Holiday Workshop – Link Coming Soon!

Recorded and designed by Kelsey Thompson, AIFD

Online Recorded Class ( link will follow). Discover new trends for the Christmas season. Watch and learn as Kelsey designs quick, easy and seasonal florals using unusual/usual product creatively and with a special flair.. Learn how to deck your halls in a way unique to you and your style and advertise your newly acquired skills all from the comfort of your own home…..and it’s FREE! Stay tuned ~

Sympathy Tribute Class

Iowa Certified Class (ICF) at the Flower Shop at Cedar Rapids, Iowa!

Taught by: Nancy Meckel and Joanna Kalina

The Crew! Great job everyone =)
So proud of you all! Christy McEldoon not pictured. Don’t you love the Iowa Florists’ Association’s new Mascot, Mr, Turkey!?
Everyone made a beautiful side piece too! We were all just having so much fun, that we all forgot to get more pictures of them before we re-used the flowers =) oops!
Much thanks to:
– Fran Newsom from Waterloo Hyvee for all the wonderful supplies.
– Krueger Wholesale – Wasau, Wisconsin for all the beautiful flowers
– The Flower Shop at Cedar Memorial for hosting the class
– Nancy Meckel and Joanna Kalina for teaching
– Nancy Meckel – for taking photos.
– ICF Students for coming, learning, networking and taking their certification seriously

Get to Know Tonia Benson at Blooms and Things

Blooms & Things

8 South Main Street

Albia, Iowa 52531


Phone: 641-932-7008

What got you into the Floral Industry?
I have always been, and will always be in love with all things wedding and wedding
planning. For four years I was the Wedding Sales Manager at Honey Creek Resort
in Moravia, IA. I worked with Mike’s Blooms & Things on several different events through the years and always appreciated a well designed bouquet. When my
husband and I decided it was time to expand our family, I thought it would be nice to be a little closer to home. So, halfway through my pregnancy, I saw Mike’s was
looking for a new manager, I checked it out, fell in LOVE with the floral world (and
my new son, Henry), then a year later I bought the shop I loved it so much! We’ve
renamed it Blooms & Things and it has been wonderful so far!
Areas of Specialty:
– Wedding Florals and Planning
– Personalized and Detailed Funeral Arrangements
– Certified Wedding Planner
– Working towards her ICF certification through the Iowa Florists’ Association
– Secretary of the AAYP (Albia Area Young Professionals)
– Voted as one of the Albia’s Chamber Board Members
Favorite flower and greenery type to work with and why:
If I HAVE to choose a favorite flower, I would most likely choose the ranunculus. They are so frilly, beautiful colors and if placed right in an arrangement can dance above the rest of the flowers. Such a pretty flower! I like everything eucalyptus. I’m really fond of the dusty sage color and the wonderful smell.
Favorite design style:
Garden Style or Natural.
What is a ‘must have’ staple to always have on hand:
Carnations, I know over the years carnations have received a bad rap, but they
come in SO MANY beautiful colors. They are ruffly and sweet, not to mention very
economical. Such a versatile flower if given the chance it deserves.
Frequently used words or phrases used around your Shops’ work family:
We like to keep it clean around the shop, so when we stub a toe or cut a flower too short, we might say “SHARKS” instead of… well you can fill in the blank! 🙂 We like to
call the shop flower world and you can often hear us reference the backup bucket for weddings or other events.
If you had one chance to convey your passion for all things floral to a huge group
of anti-florists (and cost wasn’t an issue), what would you say or do?
I would attempt to demonstrate the wonders of flowers and the happiness they can bring into peoples homes, offices or hospital rooms. As I put together an
arrangement (probably a large installation) I would try to educate the people of the benefits of flowers and what colors inspire what feelings, while focusing on some
of my favorite flowers and looks! Hopefully my enthusiasm will turn the haters into believers or at least make them consider it! 🙂
What is your goal when someone comes into your Shop for the first time?:
We hope that everyone that comes in our shop finds the prefect item or gift, that
they may not have even known they were after. We like to learn about the recipient and help them find the perfect arrangement, plant or other decor item that reflect
the person they are going to.
If you could change one thing about the way that Floral Designers are perceived – what would it be?
Our job is not just “easy” or “so much fun”. We actually work really hard to learn
each variety flower and it’s different preferences. Ordering the right amount of
flowers so we don’t run out or have too many. Keeping up with the latest trends and buying pretties that both fit the trending looks and desires of our customers but
also fit their spending plans. We are so lucky to tap into our creative outlets for
work everyday, but we aren’t just hanging out and playing with flowers all day.
What floral things are on your bucket list?
I am so excited to put together a large floral instillation someday. Something tall
and gorgeous, or maybe hangs from the ceiling.
What’s one thing that you wish the general customer knew?
The more freedom you give your designer along with good details of your event
and overall look your going for, the more unique and one of a kind your
arrangements will be. “Designers choice” arrangements are more often the most
beautiful pieces that go out of our shop!

