By Linda Greer
Armed with a floral knife and a basket of colorful flowers, design instructor Frankie Shelton told a class of flower-shop owners Wednesday that they can’t “sell an empty wagon.”
Relating how she lost a potential customer many years ago because the flower case was empty at closing time, Shelton told the students to always keep their coolers filled with “a bunch of stuff ready to go.”
The business tip was one of many that Shelton, a designer, teacher and motivational speaker from Houston, Texas, shared with students during a three-day seminar at Countryside Flowers, 109 E. 39th St., in Joplin.
While receiving her diploma, Shawn Wiland said: “Flowers are a beautiful thing to me. I want to show them off.”
Wiland, who started at Countryside Flowers as a delivery driver before becoming a design apprentice, said, “I don’t drive the truck anymore, and I don’t just feel like a delivery person.”
Shelton said she especially enjoys teaching the craft to students who otherwise would never be able to attend a design school.
“I like to take my knowledge to the grass roots, especially where people can’t get to a school,” she said of her 35 years of experience.
As she created a “memory garden” display, Shelton rejected a lily with blooms facing away from each other, saying the “divisive” flower produced a negative feeling. This segment of her seminar focused on funeral-flower arrangements.
The 10 students ranged from flower-shop owners hoping to breathe fresh air into their arrangements to housewives striving to create the newest displays.
Student Sharon Moravitis, a Freeman Health System gift shop volunteer, said she is a total novice.
“What do I do next?” Moravitis asked Shelton.
Shelton told the beginners to get silk flowers in various sizes and colors for line, mass and filler, and then “practice, practice, practice.” She said the skill eventually will present itself.
Shelton also told shop owners to set a one-day-a-week routine to go to businesses and establish corporate accounts. She suggested taking along a rose for the owners.
“I’m from the country, and I know you have to plant seeds to get a crop,” Shelton said.
She said flower-shop employees must be able to spell boutonniere and know the names of all the common flowers. They also should know that women buy more flowers than men, and that women prefer colored roses.
Frankie Shelton is a former president of the American Institute of Floral Design and trustee of the foundation’s scholarship fund. She said that under three presidential administrations, she decorated the White House for Christmas.
By Linda Greer
- Joplin Metro
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