Sympathy Class Recap

Hello there –

Just wanted to pop on here and give a recap of our wonderful class that we had this past weekend. A nod and a big ‘thank you’ to the gals at Fudges Flowers & Gifts in Jefferson, Iowa for letting us use their spacious design space for our class. Also, a huge ‘thank you’ to Bill Doran’s in Des Moines for all the gorgeous flowers, greenery, and product that they sent our way! We couldn’t have pulled this class off without any of you!

Check out all the amazing casket sprays, easel sprays, and asymmetrical side pieces – they are all absolutely gorgeous. What a fun time was had by all in the creation of them. It’s always so much fun to see all the different students assemble from all over Iowa in one room, to learn and network!

Convention 2021 – CANCELED

Hi all –

It’s with sadness that we bring you the news of another canceled Convention. We were so looking forward to being with you all in person this year, but we’re looking forward to March of 2022 for a fresh new start when we can meet in person for a wonderful time together!

A special thank you to our Vendors and Sponsors for their continued support, to which we could not do with out. Thank you to our wonderful members for baring with us as we seek to do what’s best and safest for the industry during this unprecedented time.

For 2021, we are going to focus on all kinds of fun things like; Happy Hour on Zoom, Flower Classes, Photoshoots, Demos and so much more! We’re going to make 2021 a great year even though it will be different!

Meet Our Treasurer

Tonia Benson, owner of Blooms & Things, in Albia IA, is the current Treasurer for the Iowa Florists’ Association.  She is a native of Albia, graduating from ACHS in 2008 and Indian Hills Community College in 2011 with an Associates of Arts Degree.  She also earned her Wedding Planning Certification in 2015 and is currently working on becoming a Certified Florist.

Tonia has been in the floral industry since 2018.  She is a member of her local Retail Committee, Chamber Board and was voted Business of the Year in 2019. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, boating, puzzling, decorating, and learning more about flowers and marketing.  One of Tonia’s favorite things is popping into random retail and flower shops, chatting with and getting to know the owner/workers, and learning how they do things in the floral industry. Your shop could be next to receive a visit from Tonia =)

Christmas at Terrace Hill

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers (Fran, Krystal, Erin, and Kandi) that gave their free time to create Christmas magic at our Governor’s Mansion: Terrace Hill!

Terrace Hill

Would you like to help decorate the Governor’s Mansion this year for the Christmas season, December 2, 2020 starting at 8:00am? It’s a fun time and a great time to network with many creative people across Iowa. Product is all provided and so is lunch.

If you’re interested, please fill out the form below and submit by November 1, 2020.

Terrace Hill

Thank you kindly and we hope to see you there!

Video Video Video

Written by: Tonia Benson

Today’s Newspaper Ad! 

In today’s world, we can see the trends moving more than ever towards online marketing.  Sometimes it can feel hard to be seen over all the other noise on social media.  With politics, news, pandemics, and direct marketing salespeople cluttering our news feeds, it can be reasonably hard to be noticed.

I am here to talk to you today about video marketing, specifically live video!  During the covid pandemic several people had to be innovative when it came to marketing and doing general business.  With our stores being shut down, our customers not being able to physically come into our shops, it was all left to online websites, social media or newspaper ads.  Something we relied on and worked for us was live video.  Now, we did videos before covid shut us down, but we had to completely rely on them during that time, so we learned a couple of things.  

First I feel like a video can be so much more personal than a photo post.  In a video you can show them what you have available AND also how to use it.  

Second, excitement is contagious, the more excited you are about an item you just received (or have had a while) the more exciting it is to your customers.  Since I have been unboxing our new items live, I have heard back from people so many times that they love how excited I am about X or Y, and they knew they needed to have it.  

There is a lot of power behind suggestive selling, when you have their captive attention and they are comfortable in their own space watching your video, they can really pay attention.  Some people have anxiety about being talked to in your store, so you don’t get a chance to show them new and neat things without making them feel really uncomfortable.  Video is your chance to tell them exactly why they should buy your item.

