When the doorbell rings and you’re presented with a huge assortment of roses, irises and daisies, do you ever wonder who’s behind such a unique floral arrangement? Well, at FTD it’s Michael Skaff, the vice president of design. He spoke with RetailMeNot to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the life of an FTD visionary and the care that goes into each bouquet.Michael Skaff, VP of design at FTD
Tell us about a little about FTD.
FTD has been delivering flowers since 1910, which is over 100 years of floral delivery! Originally FTD stood for Florist Telegraph Delivery because our florist network used telegraphs to take customer orders and fulfill them on the same day. Now, long past the days of the telegraph, it stands for Florist Transworld Delivery because we deliver to approximately 150 countries around the world.
We were founded by John Valentine (fitting, huh!), and we have the Mercury Man as our logo to symbolize our speedy delivery.
How did you get started at FTD?
I began in the floral industry over 30 years ago and have been with FTD for 20-plus. I’m currently the VP of design, overseeing the product line and working to come up with new, exciting innovations.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve done in your career?
I have done many exciting things in my career. I have showcased my designs for the Clinton and Bush presidential inaugurations and was a member of the design team for the 75th Oscars. The most exciting thing was to be involved in was the inaugurations. You get such a feeling of pride for your country, and it is a time that everyone comes together to celebrate a new era.
What is your favorite part of being the VP of design, and what does an average day look like for you?
The best part of my job is to create. I work constantly to bring together an inspiring line of flowers to help express a sentiment and convey emotion from one person to another. Making people feel special and cared for is what makes my job rewarding. What I love about my job is that there is no average day. I could be working on product development, testing new product, speaking with growers, working to perfect our photography style or on how our products should appear on the site and be promoted.
When you put collections together, do you think about the vessel they will be held in?
The container and bouquet need to aesthetically work together. When developing new products we take into consideration how flowers will fit into the vase, the amount of water source and after-use value to consumers.
Every bouquet is special because no two arrangements are ever the same. Each one ends up different depending on who arranged it!
When people get fresh-cut flowers without a vase, what should they keep in mind when choosing one?
There is no right or wrong answer, but I like to think there are a couple of guidelines. First, I would think about the right size of the vase versus the bouquet of flowers they have. Are the stems long or short? Is it a full bouquet or a few stems? These will determine the height of your vase and how wide it should be.
If it’s a causal bouquet, a casual vase would be fitting, such as a galvanized French bucket or white-washed ceramics. Formal flowers should be paired with crystal or something that matches the elegance of the arrangement. Pedestal or thick glass vases supply a layer of sophistication to the overall look of the bouquet.
How does FTD ensure that a recipient will receive from a local florist what is pictured on the FTD site?
FTD works closely with our member florists to educate on how to best to arrange our bouquets, and we provide recipes and exclusive containers to make sure our quality standards are met. We have a seven-day satisfaction guarantee for any customer that is not satisfied with their purchase.
Is there anything we’d be surprised to learn about FTD?
We are now the largest floral provider in the world, which includes the brands FTD, Flying Flowers and Interflora. Recently we’ve added ProFlowers, Kalla, ProPlants, Drake Algar and Flowers Direct to the family!
What is your favorite flower and what kind of bouquets do you love putting together?
Daffodils are my absolute favorite flower. They are one of the first signs of spring and that cheerful bright yellow flower lifts my spirits. I can have any flower in the world from the most exotic orchids to heirloom roses or peonies, but for me the simplicity of daffodils is what I love.
What is your least favorite flower and why?
Honestly, being a florist is in my blood, so I love all flowers and appreciate each floral variety for it’s own unique characteristics.
What do you think about giving flowers to a man? Are there any masculine arrangements or flowers you can recommend? What about other types of gifts for men from FTD?
Giving flowers to a man is so appropriate and most men would love the idea. Surprise him! There is no such thing as a masculine or feminine arrangement. The key is to select the right container. Most consumers believe that earth-toned colors such as oranges, red, yellows are more masculine; however purples, plums and whites are also very appropriate. Other gifts that would absolutely wow him are chocolate-covered strawberries, or to bring on the romance send Champagne paired with Godiva chocolates.
For people who are sensitive to smell, what flowers do you suggest?
Tulips and orchids are some of the world’s most cherished flowers and they have little to no fragrance, yet always make the right impression.
So it’s just about that time—what I imagine to be your busiest time of year! What gifts do you think will be most popular for Valentine’s Day this year?
As expected, red roses are still the number one gift for Valentine’s Day, but tulips are coming in as a close second each year as they are available all year long and have gained considerable popularity.
To read more about Michael Skaff, check out his interview on the FTD blog.
For more savings, check out more FTD coupons on RetailMeNot.