My Creative Workbook

Christine de Beer - effortless floral craftsman

Treasured Time

This is my article that I wrote for the Mother's Day Design Issue of
Canadian Florist Magazine

As designers, we are aware of just how valuable our resources are, and how to utilize them to our best advantage. Clever and creative plans often cost more time than money, and convenient, instant solutions often cost more money than time. Do you handwrite a 100 tags for your dinner table setting flowers, or do you ask a printer to print it for you? Do you hand-wire beads into a design, or do you order ready wired beads from your supplier?

Bark gift bag with callas.

It is always worth, at the beginning of a project, to ask yourself whether you are cash-rich or time-rich?

Time-rich designers often envy the luxury of having a large budget to design with. The reverse happens too; cash-rich designers wish they had the time to implement something time-consuming.

The transition from time-rich to cash-rich, and vice versa, is mainly psychological. Usually driven by scarcity, you start to value the one over the other. When you have more time than money, you are time-rich and will do more yourself in order to spend less. When you have more money than time, you are cash-rich and may choose to make a purchase in order to save time. The risk designers, and especially floral designers face, is losing your uniqueness, that secret sauce that you gained while establishing your brand.

Arum lilies and bark

Your appeal may be the intricate, time-consuming detail in your creations that became your "thing" while having more time than money.

Financial success may lead you to purchase ready-made items, or to subcontract work when “your time becomes too valuable.” You could end up losing your edge because of it. The reverse can also happen, especially in times of financial crises. Your “secret sauce” may be the way you combine off-the-shelf items. During financial strain, you may decide to invest more time in making items yourself, and not spending sufficient time combining them, also leading to a loss of customers because your style is no longer what they want.

Cherry stem curls

It is not uncommon to see businesses oscillate between time-rich and cash-rich because they do not understand what their true value add is.

Moss and hazel bits on the bark bag

Know what makes you special, know your business model, and decide up front how your behaviour should, or should not change between being time-rich and cash-rich.

Here are a few examples to get the conversation going:

White Zantedeschia

Craftsmanship: There is no substitute for good craftsmanship. Cutting corners often lead to wasting both time and money when rework is needed. Unstable mechanics will cost you hours in trying to stabilize it, especially if the design is almost done. You might even have to start over, costing you in both time and supplies. Floral craftsmanship should always be your first thought. Start and finish your designs, immaculately.

Construction: If you are time-rich, it may be worth your while to construct a beautiful armature for your floral design to save money. If you are cash-rich, it may be worth your time to simply purchase a ready made armature (like a twig wreath) and customize it.

Floral Ingredients: For cash-rich designers, the option of simply ordering the flowers you require makes perfect sense, and the time-rich designer could save their project by spending the few hours gathering and conditioning some of the floral elements found in their garden.

Accessories: Custom made design accessories are the ultimate in luxury. Weigh the benefits of making those accessories yourself or outsourcing it to another creative designer.

Calla lilies and bark gift bag

Skills: Use your skills and abilities to your advantage. This may involve spending money when you are cash-rich, to pay others to do some of the work, so that you can be time-rich in doing what you do best.

Too often talented designers contract out design work so that they can run the business, when they should be hiring a business manager so that they can continue designing. Also remember to grow your skills, in time-rich times you can experiment with new techniques and in cash-rich times you can attend courses.

Resource wasters: Be aware of false economy. Sometimes you spend so much time trying to make do, or fashioning a solution, that the project becomes hopelessly too expensive for you to justify. Similarly you can spend so much money on the “perfect” vase, that the rest of the design elements lack luster to justify the price.

Acorn and moss on hazel twigs

Resource savers: What do you have at hand? Look around you and ask: “what will save time, and what will save money?” Remember to understand which you need, and which makes you special. When a supplier give you a discount, can you spend what you just saved on a quick solution to save time for another project, or should you keep the discount?

When impromptu visitors show up before a deadline, will they be all to happy to wire thousands of tiny beads while you chat in your design room?

Weigh up the cost of your time, and never underestimate how much your efforts are worth. A solution that costs a lot of money, is not more valuable than a solution where the costs are measured in a talented designer’s time.

Canadian Florist Magazine

Thank you Canadian Florist Magazine for inviting me to be part of your beautiful Mother's Day Design issue

Every week I add a new design with related tutorials. Be sure to subscribe to receive an email notification with design inspiration.


5 February 2014 Bark Gift Bag

Cut and glue bark into a gift bag

19 February 2013 Manipulating stems: Snapping at an angle, Bending, Spiraling, Curling and Straightening

Most stems, twigs and even sturdier branches can be bend into shapes. It takes practice and more than a bit of patience. The main idea is to slowly manipulate the branch without...

30 August 2011 Curving Calla Lilies

Follow the flower's natural curve but you can also curve only sections to create an elegant crescent or a curve at the tip of the stem

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Calla Lily, Arum Lily

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