Example:  Instead of posting a photo of your new flower shaped soap with a caption that says it’s awesome, do a video about it and tell them why it’s awesome.. This soap bar is the perfect gift for someone you have no idea what to buy.  It’s luxurious because it’s handmade with one petal at a time with the best ingredients.  You can get over 300 handwashes with every purchase.  The best part is, people don’t want to keep things in their homes anymore, minimalism is so big right now, this is the perfect gift to treat someone and make them feel very special without adding to their home.  Oh my gosh the sample smells amazing, you have to come in and smell these!  It’s also BEAUTIFUL, I’ve never seen soap this beautiful, I can absolutely imagine this on my bathroom counter or in my kitchen.  Wow, guests in my home would be really impressed seeing this when they came over…  (This just says 1000 x’s more than a photo. 

Videos all together get more attention on Facebook or Instagram feeds, but I feel like live video is even better.  It feels really scary because you literally can’t take things back once they are said online live, but your people love it.  It’s really genuine, not rehearsed, they can see you in real time talking about real items, and being your real self.  The more they feel like they are getting to know you, the more you start to feel like a friend, then they are buying from a friend instead of a corporate business or some shop owner they’ve never met.  Sometimes we can’t help it that our products cost more than big box stores, but what we have that they don’t is our personality and love for our products and carefully selecting things to be in our shops that we think the world should really see or have. These things make all the difference!  

Also if you are doing the video live instead of prerecorded, you can’t edit it, so you don’t take the time to edit it.  I used to take forever adding transitions and putting music over the top of videos and recording it three different times to get the perfect shot.  No way!  Just do it and move on.  We are too busy to spend an hour perfecting a 10 minute video for people to watch once.  Just get in there, get the information out, be excited, remember to smile and most importantly be yourself and have fun!  

If you have another second, check out this video that I posted about moss amigos.  My staff was thinking I was crazy when I wanted to sell a ball of moss in a jar of water.  However, after posting this video, we sold out of them, bought more, and sold out again! 

Education in Retrospect of the Future

The Iowa Florists’ Association works hard to make Education a key component of the Floral Industry. Below you will read a few of our past Graduates’ view on our ICF and IMF courses as well as our past Education Director, Fran Newsom’s comments in agreement.


Fran Newsom: I remember being in the Charter classes of the IFA certified education program and how much it meant to me as a budding florist. The instructors had so much to offer and I was eager to learn. When I received my Iowa Master Florist certificate, I cried because I knew it was a goal worth pursuing and I did it! Here are some reflections from other former students and a tribute to the personal goals and importance of continuing education in the floral industry. IFA is here for ALL our members and we strive to better serve our members by continually listening to you and improving our education programs to fit your needs.

Amy Butz: Because I changed careers and became a floral designer at age 52, time was not on my side when it came to design experience. The classes I took through the Iowa Floral Association gave me the opportunity to gain design experience in a wide variety of floral creations – from wedding bouquets to casket sprays- and allowed me to be a contributing member of my shop’s design team in a significantly shorter period of time.

Fran Newsom: I can relate to Amy as well because I had to take classes when I could and it took more time than I would have liked, but I was able to pick up where I had left off and complete the courses. We have since provided an online program for the classes and have hands-on workshops and testing.

Allison Rohlena: My time in the Iowa master florist class was more than I expected. The classes were hands-on and classroom work as well. They gave us plenty of time between classes to study for our tests. During our hands-on classes they gave us plenty of time to look at our product and get our designs done. The grading was fair on how our designs should look. The teachers also taught us a lot. One thing I wish we would’ve had was a day to practice the designs or what they should look like. Then the next day we could make them for the class.  I didn’t have any knowledge of wedding arrangements, so for me, I went in blind to that class not knowing what I should be doing. Overall everyone was friendly and I learned a lot. I was able to take my knowledge with me back to my shop to be able to design my best designs for the customers that came into the shop or ordered over the phone.

