Preparation & Process: How I Take Care of My Buds

By Nia Mozee of Simply Nia Design

It’s funny to hear from people who don’t know the floral design industry “It must be nice to play with flowers”! That could not be further from the truth. Working with flowers is not for the weak. It takes a lot of preparation, manual labor, skills, problem solving and so much more. I love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Getting to work with the beauty of nature is my passion and it’s my happy place

My love of flowers started with my Nana. She was always doing crafts and creative things. I knew from high school that I wanted to be in the arts as a Fashion Designer or Interior Designer. I chose the path of Interior Design but have also merged into the fashion world of production. So I guess, all my desires have come full circle. I have been focusing on florals since 2018, really honing my craft, taking classes and learning from my peers in the industry. I’m not afraid to try something new. Working with flowers is my happy place.

I joined Black Girl Florist almost 2 years ago because I wanted to see and be around florists that looked like me! It’s very important to me to be able to share your experiences with people who have similar backgrounds to you. I love the sense of community and sisterhood that Black Girl Florist provides. It is a safe space to talk about business and create beautiful flowers in the workplace. I feel Seen and Heard being a member of Black Girl Florists.

My first tip of the preparation process is to know what is in season. The most important reason is QUALITY. My floral arrangements are a representation and extension of myself. I want your first impression of my brand to be that we are the best.

“If you work with what nature is giving you in its season you get the best quality blooms.”

Flowers are my selected art medium, and I want to ensure that they are highlighted in the best way possible. The second tip on how I prepare my flowers is by building relationships. Creating these relationships with your wholesaler and/or flower farms gives you an advantage in receiving the best blooms. I consciously make an effort to make connections with people, have a friendly face and get to know people. Kindness goes a long way. I’m lucky to be here in New York City where they have a flower market with an entire city block full of flower wholesalers with fresh flowers, plants and hard goods easily accessible to me. I have a few of my flower vendors’ direct contact numbers that I can message and receive pricing information fairly quickly. The vendors I work with assist me by setting aside blooms during busy hours and helping me load flowers into my vehicle. This is super helpful because there’s unfortunately no parking in New York City.

Thirdly, I do some quality control. I need to make sure that the blooms arrive in the best condition, while also confirming the color variations. Sometimes when I source online it can be deceiving and those are not necessarily the truest colors. Also, it helps to see the various textures and colors together to know that they complement one another. Once I have your blooms in hand, then the “Real” work begins. Everyone processes flowers differently. For example, hydrangeas are very finicky and need lots of water. Some florists dump their heads in water and dip them in alum powder after you cut the stems and put them in fresh cool water.

When I pick up your flowers at the wholesaler, it is cold like a freezer. This kind of tricks the flowers so that they don’t open too quickly. If you think about flowers when they are in nature, they are in the warm sun and being watered and cultivated. There are a few options I would suggest that you can have as your setup no matter your size or where you work from. I recommend having a room with air conditioning constantly on to keep the space at a consistent temperature. There are devices called Coolbots that you can attach to your air conditioning unit to create cooler-like temperatures. You can also have portable walk-in coolers. There are many options for florists of all different levels and sizes.

If your event is on Saturday depending on your choice of blooms you should receive your flowers as early as Thursday. Of course, this depends on whether you have the space. You do want your flowers to open up, so they aren’t so tight and closed. Once you have your delivery here are the steps I follow to process blooms.

  1. Prepare buckets of cool water with flower food. The Home Depot/Lowe’s buckets are your best friend.
  2. There are many strides in the floral industry to be more sustainable and eco friendly. So, if you can compost your flower trash there are many options available to do so.
  3. Remove ALL greenery that will touch the water. The foliage creates bacteria and makes your water cloudy, which blocks the flowers from drinking water. I personally like to remove all greenery from the florals and then add green foliage to the arrangements.
  4. For example, with roses, if you don’t want them to open you can leave them in the cardboard packaging, so they stay closed and tight. Otherwise remove all packaging and discard.
  5. Give your flowers a fresh cut before placing them in water. Cut them at an angle 1-2” off the bottom of the stems. You can also add a slit in the stem as well.
  6. Remove guard petals to keep the flowers from bruising. There will still be some bruising and wilting. Remove all the petals that don’t look their best.
  7. Try your best not to overpack your flowers in the buckets they need room to breathe. Think of how they are in nature, not overcrowded!

8. Prepare your mechanics and vessels for your florals. Yes, we are trying to be more sustainable and there are alternatives to flower foam that are better for the environment. Please don’t shame anyone for using less sustainable, eco-friendly options. That’s not cool!

9. The BEST step is to create and design your florals! Seeing your florals and the reactions from your clients and guests the experience that you created with florals is the ultimate reward for all your hard work.

Once your event is over and the cleanup begins there are many options to make sure the flowers have more life! There are organizations that you can donate your blooms to so that people in hospitals and nursing homes can enjoy fresh flowers. I always try to give flowers to guests (of course minus the vase. Lol) The processing continues as we have to clean all the vases, candle containers and storage for the next event. Outside of the design and conception for an event, preparation and processing can be a weeks’ worth of work. Please keep that in mind for your florists who work so hard to make your event beautiful!

Name: Nia Mozee
Business name: Simply Nia Design
Email address:
IG account: @simplyndesign

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