Nothing like a pandemic year to kick you into * finally * working on your business! The trick is that, normally, how to take things to the next level isn't always obvious. Since greek life was such a well known and vital part of our flower shop people ask me about it all the time - pros, cons, advice, even inspiration. I think it's a wonderful way to take a floral business, well any business since I am being honest, up a notch. So, I thought it would be fun to share a feature on carefully wrote featuring Colonial House of Flowers for Society of American Florists, "Georgia Florist Grows Biz Through Greek Organizations" so you know 'how to' do it, too.
The dream would be to have a fully top level business model with friendly clients from all your favorite parts of life. They say all business is personal, right? For me, my sorority brings much joy. Embracing greek life and incorporating into my business growth was natural and really fun. I appreciate SAF allowing me to share my ideas on this subject.
To get you going in the same direction the article I am sharing this article that outlines three tips and tricks of the trade. Check out the full post and to see all the ways to bring your business full bloom.
Georgia Florist Grows Biz Through Greek Organizations
More than 800 college campuses in the United States and Canada have Greek organizations, with a total of more than 9 million members. Each fall, thousands of young women participate in sorority recruitment (also known as rush), a frenzied week of small talk and parties, in which organizations select their new members.
Christy Hulsey, creative director of Colonial House of Flowers in Statesboro, Georgia, has seized the business opportunities this hectic week presents — in the immediate sense, as well as throughout the year (for various events) and down the road (when sorority clients get married, have children and celebrate other milestones).
An alumna of the University of Georgia’s Gamma Phi Beta chapter, Hulsey entered her floral career with inside knowledge of Greek life, a culture she admits might “intimidate” outsiders. She pitched her services at both her alma mater and her hometown school (Georgia Southern University) and now has 15 Greek clients between both institutions — which, she said, accounts for 30 to 40 percent of her total business.
Her work during recruitment week comes in various shapes and sizes, from providing loose stems of the organization’s signature flower for pref night ceremonies to creating small arrangements for new members’ dorm rooms to designing $2,500 floral walls and other show-stopping pieces for theme parties. On the heels of this come flowers for homecoming events in October and graduation events in May — not to mention the eventual bridal and baby showers and weddings.
“Once you become [the sorority’s] florist, you understand them, you know them, you’re close to the girls’ parents,” Hulsey said. “It’s not just for recruitment, it’s all the time.”
Providing floral décor for 15 sororities all in the same time period required Hulsey and all 11 of her employees to rally for a very busy week last month. “The magical thing about recruitment, though, is that it falls during the flower world’s slowest time, the dead of summer,” Hulsey said. “It generates a lot of money during a historically slow time.”
Ready to Go Greek? Here are some of Hulsey’s tips:
Research sorority details. Any woman going through the recruitment process surely knows each house’s particulars, such as their founding date, philanthropy, signature flowers, colors, symbols and animal mascots. Familiarizing yourself with the details helps you sell add-ons, such as plush animals, jewelry, ribbon and other accessories.
Don’t be shy with DIY. Hulsey offers popular “Do It Yourself” workshops at sorority houses at UGA and Georgia Southern. This is a fun and photograph-worthy activity for the girls, and, as a bonus, it cuts down on labor for Hulsey and her staff. Hulsey often transports loose stems to a house and shows members of the sorority’s executive board how to assemble a flower crown – something they then like to repeat a few weeks early as bonding experience for new recruits.
Keep in touch. Chapter presidents turn over regularly (typically, every year). It’s important to ask your sorority contacts to connect you with their successors so you stay in the loop. Hulsey makes a point of meeting with each sorority’s new president every year, introducing herself and describing all the services she offers.
Mackenzie Nichols is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.