Young floral pros bring energy and experience to Miami at SAF’s first Next Gen Live! Event

Alexandria, Virginia – Nearly 160 attendees from 31 states, Ecuador and Colombia gathered in Miami, Fla. from July 31 to August 2 for the Society of American Florists Next Gen Live!– the industry’s premier event floral planned and designed exclusively for the next generation of professional florists in all segments.

During the day and a half event, young retailers, wholesalers, importers, growers and manufacturers attended training sessions focusing on leadership skills, productivity hacks, social media expertise, design tips, etc. Opportunities to network with peers, meet suppliers and visit flower import facilities provided attendees with a better understanding of the industry, a support network and a community for their future careers.

“We saw in Miami how important it is to bring young flower professionals together and give them the support they need to advance their careers, so they stay in our industry,” said Kate Penn. , CEO of SAF. The next generation is so promising, she said. “They were so grateful for the opportunity, so passionate about the industry and so eager for education and connection. It was inspiring to see their enthusiasm.

New Generation Live! emphasize education, particularly in the areas of leadership, marketing, and work-life balance. In a session on leadership styles, Flower Clique’s Ellie LaFever and Lori Wilson asked participants to take an online quiz to determine which of four personality tendencies they exemplified. From there, LaFever and Wilson presented the traits of these tendencies and made suggestions on how to identify these tendencies in others and work better with people of each tendency.

Lisa Ariola, of Etowah Florist in Etowah, NC, found her tendency to question everything.

“I ask, ‘Why?’ all the time,” she said — a trait that can be annoying to her boss, she admitted. “I think it’ll be cool to go back to my shop and tell my boss about it and she’ll be like, ‘I know better how to handle you now,'” Ariola said.

Another session brought together a panel of young owners and managers, who answered questions about how to be a young boss and, in particular, what it’s like to manage older generations who are perhaps be part of the business for decades.

“It’s hard to tell someone who changed your diaper what to do,” said Jodi McShan, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, who grew up in her family’s store, McShan Florist in Dallas, Texas, where she is now Vice President. “Communicate effectively what you bring to the table. Include them in decision making. Feel free to say, “We do it this way.”

The panel addressed other issues that have emerged throughout the pandemic, such as mental health and leadership with empathy.

“Treat mental health like you do your business,” said Sam Bowles, general manager of Allen’s Flowers & Plants in San Diego. “Don’t wait until you’re in crisis to work on your mental health. Value your own mental health. Treat your employees the same. Lead from a place of empathy.

Katrina Manzo, customer relations manager at Fifty Flowers, who attended the event and is new to the industry, said the experience was immersive and touched aspects of her job that will help advance your career.

“As new to the industry – and a new manager – it’s really great to learn leadership skills and things that I can bring back to my office,” she said.

Attendees were also able to learn about the breadth of the industry. A breeder, grower, importer and logistics company provided insight into what it takes to develop a new flower or foliage variety, grow it and transport it. Attendees got to see some of this process first hand when they visited the import facilities at Miami International Airport, the warehouse of a transportation company and the assembly line of a manufacturer of bouquets.

The big question for many participants at the end of the event: when is the next one?

Penn says plans are underway for another in-person event and, in the meantime, urges Next Gen industry members to take advantage of SAF’s ongoing Next Gen activities. “Join the Next Gen Facebook group, come to the Next Gen happy hour if you’re attending SAF Orlando 2022, and be on the lookout for even more virtual panel discussions in the coming year,” she says. .

Click here to see photos of the event.

About the Society of American Florists

The Society of American Florists is the association that connects and cultivates a thriving floral community through training, education, marketing resources and advocacy. Our vision: The power of flowers in every life. For more information, visit

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