NOT throw your arms around complete stranger and babble like you’ve been friends since you were 13? Like you ARE 13?! 

This was one of those times. My talk was about Reinvention. But we also were asked to demo this wall. Really THE wall.  We got the royal treatment as the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, SUOT farms and Alaskan Peonies donated buckets of flowers. Ehem, did I mention that we got the first cut of Alaskan Peonies, which were then airplaned (is that a verb? … is now.) with their human caretakers. These peonies were larger than my face, and my brother says my face is large.

For Flower walls, we use two methods.  This one is the “moss and cage” or the “moss sandwich”. Our other go-to wall is a bioboard wall. We demo that soon. Stay tuned for a DIY video on how we made the Queen Bee’s backdrop, which is equally excellent but is useful in a totally different way. Here’s a breakdown of why you would use each wall..

Now that you get the basics, lets get your materials together! For this moss and cage wall, you will need:

 

You’ll Need:
  • (3) Lumber 2in x 2in x 8ft
  • Drill and bit
  • A roll of chicken wire
  • Zip ties
  • (2) 4 x 6ft display grids, we got ours from  Grand and Benedicts but you can find them at any retail display fixture store. If you are in a city, you probably have one.
  • Bindwire
  • (5) bags of moss
  • Wire cutters
  • Saw (human powered or otherwise)
  • Flowers, flowers and more flowers!
  • 2 saw horses or a table. This is easier to build horizontally

Step 1: Wrap the Grid

Cover one side of each grid with chicken wire.

To get an idea of how this will look, try imagining the structure like a sandwich. The “condiments” (chicken wire) will be on the inside of the bread (the grid) to hold in the meat (the moss). For us, two long pieces of chicken wire was just the right amount to cover one side.

Starting with one piece of chicken wire, secure it to the grid with bind wire. Make sure you weave around the perimeter and throughout the middle. This keeps it from slipping or bulging. To save some bind wire, I cut a couple 3″ pieces and did little twist ties in random spots.

Step 2: Measure and Cut the Spacers

We are going to use the 2X2s as spacers, this ensures your thickness is uniform. We are going to pack in the moss but the spacers ensure that if there is a thin/ or dryer spot, the face won’t warp. It’s also critical if you are making a wall that is larger than your grid size (like in that video).

Measure the length and width of your grid. Cut your 2X2s to size. Remember to cut your short ends to account for the width of the longer pieces. We will want the shorties to fit inside the long pieces. All spacers should be attached Under the perimeter of your grid.

 

Step 3: Drill the Spacers and Zip Tie to the Grid

Choose a drill bit that gives enough room for one zip tie to slide through.

Next, drill a hole about two inches from the end and then continue to drill a hole every 4″ or so.

Once they’ve been drilled, attach the wood spacers to the grid by securing a zip tie through every other hole.

Step 4: Repeat on Other Grid

Cover the other grid with chicken wire as you did in Step 1. You won’t need spacers on this one, just the chicken wire. This will be the top piece of ‘bread’ to our sandwich.

Step 5: Moss It Up and Close the Sandwich

We’ll be adding moss to the grid with the spacers, so you may need to switch your setup now.

Grab your 5 bags of moss and get to town! Don’t spread this sparingly; pack as much moss in as you’ve got. Its very important that this is thick. You want your stems to be lodged in the moss and hydrated. Too loose and your stems may stay but they won’t get as much hydration.

Once every area feels full and even, lay the other grid on top of the moss. Grab more zip ties and connect the spacers to the top grid. Try adding one on one side then adding one on the opposite side for an even and super tight grid. Ensure your zip ties are rotated to the outside of the spacer- so your top grid can be cinched down right on top of the spacer.

 

Step 6: Water and Flower Prep

You’re almost done! Have someone help you move this outside or somewhere you don’t mind getting a lot of water on the floor. “Is it heavy,” you ask? Yes.

Take your hose and drench the whole thing so that every area is dripping water onto the floor. Do it a few more times. You’ll want to give the moss a chance to really absorb as much water as possible. You can also pre-soak your moss before adding to the grid. That way you have full moss absorption but it is messier. We went for the less messy option this time.

Prep your flowers, cutting the stems to about 3″-4″ long.

Step 7: Make it a FLOWER Wall!

Add in those darn flowers and foliage and consider yourself a Flower Wall Extraordinaire! The moss should keep it moist for a full day and probably longer, but I would test it in your neck of the woods to be sure.

Although not necessary, you may want to build a boarder around it as we did with leftover bio-board and some wrapping paper.

Some additional notes:

  • Timing: You can make this in advance but I would add a bit of flower glue to each stem to be sure it doesn’t dislodge in transport. I typically add greens in the shop and add all the flowers in on site.
  • We’ve done this wall 3 times and I am ALWAYS impressed with how long the flowers last. They typically look great the next day and most of the flowers still look great days later.  I include some images of what the flowers look like after two days squished in my hot van after the summit. You will be amazed.  I am still conservative in adding flowers too far in advance but . I would urge you to test a patch in your area.
  • Super thirsty flowers may not be a good idea for this wall type- though you can always tube your flowers and that works well. Particular species that I don’t use in this wall are Hydrangea, raspberry foliage, sweet pea, or any other herbaceous, soft stemmed flower or foliage.
  • How much does this cost? Simply put, lots. Sign up for our Flower posse and we’ll go over that. If you’ve liked this information, you’ll like what you get as a part of our inner circle.

CLICK HERE FRIEND, FOR THE GOOD STUFF!   THIS INCLUDES THE PRICING DATA!!!

THE FLOWER POSSE!

