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Expand Your Horizons

Suggestions for seeking and profiting from freelance design projects

In today's market, we see more and more retail spaces closing and the role of the traditional florist changing from necessity. As one door closes another opens and at times we have to welcome the change and meet it head on. Many retail florists have made the decision to stay active in the industry by seeking new opportunities in the freelance arena.

We spoke with Floriology Institute's own Angelyn Tipton, AIFD, CFD, of Goggan's Florist in Barnesville, Georgia (goggansflorist.net) about why and how she met this challenge and how she finds those freelance opportunities to keep herself busy.

Angelyn is currently involved designing for the set of the CW Television series "Dynasty" (cwtv.com/search/?q=Dynasty). In addition, she is: fulfilling wedding orders for several other florist clients who demand today's designs and floral styles; making her way to the pages of Florist Review Magazine; leading others as a board member for the Georgia State Florist Association (georgiastateflorist.org/members.html); and serving as my highly valued assistant at Floriology Institute (floriologyinstitute.com/team/jackie-lacey/).

floriology: What do you see as the challenges and the advantages of freelancing?

Angelyn: I prefer to start with the advantages: I show up and work and I get paid very well. I have no overhead, no dealing with the clients and paperwork, no worrying if something didn't come in. 

The challenges include: a lot of last minute bookings; traveling to all kinds of shops, homes, or a horse stable in 40-degree weather with no heat or water onsite; the fact that every place is different and styles can be different; learning their pricing onsite since most people don't hand you a recipe.

floriology: What are some of the strategies you have instituted to find available freelance bookings and to keep those bookings coming? 

Angelyn: I am peculiar with who I work for. I found out that if I work for a bunch of different people I make less because I am constantly having to prove myself. I have about a half-dozen people that I work for and they get first choice. I will call and say I am getting booked up for November and December, do you have a need for me to block off any dates or reserve my time for any dates before they are gone? 

floriology: How did you get in front of the television producers to even bid on the "Dynasty" florals? What was the process? What are some of the situations that you have to deal with for this type of work?

Angelyn: Again, by sheer luck! I was at the GSFA State convention and had won DOY for the 4th time. I always look for people I don't know and sit with them to make them feel welcome. The Production contacts (France and Andy) had the contract for "Dynasty" but it was a lot of work. I was asked if I did freelancing and I said sure. I have been going to the studio or set helping with some of the big installations for the show, as well as a couple other shows they have since picked up. 

It is hard work but also fun. We would meet at 4 a.m. at base camp to work on location for the Season 1 finale. It was 40 degrees, I had to learn how to drive a mule with a trailer in order to haul our buckets of flowers to the location onsite. No heat, no electricity, very windy.

Recently, I had 22 matching arrangements of hydrangea, roses, stock and Phalaenopsis to make and they kept blowing down the hill. I finally moved my workstation into a horse stall and closed the door, locking myself on the inside with no way out. (There are) absolutely no phones, cameras, or autographs. Get it done fast because when they turn off ALL the lights to start filming, you are stuck. No moving, talking, working, just get in and out as fast as you can.