Name: Gráinne Galvin
Job title: Flower Shop Manager at Mimosa Flowers, Douglas Village Shopping Centre.
Salary bracket: €20,000 to €30,000
Education background: I graduated from NCAD (The National College of Art & Design, Dublin) in 2004 with a degree in Fine Art Printmaking. I went straight into an MA in Virtual Realities, now named ‘Art in the Digital World’ also at NCAD graduating in 2006.
I spent time making art work, moved to the UK, doing exhibitions, and trying to make a living from my art sales. It didn’t provide me with a consistent income but I loved making art and met many of my closest friends and colleagues in the art world.
I found myself floating around in 2011 after the death of my parents and did a web design course through F.A.S and got a placement with Jill O’Keeffe at Wild Floral Couture, mainly to do some online/web design work, which ended up with me working with flowers and a chain of events that led me to floristry which is what I have been doing since!
Hobbies: My hobbies would include printmaking — when I have time! — I am a member of the Cork Printmakers which is a fantastic facility in Cork city, but sadly I don’t get free time to pursue my art career which I hope one day to do alongside my floristry of course!
Apart from that, I have a huge passion for photography and graphic design. I enjoy using all forms of social media, especially Instagram. When I get time to exercise I love attending Lifestyle studios, Blackpool, with Sarah Kelly, a fantastic motivator and female teacher who empowers people in the lines of Burlesque fitness and general fitness — I would recommend the Rave Cave on Wednesday nights! I also go frequently to music gigs and enjoy concerts at the Triskel and Cork Opera House.
Describe your job in five words: Creative, energetic, challenging, enjoyable, satisfying.
Describe yourself in five words: Creative, intelligent, quick-witted, caring, generous.
Personality needed for this kind of work? You need to be a caring person , in that I mean you need to care about your customers and your staff. Customer service is a crucial part of our day. It stems from the top, I believe if you care for your staff and make the environment structured but happy, you can play to each of their strengths and they will make beautiful arrangements. We have had many compliments on our beautiful bouquets and customer service.
You need to be able to take criticism, every florist comes from a different background and different training ground, so when you are starting a new florist you need to hone these skills to create your own unique stamp on the floristry industry. You need to be able to take constructive criticism. If you make a bouquet and are asked to change something, it may not be because it is not good, it can be merely because you need it to fit your aesthetic for the shop.
You need to have energy, enthusiasm and be friendly. At Christmas, Valentines and Mother’s Day, we work long hours which are gruelling on the body and mind so you need to be able to remain calm and have a good demeanour with customers, regardless of your mental and physical state! You have to know when to take time out and plan your day. Preparation is key.
How long are you doing this job? I have been working quite a short time in florist years — five years approximately — but over 15 years in retail, and have always lent myself to PR work through various jobs I had over the years. Customer service and PR play a huge role in my job — I rarely make floral arrangements these days!
How did you get this job? So I started out working with Jill O’Keeffe of Wild Floral Couture in Cork and Jill is a true artist. She is above all else a master in floristry . In a short space of time I gained huge interest in the flower world. I assisted Jill in her studio at Christmas, making floral arrangements, and assisting her with weddings. Jill introduced me to Sharon Fox at Fox Flowers, Cork, where I started helping out that same Christmas in 2012. I started working at Fox Flowers where I had very little knowledge of flowers and I remember Sharon used to test me on the flower names every few weeks — I thought I would never remember — it was like learning a new language! I had even studied Latin at school!
I gained all my floristry retail experience at Fox Flowers where I worked for three years. I would say I learned from the best retail florist in Cork and I wouldn’t be in the job now if I hadn’t learned so much there.
I also worked in Elegance Florists in Douglas which gave me extra training in areas I hadn’t previously covered in floristry and admin, which I am thankful for in giving me the confidence to apply for this job. The combination of the two shops really benefitted my career path.
I certainly didn’t see myself in this career when I left college, but I feel that when you leave art college and need to pay rent and bills and have a routine in your life, it’s almost impossible to launch yourself as an ‘artist’ in the workplace. For me , I need money coming in every week/month and the routine of work. I don’t think I have the artistic discipline to make it my job. Most people I went to art college with work in jobs that have very little to do with what we studied at college, basically because I feel there are very few roles that allow you to be artistic and generate a weekly income unless you do a follow on course after your degree in Fine Art. Art becomes a side-line for most people. You are very lucky if it becomes your career, in my opinion. I see floristry as a perfect combination for me. It plays to all my skills, including my creative skills in floristry, design and customer service.
Do you need particular qualifications or experience? For my role in particular I needed to have experience in the areas of leadership, customer service and computers, social media, and floristry. I had not previously been in a management role but I had been in charge of organising art exhibitions at The Greenroom Gallery at the Cork Arts Theatre in 2009 which gave me a feel for organising groups of artists, meeting deadlines and dealing with press and PR. I had experience in the day to day running of flower shops also in Cork, from opening to closing and everything in between.
Describe a day at work: My day can differ a lot from day to day. Firstly, I open the shop, turn on my computers and check emails and respond to anything urgent. Then I see what orders need to be made and delivered and if there are any for morning deliveries. The florists also work on this too and start making the orders for the driver to dispatch.
I check the quality of the flowers and change the water if needed, make bouquets for the shop floor or delegate staff to do so, for retail. I look to the week ahead and see if there are any flowers I need to order in specifically for a client. I make a flower order for the shop based on what we need.
I spend a lot of time answering emails, answering telephone calls, making plans. I spend my in-between time serving customers, making orders or getting my florists to make orders for walk-in customers.
We of course spend a lot of time conditioning flowers (which means preparing them for use after they come in a delivery — removing leaves and thorns and keeping them alive!), cleaning and making our shop presentable.
I spend time thinking of ways to increase sales, planning staff rotas, ordering stock, making sure I have very little or no waste, bridal consultations, dealing with staff queries, queries from our sister shops, and building up good relationships with our customers. That is the most important part of my day.
How many hours do you work a week? On paper, 40, but in reality I would say closer to 60. I am a perfectionist and highly ambitious so I care a lot about detail!
What do you wear to work? Part of my job on opening our store was to source uniforms, we wear all black, comfortable (we stand almost all day) black shoes but no trainers, with thermal wear for warmth, black waterproof gilets and most importantly Mimosaflowers tshirts! #teammimosa.
Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: Depending on the time of year! On a day to day basis my stress levels would maybe reach 6/7 at most.
Do you work with others or on your own? I work usually with one other florist and a delivery driver but I communicate with many people online throughout the day.
Best bits: Working with nature’s beautiful flowers! Talking to customers, creating new arrangements, having fun with staff and getting excited about new ideas, projects and plans!
We also love doing weddings and cant wait to get stuck into this years list of brides to be!
Advice to those who want your job? If you want this job I would advise maybe not going to Art College like I did — you don’t need to but you do need to be creative, hard-working and get experience in sales and working in a flower shop or assisting a wedding florist.
Be prepared for long hours — I mean long! — at busy periods and to physically and mentally prepare yourself for those times well in advance.
Most of all, don’t forget to breathe, take in the smell of the flowers and remind yourself how lucky you are to be surrounded by all the colours
Check out www.mimosaflowers.ie or find them on Facebook or Instagram