I think you’re going to love this wall.

Thanks for reading!

🙂

 

Make a Votive Candle Luminary Out of Skeleton Leaves – Video

When Spring isn’t quite shining her light…. make your own with this diy votive candle luminary.

This Skeleton Leaf Votive will bring a fun and effortless touch to your parties– or your fairy shrine, it depends on what you’re doing I suppose! This lovely little votive is our last feature from our spring Moth Fairy photoshoot and in case you’ve missed it, we’ve had three other DIY projects from this shoot; a floral centerpiece, a floral frame, and a branch chandelier!

After waiting far too long for Spring to show up, our fairy’s guest finally arrives and better yet– with some sunshine and blooming flowers.

This project requires:

-leaf skeletons
-mod podge
-tall vase
-small balloons
-foam brush
-spray oil
-saran wrap
-spray dye or spray paint

Now its your turn to make some votives! Jump over to our Youtube Channel  for the full tutorial! Don’t forget to show us your creations!

Make a Floral Centerpiece with a Vine Foliage Cage

Spring is just around the corner and seriously, who doesn’t love having some flowers to brighten up the house? Learn this quick and eco-friendly way to create a beautiful floral arrangement with a vine foliage cage. You know we don’t use flower foam so it’s our go-to, tried and true way of keeping stems in place. Reference our video version of this tutorial if you’re wanting some more tips on creating this!

If this is your first time making a centerpiece, fear not! We have another video that covers our common-sense method on flower placement. It’s right here: centerpiece demonstration It goes a bit more in depth.

Supplies needed:

  • vase
  • floral tape
  • chicken wire
  • bind wire, cut into 1″ pieces
  • floral clippers
  • wire cutters
  • water
  • flowers, of course! We go to our local wholesale floral market, but you can find some goodies at your local store or garden.

First, use your wire cutters to snip a piece of chicken wire from the roll. For this size of pot, I cut a piece about 6 inches wide. Bend the chicken wire into a ball shape and tie the ends around one another to secure it. Then, place it in your vase.

Tear off strips of floral tape and place them like a grid over your ball. This will ensure the chicken wire won’t fall out. Once it feels sturdy, add the water.

Strip the bottom of your vines of leaves and little sprouts. Begin weaving them through the wire structure.

Once you have a few stems in the base, choose two vines and attach them with a piece of bind wire in a place they might naturally grow together. Continue to add in vines and sprigs of Jasmine until your foliage cage feels full and strong.

Just let it get wild…

Now it’s just about full enough to support some flowers. Add in them flowers!

Taa-daa! You have made a glorious, foam-free floral arrangement! Snap a picture and show off, be sure to tag us so we can enjoy your work too!

We’ll be featuring this arrangement and others in a moody photoshoot we did about a Subterranean Moth-Fairy who is waiting in her underground den for spring to come. Oh and she’s a hoarder… Ha! To hear more about our hoarder fairy and the next DIYs from that shoot. You’ll want to SUBSCRIBE!

 

Here’s a sneak peak:)

Ugh. I just love those moody blooms.

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Tips To Communicate With Your Designer

Recently, a fellow designer asked me the following…

“How do you help your clients feel less intimidated in telling you their ideas.”

Whuuuuuh?

I was blown away. It had never occurred to me that people might be intimidated to tell their true thoughts to the designers they hire.

Once this designer said that, I immediately thought how dangerous this situation could be.

To let a free-associating, visual stimuli addict run wild is just dangerous.

People could be wasting money, ending up with a design related to my favorite color of the day (orange) mixed with the origami something I made out of my pastry napkin from my morning coffee mixed with the slick detail from an airstream lunch trailer. However cool that may be, it may not relate to you. Somewhere down the road, you may look at my design and suddenly think…

“What the hell is that?”

Nobody wants that, so here are some tips on how to communicate with your designer to ensure you don’t have any “what the hell is that?” kind of moments.

Inside Every Designer’s Mind

In order to prevent such disaster, allow my to explain how a designer’s mind may work (ahem).
And this doesn’t just go for me, but most designers I know (and, therefore, it applies to every designer everywhere).

We view everything as if it has some useful information. For that reason we inspect how things are made, how colors change in different light, how long it takes for a pumpkin to rot…  All potentially useful information. These things zip around, running into things, tripping over each other, or sometimes just waiting. They are in there because we know that one day we will be sitting in front of you.

You will say something that will connect with something else and BANG, a great idea for you.

Or so we think.

Your Willingness To Be Open With Your Designer Is Critical To Your Happiness… Seriously

I’m not saying you won’t be happy on an existential level. You still might be happy, deep down. But you might not be happy when you see the results… know what I’m sayin?

Sometimes an essential part of design is just figuring out where your brain is at.

What will freak you out and what won’t. In that case, we may throw out a lot of ideas. Don’t worry, we will not jam pack your event full of nonsense. We’re just gauging your reaction.

What Can I Do?

Over the years, I’ve gained confidence that I am pretty darn good at nailing someone’s design boundaries and style. But what makes this process better for both of us is the following:

  • Bring images of rooms, clothes, events, flowers, hairstyles, vacations, whatever that reminds of the vibe you want to achieve. It can really be anything that helps us learn about you.
  • Tell us what you love, and tell us what you DON’T love and why. (it’s okay if you don’t know why)
  • Come with an open mind.
  • You can’t hurt our feelings, so just be direct if you have any reservations about a path we are taking.
  • Let us know what your priorities are.

That’s it, pretty simple. If you bring an open mind along with some of the above items, you can be sure your design experience will be that much closer to dream-making–and not of the nightmare variety!


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