Kelly is the Marketing and Communications Director for Smithers Oasis Floral Products. She has been married for 29 years and has two sons. Kelly enjoys travelling, gardening, hiking/biking, working out and playing with Sadie, her new German Shepherd puppy!
When did you first “fall in love” with flowers?
I fell in love with flowers at a very early age; we always had fresh flowers in our house growing up and both of my grandmother’s were always planting their petunias and annuals in the spring! During high school, I took a floral design class in the evenings at a local floral design school (Robin Art School of Floral Design) and have been hooked ever since.
What was your first official flower “job?”
I started working at Smithers-Oasis in 1993, so officially I’ve been in the floral industry for 19 years.
When did you realize that you wanted to make a career in the floral industry?
When I first started working with our team of designers at our photo shoots and realizing that I was working with the most talented designers in the world.
You have been at Smithers Oasis since 1993…what was your first job at Smithers Oasis?
My first position was working part time in the Human Resources Dept.
Currently you are the Marketing Programs/Communications Manager for Smithers Oasis…tell us a little about your job and what it entails.
I am responsible for the floral marketing communications of our company. I currently manage our Design Director team IDEA Magazine and IDEA Mail, our trade show participation and all of our floral communications to wholesalers and retailers.
You are in charge of managing your companys’ trade shows. How many shows are you a part of each year…and which one(s) are the BIGGEST?
We participate in over 100 National, Regional, State and Wholesale Shows. The larger shows that we participate in are the Special Events Show, IFE, AIFD, NE Floral, Philadelphia Flower Show and Great Lakes Expo.
How do you decide which products to highlight at the trade shows?
Depending upon the show, we will typically introduce and showcase our newest products and feature those products.
Marketing is obviously the biggest factor in your job at Smithers Oasis. How do you keep your marketing ideas” fresh” and “appealing” to customers?
I would like to believe we are one step ahead of color trends and new products – giving our customers what they want even before they know that is what they want!
What do you like to focus on the most in your marketing?
We like to focus on how to help the retail florist grow their business.
How do you create marketing initiatives that make Smithers Oasis stand out from your competition?
Are there any marketing tips you can give to florists and event professionals?
We have developed a new series of marketing materials for retailers. Starting with our Everyday Tool Kit which includes marketing tools for a complete marketing campaign. We know how expensive photography can be and how expensive it can be to begin a marketing campaign. We do all the work for the retailer, the Everyday Kit includes posters, information on customizing postcards, and emails and links to images. These images can be downloaded onto the retailer’s website. The kit also includes a desk blotter with matching inserts. Once signed up for the original Tool Kit, retail florists are then provided with updated seasonal kits. Check out www.oasisfloral.com for additional information.
You are also head of the famous “Smithers Oasis Design Team.” How do you choose the team members? What are the responsibilities of the design team?
The Design Director team are renowned Floral Designers throughout North America. They are selected by Smithers-Oasis based on their industry experience, reputation, presentation and design skills, and their availability. Our Design Director team is involved in everything from product development, color trend resources, and presenters and educators of our products at various industry shows throughout the country.
Working with such creative people is exciting but also a challenge. How do you keep members focused and on track without squashing their creativity?
Our designers pretty much know what we like and what may be a little too outside of the box. We never want to squash their creativity, but we do have to be realistic to what the market will accept.
You also oversee the publishing of the Oasis IDEA Magazine…which comes out twice a year in print and once a month via email newsletter. (I LOVE IDEA magazine btw…look forward to it!) IDEA is always filled with such creative designs and innovative Oasis products. How do you decide what to “showcase” in the magazine?
We meet several times beforehand, with our designers, advertising agency and marketing team internally and discuss what we would like to showcase.The magazine comes out twice a year and typically coincides with our product launches, so we generally showcase new products and their applications. We also have two selection guides which come out seasonally, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. These selection guides are a resource for the retail florist to see seasonal design ideas featuring our products.
What is the BEST thing about your job? What do you enjoy doing most? What is the hardest?
The best thing about my job is the interaction that I have with designers throughout the country. I enjoy working on photo shoots and learning and keeping up to date on upcoming trends and design techniques.
Which Oasis marketing campaign has been your most successful to date…and why do you think it was so successful?
I’d like to say they were all successful! We put a lot of research and work into our marketing campaigns and listen to the retail florists for their input when we are developing our campaigns.
How has your marketing strategy changed since the economic recession?
