Floral Apprenticeship vs. Floral Mentorship

Floral Apprenticeship vs. Floral Mentorship

So, you want to begin a new business or chapter in floral artistry. That is wonderful! Let’s make it happen. The desire to learn your craft and to receive guidance to help you navigate the journey of creative entrepreneurship is beyond valid; it’s essential. So, where do you start?


One way to begin in any new field is by way of a work-exchange, which is often also known as an apprenticeship or internship. Seeking an apprenticeship to get started is always well-intended. I have been there myself. You think: I want to learn this amazing thing from this amazing person who has inspired me! You also think: I bet they need help, and I could help them in exchange for training. 


Let’s start with some honesty and clarity to help manage expectations and to support you getting the training you need. In this situation, the reality is that asking a small business owner to train you how to do what they do is a huge ask. They have likely invested years of their lives developing what they know now, not to mention quite a lot of money to gain the experience they needed to build the assets they now have. 


While a small business owner does often need help, it’s not always (or even often) in the area you want to learn. On top of that, they are running a business, so training someone else, not to mention for free, is adding more work to their load and taking away from the time they need to run their business.


I am not writing this to deter you from reaching out to someone you admire, someone who has inspired you to walk a similar path, or from asking if you can learn from them in exchange for work. I do, however, want to provide insights that will help you avoid disappointment and frustration and also help you actually get what you are seeking.


So many kind, inspired, and well-meaning flower enthusiasts have reached out to me over the years, asking if they could come help out and learn to do what I do. Some of them have also shared that they already tried apprenticing with someone else, but that person wasn’t teaching them anything, when what they really wanted was to learn how to design.


I did an apprenticeship myself when I was first starting out, so I get it. When you don’t have experience in a field yet, how do you start getting it? You want to work, but you don’t have the skills yet, so no one will hire you. But you need the skills, which come from experience. Now we have a chicken and egg situation.


The bottom line is that an apprentice needs training, and an expert needs to grow their business. Someone without training can only really help a professional with menial tasks and administrative support (things the apprentice already knows how to do). You can learn a lot this way, and it is not a waste of time. It’s actually a great way to dip your toes into a new field before you’re ready to invest in your education. Just go into it knowing that you are not going to “work” in “exchange” for being taught a new craft directly. Go in to be helpful, to build a professional relationship, and to observe while you help out.


During the apprenticeship I did early on, I helped with menial tasks and did not learn about design from my mentor. I did, however, get the chance to observe her, become friends with her, and learn about her process around the studio and during events. I learned by doing the simple things and seeing the more complex things. And once I had practiced designing on my own enough, I started freelancing, which let me earn money while helping out. Then I could invest more in my education.


When you are ready to invest in your education, consider reaching out to that person you admire for a mentorship, and pay them for their time and expertise to train you. Mentorships are often personally-tailored, immersive private workshops that give you full access to your mentor as well as guided, hands-on experience with them to build the skills and knowledge you need to advance in your field. With a mentorship, you get what you are seeking, and your mentor also gets what they need, which is a real and balanced value exchange.


If you are a hopeful floral apprentice, I am thrilled that you are excited about floral design. I believe that the world needs more people creating beauty and sharing hope, joy, and inspiration in the language of flowers. Also, nobody can do it quite like you. So, consider these two options side-by-side:


An APPRENTICESHIP is an unpaid, work-exchange program during which the apprentice helps around the studio with tasks they can do and that will help the business owner. This could be stocking inventory, cleaning or preparing vessels, doing admin tasks, processing stems, etc. After earning a set amount of those hours, which we agree to in our Apprenticeship Agreement, the apprentice earns a kind of graduation mentorship session, during which I will teach them how to select flowers, process stems, prepare designs, and craft a floral arrangement in an abbreviated private workshop. The apprentice pays only for materials, and I donate my time and teaching as a reward for their accrued work hours. The Apprenticeship is only available as needs of the studio require or permit.


A MENTORSHIP is a personally tailored private workshop and immersive training session that gives my mentee full access to me, the ability to ask all questions, and an immersive full day of guidance, demonstration, instruction, and supported hands-on practice. The Mentorship can be strategic and business-focused, design-focused, or a hybrid of both. This is an investment on the behalf of the mentee, and it is a recoupable cost for them as it provides the training, knowledge, guidance, and skills they need to start (or improve) their own business bookings and earnings. Additionally, the skills a floral artist mentee learns in a Mentorship will continue to grow and generate profits for the mentee long after the Mentorship. 


    In this way, a mentorship is the classic example of “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” When you invest in your education, you learn skills, techniques, and wisdom that will empower your success and profitability for the rest of your life as a floral artist.


    Keep in mind that these are by no means the only options. You also have group workshops, online courses, masterminds, coaching, etc. This comparison just helps to clarify what we often actually want (mentorship) when we seek an apprenticeship, and how to make an apprenticeship something actually mutually beneficial for you and for the person from whom you want to learn. 


    With this clarity about apprenticeships, with their benefits and limitations, as well as mentorships, with their benefits and limitations, you can make an informed and harmonious decision regarding your training and development in floristry. If you know for sure already that floristry is for you, just go for the mentorship. You will gain a close friend and lifelong mentor out of it, and you will gain the skills and strategy you need to start, expand, or refine your business offerings and bookings, which will bring in far more money over time than you invested initially for that training. 


    I absolutely love crafting personalized and holistic experiences for my mentees, and I especially love getting to know you one on one so that I can support and guide you as you grow in your craft and business practice, so if you’re looking for mentorship, or any type of education, please reach out. And if you’re looking to apprentice with someone who inspires you, now you are better equipped with expectations to succeed and bring success to your mentor too. I am looking forward to your next step, whichever is most fitting for you right now, into the blooming world of floral artistry!




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