2023 SAF Annual Convention Recap

by Details Flowers ● 15 September ● News & Events, Partners
The 2023 Society of American Florist (SAF) Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, was a blooming success! Floral industry professionals from across the world gathered in the picturesque southwestern city for three days of inspiration, education, and networking. It was so great seeing our floral friends and making new ones. This convention had everything from stunning floral varieties to innovative design trends. If you could not attend the conference this year, here is what you missed!
The convention kicked off with a First-Timer and President's Reception that set the stage for an exciting few days ahead. We reconnected with our floral friends from past events and even met our peers and customers we only spoke to through email. That is why we love attending these events. Strengthening relationships is what it is all about in our industry! 
 Images: Brandy (Details team member) with Williee Armellini (CEO of Flowers and Cents); Opening night First Timer's Reception; Jordan (Calflowers) with Lorna (Brady's Florals) and Myranda (Details team member)
The Westin Keirland Resort was adorned with beautiful arrangements from the design team. Thank you, Ian Prosser and the entire volunteer team, for making the convention so beautiful! The opening morning, Kate Penn addressed the current state of our Industry and how we need to unite to keep our community thriving. Educational Sessions throughout the conference were very informative for all industry members. From AI to expert tips on business succession, there were classes for everyone to attend.
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  Images: Brandy (Details team member) with Lorraine Cooper of the Design Team (Brady's Florals); Myranda and Olivia with the Flowers of Colombia booth set up
The convention was a treasure trove of knowledge, and we were truly impressed by the depth of the educational and business sessions. Among the standout classes was "Harvesting Talent in Local Schools," which shed light on nurturing the next generation of florists. The "2024 Flower Trends Forecast" provided a glimpse into the exciting future of floral design. "Blueprint for Family Business Succession" addressed a vital topic for many of us, offering practical insights into ensuring the longevity of family-run floral enterprises. The "In-Store Experiences Workshop" delved into creating memorable customer experiences, a critical aspect of our industry. Last but not least, "Sustainability and Floriculture" offered thought-provoking discussions on embracing eco-friendly practices, reflecting a growing imperative in our field.  
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The Supplier Expo was fun to meet with attendees and other vendors face-to-face. Our team members Brandy, Olivia, and Myranda enjoyed connecting with all of our customers and new connections at the Expo!
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 Images: Brandy  and Myranda (Details team members) with Tony (PJ's Flowers); Brandy with Carrie (Jenny's Florals); Brandy and Myranda with Benno
The Outstanding Varieties Contest was incredible to see. Walking through the isles of the most beautiful blooms was certainly a site to see. ‘Amistad,’ the light pink double Oriental lily presented by Sun Valley Floral Farms, was crowned Best in Show at SAF’s Outstanding Varieties Competition. The 2023 People's Choice Winners were Cut Rose Aloha by Dream Farms and Cut Chrysanthemums BluOcean Sapphire by Suntory Flowers. Congratulations to all of the varieties recognized in this year's competition! 
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That Flower Feeling was recognized as the Marketer of the Year at this year's convention. That Flower Feeling is a powerful campaign to aid in the success of all members of the floral community, and the recognition could not be more well deserved. If you want to learn more about That Flower Feeling, check out their website or read all about them in this month's issue of Floral Management MagazineThe torch was officially passed from Michelle Castellano Keeler to Oscar Fernandez as the new SAF President. Thank you, Michelle, for your work as president, and congratulations, Oscar!
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  Images: Michelle Castellano Keeler and Oscar Fernandez (the new SAF President); The CalFlowers Team receiving the award for Marketer of the Year
We had the opportunity to sponsor the SAFPAC Reception. SAFPAC is the ONLY national political action committee dedicated to advocating for the floral industry. We are such a strong advocate for advancing our industry, and we loved seeing such a large turnout! The floral competition was so fun to watch, and seeing everyone come together to help boost our industry was incredible. Together, almost $30,000 was raised to help floral initiatives! If you would like to get involved with advocating for our community, Congressional Action Days is the best way to meet with your local representatives in Washington, DC, to bring issues of our industry to the table. The only way our issues can be resolved is to get involved!
  Images: Olivia, Brandy, and Myranda (Details team members)  at the SAFPAC Reception; Details team members with Jen from Beautiful Blooms by Jen; Adam Harvilla participating in the Design Competition
The 54th Annual Sylvia Cup Design Competition is the most anticipated event of the convention. 25 Participants from around the globe participated in this 3-part, 2-hour design competition centered around The Wild West. Congratulations to Michael Smith, AIFD, CFD, FDI, FSMD from Artistic Designs Unlimited Inc., in Marianna, Florida, for being the 2023 Sylvia Cup Winner!
The Stars of the Industry Gala was the perfect ending to the conference. All of the awards were so well deserved and were very inspiring to see.
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  Images: Michael Smith (Artistic Designs Unlimited); Mike Black (Jet Fresh Flowers); Patience Pickner (The Picket Fence)
Below are all of the winners of the prestigious awards:
Tommy Bright Award- Tim Farrell AAF, AIFD, CFD, PFCI
2023 Century Award Honoree- Phillip's Flowers, Westmont, IL
Alex Laurie Award- Kimberly Williams, Ph.D. Kansas State University 
Gold Metal Award- Deliflor Americas
Next Gen Rising Star Award- Nicole Palazzo, AAF, City Line Florist
Paul Ecke Jr Award- Michael Black, Jet Fresh Flower Distributors 
Floriculture Hall of Fame- Terril Nell, Ph. D, AAF
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Images: Brandy and Olivia (Details team members); Details team members with FernTrust Inc.
A special thank you to the entire SAF Staff for coordinating this event. It is a true highlight of our year, and we always love participating. We can't wait to see everyone next year in Florida!

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