PROUD MOMENT- Stephanie LaPrairie

Florist garners honourable achievement

Stephanie LaPrairie looking forward to mentoring others

A local florist has garnered one of the highest statuses possible in her industry.

Stephanie LaPrairie, owner of Stems Floral Galley in Red Deer was recently awarded the floral industry’s Accredited in Floral Design designation and inducted into the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) during a symposium held last month in San Francisco.

“This is a huge accomplishment in the floral industry as only a handful of florists in the world have this. It is something very coveted in our industry and throughout design internationally,” she said.

Unfortunately, LaPrairie wasn’t able to fly to San Francisco to accept her honour as she was waiting for her baby to arrive, but nonetheless continues to relish her success.

“This is a big thing for me and something that I truly worked hard on for the past few years and I have done it specifically to build the business and make Stems a better and more specialized business,” said LaPrairie. “The oath I take as part of the designation involves commitment to floral and business excellence, education and mentorship within the industry locally and globally.

“It sets myself and Stems in a position where I have been taking steps while providing other florists with education, knowledge and support to better themselves and become stronger at what they do.”

Early on in her career, LaPrairie knew receiving her Accredited in Floral Design designation was something she wanted to work towards.

“You can’t really go to school for any sort of degree program or anything for floral design in Canada,” she said. “After finishing Olds College I wanted to continue on. It’s important for business and it’s a really great educational tool to have.”

LaPrairie’s quest to receive her designation began in 2008 when she was asked by AIFD to submit a scholarship application. She received a scholarship and was able to attend a symposium for AIFD to see if it was something she would be interested in.

In 2011 LaPrairie tested for her designation where she had to design five floral arrangements in four hours. These floral arrangements underwent vigorous scrutiny by the judges.

“It was nerve-wracking because you go in with your tools and you don’t know what materials you will get to work with,” she said. “It’s scary because the arrangements have to be perfect and they almost have to look like they were made by a machine. Nothing could be out of place.”

Out of the 100 people that tested with LaPrairie, only 26 received high enough marks to allow them to get their designation.

Now with her designation, LaPrairie can help mentor and educate others.

“If people needed help or didn’t know what to do or if someone is new to the industry they can come to someone who has AIFD status and know that they will never be judged, they will always get honest help and that they’ll be looked to in a mentorship role,” she said. “I felt that especially since there isn’t much going on in Alberta or Canada in our industry, that I would be able to help.”

Meanwhile, LaPrairie has a real passion for what she does.

“Flowers are emotion and there are times we get to be part of people’s very happy occasions and there are times we get also get to help people through sad times too,” she said. “Flowers help make people share their feelings or bring out the things that they can’t always share and we get to be part of that.”

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