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SAF Next Gen Live 2022


Over 150 Next Generation floral industry professionals from all over America flew to Miami for SAF Next Gen Live 2022. What happened at this first-of-its-kind power-packed event can be best described as inspirational and rejuvenating for many.

Sahid had a chance to sit down with a few of the attendees, and sponsors and connected with Kate Penn, the CEO of the Society of American Florists, and asked about her experience regarding the whole event. Here is what she had to say: “It was an event that made investors want to invest and attendees want to be here.” She further added, “The floral industry is more than just flower shops. It’s a lot bigger than you think.”

The Biggest Takeaway – The Floral Industry Is Much More Than Just Flowers

Talking about her experience, Jordan Davis of Lafayette Florist, an attendee, said:

“It was very eye-opening to see a different part of the industry, a totally different sector of the industry than a flower shop.”

When asked about the biggest takeaways of this event for her, she replied:

“The incredible amount of work it takes to get these flowers to retail, the amount of employees it takes from all over the world – it’s pretty incredible. I can’t tell you how full of information my brain is from this experience, from me being able to meet and talk with industry people.”

Networking

According to Kate Penn, the trademark of this event was its diverse audience. People from different aspects of the floral sector were present, from growers and manufacturers to wholesalers and retailers.

In fact, it wasn’t just about people from the sector’s different aspects; people at different business levels and positions attended too. You could see general managers sitting with people very new to the industry, learning together and sharing ideas.

When asked about the event, the famous “Pinky” from Jet Fresh Flowers (a company with a small farm that also deals in wholesale and distribution) described it as the best experience of the two conventions he attended. He has been a sales representative in the industry for three to four years. Look at what he had to say:

“Everybody has a unique experience of how they got here. I fell into it by accident, and a lot of other people may have fallen into this area by accident too. But the love for it and the passion – that’s what I really see in everybody here.”

He further added:

“This is an experience a young person in the industry should have, especially if they are new to the game and they want to get a little bit more experience and in-depth connections with people.”

Sharing some more insights, he said:

“In the floral industry, it’s about the connections, you know. It’s good to know that I now have connections up the North, like Virginia and Chicago, that I can call upon if I ever need help.

Holy Haveman from Kennedy’s Flower & Gifts in Michigan shared that her biggest takeaway from SAF Next Gen Live 2022 was the importance of connections between everyone involved in the industry. She further explained:

“We all have something to share and learn from each other and contribute to each other’s businesses.”

Behind the Scenes Tour

The behind-the-scenes tour allowed the participants to have a look at import operations and learn what happens to the product before reaching shops.

Standing on the tarmac, they witnessed the number of people required to move the products to their destinations quickly and precisely.

In the interview with Kate Penn, she shared her insights regarding the tours saying, “If you see what happens to the product before you see it, you understand why it costs more.”

When asked about the tours, Holy Haveman from Kennedy’s Flower & Gifts in Michigan expressed, “It’s pretty interesting to see the bouquets we make in an assembly-line style. I had seen it before but not in such a huge capacity.”

Experiencing these operations first-hand, most people at the event were surprised and appreciative of how huge this industry is.

Epic Educational Sessions

Talking about the educational sessions, Kate Penn said, “The sessions were completely driven by our Next Gen Community. They are the audience, they know what they want.” This is why the next-generation attendees could understand and relate to every point and strategy covered in these sessions.

Alejandra Ruiz, the Chief Revenue Officer at Fifty Flowers, shared her experience, saying,

“We are the New Generation, coming along with New challenges. We can bring new ideas to the table.”

Jasen Henderson from Kitayama Brothers also found this convention very useful. Talking about his experience, he said: “The sessions were very informative. I learned a lot about myself too.”

Tony Fiannaca from Sparkk’s Florist also expressed that SAF Next Gen Live 2022 was enlightening for him. This convention made him realize that there are smarter ways for us to be a little more productive in this industry.

To sum up, everyone attending the event got some useful insights.

In Conclusion

Next Gen Live was a move forward for the flower industry in creating an inclusive environment for all to connect and engage with many enriching experiences.

Kate Penn summed up the whole experience by saying, “The SAF Next Gen Committee’s vision was to have a group of young industry professionals of all segments come together, to learn, to vibe off each other and make lifelong flower friends. After sitting on many councils and committees and having personal conversations with growers and breeders, I quickly realized that as close as our industry is there’s a huge void when it comes to communication & education-Stated Nicole Palazo of City Line Florist and one of the main inspirations behind this entire initiative.”

When asked about the attendance Nicole said “I swear everyone left knowing nearly all 160 attendees + SAF staff. I cannot wait to see where this goes, and I highly recommend everyone in the industry to get involved in one way or another”.

SAF Next Gen Live 2022 successfully inspired, connected, educated, and energized the Next Gen and the old Gen that were present as presenters. Many who attended were already looking forward and making plans for next year.

When asked if another Next Gen event was in the talks for the future, Kate Penn said:

“It is going to happen again in some way, shape, and form.”

She further added that they intend to develop an ongoing virtual platform that keeps the industry people connected throughout the year. They want everyone to benefit socially from such events and platforms, enjoy educational programs, and solve industry problems together.

We, at Above All Flowers & New Bloom Solutions, support Next Gen all the way. We encourage our network to attend this event next year as a sponsor; it will be a valuable investment for your next generation of leaders and team members.

Reach out at https://safnow.org/ for more information.