Thank you for reading this post and learning a bit about one of the wonderful many member shops in Iowa! If you get the chance to drive through Albia, please pop in and say hi to Tonia and her crew! Thank you Tonia for sharing talent and pictures!

If you would like to have your shop featured on our blog. We would love to get to know you and your shop, and your specialties and what make you unique! What’s better is: IT’S FREE and so EASY to sign up! Here’s the form:

The Iowa Florists’ Association

The Importance of Visual Merchandising

5 Simple Steps to follow.

Article written by Kelsey Thompson, AIFD

As florists, we have no trouble pairing a certain variety of rose with the perfect shade of hydrangea or deciding exactly where that greenery should drape to create the perfect line in a cascade bouquet. We know how to use the Elements and Principles of Design to create the biggest visual impact. But do you use those same skills when it comes to setting up your store displays? Are you intentional with the way you set up your store’s flow; how you communicate what you’re selling? 
The first question to ask yourself is: who are my customers? Depending on your store’s location, your walk in traffic could range from young professionals to high school kids to wealthy retirees. You are already buying based on this, whether you realize it or not. Are you merchandising based on this? Certain colors and stories appeal to different markets. And that is what your displays are doing – telling a story. So that leads us to the next question: how do my customers shop? Maybe they are coming in over their lunch break. Maybe you’re next to a couple of antique stores and your walk-ins are “meandering.” You want your displays to grab attention quickly no matter what, but how in-depth your display stories can be depend on your customer. 
Store specifics aside, there are five basic elements to visual merchandising that apply regardless of where the display is or what is being marketed. 
1. Color: For retailers, shopping is the art of persuasion. There are many factors that influence how and what consumers buy. However, a great deal is decided by visual cues, the strongest and most persuasive being color. When marketing new products it is crucial to consider that consumers place visual appearance and color above other factors such as sound, smell and texture. Color sets the environment and speaks to your customers on a subconscious level. (We could write three more blog posts on the psychology of color, but we’ll save that for another time.) 
Personally, we buy for and organize our show floor by color stories. Moody blues and purples in one area, muted sage and mauve in another, farmhouse red and rust in another and so on. We have recently started give each display area a name and displaying our inspiration color palette for our customers. A detailed card in each zone invites our customers to slow down and fully explore each color story, and hopefully see something that they want to purchase! If they have a lot of one color in their home, it makes it easier and more comfortable for them to shop in the display zone that fits their home’s color scheme. 
2. Landscaping: We’re not telling you to re-do your storefront (though, how’s it looking? Windows washed? Sidewalk clean?). The elevation of products is referred to as landscaping. This is a great way to grab your customers attention and highlight certain items. Hang something unexpected from the ceiling! Show case a ridiculously huge arrangement surrounded by coordinating products on a lower level. 
This image from Anthropologie shows the impact of landscaping and color. 

anthro visual.jpg

3. Texture: One of my favorite elements of design, texture invites your customers to “get their hands dirty.” Contrast in texture can enhance a display. As florists, we are lucky in that a lot of our products for sale lend themselves beautifully to this! The smooth finish of a ceramic vase next to the roughness of a stem of faux amaranthus or the the fuzzy petals of an African violet. You get the idea! Make sure your displays invite your customers to feel. 
4. Communication: Studies have shown that signs have about 5 seconds to engage customers. When creating signage, go for legibility and readability. It doesn’t just apply to large signs – assess your price tags and store-made product descriptions as well. This is controlled through language, colors and font. Please don’t use Comic Sans. Please 🙂 


5. Negative Space: “Negative space” in floral design = free money. Negative space used correctly in visual merchandising will help you make money. Choose one item or group of items as a focal point and then build your display around it using complementary items. Without a main focus, the display may seem too busy and will be less effective in attracting customers; you want your shoppers to process the scene before them quickly and easily. Overly cluttered spaces can cause customers to leave a store altogether because they feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to navigate. We try to keep most items up off the floor, first off all for cleanliness sake and secondarily to reduce visual clutter. Have 48 stems of something? Unless you are displaying them all together for visual impact, maybe you can get the same effect by displaying 12 or 24, reserving the others for restock purposes and “cleaning up” your display. 
I hope this review of visual merchandising will help as you create your own display stories! We get the biggest reactions with super unique, over the top displays, but the highest sales turnover when we show how a product can be used in a home or office. What are your display strengths? How can you use them to create sales? Have fun!! 

Floral Jewelry Workshop – August 18, 2019

Workshop taught by Kelsey Thompson, AIFD at her lovely store, Bloom in Algona, Iowa! It was a very informational workshop as we took a look at different ways to make corsages, floral tattoos, flower hats and fascinators, boutonnieres and how to sell them in your stores. Take a look at all the pictures and you’ll see just how much fun we had! Thank you Kelsey for sharing your knowledge and encouraging us all to ALWAYS make time to PLAY and see what happens!

