Being a Florist

The Art of Floristry From NOW Newspaper
Florist Marcia Eliason shows reporter Danielle Switalski how to form the baseball-themed centerpieces at the Bank of Memories and Flowers last week.
Florist Marcia Eliason shows reporter Danielle Switalski how to form the baseball-themed centerpieces at the Bank of Memories and Flowers last week. Photo By C.T. Kruger

April 29, 2013

Menomonee Falls - "If only you could walk a mile in my shoes." We've all read it, thought it, and most likely said it, but how many of us have actually tried it?
Every day, each of us wakes up and tackles the day. Some of us head to an office and are inundated with phone call after phone call. Others don a uniform and ready themselves to help those in need.
Though it would be impossible for me to walk a mile in everyone's shoes, I am bringing the adage to life. From sweeping floors to farming, I am taking myself out of my comfort zone and being put to work like at businesses around Germantown and Menomonee Falls.
It takes a keen eye and expert time management skills to run a florist shop.  "No one orders flowers for an anniversary two weeks ahead of time," said Melissa Maas, owner of Bank of Memories & Flowers on Appleton and Main Street in Menomonee Falls last week.  She's right. As I thought back to the times I ordered flowers, the earliest I planned ahead was the night before my mom's birthday. If it wasn't for the reminders set on my phone, I would never get anyone a gift on time. I still need to set one for Mother's Day.  Because many people, myself included, tend to wait until the last minute for special occasions, Bank of Memories & Flowers runs a well-oiled machine out of locations in Falls and Pewaukee. They have same-day delivery and will take flowers all over southeastern Wisconsin from Oconomowoc to Oak Creek.

Being Flexible Helps

To do so, however, the staff has to be on their toes and ready to roll at a moment's notice. This, I saw firsthand, thanks to the flower shop that allowed me to come and work for a day. Melissa was busy preparing bouquets for a slew of weddings that coming weekend, while staff was taking phone call after phone call for orders while simultaneously working on flower arrangements.  I was put in charge of washing vases. I did more dishes that morning than I do in a month's time. Every job, I have learned through my time undertaking various careers for this series, has its own set of necessary, time consuming tasks. The vases were donated as Melissa runs a donation program where people can take home flowers in exchange for old vases.
Once Marcia Eliason arrived that morning to put together more than 50 flower arrangements for Community Memorial Hospital's large fundraiser this past Saturday at Miller Park, I was able to tap into the creative side of floristry. We had to pot, water and fill flower arrangements in both baseball-shaped pots and mini, plastic Milwaukee Brewers' hats. And it was all for a good cause. Bank of Memories & Flowers donated the flowers for the event.
For Marcia, the task did not seem overwhelming. For me, it was panic worthy. It took me almost an hour to finish one baseball arrangement. She had two days to finish all the arrangements and transport them to Miller Park. I wouldn't have finished 10 of them on time.

Having the Eye

The trick is to place the flowers in a circular pattern, sticking them into Oasis, a green foam material that absorbs water. As long as the foam stays wet, the flowers can last two weeks, if not longer. Apparently, I don't know my shapes because my arrangement was not circular at all. It wasn't even a shape.  You need to have an eye for these things, an eye I do not have. After watching Marcia finish an arrangement, I tried to mimic it exactly. Some flowers stuck out at awkward angles and it did not come close to the arrangement I was supposed to make.  After eyeing my work, Marcia made a few simple tweaks, and the arrangement went from awkward to refined as I stared blankly ahead. It takes a gift to create something that seems so simple, but can say so much to the one receiving it.  Flowers can say many things. "I love you," "get well," "happy birthday," or simply "thinking of you." I was honored to be a part of creating a warm feeling for someone that day, and work as part of a team that truly cares about their work. Most of the employees at Bank of Memories & Flowers have worked there for years. That, in and of itself, says something about the business.
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Attention to detail
Time management skills are crucial
Need to multitask


You can be creative
Friendly and welcoming staff
Every day is different