Jacksonville

ABC Florida State Conference Recap #BeBoldABC

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This week, I had the pleasure of working with my dear friends and fellow Master Wedding Planners Carmen Mesa of Carmen Mesa Events and Tammy Waterman of Special Moments Event Planning to produce a fabulous conference for wedding professionals. The Association of Bridal Consultants' Florida State Conference is always a labor of love, but hearing each and every attendee walk away saying how much they had learned makes it all worth it! Here's a little recap: Saturday night, we treated our amazing speakers to a fun evening at Sweet Pete's and The Candy Apple Cafe and Cocktails.

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Sunday morning kicked off with brunch, where I got to tell everyone some interesting facts about Jacksonville. (#ILoveJax)

brunch collage(thanks to Rose of Sharon European Florist for the centerpieces, Beachview Event Rentals for the chairs, and PRI Productions for the super cool Jacksonville backdrop)

general session

After brunch, we went into our general session room for lots of great educational content:

And then it was on to the poolside cocktail reception! The weather could not have been more amazing. As event planners, we always worry about the weather when planning outdoor events - especially in August in Florida! But there was not a drop of rain that day, and the breeze made the rooftop deck quite comfortable.

Omni hotel Jacksonville poolside reception

Day 2 of the conference started with a casual breakfast. How cool are these centerpieces from Rose of Sharon European Florist?

breakfast centerpieces

And the Omni Hotel Jacksonville staff created the letters "ABC" out of the parfaits!

parfaits

For Tuesday's lunch, each speaker was assigned a table. Lauren from Ten23 Designs created these adorable signs with their names! She also made tons of other cute decor pieces that were used throughout the conference.

lunch table

Monday's educational sessions were just as amazing as Sunday's:

  • Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting - Attaining Expert Status: How to Become on Expert Industry Leader
  • Susan Southerland, Just Marry! - Selling to Couples at Every Planning Phase
  • Charlene Shirk, C. Shirk Productions - Pitch Perfect: How to Deliver A Great Media Interview
  • Bryan Glynn, BGPictures - Critical Website & Internet Tips for Your Business and Making $$ with YouTube
  • Donnie Brown & Steve Kemble - Social Media As Your PR Consultant (Round Table)

Sadly, it was time to say good bye to all of our friends, new and old. These little snack packs had water, chips, and sweets for the drive/flight home.

take home snack boxes

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It was an amazing (and exhausting!) three days, and I am so thankful for everyone that attended. Want to see more photos? Check out the ABC Florida Facebook page.


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The 10+ Year Club: A Fantasy In Flowers

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Susan Kass A Fantasy In Flowers

Welcome to the next installment in our blog series, spotlighting local wedding companies that have been in business for 10 or more years! Today we feature florist Susan Kass of A Fantasy In Flowers: What year did you start your business?

I purchased a Fantasy in Flowers in 2003. It was an existing business with a storefront located in Mandarin. My previous experience had been in hotel sales and catering. I also managed a showroom for a clothing rep in the Miami merchandise mart for 6 years when my daughter was young. This gave me insight into the wholesale and buying end of business. It seemed like it would be a great match for buying a florist. I was naive…

What was your motivation? 

We had moved to Jacksonville in 2001 and my daughter was getting ready to start high school. I thought going back to work would be a good idea. I just had no idea how much work I would be getting myself into!!

How has your business changed over the years?

There have been so many changes to my business in 10 years it is difficult to count. I started out with one retail location and 2 years later bought a second location on Park Street ( Catanese Florist). When the economy was strong I employed 7 people full-time and we concentrated on corporate events and daily deliveries. The recession came and the corporate market went dormant so we moved our emphasis to the wedding world and never looked back. 2 1/2 years ago we moved to our wonderful new design studio on County Road 210. We now have 2 designers and a part time driver/set up guy and we are busy and happy but only occasionally stressed. Last year we provided flowers and décor for almost 90 weddings. We have 72 reviews on wedding wire and a 4.9 out of 5 rating, so I guess we are doing things right!!

A Fantasy In Flowers, Jacksonville FL

Looking back, what do you wish you had done differently? 

Looking back I would never have expanded as much as I did, however everything has been a learning process. I have made every mistake in the book. I just try to not make the same mistake twice. The one real change I would make is to have never gotten involved with any of the wire services ( FTD, TELEFLORA etc.). On-line ordering is a big scam and it costs reputable florists hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, as well as delivering an inferior product to the consumer.

What are you most proud of? 

I am proud of many things, but mostly of my loyal and talented staff. They are the heart of my business and have stayed with me through thick and thin. I couldn't do it without them...literally!!

Why do you think your business has made it while so many other small businesses fail in the first five years? 

Our business has made it due to changing with the economy and the trends. We also have a core group of very loyal local clients who have stuck with us. The positive reviews and word of mouth from our brides has also been invaluable. We always try to go the extra mile and it seems that we are appreciated for that.

A Fantasy In Flowers St Augustine FL

What advice do you have for a business just starting out in your industry?

Starting a business today in the wedding industry is incredibly tough. Do not sell yourself short and please charge the appropriate amount for your services. Do not undercut the existing companies in the industry. This will make other vendors unwilling to promote you. You must have a strong vendor network and you must be patient. It takes a long time to build a good reputation and good relationships. Attend networking events and get to know others in your industry. That will pay off big!!

Do you have a most memorable wedding or funny story you'd like to share?

Most memorable wedding story...Just when I think I've seen it all something new and amazing happens for the first time. That's what keeps this business interesting!!!


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