Essential Marketing for Florists

Meet Karen Greenoe, a Preston Bailey Protege

As my 10-year college reunion approaches (Go demon deacons!), I thought it’d be fun to reach out to an old sorority sister of mine, Karen Greenoe, who just so happens to be a rock star florist. She owns Lily Greenthumbs in Charlotte, North Carolina. Check her out!

Preston Bailey and Karen Greenoe
Preston Bailey and Karen Greenoe

Right before Valentine’s Day, Karen took a little trip to New York City, where she took part in an intense weekend workshop with celebrity florist Preston Bailey. When I saw the photos on Instagram, I knew a long overdue phone call was in order.

As a participant in The Preston Bailey Protege Program, Karen spent three days along with 14 other designers and event coordinators to learn how to run more successful consultations with prospective clients,  provide bigger and better packages without losing your head or your shirt, and create those opulent designs that make jaws drop and wallets open.

“Obviously, Preston’s a floral designer. His main focus is transforming spaces and making them visually appealing with flowers, but this program took on the whole scope of an event,” Karen said. “We had a lot of roundtable discussions on business and customer service topics. And we got to talk to his planner, graphic designer, lead floral designer, marketing director, etc. It was about all the pieces that come together to create an experience.”

Karen practices some of Preston's design mechanics.
Karen practices some of Preston’s design mechanics.

For instance, the group discussed the importance of networking so you can offer brides everything without having tables, chairs, linens, plates, lighting fixtures, a caterer, baker or DJ in house.

“Preston stressed that we should hone in on one thing we do better than anyone else, to be 100% at one thing rather than 20% at five things,” Karen said. “But at the same time, if a bride comes to you wanting full service, you need to be able to offer that, even if you just contract out work. It’s not realistic for most small business owners to do it all, so it’s critical that you stay connected with other professionals in your community.”


Another key point of the weekend was the value of descriptors and choosing more adjectives that are more telling than “nice” or “pretty.”

“Preston is the master at getting his clients to imagine the final product, even when they’re just standing in an empty ballroom,” Karen said. “It’s not all about how flowers look; he’s always sure to discuss fragrance and texture too.”

Preston transforms a room with living wall art.
Preston transforms a room with living wall art.

Prior to the weekend, Preston called each of the participants to learn about their businesses and what specific tips they wanted to learn. The weekend also entailed “a significant amount of one-on-one time” with Preston to follow up on those initial conversations, Karen said.

“It was surreal–and refreshing–to have someone who is so prominent in the industry ask me what my goals are and actually discuss what he could do to help me,” she said.


Interested in becoming a protege yourself? Visit

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