The Bloom Show covers the 2023 WFFSA’s Floral Distribution Conference
It’s that time of the year again when the entire floral community gears up and comes together for one of 2023’s most anticipated events: the Wholesale Florist and Floral Supplier Association’s Floral Distribution Conference.
Staying true to its steadfast mission of connecting and bringing insights to the different sectors of the floral industry, The Bloom Show covered this event through a series of three episodes, which were broadcast live on March 7, 2023, straight from the FDC.
This year, Sahid Nahim of Above All Flowers and New Blooms Solutions teamed up with Corrine Heck of Details Flowers Software to host the episodes that featured in-depth conversations with event organizers, industry leaders, and extraordinary women in the floral industry.
The episodes were sponsored by Details Flowers Software, whose Chief Executive Officer Corrine Heck had this to say: “We love to support our flower industry friends, especially when it comes to connecting and sharing their good work and skills with the rest of the industry. We think it is important to grow our network and can see the impact when collaborations turn into partnerships and further profit for all those involved. It has been a pleasure to learn and grow with The Bloom Show this year at WFFSA. We cannot wait for the next one. Thank you for having us!”
Having hosted this special coverage for three consecutive years, Sahid Nahim says, “This event bloomed from our vision and mission as a company (Above All Flowers and New Bloom Solutions), which is to help the flower industry innovate, connect, and bloom through innovation and building community. We want to give a special thank you to the WFFSA for hosting an amazing FDC every year and collaborating with us for the last three years.”
“This year’s BLOOM show live at FDC was one to remember. We partnered with Corrine Heck from Details Flowers Software, which made it all the better. The Women’s Day Roundtable was so much fun, and my favorite part was the long-term connections the ladies made with each other. The Blooming Leaders Roundtable was also one of the most fun I have ever hosted in three years, full of inspiration and laughter. We want to say thank you to Details Flowers Software for sponsoring and to all of the guests for joining us as we continue to help the flower industry innovate, connect, and bloom,” Sahid added.
The 2023 FDC was held in Doral, Florida from March 6th to March 8th, 2023. Leaning into this year’s theme of “The Future in Bloom,” the conference featured three full days of educational programming, networking opportunities, and tabletop displays. “The Bloom Show” was there to bring a small sample of what FDC is all about, and this year it was about “The Future In Bloom”.
In one of the episodes of The Bloom Show’s three-part special coverage of the 2023 FDC, special guest and WFFSA’s Executive Vice President Molly Mullins gives an in-depth look into what goes on behind the scenes of this huge event and what attendees can expect from WFFSA in the future.
“What I love most about an event like this is seeing the biggest competitors in the industry strategizing openly with each other,” Mullins said. “They’re laughing; they’re engaging, and that’s what I think the flower business offers.”
Elaborating on this year’s theme of “The Future in Bloom,” Mullins said it focuses on the idea of moving on and looking forward as an industry by reinvesting and marketing itself — changing from just a holiday-focused industry to more everyday business.
Mullins is particularly excited about the growing number of student attendees, which would give them a chance to connect with educators and gain insights on the industry’s growth potential and the kinds of jobs it offers.
When asked about future endeavors for floral professionals to look out for, Mullins has this to say: “We’re working to put together a potential mentorship program where we match people better.” The program, she says, will be focused on up-and-comers to help them feel connected to the floral industry.
Mullins also talked about WFFSA’s Development Experience (Dev X), which is a hands-on learning experience where people learn useful skills for the flower business through educational programming. Mullins talked about their recent event in Niagara Falls, which was a small gathering of 80 to 100 people who were interested in business.
Since the last day of the FDC falls on Women’s Day, The Bloom Show found it to be the best time to bring together some of the most inspiring women leaders to share their experiences, passions, and challenges in the floral industry in The Bloom Show’s third annual Women’s Day round table special with a special twist with the Chief Executive Officer of Details Flowers Software, Corrine Heck as the guest host on this special episode.
Four special guests—Mimi Martinez-Pacheco of Chrysal Americas, Sheila Santiago of Society of American Florists (SAF), Melanie Spilbeler of FreshPath Marketing, and Kristin Gilliland of Gardens America—join her at the table. These women have been called “the wonder women of the floral industry,” as one commenter put it.
They collectively agreed that women in the industry share one important quality: empathy. Spilbeler relates that, “Being in a leadership position, the ability to show empathy allows you to connect better with your employees.” Santiago agreed, saying that women “should be able to be sentimental and not be ashamed.”
These powerful women have been leaders in the floral industry for years, and when asked what are the biggest changes they’ve seen over the past two decades, Martinez-Pacheco answers, “The industry has evolved greatly with the help of technology. It has also become a bit more inclusive”.
Gilliland has also noticed that a lot of women are starting to occupy key positions in the industry and says that there is always room for more. Having grown up within the industry, she shares some of the barriers her own mother had to overcome, being only one of two women leaders in the industry during her time.
When asked what their advice would be to women entering the industry, the collective answer was “to be yourself.” Santiago comments that, “Young women should be confident in their ability, and don’t be afraid to be yourself and speak up.”
When asked about how they handle working in a male-dominated industry and leading the men in their team, Martinez-Pacheco answers, “Strong men aren’t intimidated by strong women.” “I think it’s all about building a good, strong team and respect.”
On dealing with disappointments both professionally and in their private lives, Gilliland shares her positive mindset: “I love that every day is an opportunity to start fresh. You go through hard things in your life, but they’re only temporary.” “And I look forward to learning something new every day.”
At the end of the episode, the guests shared similar stories about how working with other women in the floral industry gave them a sense of camaraderie that almost felt like family. These connections and friendships grew out of their shared experiences.
Blooming Leaders Roundtable 2023
The last episode of The Bloom Show’s special FDC coverage features some of the most successful, innovative, and well-known names in the floral industry.
Sahid Nahim and co-host Corrine Heck lead this interview with four of the top industry leaders today: Freddy Melero of Choice Farms, Jena Gizerskiy of Rosaprima, Nikki Fernandez of U.S. Greens Corp., and Yerandy Palenzuela of Continental Floral Greens.
The group enumerated some of the most important qualities they believe a leader should have, which include clear communication, transparency, and motivation. When asked about what type of leader they are, Melero says, “I believe in being a servant leader, which means empowering others around me to achieve their full potential so that we can all achieve our goals together.”
But being an industry leader has its share of challenges. For Fernandez, it’s having to deal with different personalities in a team. “This is why communication is important in my team,” she said. “I think that when you sit back and see things from other people’s perspectives, you can learn to become a better leader.”
Being an industry leader requires floral businesses to innovate, and the group collectively states that it’s important to always think outside the box.
With the rise of younger leaders in a long-standing industry, the group was asked how they handle leading older people who have been in the industry longer than they have. Palenzuela said, “Bringing them into the decision-making process helps.” You want to give them value and let them be heard. “At the end of the day, you walk in and give them the respect that they deserve and the position that they’ve earned.”
At the end of the episode, the group differentiates between being a leader and a manager. Gizerskiy said, “You lead, you don’t manage.” Leading means showing people how it’s done. You are the example: “You can’t expect people to be on time if you always show up late.”
Palenzuela adds to the topic, saying, “Being a leader means you’re not just here to dictate.” You’re here to listen.