When I was looking around the Philadelphia area for florists that I wanted to contact, I got a crash course in floral design style differences. In other larger cities, you'll see people whose portfolio is almost exclusively blush and soft neutrals, round balls of blooms in bouquets. You'll also see some folks who do more modern styles, with color-blocking and tropical flowers. I could go on and name about 10 other signatures among the florist community here, but there was only one thing that I was looking for when I was reading everyone's website and blog, looking through their portfolio multiple times: what do I want to do?
In contacting floral designers for a potential meeting, I contacted people whose style seemed to be something that I liked, and that I would want to try a hand at. There were tons of people that I didn't email, because I do not want to immerse myself in certain styles.
As I read websites and anything I could find on dozens of florists, I would read interviews that those florists had done for others, and all of their backlogs in their blog. And something that I found to be a common theme was really sad to me. Tons of these folks have flat-out said or written that they would not ever hire someone who had any previous floral experience. These are probably (actually absolutely are) some of the people who didn't return my emails, but I won't name names.
The fascinating thing is that a ton of these folks, who will not hire anyone with experience, teach workshops and classes. What dissonance.
Workshops and classes are a great way to hone techniques, learn new things, ask questions, and meet other people who are interested in similar things as you. Workshops are also a nice way to simply try new things, without having to please a client. They are valuable.
Then I suppose the issue is defining what "floral design experience" actually means. Does it mean you took a class once? That you interned or apprenticed for three months? That you were an employee to someone else?
Stay with me here.
Relating to education for floral design, I've also noticed another interesting phenomenon. Lots of industry folk, not even specifically people in floral design, have something on their bio that reads to the effect of "has trained with top industry leaders/premier so-and-so/top-rated whomever/luxury something in (insert nonspecific region here)" to validate their expertise in their field.
But what does that even mean?
Does it mean you took a class once? Does it mean you interned or apprenticed for three months? That you were an employee to someone else? That you were an employee to someone else? That you met someone at an event and are extrapolating and stretching your expertise? That you freelanced for someone?
So then the issue is being specific about the extent of your training.
I just think it is fascinating that there can be such ambivalence all around about education level. But I find it relevant and interesting because I am a former teacher, and I believe that education is everything. Education has the power to change your life.
I feel there is value in education, and that it should be rewarded. Not treated as a detriment.
That being said, I must acknowledge that attitude is a trait that is independent of educational level. Meaning that your knowledge of any skill is of little value if you are unable to amend your application of techniques and skills in a kind and humble manner. Especially if you are working for someone else's studio, or are under the tutelage of someone else.
When my new website goes live, there will be a link or page of some sort that will have a listing of my relevant experience, and the extent of that experience. Workshops and classes will be listed and skills learned at each will be explained. Any freelance jobs will also be posted, but I'm not sure what the best way to list those might be yet. Perhaps just a list titled "Has freelanced for" will suffice. But it will be transparent and complete.
So go examine your website, and your attitude. How does education and the value of continuing education fit in with what you are communicating to others?