Very recently I was asked, “How did you get your clients to pay what you felt you deserved when you first started out in your career?” I answered truthfully. When I first started out, I was practically giving my designs away. That didn’t change until I gained the confidence and experience to charge clients the appropriate prices for my work and time.
The question sparked a bit of nostalgia as I thought about the time between then and now. It’s been a long journey, one with plenty of peaks, valleys and lessons learned. I feel as though I have lived many lifetimes since I started out as the young man in search of a job. I thought it might be nice to address some of the most frequently-asked questions about the beginning of my journey and perhaps give you all a glimpse of the young Preston. He started in the same place many of you are now–as a man with a passion and a dream.
Why Did You Become a Florist?
I have always loved flowers, but I became a florist because of my first client, Ms. Schur, sparked the light inside of me. I did flowers for her home on a weekly basis while she was out. She was a very kind woman, an angel really, and she would always take the time to call me and tell me how much she liked my arrangement. It made me feel so good about myself and pushed me to try harder. We all have that one client who discovers the artist within us, for me, that was Mrs. Schur. In many ways, she was my muse. I’d like to say thanks a million to Mrs. Schur. I am forever grateful to you.
You Started Out As A Florist At 32. Did You Think You Could Make a Living Doing Arrangements?
If you are a florist, there is a good chance you can understand and relate to the love and personal energy that goes into creating an arrangement. Your prime motivation is to make the client happy, and many of us will be inclined to just give it away. It really took me a while to realize that I could be happy and make others happy while also making a good living.
When Did You Do Your First Wedding?
Two years into working for Mrs. Schur, she approached me to inform me that her daughter was getting married and asked me to do her daughters wedding. Here I was, a complete unknown, and she was taking a chance on me. I had just seen Gone With The Wind and I made the Chuppah (my first) in the likeness of Scarlett O’Hara’s dress. Looking back, it was a risk. Some guests absolutely hated it and others thought it was fun. Without a doubt, it was different.
Did You Make Money?
The entire wedding was $5,000.00. I made $50.00 for my services.
Did You Feel Taken Advantage Of?
On the contrary, I was grateful. This was my big break and I did not want to screw it up. In many ways, this a glimpse of things to come. I made the mistake of buying far more flowers than I needed and it was definitely “Over The Top”. It resulted in 2 more clients (both loved flowers and Gone With The Wind). I didn’t make money on these weddings, but I so appreciated the experience and opportunity. In fact, it took me three years of practice before I made a profit.
Looking Back, What Would You Say To The Younger Preston?
I would say “Well done, Preston. You understood that you needed to prove yourself and one must crawl before walking. That said, a Scarlett O’Hara Chuppa? What were you thinking?”
I would like to thank you for allowing me this little walk down memory lane. I’d also like to ask all of you to share what you would say to your younger self? Also, take a moment to say thank you to the client who served as your muse. If you’d like, I will continue to give you a glimpse of what it was like for me in the beginning.
I look forward to your responses,
(Photo Courtesy of Pinterest)