Great Lakes Floral & Event Expo 2022 Highlights

by Details Flowers ● 28 March ● News & Events

We had such a wonderful time attending The Great Lakes Floral and Event Expo this month! It was refreshing to see all of our Michigan floral friends in person and attend such a great event. Here is a highlight of our experience at the expo!

The expo was held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place Convention Center in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. There was something for everyone, with several design seminars, business sessions, and hands-on workshops. Hands-on workshops were packed with how-to tips and the latest items from show exhibitors who displayed a wide range of goods and services over the event. Several leading designers presented displays, ranging from bridal to sympathy to wearable flower fashion. Attendees learned about profit, technology, and staffing in the business seminars--which we were excited to be a part of this year! 


Our friend, Ace Berry, was a part of the Main Stage design show and covered Weddings of the Roaring 20s! With bright vibrant colors and cutting-edge designs, Ace showcased weddings that were influenced by our past all while moving us into the future. Way to go Ace!



The Banquet on Saturday night was beautiful, and it was such a treat to celebrate all who received distinct honors. It was a wonderful time to network with fellow industry members and share stores!


Booth Design


Our booth was designed by William Santos, Owner of Monarch Gardens in Petosky, Michigan. William created a beautiful design with a large floral arch as the focal piece. Beautiful Garden Roses featuring Quicksand, White O'Hara, and Westminster Abbey. The Blue and White Hydrangeas add a classic feel to the arch. We can't thank you enough for the time you put into making this for us!

William had a wonderful business session at GLFEE all about setting up your retail store for success! "If your shop needs a little sprucing up or a total re-do this is the class is for you. Optimize the presentation of your products, showcase the services you offer, and make your store an experience your customers will love. The purpose of this class is to give you the tools to attract, engage, and motivate the customer towards making a purchase." If you ever have the opportunity to chat with William, he is a wealth of floral knowledge!

Monarch Gardens was recently featured in our Retail Florist Spotlight for Valentine's Day Preparation. Make sure to check it out to learn all of the tips from William on how to make your Valentine's Day Prep a breeze!   

Navigating The World of Freelance Design


We had the pleasure of conducting a business panel at this year's event all about the world of Freelance Design. William Santos of Monarch Gardens, Samantha Belonga of St. Ignace in Bloom, and Andrew Stinson of WAS Design Works were our panelists to provide their expertise to the subject. Here is a little bit about our participants:

  • Samantha Belonga and her husband Alex own and operate St. Ignace In Bloom Greenhouse & Florist in St. Ignace, Michigan.  Samantha graduated from Grand Valley State University with a B. A. in Hospitality and Tourism Management, with an emphasis on Event Planning.  In 2018 after studying floral design and the floral industry inside and out, Samantha passed the board exam becoming a Certified Florist. St. Ignace specializes in weddings on Mackinac Island in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The unique location requires transportation by ferry, horse carriage, and bike as there are no cars allowed on the island! 

  • Floral and Interior Designer William Santos has been working in the industry for 25 years with the last 15 as the owner and lead designer of Monarch Garden & Floral in Petoskey, Michigan. The store is known for its creative displays, beautiful events with an exclusive line of event rentals, custom residential florals, and Holiday decor.  Some of Monarch's work can be seen in publications like the Knot Magazine, and Traditional Homes Magazine. When William is not coming up with some crazy idea at the store you can find him in the kitchen cooking a gourmet vegan meal or off-roading with his Jeep in the woods of Northern Michigan. 

  • W.Andrew Stinson, AIFD CFD has been in the floral industry for over 20 years. He’s an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers. He is the owner of WAS Design works located in Columbia, South Carolina. 

We covered what resources to utilize when looking for Freelance Designer, what skills to look for when seeking a designer, and how to approach difficult situations with a Freelance Designer.  

If you are interested in learning more about freelancing how-to's--make sure to check out our November Masterclass covering even more talking points on the world of freelancing!

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Make sure to put GLFEE on your calendar for next year! “A Whole New World” 2023 Great Lakes Floral and Event Expo will be held March 3-5 at the Amway Grand Plaza and Devos Place, Grand Rapids, Michigan, details at

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