Living in Marceline, Missouri, a rural town with just 2,500 residents, didn't diminish Walt Disney's creativity and it hasn't held back Julia Schmitt from launching a new line of couture floral fashions for her customers. In fact, she overcame a fear of working with decorative wire and has mastered high-style floral jewelry designs that are putting her on the map. At the beginning of her floral career nearly a decade ago, Julia watched a YouTube video with her sister the night before prom to learn how to make a corsage. They had orders to fill the next day. Today, Julia Marie Pualeialii Schmitt CFD, ICPF, EMC is co-owner of Busy Bee Florist and Gifts with her mother and a teaching assistant with the Illinois State Floral Association’s ‘boot camp’ educational program. She also has traveled internationally with the European Master Certified team and is launching her own independent floral design business. Along the way, she fell in love with wire work and honed the art of making and selling floral jewelry, leading to her customers naming her the ‘wire guru.’
“Creating floral jewelry says two things to your customers: you are an artist and you can create something unique just for them,” she says.Julia shares with us the tips and techniques she’s mastered in hopes that you’ll be inspired to try it in your floral business too.
A hidden talent discoveredJulia parents retired in 2008 from Hawaii to a farm in the heart of the Midwest. A few months later, her mother purchased a local flower shop in Marceline. When the shop’s designer left, Julia’s mom asked her to help until she found another designer. “I can do this!” said a surprised Julia a few months later. “It did not take long for flowers to become my passion and my life,” she remembers. She soon became business partners with her mom. For the past eight years, the two have owned Busy Bee Florist & Gifts and its sister store Busy Bee Too.
Finding a passion for wire[rev_slider alias="wire-guru-1"] A local wholesaler offered a corsage and decorative wire class. “I was scared stiff to try using wire, so I sent my sister to the class,” explains Julia. “Cecilia came back all excited and showed me what she had learned.” Julia began to experiment with incorporating decorative wire into designs. “An entirely new world opened up to me,” she says. She fell in love with wire and making floral jewelry, which increased sales. “When Wendy Andrade AIFD published her book, Fresh Floral Jewelry, I started to learn basic techniques and stopped being afraid of using wire,” says Julia. As her passion grew, she soon discovered selling floral jewelry was a way to stand out in her area. “Creating floral jewelry says two things to your customers: you are an artist and you can create something unique just for them.” Soon her customers were referring to her as the wire guru or wire queen.
Creating a demand for the product“The key is to get your clients engaged in what you are doing,” she says. “I display floral jewelry samples year-round in my consultation room to attract new customers.” Julia uses these techniques to increase sales:
- Frame floral jewelry for display in shop windows during prom season.
- Publish Snapfish photo books of floral jewelry to keep a record of designs created in the past.
- Offer autograph sessions for students to sign their flowers. High school kids featured in the prom book often come back to see their photos.
- Encourage repeat business by suggesting a jewelry design be brought back and refreshed with new flowers for the next event.