What’s Up!

Our Designer

Our Theme

Our Location

We literally can’t contain ourselves! We’ve been planning this day for awhile now and have been waiting for a few things to fall into place before we let some of the details out of the bag! Please stay tuned for more information and BLOCK THE DATE ON YOUR CALENDAR!

PFDE Testing

Post Written By: Joanna Kalina, IMF, CFD

Pardon me as I get into writing a more personal post! Most of your know me as the nameless person behind these blog posts. But today, you get to see a little bit of what I’ve been preparing for in the past year and learn more about me!

One of the many things on my bucket list was to test and become AIFD certified. About this time last year, I decided that it was my year to start to prepare to test. It was a great, hard, wonderful and exhilarating experience all rolled into one – and time consuming. But as you all know, goals come with a price and sacrifice.

I studied and studied, practiced designing and using some of the different techniques and greenery manipulation. And then I took the Online part of the test, only to fail it. If you’re anything like me, knowledge testing is hard for me. It’s not that I don’t know the answers or even that I didn’t study. No, my brain just sort of psychs itself out and I start double and triple guessing myself and the answers. It’s great (NOT)! But, honestly – it’s okay! I’ve realized that it’s okay to know that knowledge testing is not one of my strong suits, but that it doesn’t exclude me from getting back up and trying again until I succeed! Does this sound familiar to anyone? Anyone else out there? Anyway, I finally got it on my 3rd try!

Kelsey Thompson, AIFD was my Mentor, as she poured over design pictures that I sent her, instructed me and set up a mock test for me to truly see what the real design test would be like. Thank you Kelsey – You were amazing!

Sandy Schroeck, AIFD also set up another mock test for me and answered a whole list of pre-test questions and gave good constructive criticism after the mock test. Thanks Sandy!

Flying into Las Vegas – stunning!
Out walking around at night – isn’t the view amazing!

Fast forward to July 3rd, I flew to Vegas all by my lonesome, stayed with a dear friend and got to look around Vegas a bit during the day time! Saw the Miracle Mile, Bellagio Fountain and Hotel. Met up with a few new friends that I knew were taking the PFDE test with me and we met at the Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant near the Paris Hotel for dinner (a.k.a. a salad, because our stomachs wouldn’t handle anything else).

On July 4th, check-in was at 10 am, after checking in I forced myself to see a sandwich, and waiting until 1pm for orientation. My new friends Melanie and Linda were kind enough to let me leave my personal belongings in their hotel room during the test.

All 150 students met in a bit conference room at the hotel, where we were greeted, able to ask questions and given our list of supplies and what we were to make when we were able to actually take the design test and start sketching with the pen and paper that we were given upon our entrance to the room.

About 2 pm, we all took a bathroom break, all the AIFD members were lining the pathway on both sides all the way to the actual design room clapping as we walked to the room. It was really sweet. The women in front of me was crying out of excitement and anticipation and probably some exhaustion. Some other students and their mentors were high-fiving.

We walked into the room where our tools were checked over and we were instructed to find our table number. Once everyone found their table, we were allowed to start checking in all our product and supplies, unwrap and organize everything – but we couldn’t start designing until 3pm.

At 3pm, we were told to START! It was finally here, this was the moment I had been waiting, planning, saving and preparing for, for a year. Crazy! I was so ready and petrified all in the same breath! IT WAS TIME!

There was a point where I forgot everything that I knew to do. I couldn’t even remember what colors went together. This happened I was making my casket spray – one of the pieces that I most enjoy making and I’m good at ( I make a LOT of them). Thankfully with a desperate uttered prayer, small pieces started coming back to me, and I somehow managed to get done with all 5 of my pieces done, my table cleared and set up with a little bit time to spare to look over everything and fine-tune each piece and make sure that I had all the Principles and Elements in each.

My whole table display. Thank you Linda for taking all the pictures for me.
Casket Spray featuring flower groupings.

For about 3 weeks, I fretted about whether I passed the design test or not.I frequently checked and rechecked my email to see if there was any new news, just to get scared and not want to check it, but end up checking it anyway, lol!! The answer finally came Friday, July 19, 2019. I PASSED! I PASSED! I PASSED! I’m invited to be inducted as a certified AIFD designer July 2020!

Here’s a few of the wonderful people from Canada that I met and had the pleasure of testing with! Linda Rambaud, CFD and Melanie CFD! So proud of you both!

My point in writing this long and over-due post, is to encourage you – wherever you are to go out there and set your goals and pursue them. They aren’t going to land into your lap with out your effort. It takes hard work and dedication. And sometimes, quite a few failures along the way, lol!

Thanks for reading!

Joanna Kalina, IMF, CFD