Althea Wiles

Founder of Rose of Sharon Floral Design Studio

Althea Wiles is the owner and creative director of Rose of Sharon Floral Design Studio in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She is also the founder and education director of J Althea Creative, a florist education consulting program. Althea earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College then completed her Arkansas Master Florist Certification. Her design studio takes part in 75-100 weddings and events annually and has been recognized by national and regional publications. She continues to serve as a featured artist for the Art in Bloom gallery exhibit, chosen and hosted by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. She is also an instructor in the Horticulture department at the University of Arkansas.

Wiles is available for guest speaking appearances in the florist education space. She is available for travel speaking opportunities on location and at virtual webinars hosted by other organizations. Wiles hosts her own workshops and webinars on a consistent basis under her florist consulting business, J Althea Creative.

The Pretty & Profitable Workshop and florist educational curriculum was founded by Althea Wiles. Wiles’ wide range of topics include systems and operations, pricing for profitability, quarterly planning, lists of resources and a host of tips and tricks in the flower business. The basic workshops are the perfect place for florists’ who may not have time to train new employees. In-depth workshops cover topics that even the most seasoned florists can learn from. The Pretty & Profitable Workshop is led by public speaker, Althea Wiles. Interested parties can book her for appearances hosted at wholesale floral houses, independent florist studios/shops, florist conventions or anywhere florists gather. Wiles wants to instill confidence in florists whether they are dealing with a profitability issue, a difficult customer, a wedding, an event or any myriad of issues professional florists deal with on a daily basis.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

It varies by day. Monday and Wednesday I teach at the University of Arkansas in the horticulture department, Tuesday is for consulting other florists, and Friday and Saturday are my design days. Thursday is a flex-day for consulting and design.
I keep all this straight by using exhaustive to-do lists.

How do you bring ideas to life?

My design process actually starts with visualizing the end product. Then I’ll create mood boards with flowers, colors, inspirations and the flower recipes for my designs. Along with a few design notes, this allows me to create the designs well in advance of receiving the flowers. Once the flowers arrive, I’m basically recreating what I originally planned.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Personalized weddings. I’ve always believed that a wedding should reflect the couple and just because something is “traditional” doesn’t mean it has to be included in your wedding.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

Everything that needs to be done goes on a checklist. If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t undercharge! Don’t go out of your way to make a client’s budget fit your work. Budgets are important, but not every client can afford everything they want…and that’s okay. Your work is valuable.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.

Weddings don’t have to be extravagant to be beautiful.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Figure out systems that work for you and how you work. If the system doesn’t match your style, you won’t keep using it.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Take a break and read a book.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

I continually try new things. They may not work or they may be huge successes and sometimes they work but aren’t right for me. If I don’t try them, I won’t know.

What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

I don’t frame things as “failures.” There are things that I’ve tried that didn’t work and other things I’ve tried that I didn’t like and won’t do again. There are challenges that I’ve faced, overcome and learned from, as well. For example, it took a good amount of time, therapy and business coaching to be comfortable being the “face” of my business. I prefer to be behind the curtain, quietly getting things done. When it became apparent that this was keeping the business from growing in the ways that I wanted, I tackled it with time, therapy and coaching. I’ve learned that it isn’t so uncomfortable after all.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I really want to see a point of sale (POS) plus floral-recipe builder and a floral e-commerce all-in-one system that’s actually affordable, understands the unique needs of florists, and is customizable. It needs to be both pretty AND robust.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it? – I love how flexible it is. I use it for all of my to-do lists, project management, content planning, SOPs and KPIs.

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

Having my house professionally cleaned. I have fibromyalgia and allowing myself to have my house cleaned (instead of feeling like I have to do it all, all by myself, all the time) allows me to rest when I need to.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine by Mike Michalowicz. It’s a great book about how to think about money and has practical advice for budgeting, planning and paying yourself.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

I’m currently reading all my Anne McCaffry books. It’s been years since I read them. They’re just good light science-fiction so it’s easy to fall into the story and tune out the noise of everyday life. Plus I have a ton of them.

Key learnings:

  • The best system to use is the one that works for you.
  • Progress isn’t possible unless you try things.
  • Nobody pays as much attention to you as you do – so relax.

Photo credit: Lori Sparkman Photography.