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!
Written by: Kelsey Thompson, AIFD
Being a florist can be a physically demanding job. Long days standing at the design table, cutting thick stems, lifting buckets of water, repetitive bending and those 20 minute phone calls that result in a crick in your neck! You may not always feel sore at the end of the day (or hey, maybe you do!), but all those motions can put a short and long term strain on your muscles. We all know that good nutrition, exercise and sleep are going to keep us healthy for the long haul, but I wanted to concentrate on some “preventative maintenance” of specific areas that we florists have trouble with – our necks, wrists and feet. The following stretches are easy to do while standing at work and hopefully will help keep you in tip-top shape!
1. Behind the Back Neck Stretch – This standing stretch can be done anywhere, and will offer a deep stretch in the sides of your neck.
Stand with your feet hip distance apart, arms by your sides. Reach both hands behind your backside, and hold onto your left wrist with your right hand. Use your right hand to gently straighten your left arm and pull it away from you slightly. To increase the stretch in your neck, slowly lower your right ear toward your shoulder. Thinking of creating a diagonal line from your left wrist to your right ear. Stay here for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
I’m also including this Neck Stretch video from Mayo Clinic that has some good information on the importance of stretching and a few examples of some more neck stretches:
2. Hand Pumps – This stretch increases circulation and draws blood flow to the wrists, hands, and fingers.
Begin by placing your hands in front of your chest, facing away from you, like you are giving someone the “stop” signal. Curl your hands into fists and squeeze tight. Hold for 3 seconds. Then open up your palms and spread your fingers as wide as possible so that you feel a stretch and circulation flow in. Hold for 3 seconds, then repeat 5 times.
3. Wrist Roll-Outs -This stretch warms up the supporting tissues of the wrists and brings circulation into the joint.
Start by bringing your palms together in front of your chest and interlacing your fingers, as though in prayer. Bring your forearms close together. Keep your forearms fairly still and make circles with your fists, stretching your wrist towards the 4 compass points (North, West, South, East). Repeat 5 times, then reverse directions.
Standing all day takes a toll on the body, including the hips, knees and feet. We all know the importance of good footwear and a good anti-fatigue mat – let’s talk foot care! In addition to these stretches, try icing your feet and ankles after a long day. “As much as people don’t want to hear it, immersing the foot — as long as the person doesn’t have vascular problems — in a bucket with water and ice for 20 minutes works to combat the swelling and inflammation that prolonged standing creates in the foot,” says Lucille B. Andersen, M.D., a foot and ankle surgeon in Pleasanton, California. “Each step we take or minute we stand, we are creating micro-damage that the body has to heal. Using ice is an easy, effective way to help the body heal faster.”
Follow up the ice bath with elevating your feet for a few minutes, or if you’re really lucky, a foot massage! I’m super ticklish, so I have to do this myself or it’s instant uncomfortable laughter, but even just working on pressure points for a few minutes helps. But what about during the workday? Wear proper footwear and alternate standing with one foot slightly elevated (on a short stool or box) to keep pressure off your back. The following stretches will help keep you loose as well!
4. Standing Hamstring Stretch – Stand and cross your right foot in front of your left. Slowly lower your forehead to your right knee (or as far as possible) by bending at the waist. Keep both knees as straight as possible. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Relax. Repeat for the other side by crossing your left foot in front of your right.
5. Standing Calf Stretch – To start, stand facing the wall or other support, like a chair, with one foot in front of you by around 12 inches. Point your toes up. Slowly lean forward until you feel the stretch in the back of your lower leg. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. Do 3 rounds total.
Incorporating just a few of these stretches into your daily shop routine will help prevent wear and tear on your body as well as release some stress. Make sure and check out the IFA’s Facebook page for video demonstrations of these stretches soon!
Mark you calendars! Symposium is a yearly event that will blow your mind with amazing Designers and floral art, networking and so much more. Register NOW!
What’s more, AIFD gives away a FREE Symposium Registration to one person from the Iowa Florists’ Association’s yearly Convention: Fusing Nature with Design. Make sure you claim your spot at the Iowa Florists’ Association Convention 2020. Click here to sign up!
Post Written By Educational Director/Board Member: Kelsey Thompson
Summer Slow Down
For traditional retail florists, summertime is generally a bit of a slower time of the year. Yes, we have weddings (and funerals are a year round business), but the harried rush of the Christmas season or the month of May has transitioned to a slower pace. Our shop averages 5 or less deliveries a day in the summer months (not counting funeral days) so we have to get a little creative to keep ourselves busy!
