A Look Into The World of Floral Education & Competitions with Derek Woodruff

by Details Flowers ● 6 October ● News & Events

We had the pleasure of having one of our dear floral friends, Derek Woodruff of Floral Underground, as our Masterclass guest for September! We talked about his experience in design competitions, creating his business, traveling, and tips for selling arrangements. If you missed our session, here is a complete recap!

Floral Subscription Service

Derek was an early adopter of the subscription service in the floral industry. He ordered all the different types of floral subscription boxes and noticed that there was an educational component missing. He created his subscription service and cultivated an ultimate experience with the subscribers. The subscribers receive educational tools and videos for the DIY experience. He has sent out about 1,000 subscription boxes thus far! Derek advises that anyone who wants to try the subscription model for their business should jump in and do it! Try to see what type of model works best for you and build your branding off of that. You will be surprised how many people will want to subscribe. 

Weekly Orders

Derek has established his online offerings to showcase different bloom colors and three set styles. He picks out a color palette each week to advertise to his clientele, and he creates his arrangements with what he can find at the floral wholesalers. It gives him the creativity to make each piece unique and personalized to the buyer. On his website, he has three different sizes of designs that can be purchased. A small hand-tied bouquet (A thought), a medium style arrangement (A gesture), and a large arrangement (A Statement). Giving buyers too many options can be overwhelming sometimes. Derek has found that this method pushes the buyer to purchase with specific intent. 

Syndicate Sales Sympathy Arrangements

Derek had the opportunity to collaborate with Syndicate Sales and Helen Miller to create the newest Sympathy Arrangement Book. We recently launched the new Recipe Collection feature in Details and planned to showcase a few designs from this book! This is a perfect tool to use when selling funeral events to show the different styles to help grieving families through their difficult times. 

Floral Competitions

Floral competitions are very prominent in our industry. Derek has been competing in many competitions for years and continuously learns so much from each experience. If you have ever wanted to do a competition--do it! You learn so much from your experience, and even if you do not win, you can take your lessons to apply them to your daily work and the next competition. Competition is good for everyone!

He was able to compete in the television series "The Arrangement" in 2010. Ten floral arrangers competed in the reality television program. Each episode features challenges the competitors must complete in order to earn the title of "America's Best Floral Designer" and a prize package that includes a Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe and $25,000 in addition to the title. On October 4, 2010, Logo began broadcasting the series. 

Live Floral Demonstration

During our Masterclass, Derek created two beautiful arrangements highlighting a few of his favorite products and techniques. We have provided recipes for both of the designs so you can recreate them!

Design One: Vase

IMG_0180 (1)
(2) Salmon Dahlias
(2) Fountain Grass Plumes
(3) Pink Snap Dragons
(3) Mother of Pearl Roses
(3) Peach Hypericum Berry
(3) Caramel Antique Carnations
(5) Silver Dollar Eucalyptus
(2) Salmon Cushion Mums
(1) Dried by Design Champagne Blush Mini Dried Bouquet
(1) Desert Spice Vase (Syndicate 2023 Fall Prebook)


Design Two: Compote

(1) Grevillea
(3) Silver Dollar Eucalytpus
(3) Israeli Ruscus
(2) Burgundy Hibiscus Foliage
(2) Pink Snapdragons
(2) Peach Stock
(4) Peach Hypericum Berry
(2) White Hydrangea
(2) Salmon Cushion Mums
(1) Burgundy Disbud
(2) Bronze Disbuds
(2) Salmon Dahlias
(5) Caramel Antique Carnations
(3) Mother of Pearl Roses
(1) Fountain Grass Plumes
(1) Dried by Design Classic Rose’ Mini Dried Bouquet
(1) 6” Demi Ceramic Compote

About Derek Woodruff


Derek joined the floral industry at the age of 16, where he began learning floral design in a vocational school and working for a local florist. Since then, he has continued to study the trade through institutes such as Michigan State University, the Michigan Floral Association (MFA), and the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD). In 2008 he launched his own business, Floral Underground, which has gone through many a metamorphosis to become the business that it is today. Derek is a captivating speaker who finds particular joy in helping audiences find inventive ways to use new and existing products.

As an industry educator, Derek has a “big picture” perspective on industry trends and how florists can make the best practical and artistic use of materials. He enjoys presenting on stage, in hands-on workshops, and also online to audiences of floral designers and consumers alike. In addition to being an educator, Derek considers himself a “competition designer,” spending many years polishing the practice of live floral design competitions. This love of competition has won him numerous awards both in and out of the industry, including the MFA’s Chuck Bannow Award, MFA’s Designer of the Year (twice), AIFD’s Bobbi Cup (Thrice), Chicago’s Best in Blooms Competition, second runner-up on a national television floral design competition reality show called: “The Arrangement,” was the winner of the 2016 Sylvia Cup Design Competition and was the runner-up in the 2018 America’s Cup Competition.

Make sure to check out Floral Underground's Youtube Channel for helpful video tutorials and floral design tips! 

Follow Details on Instagram!