Laura Liddle: For a person coming into the “Floral World” with little to no experience, IFA was GREAT! The classes were very valuable and quite fun. I remember going to the first class being really nervous, but once I got there you made me feel comfortable. When I first looked at arrangements I didn’t think it was going to be that difficult, but you find out quickly how flowers have a mind of their own! I would say my favorite part of the classes was learning how to do hand-tied bouquets (which I still love doing), how symmetry is a huge part of designing, and how to make it fun! It was also fun to see how something so simple can be so beautiful. I personally find myself loving flowers more and more every day, which is something that I never thought I’d say.  I thought you were an excellent and very patient teacher! It was great to travel to CR and learn from Joanna and Nancy too. There were only two things I didn’t care for. One, I wish the classes would’ve been a little bit longer because there’s still so much to learn and you’re an amazing teacher! The second would be plants, but that’s just me. I still don’t know too much about plants. HAHA. Overall I would say that IFA  was a great learning experience,  and I’d do it again if I could!!”

Fran Newsom: We listened to our students and have since added extra design workshops to provide more of the hands-on design experience and keep up with current design trends and tips.
Mary Brown: I am happy to write about my experience with the IFA classes!!  I took the classes about 4 years ago, and enjoyed and learned so much from each of them.  My experience in the floristry field was limited when I started, so the classes were both an excellent introduction into the field and real assistance in developing skills that I have used as I became employed.  I think the classes are great for beginners but would be a great asset to people already employed as well.  The classes give great background knowledge for shop procedure, design principles and excellent examples and experience with technique, (at work you’d have good access to materials for practice and experimentation),  they help develop your creative sense, and offer an opportunity for you to network and learn from others. I learned a lot from the text/coursework, but the “lab” work was a really exciting and inspiring experience!  First off, all of the instructors are incredibly kind, supportive, and knowledgeable.  It is inspiring to see creative people demonstrate their work and process and really helpful to get to learn through their example, and instruction.   It was great to learn techniques from these gifted professionals and to have the opportunity to try new techniques with their support and instruction.  Each teacher’s style and experience were unique and their sharing really helped bring home the idea that floral work is a wonderful diverse creative path.  Because the classes were held in various locations, we got a sense of the variety of business models in the floral industry.  We had wonderful materials to work with, which added to the experience.  Having the certification is helpful for connecting with other professionals and in job opportunities.  I feel that the classes were well worth the cost and time involved and would recommend them to others.

Fran Newsom: Our instructors are IFA Board members who have achieved their own credentials and creative styles and truly enjoy sharing their skills and knowledge to all our members and non-member participants alike. As our Certification classes continue even in this extraordinary time, IFA plans to grow and learn along with you all.
I wish to thank everyone who took the time to submit their reflections with us. For information on the class schedule and requirements, please refer to our website.

Meet the Vice President

Kelsey Thompson, AIFD, CFD is the current Vice President and acting Secretary for the Iowa Floral Association. The owner of Bloom in Algona Iowa, Kelsey has been in the floral industry for 12 years. She is also the Vice President of her local Chamber of Commerce and was recently awarded the Algona “Retailer of the Year”. She encourages everyone to get involved at some level – if you want to change or influence something, you haven’t earned a voice unless you are involved. Her passion is education, both on the receiving and giving end. If she could be a full-time floral student, she would! Kelsey is the Education Coordinator for IFA and loves the cooperative aspect of the classes; learning from the teachers as well as the attendees. She spends her free time chasing her two kids, traveling with her husband, golfing, reading, or in the gym. 

Disaster Assistance

Hi Iowa florists!

We are now weeks out from the terrible derecho storm that tore through the midwest, especially affecting central Iowa. Over half the state’s crops (Iowan’s livelihood) have been lost and many thousands of people lost power, their homes, and businesses. The recovery is on-going. Our amazing fellow florists have asked: “How can we help? Where can we donate?” The board at Iowa Florists’ Association has created a Go Fund Me page with all donations going to Iowa florists that have been affected by the derecho. We know it’s been a craaazzzy year for everyone, but if you feel led to donate any amount, here is the link to the Go Fund Me donation page.

If you are a florist that has been affected, please go to the IFA’s website to submit a relief request!