This has become more important to me the longer I’m in retail, especially in the life stage I’m in. My kids are preschool and early elementary aged and are changing every day. Taking some extra time in the summer to take them to the pool or have a day date with them has been a real blessing! Even if you don’t have young children, this is a great chance to make sure you are “filling your own cup.” Take a vacation (or stay-cation!), get a massage, go out for lunch with your girlfriends, or just take a nap. Even if you’re a one person show, don’t feel guilty about closing your shop for a 3 day weekend. You will be a much better person, boss and designer if you take a few days to refresh your body and mind, and your customers can live for a day or two without you. Yes, this can be a hard hurdle to cross the first time, but it’s sooooo worth it 🙂 If you’re the boss, make sure you encourage your employees to take vacation or treat them to a random half-day off.
Whether you own your space or not, odds are there are a few things that could use sprucing up! We have a little honey-do list that we add to throughout the year as things pop up. Most things don’t get done until June rolls around. Touching up paint on the walls makes a huge difference, as does a good deep clean. Plus Murphy’s law says that the second you start moving your displays and creating a mess so you can clean, you’ll have a line of customers walking through the chaos to the front counter 😉
Slow weeks also give you opportunity to make any needed equipment changes or upgrades. Could you be more efficient with a different Point of Sale, or do you need a new shop camera to take better website photos? I’ve been “trimming the fat” this month by doing price comparisons on credit card processors, website providers and other vendors I utilize and re-evaluating any monthly subscriptions. It’s not the most fun part of my job, but I know all the little things add up.
I cannot stress the importance of continuing education in this industry enough. For me, this goes hand in hand with self care because I LOVE to learn and go to classes, as well as teach them. Even if you’re not a flower nerd like me, keeping up to date on new techniques or products is what is going to set you apart from your competitors. Not only do I find attending classes to be inspiring, I always meet awesome fellow florists and come away with some money saving tips and tricks. Of course I’d recommend the IFA classes for local options; I’d also suggest checking with your wholesalers or following florists you admire on Instagram – many of them advertise classes they are a part of. I am AIFD and the annual symposium is a wealth of knowledge (and will be in Chicago in 2020 so super close!)
How can you promote yourself in different ways? Or improve upon the channels you already use? If you are not on social media, especially Instagram, pay a high school or college girl $20 and get yourself a tutorial. It’s free and once you learn what the icons mean, quite easy. We hired local girls to do Instagram takeovers during prom season but that concept could easily be applied over the summer months. They think it’s fun and easy cash and you get a millenial writing your content…. win-win! You can pre-plan and schedule social media posts way ahead of time too – Hootsuite is one example of an app that allows you to manage a lot of platforms and write content now so you don’t have to worry about it later.
Search out ways to cross-promote with other local businesses. My goal is to be a very supportive small business owner in my community. I shop my own downtown as much as possible. This seems overly simple but it’s all too easy to just order online (and yes I am guilty of that a lot too) especially during busy seasons when you barely have time for a bathroom break! I have the extra time to visit my fellow retailers in the summer, so I make a point to do it. We’ve done cross-promotions with a hair salon, clothing store, coffee/chocolate shop, local printer, the local food pantry, other gift stores, etc. Everyone has a strength – find yours and feature it in another business (while giving them the chance to do the same). Customers love to see good will amongst small business owners.
Do you have a floor plan for your space? I find it so helpful to be able to visualize the space as a whole and plan ahead. Every time we move things around, we see a small up-tick in sales. We may have had those vases for 4 years, but by golly we moved it over by the jewelry and all of a sudden we can’t keep them in stock! I’m not saying rearrange your retail floor every month, but making small tweaks or even flip-flopping your candle display with your card display keeps things fresh. My super helpful father built me double sided free standing display walls that we can scoot around and create little corners and designated display areas and they have been very helpful in visually separating our product. Next month we will be building some Christmas displays and spray painting Christmas trees. Even if you’re not a handy-man, jotting down some goals or cruising Pinterest for some fun ideas is time well spent.
Speaking of Christmas, summer is the perfect time to make holiday displays and silks. As your holiday inventory arrives, organize by color or what vignette it will be going in. Then you can premake permanent botanical pieces – we shoot for a wreath, swag, garland, and three different sizes of silk centerpieces to go with each “look”. You know what sells in your store, so make a boatload of them, seal them well in a tote and pack them away for a few months. You’ll be super happy when you are stressed in November and you can pull from your magical tote of pre-mades 🙂 We also use this time to sort through any leftovers from last holiday and either use them up in the pre-made party or put them on our annual “Christmas in July” sale. Put a 70% off sticker on those ornaments and get rid of those suckers!
What do you do at your store in the summer to keep busy or plan ahead? Any tips to share with our readers?