Like other horticultural industries, floral design is not very lucrative. Those that do best are those who own their own floral design studios. This is still risky, since even the most respected of floral design studios take many years to become real money-makers. Getting through the first few years can be quite tedious until your reputation builds. And preferably you’re building a good one. It doesn’t help if people are saying, “Oh, yeah – I’ve heard of them! They’re the ones who delivered 300 dead and decaying flowers to the Buchanan funeral!”
The good news for those who work in floral design studios but do not own them is that they get to start out a bit better than professionals in other horticultural disciplines do. They can start out at $25,000 annually, and get to $30,000 before five years. Another $5,000 can be added on over the next five years for annual earnings of nearly $40,000 after ten years’ time. Congratulations – you are now making annually what a hedge fund manager spends on his watch.
This is where the “good news” can come to an end. Even though rates of pay after ten years are all over the map, and some floral designers in the most trendy floral design studios can double their pay over the years to $80,000 or more annually, it can, and often does, stagnate at about $40,000 in the typical design studios.
Of course, revenue is better for the floral design studios that are in communities that either have more money to spend on flowers, or simply spend money that they may or may not have because flowers are trendy. For example, floral design studios on Long Island or in Beverly Hills bring in more money because the clientele has more to spend. Those in the Bronx or Watts are not so lucky. Plus they have those unfortunate accents.
The clientele of floral design studios in the artsy communities of Greenwich Village and West Hollywood may or may not have too much money to spend on flowers, but spend what they can because it is such a trendy part of the local culture. People in Anchorage and Billings who may have more resources may not be so compelled to spend on flowers. They would be just as pleased to bring flowers in from their own gardens anyway. Picking flowers from your own garden? $0. Spending some people’s weekly salaries on an elaborate bouquet of exotic flowers? Priceless.
Like most horticultural commodities, flowers are a luxury that people will spend less on when the funds are not so abundant. Floral design is therefore sensitive to a bad economy. And to knocks about its height, so watch what you say around it. The common everyday flowers and bouquets that shoppers spend a few extra dollars on while at the mall are the first to lose appeal to consumers. There always seems to be a need for flowers for weddings, funerals and such; but even this part of the market takes a hit from a bad economy, as consumers find ways to get the job done with less flowers or less expensive flowers. Or they just use it as an excuse to get out of marrying their girlfriends. You’re welcome, men with commitment issues.
Revenue is also affected by the products marketed. Floral design studios that supply flowers and floral arrangements for big events are the most lucrative, since the products and the expertise are naturally more expensive, and the products are always in demand. People always seem to be getting married and dying… go figure. Flower shops that sell bunches of cut flowers and some mixed bouquets but do only minimal floral design are naturally less lucrative for those who work in them. Their clientele does not spend so much on products and services, and they spend even less when funds are limited.
Within the realm of mixed bouquets, the more expensive bouquets are more lucrative than the cheaper bouquets and simple bunched flowers, primarily for the simple fact that more money is being exchanged. The actual ratio of profit may not be all that different. $50 bouquets are composed of less expensive flowers that are easier to obtain and store, like carnations, baby's breath and the cheaper chrysanthemums. $150 bouquets obviously include flowers that are more expensive for a variety of reasons. Lilies, orchids and the bigger chrysanthemums are expensive to buy because they are not so easy to ship and store, and many do not survive the process. $300 bouquets are really something because they contain expensive flowers in greater numbers. Bigger prices do not necessarily translate into bigger profits. Selling a whole lot o' cheap bunched flowers can be as lucrative as selling fewer $300 bouquets. Depends on what the buyers want – quality or quantity. If they want both, they’re going to be out a pretty penny.
Money is not often the main motivation for working in the floral design industry. Most floral designers do what they do because they enjoy it so much. Like other artists, floral designers see their work as an opportunity to express their artistic ability, and hopefully to capitalize on it, even in a not so lucrative way. At least most of them don’t have to rely on tips tossed into an open guitar case. Although “the bouquet busker” does have a certain ring to it.