Go to Market with J Schwanke

If you want to be known as a florist who’s chic, creative and cutting edge, you need to be educated on the latest trends. That means tuning into the fashion world, synthesizing what you see and applying it to your designs.

That can be a lot of work. Fortunately, there are a few experts in the industry who’ve taken it upon themselves to do the heavy lifting. Among them: J Schwanke, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, CEO of uBloom.com, host of Fun with Flowers and J, and author of Fun With Flowers, Bloom 365 and the uBloom Trend Synthesis.

He’s also a designated “design expert” for the Dallas Market Center, where he recently spent several days soaking in the latest trends. This week, he’s stepping in as a guest blogger, taking us on a virtual trip to the Lone Star state for the inside scoop of the latest trends:

As a design expert for the Dallas Market, I have the opportunity to view the marketplace from a completely different perspective. My “job” is to relate new trends in colors, displays and merchandising during walking tours of the January and June Markets.

This means lots of walking and lots of watching. It’s about honing my observation skills. Kelly and I try to make it into as many showrooms as possible. That makes my job different from the typical buyer who may visit places they like, enjoy, or are comfortable visiting. I, on the other hand, try to visit them all, seeing as much as I possibly can.

It’s interesting when you start to see common products and ideas in so many innovative displays – how certain colors seem to bubble to the top, for instance. It definitely makes an impression. I also see things that may never make it any further, or items that suggest a glimmer of a new fashion. It’s fun too: Having someone to bounce ideas off of, to speculate, to discuss.


At the June Market, I was lucky to have the opportunity to sit down with Michelle Lamb of the Trend Curve for some great observations and discussions. Michelle and I discuss color, new trends and concepts. I got to say, her job is more challenging than mine. She is looking for the next new trend, whereas I’m analyzing trends that have stabilized themselves and are available now for the floral industry.

Make no mistake: we do not set trends; we react to them. Sorry to break that news, but it’s true. We should stick to trends we can bank on, those that have trickled down and are embraced by the public.

This is a blessing… be thankful! As a designer, especially a floral designer, it’s important to know what trends have stabilized so we can execute them for multitudes of customers. Take the “Farm to Table” trend, for instance. I call it “Fleur le Table” because it has French overtones. It also includes elements such as wildflowers, farm tables, lanterns, mason jars, burlap, and local resources.

Mason jars may not be the newest trend, but they are as hot as even. Check out Pinterest, where you will find about 1 million pins about mason jars. This look has definitely gone mainstream, it’s one that’s easy for us to translate, and it’s definitely a good idea to cash in on it. Good news for those who’ve grown tired of mason jars: they’re evolving. (Stay tuned for the next year-18 months to see broader applications.)

So I get asked a lot, “What’s the NEW color?” “What’s the hot NEW trend?” Now, I definitely have opinions, but I also caution everyone who asks to test them out before marketing them. As my friend Michelle Lamb says, “dip your toe in a trend and see what your customers think.” That’s always a good idea.

That said, I’ve created a short list of current trends and colors. These are styles you can bank on.


Think: princesses, “Game of Thrones,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Into the  Woods,” and definitely “Frozen”

Elements: flower crowns, owls, crystals, opulent garden roses, dahlias



Colors: burgundy, navy blue, black, chrome, and, of course, “Elsa” aqua



Think: local, organic, sustainable flowers

Elements: wildflowers, farm tables, mason jars, baskets, farm gear

Colors: yellow, basil green, tangerine, terracotta, wood tones





Yes, this vintage look is still trending…

Elements: lace, hydrangea, delphinium, open roses, Queen Anne’s Lace

Colors: peach, pink, coral, lavender, light blue, sepia


And here’s a “watch list,” based on what I saw in Dallas. These are trends that haven’t yet stabilized yet. Still, we should keep a watchful eye on them.

Grey: it goes with everything and everything looks good with it

Farm animals: horses, pigs, owls and rabbits all seem to be important going forward, perhaps it’s an evolution of “Farm to Table”


Foliage and ferns: the full flower look is being eclipsed by beautiful foliage mixed with flowers or even foliage by itself


Fragrance: gardenias, garden roses, freesias, eucalyptus, herbs…I see people desiring to smell their flowers again

My best advice: keep your eyes and ears open. Observe the evolution of color and trend happen around you. Merge—gently—the new trends with past successes. It’s not an exact science, but you’ll be surprised how keen your senses are. Just take note and observe!