Ever wonder how FTD Flowers gets its special look and feel? Ever wonder who is the man behind those beautiful bouquets? Or how one becomes a floral designer? Check out our Q&A session with our Vice President of Design – Michael Skaff
Q: Michael – where did you begin your career in horticulture?
Back in high school, I started working in greenhouses growing plants and ever since I have just loved the field of horticulture. I really just didn’t know what area of horticulture I wanted to be in.
Q: So you just stumbled in and ended up loving it!- How did you eventually make the transition into floral design?
I went to college and became a botany major but actually ended up becoming a horticulture major with a focus in plant specialty. Then, I ended up taking one floral design class and I was hooked. It was actually then my father, who was a visual merchandiser, that connected all aspects for me in design. So after one class in college, I decided to advance my floral design career and go for what might be considered the “PhD” in floral designs from American Institute of Floral Designers.
Q: That’s so awesome that it worked out that way…so what did you end up doing after that?
I began working for different flower shops and determined at 28 that I wanted my own flower shop. I opened it in a historic home from 1825. I specialized in events and weddings but I also had ever day items. The customers could walk from room to room and shop the fresh and silk bouquets in the beautiful interior. After a while, I extended my business to plants and began designing interior plants for corporate businesses.
Q: So it seems like you were quite the entrepreneur…so how did you end up with FTD?
I had been a subcontractor for FTD and other companies for many years. In 2000, I sold my flowers shop and worked as a full time subcontractor, and it was in 2006 that I became full-time at FTD.
Q: What other events did you do as a subcontractor?
A: I actually worked two presidential inaugurations and the 75th annual Academy Awards. Another interesting event I did was for Mrs. Shriver at her home. She has a charitable organization very close to her heart called Best Buddies. I was able to help her put together the arrangements for an event she held there to raise money.
Q: Wow, that’s so cool! Did you focus on only events and FTD at this time?
A: Actually, I was very fortunate to work in many different aspects of the floral industry. I was able to go back to UMASS Amherst, where I graduated from, and teach floral design. It was really amazing to have the opportunity to be in all aspects of floral design and horticulture. From plant breeding to visual merchandising, to teaching and working on special events around the country, I was really able to do it all.
Q: Do you have a favorite moment in your career?
A: From a career perspective the best thing I’ve ever done was work at the White House. That enabled opportunities and opened several doors for me within my career. But I have to say, my favorite thing that I’ve ever done was actually doing my parent’s funeral flowers. This was an incredibly special moment because I was able to add my own personal touch and my own personal emotion into my designs for those most important in my life.
Q: What excites you about arranging flowers?
Every flower bouquet is personalized and every single bouquet comes out completely different. As I start off designing a bouquet, I think of the occasion or who it’s going to and I think of how to create the bouquet. My initial concepts may go right out the door as I’m designing. As a creative person, I adapt to change instantaneously.
Q: So I have to ask, what would you be doing if you weren’t designing flowers?
A: Interior design. That’s probably my second love. I love interpreting how an environment may be suitable for someone to live in, yet still interesting when you walk in a room.
Q: So do you always have fresh cut flowers in your house?
A: I don’t (laughs) it’s like the shoe and the cobbler. I don’t but when I feel like my mood needs to change, I do grab flowers. Or when certain flowers are in season like gladiolus or tulips I do like putting simple flowers like that in a vase and they are so stately and create such a statement in your home, I do occasionally.
Q: What would be your favorite flower then?
It’s the first sign of spring for me. And they’re yellow, which is my favorite color. I can have any flower from around the world, any exotic flower, but daffodils are a ray of light and I love the springtime and the simplicity of daffodils.
Stay tuned for more on what inspires Michael and what’s to come for future FTD designs!