We have been focusing on the retail florist and helping them with education, business tips, labor saving products and our Marketing Tool kits which I mentioned previously.
Oasis is best known for quality flower foam…how many varieties do you sell and which one is your biggest seller?
We have OASIS(R) Floral Foam Maxlife Standard, Instant, Instant Deluxe, Deluxe and Springtime. We also have Advantage Plus.
Which foam do you recommend for thick stemmed flowers like Callas?
We recommend Deluxe and Instant Deluxe for thicker stemmed flowers.
Which foam is best for funeral work and other designs requiring a foam that can handle large amounts of flowers and a strong “grip” on flowers (so you don’t have any stems fall out).
Our new OASIS(R) Floral Foam Maxlife is now in all of our shapes including mache shapes. You can be guaranteed that flowers will last up to 50% longer than other floral foams and can handle a large amount of flowers.
Other than flower foam…what are the top 3 most popular products sold by Oasis?
Our Decorative Products, mache and designer shapes. Also Floralife products.
Which products do you think florists need to know more about?
We probably get the most questions on gluing and which glues to use for different applications. Also, how many carnations do you need for our Floral Foam Spheres? We ended up doing a video on that one! Check out our youtube videos on www.youtube.com/oasisfloral to find out!
What is YOUR favorite Oasis product?
My new favorite product is our new OASIS® Floral Foam Float which debuted this spring. It is one that I have been passionate about bringing to market for several years. I can’t wait to see how creative designers will be with this new product!
Oasis Colored Aluminum Wire is incredibly popular and versatile. Does Oasis have a “How To” video teaching florists how to create swirls, hearts, etc. with the wire?
Yes, we have several how-to videos, design tips, trend information on the OASIS YouTube Channel.
All your hard work was recently recognized by AIFD. You received the 2011 Award of Merit from AIFD recognizing your contributions to the floral industry. What an honor! Tell us about that.
I was so honored to be recognized by the American Institute of Floral Designers. I was very surprised and couldn’t believe that I was chosen and I especially that I didn’t suspect a thing. The best thing they did was not tell my twin sister Kim or I would have known for sure. To be honored by my peers was the highlight of my career.
What is YOUR favorite flower and why?
My favorite flower is a white tulip, I love green and white together and this flower is just so simple, clean and beautiful to me.
When you aren’t performing your marketing magic for Smithers Oasis…what do you enjoy doing on your time off?
When I am not working, I enjoy being with family and friends. My mother has a house on lake Erie so I spend alot of time there in the summertime – love all of the local wineries too! I also enjoy working out, biking, golfing, hiking and dancing. Suffering from empty nest syndrome recently, my husband Ken and I decided to get a German shepherd puppy that never stays still, so walking and playing with her daily is never ending.
One of your hobbies is traveling…where are some of the places you’ve visited? What was your favorite place to visit? Where have you always dreamed of visiting?
I’m very fortunate to be able to travel for my position with Smithers-Oasis throughout the USA . I also enjoy traveling with my family; we’ve traveled to Cancun, Belize, Cozumel, Bermuda, Canada and throughout the US. One of our favorite vacation locations is Hilton Head Island, SC and hopefully one day we will have a retirement home there. I also love Chicago and New York and have been to both cities several times. My son recently moved to downtown Chicago, so he will have me as a visitor quite a lot! Sorry Bryan! I have yet to travel abroad, so hope that is in my travel plans one day, specifically Ireland, Italy, Germany and England.
You also enjoy gardening. What flowers & veggies do you regularly plant in your garden? What are the easiest and hardest plants for you to grow?
I love to work in my yard (love to mow!) and the easiest plants for me to grow are hostas! They just multiple and always do so well for me and grow anywhere I plant them. I design many container arrangements too in the spring and love to go to the garden center. My mother and I go every year together and it has become our “thing”. Plus the name of the garden center is Kelly’s. I don’t have much luck with geraniums; don’t care for the leaves falling off all over.
Do you have any personal goals that you would like to accomplish within the next couple of years?
Yes, I would like to continue my education in floral design and marketing and that ever elusive 5K.
Ok, last question….What has been the most important piece of “advice” you’ve been given…and how has it helped guide your life?
I’ve always lived with the advice of many of my mentors in my life and that has always been to “treat others as you would want to be treated”, pretty much says it all. And the other most important advice from my best friend from high school, Vicki Brock, “It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed!” – Still do that today.